We have a ‘#BrexitDeal’!

We’ll get our country back, control our borders and make our own laws and forge our own trade deals. It will be quick, easy and absolute. We will thrive beyond our wildest dreams.

No, not that deal.

And it isn’t a deal. It’s just Phase One of Article 50.

The UK has agreed to all three of the key EU demands on the divorce settlement: finances, citizens’ rights and the Irish border. It is a relief, of course, because it takes away the cliff edge of ‘no deal’ or ‘hard brexit’ that would so imperil us but it is also kicking some hefty cans down the road and it drives us towards exactly the ‘soft’ kind of Brexit that highlights the absurdities. We leave, having stayed. We are staying with having left.

Relief that we are not going over the cliff is merited and palpable, if you ignore the Faragists. Really, though, we are leaving the favour of the big house on a grand estate, where we helped to make the rules, so that we can keep to ourselves, in our crumbling old shed, at the edge of the grounds, while continuing to pay our old maintenance fees and to do as we are told. What a pity that George Osborne did not fix its roof while the sun was shining.

No cliff
For the Brexit feels
Nor milk and honey
Facts got real
Fudge found appeal
An utter waste of time and money


’Joint report on progress during phase 1 of negotiations under Article 50 TEU on the United Kingdom’s orderly withdrawal from the European Union’ – gov.uk

“No, the Brexit deal hasn’t just ‘sold the country down the river’” – Oliver Norgrove

”The EU deal is a victory for a softer Brexit” – Osborne’s Evening Standard

“All sides have signed up to something, but nobody is clear how it will be achieved.” – Irish Times

The phase 1 deal and where it takes us – Chris Grey

Oh and just to rub it in, the EU and Japan finalised negotiations of the Economic Partnership Agreement, today: Joint Statement


Say it with me, dear Reader: ’Soft Brexit’ takes the piss out of both Leave and Remain. There is still no Brexit available that is better for Britain than no Brexit, at all.

Radio 4 Today’s John Humphrys was twitter-trending, this morning, as he often does but, this time, it was actually under the correct spelling of his name. Previously he has been ‘Humphries’ and ‘Humphreys’ and ‘Humphry’. No divergence, today, from the accuracy of what actually exists. That is what progress looks like when the manifestation of perception is in “full alignment” with reality. Take note, Brexiteers.


It’s gonna be great

It’s gonna be quick
It’s gonna be easy
We’re gonna thrive
It’s gonna be great
Can’t wait

”Data? What data?” laughed Davis
“We have our judgements and wishes
Look! over there! Foreign fish! By gods:
They’d better have visas!”

These things take time
It’s complicated
We will survive
Nothing has changed
This is fine


Bulldog Blighty Brexit Secretary, David Davis: how it all unravelled – BBC

“It’s incredible to see a man so utterly ignorant of facts leading this country towards a destination that hasn’t even been determined” – James O’Brien

’What Brexit impact papers?’ – Guardian quiz on what David Davis said

“If the Referendum result makes Brexit inevitable then within the spectrum of ‘soft’ to ‘hard’ to ‘no deal’ Brexit the hard Brexit possibility disappeared this week” – Chris Grey

Easy-read report on the evidence from Norwegian and Swiss customs officials to the House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee – Flipchart Rick explains why there are no magical solutions.

“But if we’re going to make the best of it, the government needs to listen to sound advice on trade. We haven’t had enough of experts” – Philippe Legrain


There on the stair!
Where on the stair?
Right there!
A little mouse with clogs on
Well I declare!
Going clip-clippety-clop on the stair”

’A Windmill In Old Amsterdam’ https://youtu.be/2fg7w49UnGA

The brimstone caress of Brexit swagger and blag

Brexit is bringing the whole country down
And Boris is waving his Johnson around.
Fox is a toxic shock, trading in war-game stock;
Gove is a dab-hand at taking the Michael
And Hannan and Minford and Redwood and Mogg
Are up-cycled dog whistles for Farage’s gob.
Here’s Double D Davis, whose swagger and blag
Is fading since he proved that that’s all he had.
There’s knee-capper Hoey and Stuart and Field,
Who, frankly, banked hard on ukippy’s left yield.
Then there’s dinosaur Lawson, Mills, Batten and
Paterson, Digby and Dyson and WetherspoonTim
And that JCB bloke playing punchline and joke
And that dim-witted woman who went to the jungle
For gravy and lolz and Priti pretentious who went on
Her own misadventure and took the household.
And Esther McVey, who will not go away,
Follows IDS’ faithiness, cruel in its cluelessness,
Making the DUP run for its blood money,
Fuelled every day by the brimstone caress
Of the priests on high-horses in an amoral Press.


