One person who made Brexit posssible

One person can make  big difference. Michael Spicer had a significant influence on Brexit.

Alan posted:


This is a fascinating story but unfortunately pay-walled.

Without the unbelievable modesty of one man, Brexit would have been impossible

A couple of quotes:

As much as anyone, Spicer made Brexit happen. He led the Eurosceptic movement from the early Nineties until the 2005 general election, founding the European Research Group in 1993. You didn’t know that? I’m not surprised. The characteristic of his career was an almost unbelievable modesty.

Ronald Reagan, the former US president, had a sign on his desk: “There is no limit to what a man can achieve in politics, provided he is indifferent as to who takes the credit”. Spicer took that dictum further than any politician I know. He wasn’t just indifferent as to who took the credit. He actively thrust the credit at others, knowing that it was the best way to bind them to his agenda.

and

If you’ve ever wondered why the European Research Group has such a bland name, the answer tells us a great deal about Spicer’s approach to politics. When we were about to launch – he was the first chairman, I the first employee – I kept suggesting suitably stirring titles, involving words like “independence”, “democracy” and “freedom”.

“Daniel”, he told me, with a patient smile, “if you’re setting up a campaign to take over the world, you don’t call it The Campaign to Take Over the World. You give it a dull, generic name like, I don’t know… European… Research Group.”

He was a walking lesson in how to get things done in politics. He grasped how valuable it is, in a world full of blabbermouths and serial leakers, to be known to be discreet.

He understood that, in order to convince the Tory party, it helped to fit in, at least superficially. “You have to dress like them,” he told me not long before he died. “You have to talk like them. You have to tell funny stories about when you played rugby against them at school. If you want to do anything radical, for heaven’s sake don’t look like a radical.”

Brexit update – EU have agreed to a ‘Flextension’

From Missy:

The EU have agreed to a ‘Flextension’ up to three months. If the WAB is passed in that time then the UK can leave earlier.

The main dates are 30 November, 31 December, and 31 January.

Also, note the Benn Act is no longer relevant as it was for a specific event and specific time period, so if nothing agreed by end of January then there is still the possibility of leaving with No Agreement, unless Parliament plays fast and loose with the rules to again undermine the Government.

Further update: Parliament are debating an early election now. It is expected that the Lib Dems and SNP will support an election, but for 9 December not 12 December, and they are also expected to support a clean bill and vote down any amendments. The Government have said that they will support their motion to have the election on 9 December.

On the amendments, it was expected the opposition was going to try and introduce a lot of amendments to slow the bill down, including votes for 16yo, votes for EU citizens (they currently are unable to vote in a General Election, though Commonwealth citizens can), a second referendum, and extending the eligibility for non-resident UK citizens (it is currently 10 years living outside the UK).

Labour are expected to abstain from the vote, but the Government require 2/3 of Parliament to agree, so it should be able to pass with SNP and Lib Dem support.

Some highlights I have picked up from twitter:

* Boris Johnson has called Corbyn a chicken (again)
* Corbyn said he can’t support a 12 December vote as it will be too dark too early to vote, but he can possibly support a 9 December vote. The difference in sunshine hours between 9 December and 12 December is approximately 3 minutes.

 

Johnson adamant UK will withdraw from Brexit by 31 October, EU not negotiating

Since becoming Prime Minister last month Boris Johnson has been working towards getting the United Kingdom out of the European Union by 31 October.

Negotiations between the UK and EU are at a stalemate, with the EU saying the Withdrawal Agreement is not up for negotiation, .

Attempts are being made by Europhile MPs to stop an exit without the Withdrawal Agreement or to stop an exit altogether.

“It seems all the attempts by Remainers to stop Brexit, or at least dilute it, have been what has led to the likelihood of a clean break.”

From Missy in London:


As everyone knows, Boris Johnson became PM about a month ago, and he has moved full speed ahead. As well as a number of domestic policies, he has been adamant that the UK will be out of the EU by 31 October, to this the Chancellor, Sajid Javid, has released more funds to spend on preparation for leaving with no Withdrawal Agreement, and all departments have stepped up planning.

