I have finally discovered what the White Walkers were trying to say!
Here’s the message: “PASS THERESA’S WITHDRAWAL AGREEMENT OR YOU SHALL ALL DIE”.
[P.S. This is my created graphic, it’s not just something stolen off the internet.]
Derek watches as the last group of undergraduates, including Wren English, leaves the party. Then he yells across the room, ‘Fugg you, Compdon, you fugging liggspiddle.’ He staggers towards Compton while holding his wine bottle. ‘You’re a fugging fashist. You should be drummed out of the depardmend for your disguzting views.’
‘I think you’ve had too much to drink, Derek,’ says Compton, who is fairly sober, as he intends to drive home. He realises before everyone else that this is not a joke, and Derek is deadly serious.
It’s the afternoon of the official departmental end-of-the-academic-year party. The students got their results a few days ago, and the graduating third-years have been invited to mingle and drink with the staff and postgrads in one of the larger departmental teaching rooms, with free wine and cheese laid on by the department. About fifteen to twenty bright and naive students usually turn up for this, happy students who have done well or better than they expected to. Occasionally a disgruntled one comes along who glares at the lecturers they imagine are responsible for them not getting the degree class they thought was their due. But generally it’s a festive occasion, with innocent, optimistic students dreaming their dreams of a glorious future, and feeling a little misty-eyed about the department.
One especially wide-eyed type is the eumorphous Wren English, who got a First, and who has been in several of Ren’s classes in the last two years. She’s been talking to him this afternoon, and if Ren isn’t mistaken, is aggressively thrusting her breasts towards him as if to say, ‘You’re allowed to play with these now.’ Thankfully her classmates have just dragged her away to go somewhere else, because Ren is getting very tempted to take her up on the offer.
There is more wine than anyone can drink today, but Derek is trying his best. So is Ren. And so are some of the postgrads. Grant and Adelaide, of course, are not here. Neither is Simon or Adalia, and Panos left absolutely yonks ago for the Spanish beaches, neglecting all his moderating duties, which someone else has had to do. Derek, for once, didn’t skip out on his marking, so perhaps he is feeling unusually morally virtuous at this moment. Or maybe he is pissed-off because he has had to do some drudge work.
The Continentals look delighted to see Derek lay into one of his fellow analytics for his political failings, but none of them join in. Derek can cop the fallout himself.
‘You’re a cund. A right-wing baztard,’ yells Derek, his ocular matrices of bloodshot veins blazing like two fiery mazes in Hell, impossible labyrinths which the occupants will never escape from. ‘We never should’ve hired you.’ Can you have two impossible labyrinths in Hell, Ren wonders. Maybe one’s a reflection of the other? ‘Shid knows what politics you’re filling your studenz heads wid.’
‘I don’t proselytise to the students about politics. Neither should you,’ says Compton.
‘You fugger. You Thatcher-loving fugger,’ says Derek, staggering and swaying and starting to foam slightly at the mouth. ‘You fug Pinochet up the arz at weegends. Workhouses and chimney-sweeps, that’s what you want, isn’t it? Goozestebbing, lev, right, lev, right, oh fug, my helmed’s come off, well, we’ll just have to shoot you for thad, won’t we? Oh yes, if you can’d keeb your helmed on then you’ll have to be shot like a dog.’
Derek is getting closer to Compton, and he starts stabbing his finger at him.
‘That’s whad it’s all aboud, you Nazi gunner man wid a gun and big knife to shood people who don’d do whod you dell ‘em. Cracken skulls with your gun cos you’d run oud of bulleds and pizzing on the dead bodies and biding fingas off to get at the rings onna the fingers.’
Derek takes a big swig from his bottle, three, four, five glugs.
‘You’re the disgrace, Derek,’ says Compton, who is for once not amused. ‘You’re the one acting like a fascist. It’s never far from the surface with you left-wing authoritarians.’
‘Don’d you fugging talka me like that, you’ll be oudda here, sag you tomorrow.’
Walter comes over to Derek.
‘Derek, that’s quite enough. Let’s break it up now.’
‘Nah, got to tell the right-wing cund some more home truths. We don’t wand him here. Drive out the Thadcherites.’
Walter tries to take Derek’s arm. Derek breaks free, and raises his arms (and the bottle) in the air, and shouts wildly. ‘Oooooh, ooooh, I’m the great Comdon and I say lefties are bad. I’m a bad man becoz Combdon says so. I only freed the slabes and gave all the workers enough money to lib on, but Combdon comes in and says we’re liars.’
Tony and Verna decide that that’s enough, and they help Walter to remove Derek from the room.
‘Ged him out now,’ says Derek as he’s taken outside. ‘If no-one else’ll do it I’ll throw him oud myself with my frigging pinkie.’
‘There you go,’ says Compton, ‘the left in action.’
‘He’s just drunk,’ says Bill Porterfield.
‘He’s not just drunk. That was political intimidation, a game the left plays all too well. Why is he allowed to get away with it?’
‘Will he get away with it?’ asks Ren.
‘Of course he will. What’s going to happen? Nothing. Even if he’s talked to, he’ll just say, oh, I was drunk, just made a few personal comments about someone I don’t get on with personally. And that will be that. Not even a slap on the wrist.’
‘Academics are only human,’ says Bill. ‘People fall out, get drunk, say a few unwise things.’
‘But this isn’t a personal matter. This isn’t just Derek and I not getting on. This is straightforward political thuggery.’
It’s obvious that what Compton is saying is not going down well with some of the postgraduates, particularly a group of three left-wing postgrads, Huey, Dewey and Louie, as Ren calls them (more specifically, Huey Long, John Dewey, and Louis Althusser), who look up to Derek. (Not that Derek is willing to be a supervisor to any of them. Derek doesn’t have postgrads because they’re too much work.)
It’s also not going down well with Zack Paddlemore, a graduate student from America, who Ren has labelled ‘Zack of Crap’. (Ren managed to convince people that he’d heard this from someone else. Now everyone calls Zack this, including Zack sometimes.)
Zack is a type who’s hard to avoid in a British Humanities department. He’s the very fat, loudmouthed, goateed, left-wing American who has come to Europe to escape the oppression of conservative America, and he will loudly tell everyone, at all times, of how awful and right-wing America is, and how you shouldn’t confuse him with George Bush, no sir-ree, he’s no fascist, and he loves Europe and its progressive culture and its cobblestones, in fact its culture full-stop, because America has no culture other than McDonalds. This sort of walking modern Humanities infestiche always sounds for all the world like he’s never lived in the U.S. and has got all his ideas about his own home country from one of those British TV documentaries where an arch-wit goes to America to make fun of enormous donut-eaters who think the best reading material is the TV Guide.
