All the world wondered

With their take-over of the British government, Vote Leave’s subversion of our democracy is so complete, the country’s divisions so wide, the future of families and businesses so bleak, that no joke about it seems far-fetched enough to be funny any more.
Brexit has plunged us into wartime black humour conditions. Not altogether healthy: we laugh at truths we want to minimize.
This, for instance, sounds more like a plausible outcome of the new Home Secretary, Priti Patel’s, tenure than a laughing matter:
Screenshot_2019-07-25 Richard Coles on Twitter I suppose one way round the Brexit problem would be for Priti Patel to sell [...]
Priti Patel, sacked as a government minister by the previous Prime Minister for pursuing her own secret foreign policy and lying about it, is typical of Boris Johnson’s Cabinet of Rogues. The stench of their lies and amorality is polluting the air of an already over-heated country.
It is being said across the world that this is Great Britain’s nadir. The election of the classically educated dreamer of Ancient Roman emperors and do or die global swanking, the narcissistic liar and charlatan Boris Johnson (“It’ll take more than shouting some pig Latin and waving around a kipper” to run the country tweeted Larry the Cat) as Prime Minister, by 0.13% of the country, is the latest sign of our democratic dysfunction.
Nero_Glyptothek_Munich_321
Head of Nero (popularly regarded as one of the worst Roman Emperors) Part of a statue, after 64BC. Glyptothek, Munich. Image: Wikipedia
This, it is being said, “is how Britain ends”. (James Butler, The New York Times, 22 July, 2019)
The Tory Party members who voted for him “were obviously dominated by people who like Boris Johnson, do not distinguish between fact and fiction”. (Lawrence O’Donnell, MSNBC, 23 July 2019)
The organization Vote Leave, to which the majority of Johnson and his appointees belonged, has been found guilty of breaking electoral law. As they are now the rulers of Britain, it follows that Britain is no longer governed by the rule of law.
Accountability, keystone of Democracy, is now eliminated from the UK government. Vote Leave’s reign of liars, racists & careerists, enabled by most of the news media, most notably by the BBC, lacks the most basic justification for power.
Many of us feel ashamed to be English. Brexit is an English far-right project, either dragging Wales, Scotland and Ireland down with it, or threatening the Union itself.
We must resist it.  We, “lions led by donkeys”, have been betrayed by the privileged political classes before. We have defeated fascism abroad. Now, we must defeat it inside our own borders. Our island has gone mad, and we must heal it.
We need your support, wherever you are.
When men come to be undeceived, it is too late; the jest is over,
and the tale hath had its effect….like a physician, who hath found out an infallible medicine, after the patient is dead. Jonathan Swift
LightBrigadebyChristopherClark
Someone had blundered.
   Theirs not to make reply,
   Theirs not to reason why,
   Theirs but to do and die.
   ….
All the world wondered.
From Alfred Tennyson, The Charge of the Light Brigade, which, before Brexit, was England’s iconic worst self-inflicted disaster.

Living in England, 2019

“Many of us…have a feeling that we are living in a country where fanatics, hooligans and eccentrics have got the upper hand.”
Horace Rumbold, British Ambassador to Berlin, 1933

“My God. History will condemn this period. It will condemn those who’ve sat back and kept their view to themselves, who haven’t stood up and tried to stop all this nonsense.”
Anna Soubry MP, 2017

Muse_reading a scroll Louvre_CA2220
Clio, Muse of History reading a scroll
Attic red-figure lekythos, ca. 435-425 BC. From Boeotia. Louvre. Image: Wikipedia

“I don’t want to be known as the last prime minister of the United Kingdom”
attributed to Theresa May, Prime Minister, 2019

“When I am dead and opened, you shall find Calais engraved on my heart”.
Mary I, 1558, referring to the humiliating incompetence of losing England’s last stronghold in continental Europe

Cassandra lamenting
Jan Swart van Groningen, Woman Lamenting by a Burning City 1550-55
Pen in black, brush in brown,
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Image: WGA

The pipe dream that stole 66 million futures

“Brexit is an unachievable pipe-dream that will rob us of our future.”

“Every possible form of Brexit will leave the UK poorer, weaker and more isolated in the world.”

Rescind Article 50 and concentrate instead on all the important things you highlight in your letter: the NHS, giving children the right start in life, building the homes that people need, tackling burning injustices, and building a forward-looking country that works for everyone.”

“Britain used to have a reputation as an open, friendly, tolerant society. No longer. [Now it is] a narrow-minded, petty regime that is already sending valuable workers fleeing for friendlier climes.”