This is the priest all shaven and shorn,
That married the man all tattered and torn,
That kissed the maiden all forlorn,
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn,
That tossed the dog that worried the cat,
That chased the rat that ate the malt,
That lay in the house that Jack built.

’This is The House That Jack Built’ – https://youtu.be/hGP8wqE0Kkg


Who is the UK to become? A mere quirk of geography and history? It is certainly not united. Brexit makes our collective identity increasingly pertinent. What a tragedy that we are making such a veritable constitutional, economic and civil mess out of reactionary misdirection and misinformed, short-sighted, ideological expedience.

When Brexits inevitably don’t get all the goodies that Brexiteers gave them to expect, it is said that they will blame Remain, along with the rest of the EU. Well, they’re already blaming everyone but themselves – and getting away with it. It is currently the turn of the Republic of Ireland and those in Northern Ireland who did not vote Leave in the EU referendum (55.8%) and did not vote or for the DUP in the last General Election (64%).

They will blame the EU for being bigger and better at negotiations. They’ll blame the Remainers for softening Brexit. They’ll blame the EU for looking after its own interests and people. They’ll blame the Remainers for trying to prevent rather than help the UK to hobble itself.

Of course, it’s a dreadful prospect that the inevitable regret and anger might direct its recriminations at either but it’s a bigger disaster that the time it might take to reach critical mass in Bregret may well come too late. Too late to stop it happening, at all. Too late for most leavers to say sorry on account that they will likely be retired, dead or old enough to genuinely have a bad memory. Too late to do much but muddle through the disintegration or, cap in hand, apply to rejoin, oh, dear gods…

It will be left to historians and news archives to explain why and how a once great nation became a global pipsqueak.


Anand Menon explains ‘Why the Republic and Northern Ireland need shared regulatory frameworks

Chris Grey’s essential explainer on ‘Why Brexiters are flummoxed by the Irish border’ and why their solutions are so badly flawed.

For excellent context and perspective, Naomi O’Leary: ‘Britain’s ignorance of Ireland is leading it blindly into crisis

RTÉ reports ‘UK to make Brexit concessions over NI’ – The DUP and Brexiteers will certainly have something to say about that. As will Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Gibraltar, London, Grimsby…


And Phase One is supposed to be the easiest bit!

I repeat: ‘hard Brexit’ is shitty death and ‘soft Brexit’ takes the piss out of both Leavers and Remainers. There simply is no Brexit available that is better for Britain than no Brexit at all. Brexit was supposed to provide a superior state of being, remember. It, self-evidently, can not; will not. It is still not worth the costs, the time or the risks.

Chicken and Scapegoat Stew

On the thorny subject of the Irish border, Jacob Rees-Mogg, today, told BBC’s Daily Politics: “The customs union is a protectionist racket. It puts up the price of food, of clothing, of footwear. These hit the poorest in our country the most.”

First of all: is protectionism not just the ultimate consequence of an economic model that relies on power and profit achieved through competition? The last four decades over which Thatcherite philosophy manifested as libertarian (neoliberal) effects. Time during which competition was championed as the driver of national prosperity and empowerment for individuals, exercised through consumer choice.

Is Rees-Mogg seriously suggesting that leaving the customs union is some altruistic measure? Leavers spent the whole campaign telling us that it was our inability to make our own trade deals that was stifling our economy. That is why they said they didn’t like the customs union. But that was before the islands of Ireland took their rightful place at the top of the list of Brexiting obstacles. Leaving the customs union, back then, was all about the buccaneering narrative. Think Liam Fox and his trade yacht: how Blighty is so darned healthy, clever and resourceful that going it alone was going to be an absolute doddle. Bring on the glory of competition!