Zack desperately wants to hang out with Huey, Dewey and Louie, but his correct politics don’t make up for the fact that he’s an embarrassment, and they do not want to be lumbered with a girl-repellent. For all his love of all things British and European, Zack has no clue about what passes as cool in Britain or Europe. Or, for that matter, the US.
‘Derek’s just passionate about politics,’ says Zack, in his always full-bore voice. ‘I wish people in the States were that committed.’
Huey, Dewey and Louie don’t say anything, but Zack is too thick to know when his opinion is not wanted, not even by the leftists.
‘I remember when one of our Professors…’
‘Blythe, it’s probably best to let it drop,’ says Walter, who has come back, letting Tony and Verna look after Derek.
‘I’m going home,’ says an angry Compton.
‘Blythe?’ says Zack.
‘Fucking left-wingers poison everything,’ Compton can be heard saying as he leaves.
Forget the headlines about the men in the grey suits finally coming for Theresa May. She’s fudged the whole thing, with their connivance, because they’re all terrified of doing anything definite.
Just ask yourself this question. Have the 1922 committee changed the party rules to allow a leadership challenge? Answer: No. Then ask yourself this question: Are they now intending to change the rules to allow a leadership challenge? Answer: No, they’re no longer going to do that. Also this question: Has Theresa May given any firm date to stand down on? Answer: No. Has she made the whole thing so vague that she could string it out until the end of the year if she wanted to? Answer: yes.
So there you go. The ‘ruthless’ men in grey suits patched up a fudge to keep the whole ghastly mess on the road for a further indefinite period, during which time the Tories will sink for good.
Sink, because it’s clear that nobody cares any more. It’s like listening to your annoying neighbours’ conversations when you’re about to move house. You hear the noises, but you don’t really care what they’re saying now because you know none of it matters to you any more. Everyone has moved on from the Tories. Getting Tory news now is like hearing a bit of gossip about an old partner, the tedious one you got stuck with for ages and it was such a relief that you finally were able to leave that you immediately put them out of your mind, and now when you hear what they’re doing it only raises the slightest flicker of interest in your mind.
So. Game of Thrones. I don’t watch it, except the occasional bit when I can’t avoid it (my wife is a fan). Latest episode: dragon burns city. So I watched this short clip in a story about the Simpsons predicting it. Can someone explain to me how it is that the dragon’s fire doesn’t just burn stuff, but blows it up? As soon as it touches a house, the house just bursts apart. Rock-solid castles made of thick stone blow up at the merest hint of warm air. What’s in the fire? TNT?
It’s not the force of the fire, because it’s not coming out that fast, so… all right, it’s just fantasy, I could just as easily ask where the dragons get all the energy to produce the fire from in the first place (perhaps it’s magic). I’m just joking, but it did look kind of fake and silly, even if it’s expensive fake and silly.
I assume, by the way, that Daenerys is a metaphor for Theresa May and her insane scorched Earth policy (with the dragon as her Withdrawal Agreement).
You will have noticed that Carl Beech, aka ‘Nick’, the fantasist whose lies caused so much trouble for a lot of innocent men, has gone on trial for perverting the course of justice.
What is incredible – absolutely incredible – about this case is that the police believed the most arrant nonsense from a man who’s about as believable as a British Remainer MP.
Of course many police forces have a long line of believing the most fantastic rubbish, such as all the ridiculous satanic abuse cases from the 80s in the UK and the US. You’d think they would have learned from those. Maybe they did. But then along came the modern ‘Believe all victims’ mantra, and whatever they learned about how to separate good and bad evidence in such cases went out the window.
I’m not going to go into the completely unbelievable stories that he so obviously made up, because you’ll have read those yourself (and you’ll have seen the testimony video if you’re unlucky), and you will have already wondered ‘How could anybody be so stupid as to believe the shit this guy was spinning? How could they not have done even the most basic checks on his story?’ All I can say is, how can we trust the police after yet another appalling disaster of their own making has occurred? It is not fit for purpose.
And here’s some more garbage from the police:
Britain’s “slow and cumbersome” laws on policing protests need to be updated after the Extinction Rebellion demonstrations that cost £7.5 million in extra police costs, the country’s most senior officer has said.
Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, said the “ancient” public order laws needed to be “looked at” because they prevented the police from acting “swiftly and purposefully” to tackle the protests which brought parts of London to a standstill.
To see that this is self-justifying bollocks, ask yourself this: do you think that if UKIP types had pulled this stunt they’d have gotten the same kid-gloves treatment as the Extinction Rebellion protestors got? Do you think there would have been the same small number of arrests? Do you think it would have carried on for so long? Do you think there would have been police officers dancing and skateboarding in the street with the protestors?
Update: It’s also looking like the whole Tommy Robinson debacle was a frame-up.
So Michael Gove continues his quest to completely torch his previous good reputation amongst conservatives and Leavers by saying that Theresa May should be left alone so can she go in her own good time.
Michael Gove has called on his colleagues to give Theresa May the “time, space and dignity” to resign on her own terms as Tory MPs prepared to urge the Prime Minister to trigger an immediate leadership election.
The Environment Secretary said Mrs May would be PM “for a while to come yet” and MPs should allow her to honour her commitment to quit once Brexit has been delivered.
Everyone has their own theory about what happened to Gove. Here’s mine. A few years ago, at the height of his education reforms, Gove became the most hated man in chattering class circles. I move in those circles a lot, and I heard everyone unloading on him with both barrels. They really hated him like no-one else at that time. He was dinner party enemy number one.
The grounds for this Gove hate, were, of course, ridiculous and hysterical, as is typical of those circles. And Gove should have regarded this as a badge of honour. The chatterati only hated him because he was refusing to stand down in the face of their wrath, like Tory Ministers usually do. They despise spineless Tory ministers who back down, but they will tolerate them; that’s their incentive. But if you don’t back down they go nuclear on you. Like with Farage and Trump. Also, Gove was actually winning. He was beating the blob. That’s unforgivable. So his name was mud amongst the educated upper-middle class.
That’s what he couldn’t take in the end. That’s his home tribe, so he would have been perfectly well aware of the score. Or maybe his wife couldn’t take it. Or maybe he just realised that this had ruined his hopes of ever being Prime Minister. He is, after all, one of those traditional politicians who still think being PM is a worthy personal aim, and something to be proud of.
So he decided to reinvent himself to unblacken his name, and to give himself a chance of being PM at a later stage. Environmentalism provided the perfect opportunity for this, because that’s something that all the upper-middle class are into, even the Tory ones. He pretends to be all affected by one of those David Attenborough docos. The idea that this conversion is for real is rather dubious, as Gove is an intelligent and cynical man who knows full well the sort of tricks the BBC gets up to.
But he sticks at it, and eventually it starts to work. He stares at Greta Thunberg as though she’s the reincarnation of Jesus, and says we must learn from her, and no-one in the media suggests that he is putting it on, and rather thickly. He is once again a thoughtful, liberal member of the better side of town, welcome once more at fancy soirees, and taken seriously as a Tory leadership canmdidate.
