Yesterday’s Terror Attack on Parliament
Today’s newspapers concentrate on yesterday’s terrorist attack on the UK Parliament. This piece in the Independent is typical: “London attack: This is the new, low-tech face of modern terrorism – The terrorists on our streets no longer need sophisticated plans or complex, costly equipment to kill and seriously injure people“. It contains this accurate assessment:-
“While so much remains unclear or unknown about the Westminster terror attack today – not least the precise motivation of those involved – one thing is apparent: this is another example of the new terrorism. It’s low tech, it’s suicidal or semi-suicidal, and it’s as indiscriminate as any other iteration of terror. It conforms, as far as can be judged, to the examples seen in Nice and at the Christmas market in Berlin last year, where lorries were weaponised. It also echoes the murderous assault on the off-duty soldier Lee Rigby, who was run over before being hacked to death near Woolwich barracks in 2013. The lesson is plain: anyone with access to a motor vehicle can use it in a terror attack. And there is simply nothing very much to stop that.”
We should be grateful for the expressions of sympathy and solidarity coming in from our friends and neighbours – many who whom have experienced similar events. The Telegraph has this sensible piece: “We must deny terrorists the disproportionate reaction they seek from us“.
The one person who has certainly put his foot in it is one Donald Trump Junior: “Donald Trump Jnr criticised after ridiculing Mayor of London Sadiq Khan hours after Westminster attack“.
“Who needs enemies when one has “friends” like that!”
The Impact of Brexit on the Union
Patrick Cockburn writes this in the Independent: “Brexit unleashed an English nationalism that has damaged the union with Scotland for good – As a system of beliefs the new nationalism is much more appropriate to an English nation state than to a more diverse United Kingdom“.
This conclusion was striking: “Britain is already weaker as a state than it was two years ago because its government is wholly preoccupied with Brexit and the prospect of Scottish secession from the UK. All other pressing problems facing the country must wait, possibly for decades, until these issues are dealt with. The break-up of Britain is not something that may or may not happen as the result of a second referendum, but is already upon us. The confrontation between English and Scottish nationalism is not going to moderate or evaporate. The one certainty is that “The Scottish Question” and Brexit have come together to destabilise Britain for years to come.”
The Indy also has this fantasy piece: “This is what Scottish independence could actually look like – Independence for Shetland and Orkney, a new political party, a hard border and a brand new currency are all possibilities – and this is how they’d work“.
Closer to today’s reality, the Scotsman has this: “Tory minister describes Scotland as ‘another country’“.
The Minister in question was a nonentity named Guto Bebb MP, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Wales. click the link on his name to see his Wikipedia entry.
It is worth remembering that the Conservatives presently only hold only 8 of the 40 Constituencies in Wales , so a Conservative prime minister does not have a lot of choice when making up the team for the Welsh Office. It is also worth noting that that Parliamentary Under Secretaries of State are the lowest ranking ministers in a government. As a Duke of Devonshire who served in the Macmillan government once noted: “No one who hasn’t been a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State has any conception of how unimportant a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State is“.
The Scotsman report has several quotations from the unimportant Mr Bebb ending with this:
“The sense of nationhood in Edinburgh is palpable. For a long time it has been satisfied within the UK. “Is that changing though? My gut feeling is yes and that should be a cause for regret to all of us.“
That conclusion must be right: in the 2015 Election, the Scottish Nationalists took 54 Seats of of the total of 59. The Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats and Labour have just 1 seat each and there are 2 Independents.
The Independent has this: “Sturgeon has the better of the argument over the Scottish referendum, while May has the law – In the short run, May is right to assume that the law will prevail; longer term, Sturgeon is correct in believing that will of the Scottish people will indeed be heard“.
The Guardian has this: “Brexit was an English vote for independence – you can’t begrudge the Scots the same – The English were prepared to vote in a way that would disrupt the union, so it’s no surprise that the UK is at risk“.
As pointed out in this post Conservative & Unionist? is is not just Scotland which may well break away from the Union – there is a real risk that Brexit may also impact negatively on Northern Ireland. It is increasingly clear that Mrs May’s approach to Brexit is putting the United Kingdom Union at severe risk.
Preparing for Brexit Negotiations
The Guardian has this: “UK to trigger article 50 on 29 March, but faces delay on start of talks – EU sources say Theresa May missed chance of swift start to Brexit negotiations, which are now likely to start in June“.
Writing in the Financial Times a few days ago, James Ganesh was scathing about the behaviour of the Brexit Ministers: “Over-optimistic ministers manipulate the Brexit debate – At each stage they spin the new bottom-line as something they half-expected all along“. It it is well worth reading.
However, Mr Ganesh should know better than to expect normal ministerial behaviour from the three Secretaries of State Teresa May (aka “The Wicked Witch of Westminster”) has chosen to lead her Brexit Strategy. These are the “Killer Clowns” of the Wicked Witch. They are in office to gull the public into a false sense of security: “Everything will be OK – The Government will get a very good deal from Europe – We are not going to wreck the Economy – Your incomes will not suffer“.
It is worth reading this from 15th March 2015 in the same newspaper: “Davis admits UK has not assessed impact of Brexit without Brussels deal – Article 50 bill set for royal assent on Thursday” There were over 600 comments from FT readers on this article of which this was one:-
“Several days have passed, and I cannot believe that Davis has not been widely torn to shreds for this outrageous admission.The lack of preparation is scarcely believable, utterly irresponsible & reprehensible, almost treason. This is a fine article by George Parker, but why have we not seen a front page headline in the FT saying: “Shocking admission of planning failures by Brexit minister”? Seriously, dear Editor, why haven’t we?”
It is also worth looking at the assessment of someone who, unlike the Brexit Clowns, is qualified to opine: Pascal Lamy is a former WTO head and a former EU trade commissioner. His view was made clear at a talk given at the Institute for Government on 20th March: “Pascal Lamy: Brexit trade deal is not possible in two years“. His estimate was that a workable deal would take 5-6 years and he categorised the issues for a EU-UK FTA into the “relatively simple”, “complex” and the “really complex” – of which the following are examples:
|Relatively simple||Complex||Really complex|
|Goods and tariffs||Trade defence||Technical standards|
|Establishing the UK in the WTO||Public procurement||Services|
|Maintaining existing EU FTAs||Climate change and environment policy||Taxes|
|Fisheries||Competition law and its enforcement||Intellectual property (IP) protection|
|Erasumus programme||EU research and innovation||Euroatom|
See also this by Larry Elliott in the Guardian: “Brexit Britain is suddenly debating trade – but it’s the wrong talking point – Brexit and article 50 has us all talking tariffs and quotas, but it is the less obvious stuff such as EU standards that will be decisive“.
Perhaps the Times cartoonist understood best of all:-
It has to be said that:-
(1) It is a Conservative Government which has put the Union of the United Kingdom at risk.
(2) It is a Conservative Government which wishes to take us out of the second biggest trading bloc on the planet.
(3) It is a Conservative Government run by a Wicked Witch and her Brexit Clowns.
In 1653, Oliver Cromwell had harsh words for the Long Parliament and the words were paraphrased by the Conservative MP Leo Amery addressing another failed Prime Minister: Neville Chamberlain:
“You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”
One wonders how long it will take before somebody will feel it necessary to say something rather similar to the Wicked Witch and her Brexit Clowns.