Divisions in Europe and the rise of the extreme right and left

From Missy in the UK:


The political discourse in Europe is getting more intense as divisions are pushing people more and more to the extremes of left and right.

In the UK the Brexit debate has led to the divisions coming to the fore, however, this isn’t new in politics here, as many who were around in Thatcher’s time will remind you. Social Media has given a wider audience to it though, and the anonymity for some on social media has given the opportunity for language to become more and more abusive, something that is now spilling over into real life.

Those on the far left are happily calling political opponents fascists, far right, nazis, meanwhile some anti Brexit supporters are talking about killing all Leave voters, whilst others are calling Leave voters racists, xenophobes, nazis, fascist (that word again).

Some far left activists and activist groups have publicly called for Conservative politicians to be harassed wherever they go, they have sent death threats, and wished their children dead, whilst some on the far right (not as organised in groups as the far left extremists) have threatened rape and violence to those that they disagree with. This is not sudden either, several years ago when a back bench MP, the now Shadow Chancellor called for direct action against Conservative MPs calling them social criminals, he has also been filmed repeating a dubious ‘joke’ calling for violence against a female Conservative MP using the phrase ‘lynch the bitch’. When MPs are using language like this against their colleagues in the House of Commons who can blame their followers for thinking it is acceptable?

Anna Soubry, a pro Remain conservative MP has reportedly used extreme language to describe leave voters, (I have not seen any video evidence of her reported comments as I have of McDonnell’s), she also referred to her own Conservative colleagues that support Brexit as extremists and called for them to be slung out of the party. There is also a report that about 3 or 4 years ago she referred to her constituents as racists.

Yesterday during an interview on College Green Anna Soubry was shouted down by Brexit supporters and called a nazi. This has gained a lot of media coverage, which is prompting much condemnation, but also a bit of bemusement as to why the media have not covered as extensively pro Brexit MPs being shouted down and abused, or why the term nazi is suddenly so distasteful to pro Remain supporters when many of them have been using it for the last 3 years to denigrate Leave supporters. The bemusement and the whataboutery isn’t good for discourse, but it shows up the hypocrisy of many on the extremes of politics, where the language they use against those they disagree with is not okay when it is used against them.

Many on the left of politics in the UK tend to take the moral high ground on abuse against politicians, pointing to the murder of Jo Cox as evidence the left don’t do violence, only the right do. This is a dangerous position to take as we see in the violence of groups like Momentum and Antifa.

Today a story came out from Germany. Yesterday a German politician was badly beaten by three masked men in Bremen, he was saved by a construction worker who came to his aid, it was reported he was left half dead. The politician? Frank Magnitz, the leader of the AfD in Bremen.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-46792556

It is not healthy for our democracy to descend into this level of abuse, words are used to shut down debate or invalidate someone’s opinion and it becomes the loudest that are heard and considered the voice of the majority, even though they are most likely the minority on the extremes. When words like racist, xenophobe, nazi, fascist are used to describe people who want to have legitimate discussions on topics like immigration the meaning of these words are diluted, and then they are no longer listened to or taken as credible descriptors of someone’s beliefs.

“Anything less than a clean break from #EU will be a betrayal of the Referendum vote”

It’s not surprising to see that a majority those who voted for Britain leaving the European Union think the referendum should be honoured.

‘Remainers’ lean strongly towards their EU preference rather than the referendum.

Britain trying to go global after Brexit

The British Secretary of Defence has said that Britain needs to ‘recast themselves in a different way’, turning from European to global influence – something they retreated from when turning way from their prior colonies to embrace Europe starting in the 1970s.

The Telegraph:  Britain to become ‘true global player’ post-Brexit with military bases in South East Asia and Caribbean, says Defence Secretary 

Britain will open two new military bases in the Caribbean and South East Asia as the country looks to step up its military presence overseas after Brexit, Gavin Williamson has revealed.

The Defence secretary urges Britons to stop downplaying the country’s influence internationally and recognise that the UK will stand tall on the world stage after leaving the European Union.

In an interview with The Telegraph in his Ministry of Defence office, Mr Williamson says: “We have got to be so much more optimistic about our future as we exit the European Union.

“This is our biggest moment as a nation since the end of the Second World War, when we can recast ourselves in a different way.”

New Zealand relied heavily on Britain for export and import trade as a colony and later as a semi-independent country, but were dumped when Britain united with Europe.