And you know what? If this had happened five years ago — even two years ago — it may have worked. Gove may have become PM. But now? It’s all pointless now. Gove doesn’t understand that the world he crawled his way into with so much effort is falling apart. The Tories are history, as the flipping point has happened (as I predicted recently). Nobody cares any more what the Tories do, or what they say. Gove is trying to become the leader of a ghost party.
Update: There is still the outside chance that the Tories will finally dump May, and be revitalised under the right leader, and win big in a new election. But for that to have any chance of happening the new leader must be a No Deal Leaver, and cannot be tainted by closeness to May. That rules Gove out. He’s a ghost candidate to be leader of a ghost party.
We’re constantly told that Leavers, and Leave MPs, won’t compromise, and that it’s Remainers who are the compromisers trying to bring the country together to do justice to both the 52% and the 48%. This is just an obvious flat-out lie that the media constantly refuses to call out.
Many Leave MPs, probably the majority, said that they would vote for Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement as long as she got the backstop removed. They even passed a Parliamentary motion saying they would do that. This was despite the WA being full of appalling sellouts that these Leavers were totally against. In the spirit of compromise they said they would vote for the WA, despite them regarding it as a disaster for the country, as long as the very worst thing about it, the backstop, was removed. Some of them eventually voted for it anyway, even though the backstop hadn’t been removed. That’s what I call extreme compromising. Yet the only message you hear about Leavers is ‘Hardliners, they won’t compromise an inch’.
Theresa May and the her Remain government, however, refused to change a single thing about the WA. Not a word. The best they could do was get a vague codocil added, which affected nothing, and had dubious legal status. They barely even bothered to ask the EU to change anything. They said it couldn’t be changed now, and it just had to passed, as it is, and if you don’t pass it now we’ll keep bringing the exact same thing back to Parliament until you do pass it.
How on Earth does this count as compromising? How is it that the Leavers are regarded as the ‘hardliners’ when they’ve bent over backwards to try to work out a deal with May, yet May’s team threw them absolutely nothing at all, and said if you don’t vote for this then you get nothing? That’s takes being a hardliner to near-psychotic levels. But squishy Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg and all the other Leavers are the ones who have failed to compromise, according to the press. And then journalists wonder why Leavers don’t trust them any more.
One of the big mistakes humans make is they they often think that the only sort of people who want to rule them with an iron hand are the sort of big, loud, shouty, axe-wielding thugs who have traditionally lusted for power and ruled over us with an iron hand. It’s an easy mistake to make because in the past those were the people most likely to seize power and oppress us.
But those are not the only sort of people who crave power and domination over their fellow humans. There are equally bad, and sometimes worse, people out there, and some of them are – or at least seem like – quiet, bookish nerds who you assume wouldn’t hurt a fly. This fact is something too many people have failed to grasp. The Lenins, the Trotsky’s, the Goebbels, the Pol Pots, often don’t look like bloodthirsty tyrants, but they can be far deadlier than the brutes. Stalin killed orders of magnitude more people than Ivan the Terrible.
It’s hard for many people to comprehend, but the bloodthirsty brigands who personally cut off heads in order to win the throne usually end up with less death on their hands than the bespectacled accountant types who never sully their own hands with blood, and this is because the accountant types are good at treating death as – quite literally – entries in a ledger. Paperwork.
Far and away the worst sort of ruler is the ruler who wants to control your thoughts. Brutes might demand obedience in your behaviour, but the clerics demand obedience in your mind as well.
I visited a primary school today. Do you want to know if it lived up to the stereotype of a modern school or not? Well, the first thing I saw when I came in was climate change messages everywhere.
Then I saw a noticeboard titled ‘STEM’, with a lot of papers pinned up on it. I went over to look at what had been pinned there. Was there anything actually about any STEM content? No. Every single piece of paper up there, all of which had been done by the pupils, was about getting more females into STEM. From the imploring tone of these posters you’d think this is one of the major issues facing the world at the moment.
And the teacher constantly talked about accreditation. We’re hoping to get accreditation for this. We’re hoping to get accreditation for that. For things like… their vegetable patch, and their gardening club. Apparently these are the sorts of things you can get government accreditation for these days (and no doubt money). I’m guessing there’ll be a government inspector along to check that the garden promotes climate change awareness to a sufficient degree, and the gardening club somehow promotes more females in STEM.
Compton knocks on Ren’s door.
‘Er… you might want to go to the office right now.’
‘What is it?’ says Ren.
‘A little present from Murnesia.’
‘It’s best if you take a look yourself.’
Ren hurries along to the departmental office. The whole disaster of the Murnesian state visit is something he’d gladly never think of again, but of course everyone he meets wants to talk about it. It certainly created some media interest in the Murnesian visit, to put it mildly, although obviously not in the way Raven was hoping for. Ren avoids talking about it, mostly because of George’s death.
Thankfully no-one else but George was killed that evening, but thirty-seven people were injured, three seriously, including the Professor of Chemical Engineering who has just come out of his coma. Twelve Murnesian politicians and delegates were injured by being clubbed by protesters, two ending up with broken skulls, and most with broken bones somewhere about their person. The protesters who attacked them didn’t fare much better.
George’s funeral had been spoiled somewhat by the unnecessary presence of the Murnesian ambassador and his wife, and a gaggle of Murnesian security service agents. It was hard to properly say goodbye to George when agents from the same security services who had killed him were sitting nearby, even if the security services had some claim to say that they couldn’t really be blamed for opening fire on him. The autopsy report said that it looked like he’d had a massive heart attack just before he was shot – although it was hard to be sure due to the damage done by two bullets which had entered his heart – so he may have died anyway. It turned out that George was really seventy-one, so at least there was the small satisfaction that he had lived a longer life than had initially been supposed.
As they walk along the corridor, Compton says, ‘I think it’s a small token of appreciation from Ding.’
Gossip has it that Raven is nearly spastic with rage at Philosophy for ruining his ‘most important event in human history.’ The whole ‘Oxbridge in Rankpo’ project has been postponed indefinitely following the bad publicity, which Raven regards as a financial disaster, especially now that Bear Hall will have to be completely rebuilt, although many others in the University think the University has avoided a financial disaster, as the latest rumour is that there was never going to be any money up front, and the University was expected to stump up a lot of the cost of building the campus itself. ‘Raven’s vanity project, it might have bankrupted us,’ is the gist of the latest gossip doing the rounds.
Raven, however, is unable to take revenge on Philosophy, due to one of Philosophy’s distinguished Professors having been shot dead by the Murnesians, and because Ding is so grateful to Ren. The man in the cricket coffin who looked like Ding, and who Ren saved from a beating, or worse, was not Ding, but Ding’s beloved older brother, and political adviser, Dong. Ding and Dong have been inseparable from childhood, and it was Dong who drew Ding into the imaginary delights of the coming Communist utopia in the 1950s. So while an unbalanced Raven fantasises about doing grievous harm to the Philosophy Department, he is currently impotent.