Edwin Hayward, 25 November, 2018

The New Cosette © MHP 2018

Extracts from Edwin Hayward’s Letter to the Prime Minister  25 November, 2018

At best, the advisory referendum result imposed a duty to try and make Brexit work. …Your Government has spent £4.2 billion on Brexit planning and preparations, money that could have gone to a desperate NHS, to failing schools, to an over-stretched police force.

Instead, you opted to spend it in pursuit of Brexit. Thousands of civil servants have worked on the problem full-time, and an entire new ministry, DExEU, has been devoted to nothing else. (DExEU alone has consumed over £100 million in salaries to date).

Having expended all that money, all that effort, it is now overwhelmingly clear that every possible form of Brexit will leave the UK poorer, weaker and more isolated in the world, at a time when we are beset with dangers on every side. From Russia’s meddling in the democratic process to China flexing its economic muscles, from Donald Trump’s disdain for NATO and the UN to the rise of hard-right governments across the world, this is the worst possible time to retreat behind closed borders. Instead, we should be reaching out to our neighbours – our friends – and clubbing together with them to fend off these and other challenges.

The deal on the table cannot be in the national interest. It locks us into the EU’s structures without giving us any say as to how the EU is run….For so long as the transition period continues, the worst Brexit consequences will be held at bay. But we will be hamstrung in our ability to sign new deals, and we will be forced to stay in lock-step with every rule change introduced by the EU, regardless of whether it advantages or hurts UK interests. We can cut the transition cord, sure, but then we’re immediately back to the no deal scenario which your own Government figures estimate will gouge 8.8% off GDP.

The EU made a strong, generous offer on free movement. You chose to rebuff it, and perpetuate instead a new, more virulent form of the aggressive “hostile environment” you instigated as Home Secretary….

Furthermore, your letter fails to address reciprocity. If we are going to deliberately make life tough for the three million EU citizens who make the UK their home, then the EU27 will logically do the same for the over one million UK citizens who have chosen a life in EU27 countries.

….the full registration process will potentially leave tens of thousands of people at risk of the kind of errors that have so grievously afflicted the Windrush generation.

Britain used to have a reputation as an open, friendly, tolerant society. No longer. That is entirely on you. You chose to rebuff the EU’s overture, and instead pursue a narrow-minded, petty regime that is already sending valuable workers fleeing for friendlier climes.

In your letter, you refer to spending an extra £394 million a week on the NHS after Brexit. But that money has nothing whatsoever to do with Brexit. It is going to come from extra Government borrowing, and from better than expected tax receipts. Indeed, the best estimates to date suggest that the economy is already £500 million a week worse off because of Brexit than if the result of the referendum had been to stay. Conflating the NHS money and Brexit in the same letter must therefore be interpreted as a wilful deceit, an attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of a UK population you see as gullible enough to swallow the lie. We deserve better.

Jobs are moving, investment is drying up, firms are moving assets to the EU27 or redomiciling. The key passporting system that the financial sector relies on to sell its services across the EU has been abandoned somewhere along the Brexit negotiations in favour of a much weaker equivalence regime.

….The financial services sector employs 3.5% of people, so the job losses may be consequential, but it also contributes a vital 11% of all taxes to Government coffers. The loss of even a slice of that tax revenue will leave a gaping hole come Budget time.

the narrow majority (of voters – not of the entire UK) that came out in favour of Leave during the referendum no longer exists today.

…..The EU is close as well as rich. Only 0.5% of our trade is done by air, the rest goes by sea, so it is impossible to replace trade with our near neighbours with trade with far-flung nations.

You talk of Brexit being settled. That is the biggest deceit of all. Brexit Day is Day Zero of Brexit. It marks the transition between the phoney war of the exit negotiations and the hot war of trade deals and treaties. We are out of all the EU treaties and agreements on Brexit Day, but the impact of leaving them will be cushioned by the transition mechanism. But just because we don’t experience the result of something doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened.

Through our EU membership, we enjoy free trade deals with countries covering 60% of all our trade. All those trade deals will need to be replaced just to achieve the status quo we currently enjoy, even before we can start to see any benefits from Brexit. Indeed, Jacob Rees-Mogg believes that it may take half a century for the economic benefits of Brexit to present themselves. …We have at least 78 trade deals to replace (the EU signs new ones every few months, so we are chasing a moving target). On average, countries such as the US, India and China take between 3-5 years to agree one new trade deal. We simply do not have the capacity to negotiate dozens effectively in parallel, so we are going to have to pick and choose and prioritise. It is self-evident that this work will not be complete by the end of transition

…. Instead of sticking to a course that will see our economy founder on the Brexit rocks…. rescind Article 50 and concentrate instead on all the important things you highlight in your letter: the NHS, giving children the right start in life, building the homes that people need, tackling burning injustices, and building a forward-looking country that works for everyone.