We may see some advantages in improving trade with Britain now, but that will only be as one of a number of trading regions and partners, if it gets anywhere.

I don’t know how a greater British military presence will be seen in South East Asia, but that shouldn’t cause us any problems here.

May’s UK play in disarray

Developments with Theresa May and Brexit suggest a growing degree  of disarray in the UK.

RNZ: British PM Theresa May pulls vote on Brexit deal

British Prime Minister Theresa May has postponed a crucial parliamentary vote on her Brexit deal because she said it “would be rejected by a significant margin”.

She said MPs backed much of the deal she has struck with the EU but there was concern over the Northern Ireland backstop plan.

Mrs May said she believed she could still get the deal through if she addressed MPs’ concerns and that what she intended to do in the next few days.

However, Speaker John Bercow – who chairs debates in the House of Commons – called on the government to give MPs a vote on whether Tuesday’s vote should be cancelled, saying it was the “right and obvious” thing to do given how angry some MPs were about the cancellation.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the government was in “complete chaos” and urged Mrs May to stand down.

The pound fell sharply in response to the reports earlier of a likely delay.

The deputy leader of the DUP – the Northern Ireland party whose backing Theresa May needs to win key votes – Nigel Dodds, said the situation was “quite frankly a bit of a shambles” and the PM was paying the price for crossing her “red lines” when it came to Northern Ireland.

And it appears to be affecting more than the UK:  Dow slides 500 points on Brexit drama, bank selloff

Brexit chaos and sinking bank stocks are combining to deal the stock market another blow.

The Dow fell 500 points, or 1.9%, on Monday. The index tumbled below the 24,000 level. The S&P 500 retreated 1.7%, while the Nasdaq lost 1%.

US stocks hit session lows after Prime Minister Theresa May said she would delay a crucial vote on her Brexit deal. The British pound extended its losses, plunging 1.6% against the US dollar. Sterling is on track for its worst close since April 2017.

“We seem to have taken a turn for the worse because of the Brexit news,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Capital. “Any news that isn’t good is immediately treated as terrible.”

The Brexit chaos reinforces one of Wall Street’s biggest fears: slowing global growth. Germany and Japan are already in economic contraction, while China’s economy has suffered from a wave of tariffs.

 

 

EU leaders agree to UK Brexit proposal

RNZ: UK’s Brexit deal agreed by EU leaders

EU leaders have approved an agreement on the UK’s withdrawal and future relations – insisting it is the “best and only deal possible”.

After 20 months of negotiations, the 27 leaders gave the deal their blessing after less than an hour’s discussion.

hey said the deal – which needs to be approved by the UK Parliament – paved the way for an “orderly withdrawal”.

Theresa May said the deal “delivered for the British people” and set the UK “on course for a prosperous future”.

Speaking in Brussels, she urged both Leave and Remain voters to unite behind the agreement, insisting the British public “do not want to spend any more time arguing about Brexit”.

The UK is scheduled to leave the EU on 29 March 2019.

The EU officially endorsed the terms of the UK’s withdrawal during a short meeting, bringing to an end negotiations which began in March 2017.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said anyone in Britain who thought the bloc might offer improved terms if MPs rejected the deal would be “disappointed.

The UK Parliament is expected to vote on the deal on 12 December, but its approval is far from guaranteed.

Labour, the Lib Dems, the SNP, the DUP and many Conservatives MPs are set to vote against.

Mrs May has appealed to the British public to get behind the agreement – saying that although it involved compromises, it was a “good deal that unlocks a bright future for the UK”.

At a news conference in Brussels, she said the agreement would:

  • end freedom of movement “in full and once and for all”
  • protect the constitutional integrity of the UK, and
  • ensure a return to “laws being made in our country by democratically elected politicians interpreted and enforced by British courts”.

The agreement, she added, would not remove Gibraltar from the “UK family” – a reference to a last-minute wrangle with Spain over the territory.

The EU leaders have approved the two key Brexit documents:

  • The EU withdrawal agreement: a 599-page, legally binding document setting out the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU. It covers the UK’s £39bn “divorce bill”, citizens’ rights and the Northern Ireland “backstop” – a way to keep the Irish border open, if trade talks stall
  • The political declaration, which sets out what the UK and EU’s relationship may be like after Brexit – outlining how things like UK-EU trade and security will work

There was no formal vote on Sunday, with the EU proceeding by consensus.