Although Ding is grateful to Ren, Ren’s actions during the riot have not been made public. He has been asked by the Murnesians to say nothing, and although he doesn’t like the Murnesians, he has no desire to announce to the world that he saved a veteran Communist killer. Foz doesn’t want to say anything either, although Foz is not in the Murnesians’ good books because he told Dong to go and hide in the toilet. Raven and Robot are the only other people who know what Ren did, plus Compton, who Ren has told under a condition of complete secrecy.
Ren goes into the office.
‘Oh,’ is all he can say. ‘I wasn’t expecting that.’
In the office are two life-size white marble statues, one of George, and one of him.
The former statue sees George dressed in a toga, with a youthful, powerhouse body and rippling muscles, posing mightily, with a book held out well in front of him. His face, however, is the face of old George, with his wrinkles, squint, and glasses, so an unkind person may be tempted to speculate that he is holding the book that far away so that he can focus on the words. However, a closer examination of Marble George’s eyeline reveals that at the moment that has been immortalised in stone he is looking not at the book but into the far distance, as though he is searching for a glimpse of an ancient, transcendent truth not easily discernible by lesser mortals.
The general effect is of a Disney version of Hercules that’s had George’s face superimposed. And George’s face looks very much like it does on the photo of him that is still up on the departmental website, so there’s no prizes for guessing where the sculptor got their inspiration from.
The statue of Ren has him playing cricket, batting, with pads and gloves on. He’s in mid-stroke, playing a straight drive, with the bat near his feet. It doesn’t look quite right, at least not to a cricketer, because his head is too straight. It isn’t leaning over to his right-hand side like it should be with that sort of shot. His face also looks very much like his photo on the departmental website. It’s not a bad photo, that one, thinks Ren, and his face in marble doesn’t look too bad at all.
‘Which one’s you, Ren?’ laughs the departmental administrator, Wendaline Clugston.
The statues stand atop their own bases. Ren’s just has his name on it, whereas George’s has his name, and the dates 1938 – 2002, on it. 1938 is the birthdate for George that appears on several old internet sites, but as has been recently revealed, George was really born in 1931.
‘Why do you get a statue?’ says Wendaline. ‘You weren’t shot.’
‘I was sitting next to George,’ says Ren.
‘Why doesn’t Grant get one? He was there too.’
‘A statue of Grant would be otiose, seeing as he already exists in statue form,’ says Compton.
‘Do you think they expect us to put these in the courtyard?’ says Wendaline.
‘The dates on George’s statue would indicate that,’ says Compton. ‘I don’t know about Ren’s. As a junior member of staff, and one who is very much alive, with, one would hope, his best achievements still to come in the decades ahead, I think that putting this in the courtyard would not be appropriate, whatever the intentions of the Murnesians. Ren did, after all, escape entirely unscathed.’
‘Totally agree, Compton,’ says Ren. ‘I think I’ll take it home.’
‘You’d have to ask Grant about that,’ says Wendoline.
‘Was it addressed to me, or the department?’
‘Let me look at the wrapping.’
Wendoline sifts through the masses of wrapping and finds that the statue of Ren came addressed to Ren.
‘It’s mine, then. Anyway, I can assure you that Grant will have no interest in claiming for the department a bad statue of me playing cricket. I doubt he’s even going to want that one of George. It can’t go up in the courtyard, surely? It’ll only make people laugh. Hardly fitting for George.’
‘How are you going to get yours home?’ says Wendoline.
‘I’m going to take it right now,’ says Ren. Before anyone sees it, he thinks. ‘I’ll go get my car and park it out the back in the loading bay.’
‘It won’t fit in your car,’ says Compton.
‘I’ll tie it to the roof.’
‘String. From the stationery cupboard. Can you get a couple of balls, and some scissors, while I get my car?’
When Ren comes back he has brought with him a blanket from his car.
‘Let’s put this over it to protect it’ he says, although really he just wants to hide it from view.
He and Compton carry the statue to the lift.
‘Have you seen the latest stories from Murnesia?’ says Compton while they’re in the lift, which is, thankfully, unoccupied by anyone else other than Compton, Ren, and Marble Ren. ‘That Ding is set to be toppled by Fan, because of the shame Ding brought upon Murnesia due to George getting shot?’
‘Yes, I saw that. I don’t suppose George ever thought that he’d be responsible for the downfall of an Asian dictator. Even if he is getting replaced by a near-identical Asian dictator. Do you think this is real marble?’
They carry Marble Ren, or Pseudo-Marble Ren, over to Ren’s car.
‘I’m not sure this is a good idea,’ says Compton. ‘That heavy base unbalances it. It may even snap off if the statue is held horizontally without any support for the base. Why don’t you wait, and get someone with an estate car or van to help you take it later?’ says Compton.
‘No way. I want this thing out of here immediately, before anyone else sees it.’
Ren puts the blanket on top of the car, to prevent scratches, and they place the statue on top of that. Ren folds the blanket over the rest of the statue, and then winds the car windows down.
‘We just wrap the string over the statue, and then through the windows, over and over,’ says Ren. ‘We need to do it enough times so that the bands of string are thick, otherwise it won’t be strong enough.’
‘It’s going to need to be tight,’ says Compton. ‘Any looseness could be fatal. You’re trying to hide this thing, but if it goes through someone’s windscreen and kills them you’ll be international news.’
They start tying it, but then Compton looks at his watch.
‘Shit, I have to go, got a class to teach. Sorry. You can wait for me if you like.’
‘I can do it myself. You go.’
Ren uses up all of the two balls of string tying up the statue, getting it as tight as he can, but he can’t do it as tight as he could if he had someone helping him.
Then he drives off, very carefully. All is well until he gets about halfway home, when he can feel the the statue starting to slip around a bit. He pulls over, cuts the knots with the scissors which he’s brought with him, and re-does the string. Then he drives the rest of the way home very slowly. He gently pulls up on the apron at the front of his house.
He gets out and looks at the statue on the car, satisfied with himself. A bit of string and bit of improvisation is all you need to handle most things, he thinks. He cuts the string, and pulls the statue into his arms. As soon as he lifts it away from the car, however, he feels the heavy base threaten to get away from him. This is a lot harder with just one person to lift than with two. He can’t get control of the base, and the smooth stone slips through his arms. The base hits the concrete hard, and the lower half the the statue disintegrates into rubble.
The Indian man who works in the corner shop across the road runs over to help.
‘Oh dear,’ he says. ‘You should have asked for some help. That is the end of that. Was it expensive?’
‘Nothing to worry about,’ says Ren breezily. ‘Just a joke statue made up by some art students. I’ll just keep the top half. Be easier to get in the house now.’