Johnson has told the EU he is willing to talk with them, with a view to re-negotiating the Withdrawal Agreement, but not until the EU commit to the removal of the backstop. The EU refuse to budge and have stated that the Agreement is not up for negotiation, and only the non legally binding political declaration can be tweaked. So on negotiations they are currently at a stalemate. Whilst some officials, and the Brexit Secretary, have been to Brussels and Europe, Johnson has firmly refused to go, instead he has travelled the country and talked to politicians and people around the UK.

Meanwhile, in the UK Europhile MPs are stepping up their actions to stop an exit without a Withdrawal Agreement, or stop Brexit altogether. Among the actions they have taken is a court case, this has been filed in Scotland as the Scottish courts don’t close for the summer like the English courts do. The court case is to stop the PM from proroguing Parliament in October to force through a ‘no deal’ exit from the EU.

Other actions being looked at include Parliamentary processes, law changes. and a Vote of No Confidence. The last is the most likely action they will take, and is a bit of a gamble on both sides. Johnson currently has a majority of one with the DUP support, and a number of Conservative MPs have indicated they will either abstain or vote against the Government in such a vote, (though some Labour MPs have indicated they would break whip and vote for the Government so it could be balanced out).

If Johnson loses a Vote of No Confidence many are saying he should immediately step aside and let Jeremy Corbyn form a Government, however, by law he has 14 days to try and gain the confidence of the house, after which he can call a General Election, though the opposition also has 14 days to try and gain a majority in Parliament as well. The suggestion put forward yesterday by Jeremy Corbyn was for the Liberal Democrats, SNP and some Conservative MPs support him as a temporary PM to stop Brexit, and then call a GE or second referendum.

The issues with this proposal are threefold:

  1. He requires Conservative MPs to essentially support the installation of a Labour Government, and a hard left Labour Government at that, this will be unpalatable to not only other Conservative MPs, but also Conservative Members and voters. If any Conservative MPs did do this they would essentially be ending their careers. Further, as the Labour Party are currently under investigation for their handling of anti semitism claims, and the accusation that anti semitism is being enabled by the leadership team and their staff, so any Conservative members who vote for Corbyn will be tainted by the anti semitism scandal, (some already are being connected to it by just suggesting they will consider the idea).
  2. Corbyn does not have majority support within Parliament, and a number of his own MPs have said publicly they would not back him in this scenario, it is expected that more Labour MPs won’t back him than potential Conservative MPs will back him, so he won’t have the numbers to pull this off.
  3. Many of the public are more sceptical of a second referendum, with the exception of the hard Remain extremists, most don’t believe it will solve any issues, and even less so after a number of MPs, including the leaders of the Greens and Liberal Democrats, said that unless the vote was in favour of Remain they would not accept or respect the vote. With an attitude like that fewer people actually believe that any vote, except Remain, would be accepted, leaving the country as divided as it is now. On the General Election, there are some that believe Johnson is gearing up for one, and it will most likely be just after 31 October.

Of course, this depends on Corbyn actually calling a vote of No Confidence and not bottling it again. During the Conservative Leadership campaign Corbyn kept saying he would call a No Confidence vote on Johnson’s first day in Parliament, he didn’t because apparently he said he would not have the numbers, nothing has changed in Johnson’s stance, so I am not sure if he would have the numbers still.

One other action that was suggested this week, and whilst not a serious proposition it did come under fire for a lot of ridicule, and that was the suggestion by Caroline Lucas, (Green Party Leader and only MP), for an all Women cabinet of Unity to stop Brexit. Apart from her suggestion amounting to a coup and being unconstitutional and sexist, there was the issue that her Cabinet of Unity was entirely made up of women that think the same as she does, not making it very unifying. Interestingly despite all these issues about it one of the main criticisms was that all of the women were white, and she was heavily criticised for leaving out women from ethnic minorities, and it was this she apologised for whilst doubling down on her idea. For many however, this idea just came across as silly season stuff from an increasingly irrelevant MP during the summer recess.

It has been suggested that the reason the EU has not reached out to the UK, and is not taking Johnson seriously, is because Remain MPs have convinced them that they will win in Parliament and that the UK will not leave the EU, or will leave under the EU’s terms. Of course it might just be that it is August and the EU (and much of Europe) shuts down over August and nothing gets done.