Britain and EU agree on post-Brexit relationship

Reuters:  EU, Britain agree draft deal on future relations

Britain and the European Union have agreed a draft text setting out a close post-Brexit relationship, though wrangling with Spain over control of Gibraltar must still be settled before EU leaders meet on Sunday in order to rubber-stamp the pact.

“The British people want Brexit to be settled. They want a good deal that sets us on a course for a brighter future,” British Prime Minister Theresa May told parliament.

“The deal that will enable us to do this is now within our grasp. In these crucial 72 hours ahead, I will do everything possible to deliver it for the British people.”

Her spokesman said she believed she could win a critical vote in parliament on the deal, expected next month, but many of those she needs to persuade appeared unconvinced.

Guardian: May defends under-fire Brexit plan: ‘a deal is within our grasp’

Painting the agreement as a bespoke and carefully negotiated plan, May told MPs it disproved the idea that the only relationships on offer would be Norway or Canada. “The text we have now agreed would create a new free trade area with the EU, with no tariffs, fees, charges or quantitative restrictions. This will be the first such agreement from the EU with any advanced economy in the world – and will be good for jobs,” she said.

“Crucially the text we have agreed has an explicit reference to the development of an independent trade policy by the UK beyond this partnership with the EU, so we would have the abilities to sign new trade deals and capitalise on new trade deals with the fastest-growing economies around the world. We will be able to get on with this negotiating deals during the transition period.”

May said there was “an explicit commitment to consider facilitative arrangement and technologies to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland”, and thanked Iain Duncan Smith and Owen Paterson for their input on that, which was jeered by some Tory MPs. Paterson and Duncan Smith saw the prime minister in Downing Street last week.

May also reiterated that she had held talks about Gibraltar with Spain, saying: “I was absolutely clear that Gibraltar’s British sovereignty will be protected.”

She ended: “The British people want Brexit to be settled. They want a good deal that sets us on course for a brighter future. And they want us to come together as a country and to move on and focus on the big issues at home. The deal that will enable us to do this, is now within our grasp. In these crucial 72 hours, I will do everything in my power to deliver this to the British people.”

Guardian: Brexit political declaration fails to offer frictionless trade

A joint document on Britain’s post-Brexit relationship with the EU fails to offer any hope of frictionless trade, said to be vital to the British economy, but provides Theresa May with arguments to bolster her hopes of selling the deal to Brexiters in parliament.

leaked 26-page political declaration, to be approved by EU leaders at a Brexit summit on Sunday, paints a picture of the future relationship that differs substantially from the proposals made by the prime minister at Chequers in the summer.

According to the declaration the two sides “envisage having a trading relationship on goods that is as close as possible”, but the EU and the UK would be separate markets with inevitable barriers to trade, and there is no reference to a common rulebook.

The document does reassert the plan for both sides to “build and improve on the single customs territory” already negotiated in the withdrawal agreement.

 

France, Germany look to strengthen Euro zone (without Britain)

French President Emmanuel Macron called on Sunday for Germany and France to dig deeper as allies in their bid to spearhead a more united Europe, including by overcoming lingering scepticism on issues such as a euro zone budget.

In a speech to the German lower house of parliament on Sunday at an event honoring war victims, Macron said the onus was on France and Germany to pursue those efforts.

“This new phase can be scary as we will have to share, pool together our decision-making, our policies on foreign affairs, migration and development, an increasing part of our budgets and even fiscal resources, build a common defense strategy,” Macron said at the Bundestag.

“We have to overcome our taboos and overcome our habits.”

Macron, who later met German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin for talks, evoked a world “at a crossroad” in his speech, pitting nationalist movements “with no memory” against more modern, progressive ones.

“Europe, and within it, the Franco-German alliance, has the obligation not to let the world slip into chaos,” he said.

Meanwhile: Theresa May to visit Brussels this week as she defends Brexit deal

 

Divided over Brexit but nowhere to run

Financial Times:  Brexit deal crisis: Rudd returns, Gove stays

Theresa May has reshuffled her cabinet as she battles for survival, replacing the two minister who resigned as part of the political fallout over the draft Brexit treaty. The big question still hanging over the prime minister is whether those seeking to oust her can find 48 Tory MPs needed to trigger a no confidence vote.