The shopkeeper goes back to his shop, and Ren takes the upper half into the house. It takes him a while to clean up the rubble, and then he notices that despite the blanket, the roof of his car has some nasty scratches on it. It’s not easy being a hero of the Murnesian revolution, he thinks. But things could be worse – most heroes of the glorious Murnesian socialist revolution ended up with a bullet in the back of their head. So he goes inside for a sit-down and a coffee and a counting of his blessings.
It’s funny how whenever you actually see hate-filled gammons in real life they’re always left-wing Remainers:
— Katie Hopkins (@KTHopkins) May 8, 2019
They’re so decisive:
Theresa May has been warned her MPs will begin moves to oust her as soon as this week if she agrees a Brexit deal with Labour ….
Senior sources within the Conservative Party said on Monday that Mrs May will be “gone very quickly” if she moves towards Labour’s demands for a post-Brexit customs union with the EU.
But she’s already negotiating with Labour in order to agree a plan, so why not oust her NOW? This is like watching a burglar breaking into your house, and telling them “I’m warning you, if you take too much of my stuff then I’ll do something”.
Nigel Evans, joint executive secretary of the 1922 Committee, said: “If she comes out of those talks offering something which is Brexit in name only then she has got a real problem.”
May’s WA is already fake Brexit, so obviously a plan further watered down by Labour is going to be even faker Brexit. So why are you waiting, you hopeless cowards?
Again, I trust the Speccie won’t object too much (if they find out) to me passing on the text of this important article where Downing St’s attempted rebuttals are themselves rebutted:
May’s Brexit deal: 40 rebuttals to Downing Street’s 40 rebuttals
Is a deal better than no deal? After Mr S attempted to answer that question over the weekend by publishing 40 horrors lurking in the small print of Theresa May’s Brexit deal, No. 10 got in touch with 40 rebuttals to Mr S’s 40 horrors.
Still with us? Well, episode three of this series is finally here. Mr S thanks 10 Downing Street for conceding many of the 40 points on the Withdrawal Agreement, and for engaging in all of them. In the spirit of friendly discussion, here are all 40 of Mr. S’s responses.
First, a note on ambiguity: In its rebuttals, No. 10 accepts ambiguity over how the document might be interpreted – which, in this case, is crucial. Under this system, if the UK And EU disagree over the interpretation then the EU (or the ECJ) decides. A normal international trade agreement would involve an independent third party mechanism for solving ambiguities. But in this Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, the government has given control of ambiguity to the EU. This is what makes it so legally unusual. It is therefore to the benefit of the EU for ambiguity to exist. Conversely, ambiguity is dangerous for the UK.
We started by pointing out that this is deal open-ended. In theory, there will be a transition period until a new trade deal between the E.U. and UK starts. In practise, that deal might never come: if so, the “backstop” would kick in keeping the UK in a Customs Union and we could not walk away without the EU’s say so. So this is not a fixed-length contract. The Withdrawal Agreement mentions an undefined end date sometime this century (“up to 31 December 20XX”, Art. 132) but there might be no end. No10’s rebuttals start at this point.
Downing Street: Article 132 has a blank date because the date has not yet been agreed between the two sides. The date will represent a maximum length.
Mr S’s response: Oh no it won’t. There is no ‘maximum length’ to this: it’s designed so one phase can move seamlessly to another. An important point which explains why so many ministers have resigned. If this deal was genuinely time-limited, as the UK originally wanted, it would not be so controversial. It is designed to be extended indefinitely – and uniquely amongst international treaties, this does not allow us to walk away or serve notice.
1. Mr. S’s critique: From the offset, we should note that this is an EU text, not a UK or international text. This has one source. The Brexit agreement is written in Brussels.
Downing Street: The draft Withdrawal Agreement (WA) is a text which has been negotiated between the EU and the UK. The WA constitutes international law for the UK because the UK is no longer bound by the EU treaties after March 2019.
Mr. S: This is an EU text, written in Brussels, published by Brussels with EU language and studded with hallmarks of EU draftsmanship. Namely: clauses with deliberately loose wording, which can be later interpreted under ECJ adjudication. This is the method by which the EU expands its reach and power. The UK was caught out in exactly this way last December when No10 said the Northern Ireland backstop was legally meaningless.
2. May says her deal means the UK leaves the EU next March. The Withdrawal Agreement makes a mockery of this. “All references to Member States and competent authorities of Member States…shall be read as including the United Kingdom.” (Art 6). Not quite what most people understand by Brexit. It goes on to spell out that the UK will be in the EU but without any MEPs, a commissioner or ECJ judges. We are effectively a Member State, but we are excused – or, more accurately, excluded – from attending summits. (Article 7)
Downing Street: Article 7 is simply a technical provision which enables the UK to be treated as a Member State for the purpose of EU law which is applied by the Agreement during the implementation period and the winding down phase. Without this provision, the orderly winding down of the application of EU law in the UK would not be possible.
Mr. S: Again, is it a technicality of the UK is being “treated as a member state for the purpose of EU law” after it has supposedly quit the EU?
3. The European Court of Justice is decreed to be our highest court, governing the entire Agreement – Art. 4. Stipulates that both citizens and resident companies can use it. Art 4.2 orders our courts to recognise this. “If the European Commission considers that the United Kingdom has failed to fulfil an obligation under the Treaties or under Part Four of this Agreement before the end of the transition period, the European Commission may, within 4 years after the end of the transition period, bring the matter before the Court of Justice of the European Union”. (Art. 87)
Downing Street: Article 4 does not provide for the jurisdiction of the ECJ in the UK. This is an agreement about winding down the application of EU law. It does not makes sense for that law to have a different status in the UK while its effects are wound down. This would create inconsistency and legal uncertainty. Article 87 is about events which take place up to the end of transition. It is nothing to do with events after that.
Mr. S: Article 4 makes clear that the ECJ is supreme: now, and after we “leave” on 29 March. The ECJ is mentioned 60 times in the Agreement. As for “winding down” the phrase appears six times in No10’s comments, but not once in the Agreement. Mr S can’t help but wonder whether that is because the EU has no intention of “winding down” control of the UK? The Agreement’s language is consistent with it being seen by the E.U. as the final deal.
4. The jurisdiction of the ECJ will last until eight years after the end of the transition period. (Article 158).
Downing Street: The 8 years has been agreed since December and refers only to issues on citizens’ rights. Unlike now, references from the UK courts on citizens’ rights will not be compulsory.
Mr. S: So the jurisdiction of the ECJ will last until eight years after two dates which have not yet been agreed. As Dr Gunnar Beck has since pointed out: “As of 30th March 2019 the ECJ will convert from being a joint court in which the UK plays an equal part, into being a wholly foreign court over which the UK will no longer have any degree of control.” Why accept jurisdiction of a foreign court? The UK uses Common Law, so do many other countries (like Canada & the US). The EU uses a totally different type of law. That makes it even odder to let them have control.