On the other side of the Brexit argument, the Brexit Secretary is set to sign the commencement order to repeal the European Communities Act 1972 within days, bringing it into effect after 31 October, thus ending the supremacy of EU Law, thus meaning that the EU’s rule over the UK will end on 31 October. This has led to some speculating that Johnson might remove the UK from the EU earlier than 31 October, and some have suggested he could do it by the end of August so it is done and dusted by the time Parliament returns in the beginning of September, though I do not think this is the case, I believe that if he is aiming for an earlier date it is likely to be the end of September, but this is also unlikely.

The irony in all of this is that if Gina Miller hadn’t taken the Government to court, to the cheers of Remainers and Remain supporting MPs, and secured a legal ruling that any Withdrawal Agreement had to be ratified by Parliament, the UK would have left under May’s deal and the prospect of leaving without a Withdrawal Agreement would not have entered into play. It seems all the attempts by Remainers to stop Brexit, or at least dilute it, have been what has led to the likelihood of a clean break.

The Secretary of State for Brexit has now signed the Commencement Order which repeals the supremacy of EU law in the UK.

Brexit will happen on 31 October 2019.

The Great Hack – democracy at risk of serious damage

If you value information privacy, online integrity and democratic processes, and you have access to Netflix, then I recommend you watch The Great Hack.

It is a documentary movie that shows how the acquisition of online data, in particular from Facebook, has been used to manipulate opinions and elections. The now bankrupt UK based company Cambridge Analytica is one of the main focuses, with close links to the Brexit referendum in June 2016 and the Donald Trump nomination and election as US president. Russian influence in elections is also a part of the story.

 

From a review by Odie Henderson (robertebert.com):

“The Great Hack” concerns itself with the United States Presidential election of 2016 and, to a lesser extent, the Brexit vote and other international political campaigns. The common factor in all these events is a now-defunct firm called Cambridge Analytica, represented throughout the film by several former employees. At the height of its powers, the company held up to 5,000 data points about each of the people contained in its databases.

This information was used for a variety of purposes meant to manipulate a certain cross-section of people. The master manipulators didn’t go after people whose minds had been made up; they went after on-the-fence folks referred to as “the persuadables.” Using the collected data, Cambridge Analytica set out to create fear and/or apathy to achieve the results of the political parties that hired them. Carroll’s lawsuit is an attempt to retrieve the data collected on him.

And how did the thousands of points of data wind up in those databases? Well, you willingly gave it to them, dear readers. Remember those seemingly innocent Facebook quizzes that you took to determine what Disney villain you were, or whether you were an introvert or any other goofy question you couldn’t wait to have answered so you could share it with friends online? Those little diversions asked specific questions that were used to harvest data.

Based on this and other information gleaned from Facebook posts and the friends with whom you associated on that platform, the data analysis tools used artificial intelligence and evaluations to create a startlingly accurate profile of you. Carroll asks his class if they ever think their phone is listening in on them because the ads they see seem perfectly tailored for them. Everyone says yes. Carroll tells them that this manufactured profile is why.

This is sure to be a controversial documentary, not just because it sees Brexit and the GOP Presidential campaign involvement with Cambridge Analytica as a sinister, almost military-grade level of psychological warfare against an unsuspecting public, but because it also highlights how large groups of people can easily be led to vote against their own interests.

There’s a too-brief section focusing on the “Do So” campaign in Trinidad and Tobago, where social media was flooded with catchy graphics and slogans designed to foster apathy in folks who would vote for the side not allegedly in cahoots with Cambridge. The Do So campaign made it seem cool not to vote at all, so many young people did not. As with the American campaign, the bombardment of ads and demonizing and false news stories was relentless.

The movie named a number of countries in which similar Cambridge Analytica had experimented, and also showed a map of the spread around the world. New Zealand appears to have avoided being targeted – so far. But I think that it’s likely that similar targeted ‘psychological warfare’ is likely to be tried here, if it hasn’t been already.

Breitbart News is also connected in The Great Hack.  Here in New Zealand the now far right Whale Oil website has championed Breitbart and modeled themselves on them, including the use of ‘fake news’ targeting political and ethnic/religious groups. ‘Whaleoil staff’ put up such a post yesterday.

Some of those who like the result of the Brexit referendum and the last US presidential election may see no problem here, but unless solutions are found then democracy around the world may well be heading for destruction.

