The Olympic Games
Thanks to Mo Farah and so many others, Team GB has beaten its medal tally at the London 2012 games, coming second in the world after the USA and ahead of China with a total of 67 medals. Since the modern Olympic era began in 1896, no other country has increased its medal tally at the summer Games immediately following the one it hosted.
The major part of Team GB have arrived back in the UK. The Manchester Evening News reports: “The national Olympic ‘welcome home’ parade will be held in Manchester… and we couldn’t be more proud!”. There will another event in London. The Prime Minister’s spokesman has made it clear that there will be no numerical limit when honours come to be considered.
Unfortunately, it is to be expected that spin doctors will try to make use of Britain’s Olympic success in relation to the overwhelming issue now confronting the nation.
In the Independent, John Rentoul pointed out that some of the credit for Team GB’s Olympic success rightly must go to Sir John Major: “John Major gave us a golden Olympics – what will David Cameron’s legacy be?” That’s an interesting question.
The Cameron Legacy
Rentoul is, of course, right about Sir John Major’s lasting legacy of arranging the proper funding of UK sport by the National Lottery but, writing in the Times, Tim Montgomerie points out that another of John Major’s lasting achievements was “Operation Provide Comfort” – the provision of safe havens for Iraqi Kurds and Shias in Iraq: “Safe havens can stop the suffering in Syria”.
It is sad also to remember that Sir John, a great “one nation” Prime Minister, also had lasting problems with the Euroseptics in his party (‘Euroseptic’ being a better descriptor for many of them than ‘Eurosceptic’). But Sir John finessed Maastrict and kept the UK in the EU while Cameron’s lasting legacy must surely be the botched referendum and the disaster of the Brexit vote.
There are however competing views as to how this came about – one of which is voiced in this piece in the Independent: “Brexit isn’t the part of David Cameron’s legacy he should be most ashamed of” in which Holly Baxter argued that the austerity fiscal policy delivered the Brexit outcome. Elsewhere, six historians discuss the “legacy” issue in the Guardian: “David Cameron’s legacy: the historians’ verdict” all of which are worth reading, but in the reader comments there was one reader assessment of Cameron which seemed apposite:-
“At the end of the day he proved to be spineless and weak when it came to enforcing discipline over his own party and we all have to live with the consequences of something that came about because of a few swivel eyed loons”.
The Financial Times published an interesting article by Richard Thaler earlier this month: “Britain pays the price for a badly designed Brexit choice“. Thaler suggests that both the Aeticle 50 procedure and the use of a referendum were examples of bad “choice architecture” (the decision making framework in which choices are made). He concludes
“Since voters were given a choice that was impossible to evaluate sensibly, they should be given the opportunity to change their mind if the facts change — either via a vote of parliament or a second referendum. In short, Brexit should not mean (an immediate) Brexit.”
Well, Cameron has resigned and passed the poison chalice of the consequences of the Brexit Vote to Teresa May. We shall have to see how she will deal with the swivel eyed loons.
Teresa May and the Swivel Eyed Loons
The failed former Tory Leader, Iain Duncan Smith, certainly qualifies as a swivel eyed loon and, sure enough he is reported in today’s Guardian: “Iain Duncan Smith calls for Brexit talks to begin as soon as possible“.
We should remember that a 2013 National Audit Office report on IDS’s Department of Work and Pensions found that his department had: ‘ weak management, ineffective control and poor governance; a fortress mentality, a “good news” reporting culture, a lack of transparency, inadequate financial control, and ineffective oversight” as well as wasting 34 million pounds on inadequate computer systems.‘ In effect, IDS played a very large part in screwing up the UK welfare system thus fostering much of the resentment that led to the Brexit popular vote. Hopefully the Prime Minister will not be bounced into any hasty decisions by the witterings of this particular loon.
We know from reports at the end of July, that the EU is considering an offer of an emergency stay of free movement for the UK for up to 7 years – see this Guardian report:- “Brexit: EU considers migration ‘emergency brake’ for UK for up to seven years“.
This article in the Guardian sets out in some detail just why the country and the government are not ready to begin negotiations at this time: “Brexit means Brexit … but the big question is when?”
This report in Civil Service World (the house magazine) tells us something about the progress of David Davis’s new Department for Exiting the European Union (aka ‘DexEU’) “Civil service moves special: Brexit department takes shape“. Although David Davis is looking for a staff of 200, so far there have been just 40 appointments.
Meanwhile, the turf wars between Liam Fox (International Trade) and Clown Boris (Foreign Secretary) reported by the Financial Times mid month: “Brexit Briefing: More turf wars in Whitehall – Spat between Boris Johnson and Liam Fox shows no sign of fading” appears to have faded after some expressions of Prime Ministerial displeasure. The reality is that no separate trade deals can be negotiated unless and until the UK has left the EU.
Thus, the Times report in mid Month “Brexit ‘will be delayed until end of 2019′ – Whitehall not ready for talks, warn ministers” will not have gone down well with the swivel eyed loons. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the erstwhile Chief Executive of the essentially dishonest Vote Leave Campaign, Matthew Elliott, has announced the creation of a new website: “Announcing BrexitCentral“.
Interestingly, New Zealand reports a peak in UK citizens enquiring about emigration after the Brexit vote: “Tenfold increase in interest from Brits wanting to move to New Zealand since Brexit referendum“.
One incentive suggested was: “We’re more than 18,000 km from Boris Johnson“. – which could be an important consideration.
In some respects, many issues will have to await the decision of the High Court on the issue whether leaving the EU requires Parliamentary approval as opposed to relying on the Royal Prerogative. That’s for after the Long Vacation.
It is refreshing to report that a Conservative MEP, has written s very sensible piece on the Conservative Home blog which is well worth a read: “Vicky Ford: What the other EU member states are thinking about the Brexit negotiations“. It provides a very valuable insight into the complexities of the issues. Would that other MEPs could contribute their views.