5. The UK will still be bound by any future changes to EU law in which it will have no say, not to mention having to comply with current law. (Article 6(2))
Downing Street: Article 6 (1) provides that where Union law applies in the UK after exit, it is Union law as it stands at the end of the transition period, except where specifically agreed otherwise as in the implementation period. Article 6(2) is a narrow technical provision which covers only a handful of pieces of EU legislation. It does not provide for the dynamic alignment of EU law in the UK.
Mr. S: Again, No10 says this is a “technical” issue, but these things have a habit of being a lot more “dynamic” than the UK expects.
6. Any disputes under the Agreement will be decided by EU law only – one of the most dangerous provisions. (Article 168). This cuts the UK off from International Law, something we’d never do with any foreign body. Arbitration will be governed by the existing procedural rules of the EU law – this is not arbitration as we would commonly understand it (i.e. between two independent parties). (Article 174)
Downing Street: No. Disputes under the agreement are decided by an arbitration panel if they cannot be resolved within the Joint Committee. All that Article 168 does is be clear that the provisions of the agreement on dispute resolution are those agreed in the agreement and not other ones. The arbitration panel will apply EU or international law as is appropriate to the issue under dispute.
Mr. S: And who might the ‘arbitration panel’ report to? Might it be the ECJ? Martin Howe QC explains: ‘If a dispute involves a point of EU law, the arbitration panel must refer that point to the ECJ for a ruling. The UK has no veto. The arbitration panel is then bound to give a judgment conforming to the ECJ ruling, so it will act as a postbox for referring issues to the ECJ and issuing judgments which rubber stamp the ECJ’s rulings.’
7. “UNDERLINING that this Agreement is founded on an overall balance of benefits, rights and obligations for the Union and the United Kingdom” No, it should be based upon the binding legal obligations upon the EU contained within Article 50. It is wrong to suggest otherwise.
Downing Street: This is simply referencing the fact that the agreement contains reciprocal rights and obligations. It has no effect whatsoever on the legal basis for the treaty.
Mr. S: If it has no effect, why is it in the treaty? Language matters, otherwise one suspects it would not have been typed. This Withdrawal Agreement is all about duties the UK has to the EU: the premise behind almost every clause and the extent of those duties to be defined by the EU’s court under the EU’s law.
8. The tampon tax clause: We obey EU laws on VAT, with no chance of losing the tampon tax even if we agree a better deal in December 2020 because we hereby agree to obey other EU VAT rules for **five years** after the transition period. Current EU rules prohibit zero-rated VAT on products (like tampons) that did not have such exemptions before the country joined the EU.
Downing Street: This is about payment of VAT on goods sold before the end of the transition period. It has absolutely no effect whatsoever on the VAT regime in the UK after the end of transition.
Mr. S: Alas the fact remains: we’ll be supposedly “out” of the EU on 29 March 2019 – but still forced to tax tampons as a luxury item until an unforeseeable date that the UK cannot set. Not the most obvious reading of ‘take back control’.
9. Several problems with the EU’s definitions: “Union law” is too widely defined and “United Kingdom national” is defined by the Lisbon Treaty: we should given away our right to define our citizens. The “goods” and the term “services” we are promised the deal are not defined – or, rather, will be defined however the EU wishes them to be. Thus far, this a non-defined term so far. This agreement fails to define it.
Downing Street: The definition of Union law is a specific provision tied to this agreement. The definition of “UK national” comes from the unilateral declaration made by the UK. Terms such as “goods” are defined by reference to EU law because Part Three of the Withdrawal Agreement are about the winding down of EU law.
Mr. S: So, we’re agreed: the government admits it has conceded GDPR and Intellectual Property rights. The idea that there is a definition of ‘good’ within EU law upon which the UK would want to rely is erroneous. Most people noticed how EU control grew from its first stated aims, morphed into ‘spheres of competence’ under the Maastricht Treaty and then went far beyond that. If the government is trying to push back to the days of Maastricht it needs to define ‘goods’ – or ‘goods’ will be taken to mean anything. This Withdrawal Agreement was the perfect opportunity. And one the government has failed to take. If the service sector ends up regulated – will the UK government indemnify them for their loss?
10. The Mandelson Pension Clause: The UK must promise never to tax former EU officials based here – such as Peter Mandelson or Neil Kinnock – on their E.U. pensions, or tax any current Brussels bureaucrats on their salaries. The EU and its employees are to be immune to our tax laws. (Article 104)
Downing Street: This provision of the agreement respects rights which individuals have acquired during 40 years of membership of the EU. It would not be appropriate for these rights to be summarily removed.
Mr. S: Are we so sure that it’s ‘not appropriate’ that Lord Mandelson or Lord Kinnock should pay tax on their EU pensions? Isn’t the point of Brexit that we can, as a country, ask these questions and get rid of the rules that make no sense?
11. Furthermore, the UK agrees not to prosecute EU employees who are, or who might be deemed in future, criminals (Art.101)
Downing Street: This is simply untrue.
Mr. S: Really? Because it’s not at all clear from the text. And clarity has not been helped by the agreement making repeated reference to the Protocol on the Privileges and Immunities (EU law); rather than simply setting out the extra rights of EU connected individuals in the document – as a properly-drafted standalone agreement would. If No10 says what is now Article 9 (ex 10) is excluded, Mr S notes many other Articles are included giving all sorts of extra rights to EU employees. A standalone agreement would just make plain what the rights of such people are (or are not) on its own terms. This looks like the EU’s draft notes on what it wanted, nodded through by the UK.
12. The GDPR clause. The General Data Protection Regulation – the EU’s stupidest law ever? – is to be bound into UK law (Articles 71 to 73). There had been an expectation in some quarters that the UK could get out of it.
Downing Street: Union law on data will only apply to the data transferred to the UK from the EU before the end of the implementation period until an adequacy decision is granted. It does not apply to data transferred after the end of the Implementation Period.
Mr. S: So yes, then.
13. The UK establishes a ‘Joint Committee’ with EU representatives to guarantee ‘the implementation and application of this Agreement’. This does not sound like a withdrawal agreement – if it was, why would it need to be subject to continued monitoring? (Article 164). This Joint Committee will have subcommittees with jurisdiction over: (a) citizens’ rights; (b) “other separation provisions”; (c) Ireland/Northern Ireland; (d) Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus; (e) Gibraltar; and (f) financial provisions. (Article 165)
Downing Street: A Joint Committee is a perfectly normal oversight body in an international agreement. It exists in this instance to make some specific decisions, for instance on the wind down of the monitoring authority on citizens’ rights, and to resolve disputes.