Indeed, that is the aim of some of those who are trying to manipulate minds online, and swing elections – they believe that a breakdown of the current political systems is necessary to impose their own power structures on countries.

One thing in our  favour here may be that New Zealand has been relatively insignificant in the  the whole scheme of world politics and power.

But – if the international populism of Jacinda Ardern is seen as a threat to those using online data and online forums to brainwash people who are susceptible to being influenced then I don’t think we can rule out significant foreign interference in a future election here.

Fortunately the firearms reforms here have had near unanimous support in Parliament, with no time for major interference from abroad, although the US NRA has been linked to some attempts to swing opinion here in support of unfettered access to weapons.

But upcoming referendums on cannabis law reform, and possibly in euthanasia could be at risk. The debates on these issues have already been subject to false claims and distortions by some groups intent on imposing their views on the wider population.

Democracy is at risk of serious damage, due to the quest for profits by huge online media companies, and the harvesting and use of private data in a new and insidious form of propaganda by interest groups and countries,

Our democracy has not been perfect, but it has been better than most if not all alternatives. It is at real risk of being munted by international money makers and power seekers.

Trump wants UK National Health Service included in trade negotiations

Donald Trump’s visit to the UK was always going to be controversial. He has strongly supported Brexit, something that is dividing the UK. But Trump has upped the ante – he says that when US-UK trade takes start after Brexit (if it ever happens) he wants the UK National Health Service to be opened up to US companies.

Fortune: There’s One Subject in the U.K. That’s as Toxic as Brexit. Trump Just Waded Into It

Once, advocates of the U.K.’s departure from the European Union argued that Brexit would mean more government funding for the country’s National Health Service, or NHS.

Now, President Donald Trump has confirmed the opposite: in trade talks between the U.S. and U.K., which will take place once Brexit has gone into effect, the U.S. wants the U.K. to open up the cherished British public health system to American companies.

“I think everything with a trade deal is on the table… NHS and anything else, a lot more than that,” Trump said at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday, on the second day of his state visit.

The president was responding to a question about whether he agreed with the U.S ambassador to the U.K., Woody Johnson, who said Sunday that he assumed the NHS “would be on the table” in the imminent trade talks, as the negotiations would account for the entire British economy. And his response has already elicited fury among leading politicians from across the British political spectrum.

The public nature of the NHS, which has been free to use for seven decades, is practically seen as sacred in the U.K., and attempts to change that status are politically toxic. A degree of privatization has been taking place in recent years, but NHS bosses want to reverse the process by squeezing out local for-profit contractors such as Virgin Care and Care U.K.

Further opening up the NHS to American contractors would therefore be an explosive political development. The U.S. ambassador’s comment prompted British Health Secretary Matt Hancock—one of the contenders for May’s job, as she is about to step down—to defend the health service in unequivocal terms.

However it’s hard to see much progress being made on US-UK trade talks at this stage. Brexit looks to be far from resolved, and the Prime Minister who Trump is meeting with, Theresa May, is soon stepping down. The NHS is likely to now feature in the contest for leadership of the Conservative party and the country.

RNZ: Trump praises ‘extraordinary’ US-UK alliance on state visit

US President Donald Trump has said the US and UK have the “greatest alliance the world has ever known”.

That’s what you would expect when the current leaders of the US and UK are the greatest the world has ever known.

The US president met Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage at the US ambassador’s residence, Winfield House. Mr Farage tweeted that it was a “good meeting” and Mr Trump “really believes in Brexit”.

Mr Trump also said he turned down a meeting with Jeremy Corbyn, who addressed protesters in Westminster. Mr Trump said Mr Corbyn was a “negative force”. “I really don’t like critics as much as I like and respect people who get things done,” he said.

Mrs May said the scope of trade talks had to be agreed by both countries.

Asked if the NHS would be included in post-Brexit trade talks, Mr Trump said “everything is on the table”.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock was among several Conservative leadership candidates hoping to replace Theresa May who said they would not allow the NHS to become part of any trade talks. “Not on my watch,” he tweeted.

Perhaps the US will play a Trump card – impose tariffs on the UK unless they hand their health system over to US companies.

New Brexit plan flopping, May faces calls to resign

From Missy:

Theresa May is under growing pressure tonight. It is reported that Theresa May is facing 3 seperate coup attempts tonight. There is incredible anger in the Conservative party over her offer of a Second Referendum, she has now broken every last promise and gone back on her word at every point.