BBC:

Summary

  1. Steve Barclay is appointed new Brexit Secretary, replacing Dominic Raab
  2. Former Home Secretary Amber Rudd returns to cabinet as the Work and Pensions Secretary
  3. Theresa May answered listeners’ questions on the draft Brexit deal on LBC radio show
  4. Michael Gove ends speculation about whether he would follow fellow Brexiteers out of the cabinet
  5. International Trade Secretary Liam Fox joins Mr Gove in urging MPs to support the deal
  6. More than 20 MPs have called for a no-confidence vote in the prime minister

Also from BBC:

When the UK made a major change in direction towards the EU it created chaos in New Zealand as our biggest marker for produce turned it’s back on us.

Now the chaos is in Britain as they try to exit from the EU, with little effect on us apart from possibly, eventually, providing more trade opportunities.

UK Ministers resign, confidence vote likely for Theresa May

Missy has summarised developments (overnight NZ time) in the UK political split over Brexit plans, with a number of Cabinet Ministers resigning (7 so far), and a confidence vote in Theresa May likely.

(Thanks for this Missy).


Her ‘deal’ has been compared to Chamberlain returning from Munich.

A quick review of this morning’s happenings (rather than re-posting everything I posted this morning).

Five Members of the cabinet have resigned, they are:

  1. Shailesh Vara – Junior Minister for Northern Ireland. He claims that the deal leaves Britain in a half way house.
  2. Dominic Raab – Secretary of State for Exiting the EU. He said the indefinite backstop threatens to break up the Union.
  3. Esther McVey – Secretary of State for Work & Pensions. She said the deal does not honour the result of the referendum.
  4. Suella Braverman – Junior Minister for the Department for Exiting the EU. She warned that the concessions do not respect the will of the people.
  5. Anne-Marie Trevelyan – Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Education Secretary. She said the deal is unacceptable to Brexit Voters.
  6. Ranil Jayawardena – Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice. He said the deal does not deliver a fair Brexit.
  7. Rehman Chishti, the PM’s trade envoy to Pakistan and Vice chairman of the Conservative Party for communities has resigned, saying that the deal is contrary to their Manifesto commitment.

May gave a statement in Parliament after which she received no support. During the questions after Jacob Rees-Mogg asked May why he shouldn’t put in a letter to the 1922 Committee Chariman. This is quite a big thing, whatever you think of him JRM has always supported the PM, he hasn’t supported the deal, but he has always said he supports the PM of the day, and that he has indicated in Parliament that he is thinking of putting in a letter of no confidence is quite a big deal, and he has influence among other Brexiters.

When he spoke in Parliament JRM obviously already had his letter written, he has just submitted it to the 1922 Committee. The key part is this: ‘It is of considerable importance that politicians stick to their commitments or do not make such commitments in the first place. Regrettably, this is not the situation, therefore, in accordance with the relevant rules and procedures of the Conservative Party and the 1922 Committee this is a formal letter of No Confidence in the Leader of the Party, the Rt. Hon. Theresa May.’

JRM has said that the Brexit deal has turned out to be worse than anticipated and fails to meet the promises given to the nation by the PM.

It is expected that the required number of letters will be received by the Chair of the 1922 Committee by tomorrow, and if so then a vote of confidence in Theresa May as leader on Tuesday is expected.

There has been some speculation on who may run for leader, though I think we may get a better idea when the Chair of the 1922 Committee are closer to receiving the 48 letters needed and we see which Cabinet members resign then.

Leading contenders at the moment are:

  • Dominic Raab (odds about 11-2)
  • Boris Johnson (odds about 5-1)
  • Sajid Javid (odds about 5-1) he is the most credible leading contender, despite having voted remain he is against a soft Brexit and for delivering Brexit. He has gone against Theresa May on several occasions, and he was reportedly behind a tougher stance on EU Migrants post Brexit than was originally positioned by TM. Has the advantage of being an ethnic minority (Pakistani parents) and a (non practicing) Muslim, despite having been brought up in a Muslim household he doesn’t practice now, and has stated on a number of occasions the only religion in his house is Christianity (his wife is apparently a practicing Christian). So looks good for the moderate Muslim vote, but isn’t a problem for the extreme anti-Muslim vote.
  • Jeremy Hunt (odds about 8-1) he won’t be a popular choice, he is universally disliked by the public.
  • David Davis (odds about 11-1) he is a popular choice among many party members to bring in as an interim PM until Brexit is done.
  • Amber Rudd (odds about 50-1)

Sources are reporting that Michael Gove was offered the Brexit Secretary job, but he has turned it down unless he can go back to Brussels and renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement.

 

May struggling with Brexit

It is being described as a botched deal or a no deal.