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Grant



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entire credibility in negotiations is on worldwide view


Free Trade is the biggest economic con. We would be better off with tariffs. It's amazing that, because of the scribblings of a few 18th century writers like Smith and Ricardo, in a few decades the West has given up its enormous economic lead.

But I think the EU will cave at the end on the back-stop and enough Labour MPs will cross the floor to support the agreement. We'll be stuck in the customs union, allowing the Germans to make everything.

As the World's greatest politician would say, sad .
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Mick Harper
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Free Trade is the biggest economic con.

It's the biggest con for economically less developed countries, that's for sure.

We would be better off with tariffs.

What's stopping us?

It's amazing that, because of the scribblings of a few 18th century writers like Smith and Ricardo, in a few decades the West has given up its enormous economic lead.

After a mysterious cause-and-effect lag of two hundred and fifty years, you mean? What you really mean, Grant, is that the West has lost its economic primacy during the last few decades so tariffs are now back in play.

But I think the EU will cave at the end on the back-stop

I don't know how many times I have to say it, but the EU has nothing to do with the backstop. It's the Belfast Agreement between Britain and Ireland (and various other states and bodies who 'registered' it) that's the problem. The EU is merely holding the ring.

and enough Labour MPs will cross the floor to support the agreement.

We fervently hope so. It's pretty disgraceful that Labour is causing all this mayhem by pretending that the May/EU settlement is in any substantial way different from the one they would have negotiated, just to make parliamentary trouble for the government. This may be good for the Labour Party (for all I know) but it ain't so hot for the rest of us (i.e. the world, not just non-Labour supporting Brits.)

We'll be stuck in the customs union, allowing the Germans to make everything.

That is perfectly true. Now you tell us what you're proposing to do about the Belfast Agreement. Remember, unless it's unilateral abrogation, your solution has to be agreed to by Ireland.

As the World's greatest politician would say, sad.

Yes, that would be roughly the extent of his insight.
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Mick Harper
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John Crace is the Guardian's Parliamentary sketchwriter who provides an enjoyably pungent column every day. But to acquire the pungency, and the gig, he has to be left wing (and therefore stupid). He makes the routine error of supposing that someone who disagrees with him (e.g. Theresa May) is ipso facto more stupid than he is but then illustrates that this is not the case by writing shriekingly stupid things about her. I should add, since it's an important AE point, that Mrs May is not stupid in this context because, although right-wing (and therefore stupid), she is also PM and has the technical task of achieving Orderly Brexit, which obviates her right-wingness and returns her to ordinary intelligence-ness. In this context.

Crace can't see this. He thinks she is selling out Orderly Brexit just to keep the Conservative Party together. The fact that she has been following a policy for two years that has achieved nothing other than splitting the Tories into irreconcilable factions seems to have escaped him. Or, as he would see it, confirms him in his verdict of utter Maysian stupidity.

As the AEL's Parliamentary sketchwriter I must point out to my colleague the brute realities of Parliamentary arithmetic. Since all the opposition parties have made it clear they will reject any May Plan because they want to get rid of (or hobble or just be bloody-minded to) the Tories, she has no alternative but try, might and main, to reunite the Tories, tack on the DUP and stagger over the line. Now I agree this is forlorn, and she probably shouldn't have spent two years arriving at this position, but she should not be partisanly excoriated for recognising this is the pickle we happen to find ourselves in.

Which is also why Crace (and everyone else) should not condemn her for saying something this week that contradicts what she said last week. For God's sake, people, it's called pragmatism. The dear old thing should be commended for accepting personal dishonour in the struggle to avoid defeat. On our behalf. He ends his column

Brexit continues to make fools of all those who come into contact with it.

That's one thing you certainly got right, Cracey, my boy. You could do something about it but it would probably mean losing your column in the Guardian.
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Mick Harper
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CNN’s Chief Legal Analyst, asked whether twenty gun-toting black-clad special forces were necessary to arrest Roger Stone, agreed Stone wasn’t dangerous but it was still justified because of the need to ensure documents weren’t destroyed, computer records erased etc etc. The AEL therefore is using next weekend’s meet-up to game a couple of scenarios. I’m going to be Roger Stone, Hatty will be Mrs Stone (sorry, poppet, but we believe in typecasting, remember), Ishmael and Grant will be the two pekinese dogs, Wiley wants to be Chief Special Agent, Dade County FBI (and will also be on stopwatch duties since he's got one). The rest of you will multi-cast. Results will be distributed on the secure server.

Scenario One
Two FBI agents knock on the door. Hatty answers the door, “Yes?” “We’re from the FBI we have a warrant to search these premises.” “Roger! Roger! Case Orange! Case Orange! Quickly now. Roger, can you hear me?” Wiley starts stopwatch.

Scenario Two
Hatty says, “Roger, there are five black people-carriers coming down the street, I think it might be expedient to put Case Orange into operation.” Wiley starts stopwatch.
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Mick Harper
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Which reminds me of a craze at our school when you would walk up to someone flash your bus pass and say, "Dallas PD, you're coming downtown." Or Hawaii five-oh or US Marshall -- it was the authenticity of the Broderick Crawford sneer that was important. These were the famous bus passes that had a box marked Sex, and half the schoolchildren of London had written, Yes Please. What the boys wrote I can't remember at this distance.
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Grant



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Wiley starts stopwatch.