A succession of Cabinet Ministers are expected to have one-on-one meetings with the PM today to tell her not to put her new Brexit deal to the vote, this is seen as tantamount to telling her to quit. Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, and David Mundell, the Scottish Secretary are believed to be the first to go to the PM telling her they will not support the deal.

A delegation of junior ministers has told the chief whip they will resign if the new Brexit deal goes to the vote. It is unknown how many are in this delegation, but it is speculated that it includes Remainers and Brexit supporters alike, neither are happy wiht this deal as it is seen as appeasing the Labour Party.

Finally, the 1922 committee are meeting tonight to again discuss changing the rules to reduce the time between confidence votes from 12 months to 6 months.

On top of this Macron today has backed Michel Barnier for the position of European Commission President when it comes up after Juncker’s term ends later this year, and he has also said that he will not allow a further extension to Brexit, (though he said this last time and ended up voting for the extension).

Cabinet sources are reporting that May will most likely resign on Monday in a podium moment, after the final results for the EU elections are in. Note: Monday is the early summer Bank Holiday in the UK, so if she is going to make an announcement it may be delayed until Tuesday.

Just a note on the EU elections. Due to different voting days across Europe, and the Proportional nature of the votes the results won’t be known until late on Sunday evening, but it is expected to be a humiliation for the Conservatives, especially after May’s revised Brexit agreement.


Reuters: Time to resign? UK PM May’s final Brexit gambit bombs

British Prime Minister Theresa May was under growing pressure to resign on Wednesday after her final Brexit gambit was rejected across the board by lawmakers and even criticized by some of her own ministers.

May’s future, which she herself had curtailed by offering to resign to get her deal through parliament, was hanging by a thread after she softened her position on a second Brexit referendum and customs arrangements with the European Union.

The calls for her resignation further deepened Britain’s Brexit crisis. Almost three years since Britain voted to leave the EU and just under two months after the scheduled departure, it is not clear when, how or even if Brexit will happen.

In her last pitch on Tuesday to get her divorce deal approved by Britain’s deeply divided parliament, she offered lawmakers a vote on whether to hold a second Brexit referendum — once her legislation passes the first stage — as well as closer trading arrangements with the EU in future as incentives.

But the backlash was swift and fierce.

Both ruling Conservative and opposition Labour lawmakers criticized May’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill, or WAB, legislation which implements the terms of Britain’s twice-delayed departure.

There were some signs of support for May in parliament, but swathes of empty Conservative benches during Wednesday’s debate underlined the fact that many of her fiercest critics had decided to stay away.

“The proposed second reading of the WAB is clearly doomed to failure so there really is no point wasting any more time on the prime minister’s forlorn hope of salvation,” Andrew Bridgen, a Conservative lawmaker, told Reuters. “She’s got to go.”

BBC: Calls grow for Theresa May to resign in bill backlash

Several cabinet ministers have told the BBC that she cannot stay, with one saying it is “the end of the line”.

Others, though, insist Theresa May should push on with her plan to put her Withdrawal Agreement Bill to a vote.

Sources have told the BBC that the chief whip, Julian Smith, has informed backbench MPs that the prime minister is not resigning.

Nevertheless, the BBC’s political editor says it appears the government is almost at breakdown.

May’s government has seemed almost at breakdown for months as May has botched attempt after attempt at putting an acceptable Brexit plan to Parliament.

Having the referendum before any plan had been decided on has proven to be a disaster for Britain. And May’s leadership is proving to be another disaster on top of that.

The problem is, if May is deposed as Prime Minister what then? It’s hard to see how anyone could sort out this mess.


Updates from Missy:

The Chief Whip addressed the 1922 Committee, he apparently told them that the PM was not going tonight. He is also reported as saying that the PM will continue campaigning and is focussed on the EU elections.

The 1922 Committee completed their meeting with no decision made on changing the rules, again it seems they bottled it. It is being reported that the chair of the 1922 Committee will meet with Theresa May on Friday.

May has apparently refused to meet with senior members of the Cabinet today. It is unclear if she will meet with them this week.

UK update on Brexit

Missy has updated what is happening in the UK with Brexit.