Jacob Rees-Mogg wants to leave the customs union because staying in it removes the UK’s ability to reduce regulation, tax and rights, lower consumer standards and secure separate trade deals that the Minford Mob and Legatum fancy are what will make Britain great again. Trade deals that cannot in any way adequately replace the trade we already do, let alone surpass it – by virtue of our EU membership which has all the leverage you’d expect of a massive globally influential bloc. Trade deals which Liam Fox wants to grandfather anyway because they are already pretty good, possibly as good as it gets; trade deals that the EU has either secured or is in the process of securing or pursuing anyway.

[It’s funny how Brexit resents the leverage and security of the EU so much that it is now desperately juggling its principles so as not to alienate the orange menace in the White House. Can’t wait ‘til China adds its considerable weight.]

Jacob would rather scapegoat the EU than acknowledge the effects of self-determined policies. He insults our intelligence with his patronising and false concern. He is a charlatan. Nothing about leaving the customs union provides a guarantee that importing cheaper goods will sustain our economy. Cheaper imports sounds great, especially if your months last longer than your money but, in reality, they are a massive threat to the sustainability of our own production and export potential.

Cheaper goods threaten the capacity of our own producers to compete. Imports flood the market, people buy them, home producers go bust, choice diminishes, prices go up. Benefit is temporary. Real choice is for those who can actually afford to exercise it. How does that help the national finances? How does that help sovereignty, sustainability and security? How does that help the poor?

Cheaper goods easily mean lower standards. Whether homemade or imported, it sounds more like lower animal welfare standards, industrialised agriculture, sweat shops, environmental abuses, etc, etc. It sounds more like a way to both have your own people impoverished and exploited and a way that allows an expansion of the exploitation of other people and resources. It’s not altruism. Hell, it’s not even ‘in the national interest’.


Peter Crosskey on “the relentless downward pressure” in ‘how Brexit will change the way you eat’

LSE: ‘Legatum Institute’s ‘solution’ for the Brexit border is highly problematic

Chicken and scapegoat stew: Faisal Islam explains the games going on right now over the Irish border.

Ian Dunt: ‘Know your soft Brexit


Industry, Business and special interest groups are already angling for concessions. If Northern Ireland gets a tailor-fudged Brexit, what is to stop Scotland, Wales and Gibraltar pushing for theirs? So much for one nation, all in it together. What an unforgivable, time-consuming and costly mess.

Parliament – Commons Select Committee: Progress of the UK’s negotiations on EU withdrawal report released (1-12-2017)


‘Hard Brexit’ is still shitty death and ‘soft Brexit’ (compromise), although better than the cliff, still takes the piss out of both Leavers and Remainers. There simply is still no Brexit available that is better for Britain than no Brexit at all.

Update – Well, this isn’t sinister, at all… Jacob Rees-Mogg met Steve Bannon to discuss US-UK politics

To Lands that are Sunlit

I can’t wait for the Brexit impact reports
that assess the advantages
leaving has brought;

the remorse there will be
from the side that was wrong
all along. I can’t wait

for the memes
and cartoons on the Twitterstream;
threads that explain
to remain. I can’t wait

for a shift
in the confidence trick
and the promising uplift
to lands that are sunlit
and national discourse to change.

Laura Kuenssberg: ”The Department for Exiting the European Union has found itself in a pickle thanks to a stash of documents that government sources claim don’t really exist.” – BBC News

Brexit Impact Studies by the European Parliament have been publicly available for months – EU Parliament

Country down

Britain is living in permanent smog
The Blighty tail is wagging the dog
The Brexit yacht is running aground
But Remain is “talking the country down”?

They’re having a laugh: just look at the clues
In the options, reactions, events in the News
As our worldly repute is observed at the brink
And the scope of our influence rapidly shrinks

They are having a laugh: just look at the Budget
It’s like the Economy can’t bear to touch it
Best part of a decade, the pips have been squeezed
And now Brexit delivers a wasting disease

The Leavers are nothing with no one to blame
So it falls on the people who voted Remain
But look anywhere, everywhere, under the Crown
And Brexit is bringing the whole country down


”Faragism survived… Nothing the chancellor does in his budget can help with that ailment.” – Rafael Behr: Philip Hammond’s budget cannot erase the stain on the soul of his party

“We are seeing a shrivelling up of the British economy, a slump towards perpetual mediocrity.” – Ian Dunt: Budget 2017: Hammond paints a portrait of despair