Mr. S: The government may wish to consult Chapter 28 of TTP for guidance on what is or is not ‘normal’ in international trade. The arbitration panels suggested in this Brexit Agreement consist of UJ/EU and joint officials. If they disagree, why does the ECJ adjudicate? Also, nowhere in the 585 pages is there any reference to ‘winding down’… It is important to note that expanding the definition of ‘citizens rights’ has allowed the ECJ to further control Member States over 40 years – why would the EU stop now?
14. The Lifetime clause: the agreement will last as long as the country’s youngest baby lives. “the persons covered by this Part shall enjoy the rights provided for in the relevant Titles of this Part for their lifetime”. (Article 39).
Downing Street: Article 39 is about the rights accorded to citizens, rights that both sides do not wish suddenly to expire, putting those citizens in a wholly uncertain legal situation. This applies for both UK nationals in the EU and EU citizens in the UK.
Mr. S: This is a tad rich given that Theresa May was the only candidate in the 2016 leadership battle who thought that 3m EU citizens in the UK should face precisely this uncertainty. Article 39 demonstrates the sheer longevity of this supposedly temporary agreement.
15. The UK is shut out of all EU networks and databases for security – yet no such provision exists to shut the EU out of ours. (Article 8)
Downing Street: That is because access to UK networks and databases is up to us.
Mr. S: So yes, then. At least this admission was brief.
16. The UK will tied to EU foreign policy, “bound by the obligations stemming from the international agreements concluded by the Union” but unable to influence such decisions. (Article 124)
Downing Street: This is not about foreign policy. It is about all the international agreements we rely on to keep planes flying, trade with other countries etc. This provision is about the status of these agreements during the implementation period. It would be unnecessarily disruptive for them suddenly to cease to apply. Almost all the international agreements we will be bound by have been signed up to during our membership of the EU.
Mr. S: Certainty. Article 39 demonstrates the sheer longevity of this supposedly temporary agreement
17. All EU citizens must be given permanent right of residence after five years – but what counts as residence? This will be decided by the EU, rather than UK rules. (Articles 15-16)
Downing Street: The Government has been clear that its first priority as part of securing a smooth and orderly exit from the EU was to provide certainty for EU citizens living in the UK, and UK nationals living in other EU countries. The residence rights apply equally to UK citizens in the EU. The definition of what constitutes residence is set out in EU rules that were agreed when we were a Member State.
Mr. S: Another admission that we have ceded control of our laws. If two UK lawyers need to settle an argument about what a word means by looking it up in the EU’s books then that is EU control of our law. As someone who wanted clarity for EU nationals living here, it’s not clear why the government didn’t, if only for their sake, just spell it out here.
18. Britain is granted the power to send a civil servant to Brussels to watch them pass stupid laws which will hurt our economy. (Article 34)
Downing Street: This is about ensuring we are aware of changes to specific provisions about the administration of social security in relation to UK and EU citizens who benefit from the citizens’ rights part of the Agreement.
Mr. S: Another admission. Although, the government could have at least tried to pretend the EU will in future make brilliant laws. But they won’t will they – certainly not after we lose all influence on them.
19. The UK agrees to spend taxpayers’ money telling everyone how wonderful the agreement is. (Article 37)
Downing Street: This is about ensuring that citizens who want to understand their status under the agreement are given that information.
Mr. S: If the UK government wanted citizens to understand their rights under this agreement, why not set them out in this 585-page agreement? But given that we are obliged to spend money on “awareness-raising campaigns,” why not print this Withdrawal Agreement and send a copy to every voter? After all, it’s their power over their government that is at stake.
20. Art 40 defines Goods. It seems to include Services and Agriculture. We may come to discover that actually ‘goods’ means everything.
Downing Street: This is a separation provision dealing with the winding-down of EU law at the end of the implementation period for all goods (including agricultural products) but explicitly not services.
Mr. S: That is a stated policy objective of HM Government. But if it is ever going to be real then it needed to be set out here. The government has approved an Agreement without insisting that the EU define three crucial words: agriculture, goods and services. Everyone’s jobs depends on this and the government has failed to define them here – which is where they are needed. Without a strong and binding definition here the EU, and the ECJ, can interpret them as widely as they like.
21. Articles 40-49 practically mandate the UK’s ongoing membership of the Customs Union in all but name.
Downing Street: This is not correct. These are separation provisions which only deal with goods and customs movements that happen to be taking place at the end of the implementation period. Once these goods and customs movements have been completed, the articles have no application to future movements.
Mr. S: IF the transition period ends and IF the backstop doesn’t start.
22. The UK will be charged to receive the data/information we need in order to comply with EU law. (Article 50)
Downing Street: We are paying for continued limited access to EU databases that we felt was beneficial to the UK to retain as we are winding down our cooperation.
Mr. S: Another admission.
23. The EU will continue to set rules for UK intellectual property law (Article 54 to 61)
Downing Street: No, they won’t. EU trade marks, registered and unregistered Community designs and Community plant variety rights currently give protection throughout the EU with a single right. These rights will cease to be valid in the UK after the end of the implementation period. The UK will therefore grant national rights in place of existing EU rights so that right holders do not have any loss of rights or gap in protection in the UK.
Mr. S: The UK will grant mirroring rights. The freedom to copy and paste someone else’s law is not the freedom to make law.
24. The UK will effectively be bound by a non-disclosure agreement swearing us to secrecy regarding any EU developments we have paid to be part. This is not mutual. The EU is not bound by such measures. (Article 74)
Downing Street: The EU will continue to treat any UK data or information provided before we left the EU as it if were that of a member state as set out in Article 73. They are also bound by Union law, as defined at the end of the implementation period, to protect classified information from the UK.
Mr. S: As if we were a Member State. Of the EU. With the EU on top and in charge.
25. The UK is bound by EU rules on procurement rules – which effectively forbids us from seeking better deals elsewhere. (Articles 75 to 78)
Downing Street: No, this is about procurement activity underway before the end of the implementation period. It has no impact whatsoever on future UK procurement arrangements.
Mr. S: As the end of the ‘implementation period’ is not set out and cannot be decided by the UK alone, the UK government should be worried.
26. We give up all rights to any data the EU made with our money (Art. 103)
Downing Street: No. This is about the protection of EU owned archives of information currently stored in the UK.
Mr. S: We were Members of the EU. The UK government gave away our right to argue for accrued assets, they did so promising us a good deal in return. As we do not have a good deal, why can we not instead get some of our jointly owned assets back?
27. The EU decide capital projects (too broadly defined) the UK is liable for. (Art. 144)
Downing Street: This is a negotiated financial settlement. It covers the UK’s financial commitments to the EU and the EU’s financial commitments to the UK. The UK and the EU have reached agreement on the components of the settlement, the methodology for calculating the UK’s share and the payment schedule.
Mr. S: The UK government has agreed to let the EU set the sum (in Euros).