Scenario A

Roger Stone, like any evil eminence grise, will have destroyed any incriminating material thus leaving nothing to find

Scenario B

Roger Stone, like any innocent man, will have deleted nothing because "if you are innocent you have nothing to hide." Result is the FBI will hit him with a perjury bomb because of some minor detail he told them and Stone will end up in prison.

American justice does truly stink and Trump has been a coward in not using his right to issue pardons.
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Grant



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Now you tell us what you're proposing to do about the Belfast Agreement.


The agreement says we will never have a border. So we leave the EU and don't set up any border checks. If the EU wants to send a few Portuguese soldiers that's up to them. WTO would be happy with a computer based honour system, much like the one we have with the rest of the world.

Admittedly I am an extremist and I see the Belfast Agreement as a craven act and would be very happy to see it fail. (Because everyone disagrees with me I realise I might be wrong here)
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Mick Harper
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Result is the FBI will hit him with a perjury bomb because of some minor detail he told them and Stone will end up in prison.

I think this is a real possibility too. Stone, like all intellectuals and creatifs, lives in a world where pedantic accuracy is something to be avoided whenever possible.
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Mick Harper
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If you're the richest man in the world and a bit twatty looking, why would you send photos of your penis to your new girlfriend? You must know she'll go out with you anyway.

PS It was wondrous watching the editor of the Washington Post so brilliantly badmouthing the boss in order to emphasise the paper's editorial independence. Clearly under instructions. The soon to be ex-editor of the Washington Post. Never trust a man who sends...
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Mick Harper
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This Franco-Italian War provides us with a marvellous opportunity. We need not go into the niceties of the dispute because we're going to need the French like buggery after March 29th, so we're definitely lining up behind them. Forget all the guff about Leonardo, we've got the Italians' pride and joy, the Codex Amiatinus, at the moment for the Anglo-Saxon Exhibition at the British Library, so scraping off half a full stop and spending a few hundred sovs down at the Cavendish will put the kysters on that. We say nothing. We tell the French everything.

If they decide it's better off genuine, we can keep the bastard because that would mean it was ours to begin with. Ever heard of heritage, Italy? It's win-win. I've got some contacts at the BL. I'll run the scheme past them.
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Wile E. Coyote


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The Yellow Jackets are still out there, it's 13 weeks now. We are trying to be nice to Little Mac by not mentioning it, or comparing the situation with Venezuela.

BTW the Italians have a point, if France stopped its bombing campaign, less folks would float over to Italy. It's not helping that France expects the Italian navy (as good Europeans) to rescue these folks, and then process their applications. When said folks dodge Italian registration and arrive on the French border, France returns them back to Italy again.

We need to keep up this pretence, that it's all the fault of the Italians until 2022 when France will return our Bayeux Tapestry.

Then Operation Harper really starts.
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Mick Harper
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This question of 'returning migrants' is clearly The Next Big Thing. Nobody minds them except in their own backyard so the problem gets solved if they are returned far enough. Migrants know this of course and take care to a) destroy their I.D.'s (which is why ID-free Britain is always their destination-of-preference) and b) refuse to disclose their route. Unless they can't i.e. they are intercepted on the Italian/French border (or Dover, come to that).

EU free movement has made the whole business both complicated and pressing. The EU already pays Turkey vast sums to intercept them (we don't ask what they do with them) which is why, as you say, Italy is now in the firing line. Since the EU won't pay Italy vast sums to intercept them and won't let her return them to Libya either, the Italians are understandably miffed at being saddled with an EU-wide problem. They can't afford to lash out at Germany so they're lashing out at France. Plus quietly moving the problem on across the border which is what everyone else is quietly doing.

P. S. I'd rather my name be kept out of all this. As Louis XIII said, "When it comes to eminence, eminence, the grisier the better."
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Mick Harper
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I suppose it's my duty to speak up for Chris Grayling under the AE Rule: governments tend overwhelmingly to act rationally. He sets up an emergency alternative ferry route and appoints a company to run it.

Objection: Ramsgate to Ostend is too iffy
Truth: That's why it's an emergency alternative. If it wasn't iffy it would be in use.
Objection: They haven't got any ships
Truth: They'll charter them. It's a new ferry route! Ferry companies don't have ships lying about doing nothing.
Objection: They're not a ferry company
Truth: Yes they are, they've been running all sorts in the Eastern Med
Objection: They're a bunch of shysters
Truth: Since there were no other takers, you're bound to be near the bottom of the barrel
Objection: They haven't got any financial backing
Truth: Yes they have, a bleedin' great Irish shipping company
Objection: But they pulled the plug
Truth: So Grayling had to as well.

Resign! Resign!
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Mick Harper
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The departure of the Gang of Seven prompts as ever 'Will it work?' The answer, on today's evidence, would seem to be which side is slightly less incompetent in handling the split. But in general the answer, as ever, is 'Probably not'. Coupla points arising:

1. Everybody is saying what a failure the last such event, the formation of the SPD, was which is absurd since it was a Westminster-shaking success.
2. It would appear that word has gone out that the seven are to be referred to as "Chuka Umanna's party". I'm not sure this is wise from Labour's point of view. True, his stock has been going down ever since his mysterious withdrawal (as favourite) from a leadership election some years ago but he still has slightly rockstar-ish qualities. Just the job for this job.
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Mick Harper
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The truth behind the Honda closure

1. It's in 2022 for Chissake.
2. Honda is the fifth largest UK carmaker. Who's the sixth? Morgan?
3. Swindon is Honda's only European plant. In other words, it's purely strategic.
4. Declining diesel sales. Europe is the biggest market for diesel cars.

I now return you to the Brexit Debate.
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