So, a lot has been happening in the UK / Europe over the last week, though some has been a re-run of what has been happening for the last year, some is new. Over the next few days I will try to catch everyone up.

Tonight: The Conservatives, or more specifically, Theresa May.

Tonight Theresa May outlined her ‘bold new Withdrawal Agreement’ which will go to Parliament in the first week of June for a vote. This will be the second reading of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill.

I haven’t had a chance to read everything around the ‘bold new agreement’ proposed by May, but from what I can gather it includes a compromise to try and get Labour MPs on side.

May has been trying to negotiate with Labour to come up with an Agreement that could pass in Westminster that she could take back to Brussels, however, last week Corbyn declared that the talks were over and no agreement had been reached.

The main points of the WA that May outlined this afternoon are:
i) Alternative arrangements to stop Irish backstop coming into force
ii) If backstop happens, Great Britain to stay aligned with Northern Ireland
iii) Approve treaties with EU
iv) A new workers’ rights bill
v) Ensure environmental standards the same as EU; set up new independent office of environmental protection
vi) Seek as close as possible to frictionless trade with EU
vii) Work towards common standards of food products with EU
viii) MPs to vote on a customs union compromise
ix) MPs to vote on whether second referendum needed on withdrawal bill
x) MPs to vote on political agreement

There is very little here that is different, and what is different panders to Remainers and Labour. This has turned many who voted for the previous agreement against her. It is expected that she will have a much larger defeat than she did in March.

Many in her party held their nose to vote for her agreement in March believing it was the only way to leave the EU by 29 March, when she broke that promise I think she lost some of the support. May appears to be trying to use the same tactics as previously by threatening no Brexit if MPs do not vote for her deal. The problem she has this time is twofold, her own party are making moves to ensure she is gone by the end of Summer (the leadership race has begun) and the EU elections on Thursday indicate the annihilation of the Conservative Party in Europe.

Over the last few weeks the pressure has come on Theresa May to resign, she stubbornly refuses to resign until her Withdrawal Agreement passes.

Over the last few weeks Theresa May has had several meetings with members of the Parliamentary Parliament, most notably the 1922 Committee. What has come from these meetings is that she will resign by the end of July if her withdrawal agreement passes, though many are working on how they can force her out regardless.

Despite the possibility of her not keeping her word the leadership race has begun.

So far Esther McVey, Boris Johnson, and Rory Stewart have all declared they will run, Andrea Leadsom is considering it. Other contenders are Michael Gove, Amber Rudd, Sajid Javid, Dominic Raab, Jeremy Hunt, Penny Mordaunt, Liz Truss and Priti Patel.

Brexit Party contesting local UK and EU elections

Missy reports from London about the quick success of Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party in the UK.

The UK is on election footing at the moment for (first) local elections and (second) EU elections in May.

Many Conservatives have openly switched to Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party (it is what it says on the tin), and today it was reported that 40% of Conservative Councillors will support the Brexit Party, this comes as many Conservative grassroots activists have said that they will not campaign for the Conservatives until the UK has left the EU.

The Brexit Party launched just over a week ago and is already leading in the polls for the EU elections, and as the EU Parliament is decided on proportional representation there is a fear amongst Remainers in the UK, and in the EU, that they may gain the majority of the UK seats.

Wikipedia: The Brexit Party

The Brexit Party is a pro-Brexit Eurosceptic political party in the United Kingdom, formed in 2019. The party has fourteen Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), all of whom were originally elected as UK Independence Party (UKIP) candidates. The party is led by one of these MEPs, former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who announced he would stand as a candidate for the party in any future European Parliament elections, in the event the UK had not left the European Union.

The Brexit Party website headlines:

Change Politics For Good

Democracy is under threat, join us to start the fightback.

We Are The 17.4 Million

Britain Can Do better Than This

Their pinned tweet on launching

Recent tweets:

Guardian:  Nigel and Annunziata’s Brexit show basks in the sun, but winter is coming

On Saturday Nigel Farage made a triumphant return to Nottingham, where, five years ago, when leader of UKIP, he was hit with an egg by a protester. Much has changed since, and now Farage is leader of the Brexit party, which was holding a rally at the city’s Albert Hall.