28. The UK is bound by EU state aid laws until future agreement – even in the event of an agreement, this must wait four years to be valid. (Article 93)
Downing Street: No, this is not right. The new UK state aid regime will be in place from the end of the implementation period. This provision is about state aid granted under EU law before the end of the implementation period. It has absolutely nothing to do with state aid law applying in the UK afterwards.
Mr. S: But in this Agreement is that there is no ‘afterwards’. There is either eternal transition or backstop.
29. Similar advantages and immunities are extended to all former MEPs and to former EU official more generally. (Articles 106-116)
Downing Street: Again, it would not be right summarily to remove rights from individuals built up over 40 years of membership.
Mr. S: See Mr S’s rebuttal at point 10.
30. The UK is forbidden from revealing anything the EU told us or tells us about the finer points of deal and its operation. (Article 105).
Downing Street: No this is incorrect. This article is about the legal immunities which attach to EU documents located in the UK. Such provisions are very common in treaties with international organisations.
Mr. S: And it applies from the beginning of this agreement, throughout transition (so from 20XX to 20XX) – including many crucial moments of the agreement itself.
31. Any powers the UK parliament might have had to mitigate EU law are officially removed. (Article 128)
Downing Street: This is solely about the implementation period which is a standstill arrangement during which EU law will apply to the UK as if it were a Member State.
Mr. S: You said it. So why pretend that the UK is “leaving the EU” on March 29 2019? Is this not the textbook definition of what some MPs call “Brexit in name only?”
32. The UK shall be liable for any “outstanding commitments” after 2022 (Article 142(2) expressly mentions pensions, which gives us an idea as to who probably negotiated this). The amount owed will be calculated by the EU. (Articles 140-142)
Downing Street: The UK Government has said that it will pay a fair financial settlement as part of our withdrawal from the EU, which is substantially lower than the sums originally quoted. This includes residual liabilities such as pensions where the UK will contribute towards those pension rights accrued on or before 31 December 2020, but not after. The UK will not have to pay for liabilities that remaining Member States would not have to pay for.
Mr. S: Of course we do not have to pay more the Member States are liable for in total – that is not reassuring. What is shocking is that we would have to pay at all.
33. The UK will be liable for future EU lending. As anyone familiar with the EU’s financials knows, this is not good. (Article 143)
Downing Street: This is about a fair financial settlement as we leave the EU. The UK will not finance any commitments that do not require funding from Member States, and will receive a share of any financial benefits that would have fallen to it had it remained a Member State.
Mr. S: So yes. The UK government hereby admits we won’t control our money.
34. The UK will remain liable for capital projects approved by the European Investment Bank. (Article 150).
Downing Street: The UK Government has said that it will pay a fair financial settlement. This includes its share of liabilities as at the end of 2020, such as guarantees on EU and European Investment Bank (EIB) financial operations ensuring loans to businesses and projects in the UK are protected. The UK will not have to pay for liabilities that remaining Member States would not have to pay for. The UK will receive a share of funds that accrue to the EU budget from activities that were agreed during the period of membership.
Mr. S: Some confusion here: this was our negotiating position. This is what has now been given away in order to get this deal.
35. The UK will remain a ‘party’ (i.e. cough up money) for the European Development Fund. (Articles 152-154)
Downing Street: The UK will continue to participate in the current European Development Fund (EDF), which covers the same period as the 2014-20 budget plan. The majority of the current EDF has already been committed and forms part of the UK’s overall commitment on Overseas Development Assistance, supporting low income countries. UK Overseas Territories will benefit from the current EDF until its closure, and from previous EDFs until their closure.
Mr. S: Taking back control of your money means spending it as you want to.
36. And the EU continues to calculate how much money the UK should pay it. So thank goodness Brussels does not have any accountancy issues.
Downing Street: This is a negotiated financial settlement. It covers the UK’s financial commitments to the EU and the EU’s financial commitments to the UK. The UK and the EU have reached agreement on the components of the settlement, the methodology for calculating the UK’s share and the payment schedule. The Government has negotiated arrangements to provide assurance on payments made under the financial settlement. This includes the right to appoint auditors working on the Government’s behalf to assure the implementation of the financial settlement.
Mr. S: And if these UK auditors disagree about the sum owed, then what? Oh, guess what: ambiguity.
37. The UK will remain bound (i.e coughing up money) to the European Union Emergency Trust Fund – which deals with irregular migration (i.e. refugees) and displaced persons heading to Europe. (Article 155)
Downing Street: The UK will honour commitments it has previously given for the EU Trust Funds and the Facility for Refugees in Turkey.
Mr. S: Some might question the EU track record on helping vulnerable people and might think that the UK could use our money to help those people in a better way – including refugees in Turkey. What we have agreed to is to pay the money paid directly to the Turkish government – many question that payment and it is not clear why our right to stop it has been given away.
38. The agreement will be policed by ‘the Authority’ – a new UK-based body with ‘powers equivalent to those of the European Commission’. (Article 159)
Downing Street: No, this is just wrong. This is about the establishment of an independent authority to monitor the application of the citizens’ rights provisions. It is in place of the EU’s view which was that the European Commission should do this. It is only right that the UK government is held to account for how it implements the rights agreed here of citizens who came with the wholly legitimate expectation of being able to stay.
Mr. S: So another admission. It is inconceivable that the UK would agree to let US citizens be treated this way – but just wait until the ECJ defines EU citizen to include UK citizens after we leave …
39. The EU admits, in Art. 184, that it is in breach of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty which oblige it to “conclude an agreement” of the terms of UK leaving the EU. We must now, it seems, “negotiate expeditiously the agreements governing their future relationship.” And if the EU does not? We settle down to this Agreement.
Downing Street: No. Article 50 requires the EU to conclude an agreement setting out arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. “The framework for its future relationship” is what will be set out in the accompanying political declaration.
Mr. S: We have accepted the EU re-defining its own duty as narrowly as possible. It was for the UK government to point out the words “must” “conclude” and “taking account” in order to push for one agreement and to hold a breach of duty claim over the ECJ. It was for the UK to point out that the only conceivable reason for the wording of Art. 50 is to protect the weaker member state from the remaining other states. It was for the UK to reference that Greenland leaving was the only prior example and that Art. 50 was written to protect future Greenlands (i.e. the UK). The UK Government has given that extremely strong hand away in return for: nothing.
40. And, of course, the UK will agree to pay £40bn to receive all of these ‘privileges’. (Article 138)
Downing Street: The Government has always been clear that any agreement on financial matters should represent a fair settlement of the UK’s rights and obligations as a departing Member State, in accordance with the law and in the spirit of the UK’s continuing partnership with the EU.
Mr. S: And the 52 per cent of voters were clear that, if we cough up this cash, we should have actually left the EU and that we should get a trade deal. We’ve agreed to pay, but the EU has not agreed to let go – and in this document it counts the many ways in which we will not be going anywhere.