Beforehand Farage went on a walkabout in the town centre with a small band of activists carrying placards with the defiant legend “Fighting back”. Against whom? I asked one. “The government,” came the reply. Other answers included “the establishment”, “the political class” and “all of ‘em”.

There were, however, plenty of genuine supporters queueing outside the Albert Hall in the glorious afternoon sunshine.

Farage duly announced that the Brexit party would be “intolerant of all forms of intolerance”. And on stage he called for a greater “civility” in British politics, before going on to denounce local Nottinghamshire MP Anna Soubry as “dishonest” and “undemocratic”.

“Nelson, Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, Ian Botham and Nigel Farage, they’re the people who put the Great into Britain,” said Gary Wilkinson, a retired railway worker.

But no one could upstage Farage, the professionally reluctant politician, driven by the burden of history and his unsleeping conscience to again take up the fight, in the words of the Brexit party slogan, to “Change Politics For Good”. He gave a declamatory speech, full of sweat, denunciation and sideswipes at the likes of EU Commission chief, Jean-Claude Juncker and Lord Adonis.

The Brexit Party may well change politics in the UK and potentially in the EU, but it’s too soon to know if it will be for good or not. But it doesn’t look good for Theresa May and the Conservatives, who have been split over Brexit. Missy points out:

Today it is reported that May has been told to resign before the end of June or face the party rules being changed to allow for another vote of no confidence in her as leader, this is not only due to her handling of Brexit, but also down to the amount of support that the Conservatives are losing as a result of their failure on Brexit.

Politics has been in a mess in the UK for years now, and it doesn’t look like improving any time soon.

Summary on Brexit

A summary on what hasn’t been happening about Brexit from Missy:


Due to some matters beyond my control I have not been able to post on the Brexit dramas of the last couple of weeks, so sorry if anyone missed the posts, though to be honest you haven’t missed anything in terms of Brexit as it hasn’t happened yet – despite supposed to have happened on 29 March.

A Quick summary of the main points:

  1.  May has yet again asked for an extension from the EU, she wanted one until 30 June, but has agreed to an extension up until 31 October. I am not sure if this means the UK will have to partake in European Elections (I hope so).
  2. The Government and Labour have been in talks to come up with an agreement that could pass the house, it would most likely include a second referendum and remaining in the customs union (nicely referred to as a customs union so as not to make voters think they aren’t leaving). Though both have reportedly been ruled out by Theresa May (as was extending beyond 29 March, extending beyond 22 May, extending beyond 30 June…. )
  3. Earlier this week a new law was given Royal Consent requiring the PM to go back to the EU to ask for an extension if directed by Parliament, and effectively ruling out the UK voluntarily leaving without a deal, which means the UK are at the mercy of the EU regarding their leaving arrangements. However, I haven’t read the law, and this morning there was discussion about it where a lawyer indicated that it does not require her to follow Parliament’s direction after this extension, and that it just pertained to going back for an extension this time. I don’t know if that is correct, but we can only hope.
  4. A group has taken court action against the Government stating that extending Brexit is in fact illegal under UK law and the UK should have left on 29 March with no agreement.

All in all this seems very much an action by May to try and force Parliament to vote for her deal, it is becoming a bit of a stand off between her and Parliament.

The Conservatives cannot bring another Confidence vote in her leadership until December under their party rules, however, one can hope that enough pressure is applied to her that will force her to quit (though I doubt it). In May there are local body elections, and many campaigning have already stated they are having problems, Conservative candidates are being told they will not get votes due to not having left the EU yet, some Conservative activists and volunteers have gone on strike and are refusing to campaign, and the Conservatives are down 10 points in the polls.

May seeks Brexit extension, and asks for Opposition help on withdrawal agreement

More votes, more meetings, and but no more progress on Brexit in the UK. Prime Minister Theresa May is seeking an extension to the looming deadline, and is asking Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn to work together on finding a way forward that is not a total disaster.

BBC:  UK needs further Brexit extension – May

Theresa May will ask the EU for an extension to the Brexit deadline to “break the log jam” in Parliament.

The PM says she wants to meet Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to agree a plan on the future relationship with the EU.

But she insisted her withdrawal agreement – which was voted down last week – would remain part of the deal.

Mrs May said she wanted the extension to be “as short as possible” – before 22 May so the UK does not have to take part in European elections.