None of those things are possible if you persist with Brexit.

….instead consider the true best interests of your constituents and of the UK as a whole.

Hold up the prism of merit to Brexit and see it for what it is: an unachievable pipe-dream that will rob us of our future.

Please make the right choice. Campaign with your heart and soul for a better future for our country, not one dictated by a vote that could never be realised in practice.

Most respectfully,

Edwin Hayward

Link to Full text of Edwin Hayward’s Letter to the Prime Minister

Woman lamenting outside a burning city 1550-55
Jan Swart van Groningen
Pen in black, brush in brown, 360 x 283 mm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

The Fifth Horseman

Madness in Washington, madness in Westminster, are manifestations of the same “damaged and defective” world disorder. In America and Britain, a moral paralysis is afflicting people with the power to effect a cure.

Trump is a deadly distraction for the British, who loudly denounce him while being blind to their own Brexit faults. They don’t want their country to decline from global power to Trump’s patsy, and ultimately Putin’s, but they are not doing anything to stop it.

Republicans should “defend their country rather than the damaged and defective man who is now its president” James Fallows, The Atlantic

Tory Brexiteers are saying,
“The loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs will be worth it to regain our country’s sovereignty”
Anna Soubry, reporting extremists’ conversations in the House of Commons, 16 July, 2018.

A TRUMP CARD(IGAN)
Punch cartoon depicting Lord Cardigan leading the Charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava, 1854.
Yet another over-privileged nut-case with inherited wealth and delusions of sovereignty leads everyone else into disaster.

Brexit is as damaged and defective as Trump. The links between Trump and British right-wing Brexiteers are now in the public domain, yet still the powerful drug Denial sedates the electorate, duped by a coup d’etat into believing that unnecessary self-harm is a democratic imperative.

The extreme right wing of both countries very skillfully manipulated voters into turning the tool of democracy against themselves by deploying “opaque” and “insidious” advertizing techniques. (George Monbiot, The Guardian)

Now the British are spooked by a second Referendum, which would actually be the third, on EU membership.

LINKS TO PETITIONS:
The People’s Vote
Final Say

You hear people say, “You can’t just keep on having votes until you get the result you want. It’s not democratic”.

That’s the very definition of democracy: you carry on voting in peaceful election after election throughout your life in the hope you’ll get the result you want before you die. It keeps us quiet. Our expectation of another chance to vote prevents civil war. Democracy, like State Religion, was adopted because it was convenient, not because it was natural or immutable.

If something is not working, if you see the State is sick, you call for a vote to change it. The British are notoriously bad at complaining. They get bad service and bad government as a result. The Poll Tax that sparked a people’s revolt was only one of the abominations against equality and liberty during the Tories’ eighteen-year reign at the end of the 20th century.

THE TRIUMPH OF POVERTY by Lucas Vorsterman. British Museum. Image: WGA

We’re already in the middle of a bloodless civil war, one with no end in sight, not now the over-privileged, rich, right-wing idealogues dreaming of tax havens and workers without rights have got their populist alliance.

Are you really content to just sit and watch while the world burns?

sof_aacute__by_ekhi_guinea-d756999
Sofa by Ekhi-Guinea

Or, like the majority of MPs, do you put your caste before your country, ideology before humanity, self-interest before national interest?

Or do you want to take action against what you know in your heart is wrong?

Excerpts from Anna Soubry’s speech in the House of Commons, advocating the benefits of frictionless trade and deploring the Prime Minister’s decision to accept the extreme right-wing Tory amendments to the customs bill:

“[Parliamentary Tory Brexiteers have said in private conversations] that the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs will be worth it to regain our country’s sovereignty…

Nobody voted to be poorer.

Nobody voted leave on the basis that somebody with a gold-plated pension and inherited wealth would take their job away from them…

Members on the frontbench and across this place should be shaking their heads with shame – this is the stuff of complete madness

And the only reason that the government has accepted these amendments is because it is frightened of somewhere in the region of 40 members of parliament – the hard, no deal Brexiteers, who should have been seen off a long time ago and should be seen off.

These are people who do not want a responsible Brexit, they want their version of Brexit – they don’t even represent the people who actually voted Leave. The consequences of this are grave…..”

She’s Conservative, blonde and was born in Lincolnshire. Listen to her low-pitched, emphatic voice, see the wagging finger of reproof, and you might think that She, not the legendary Ayesha of Rider Haggard’s late Victorian tales of misogynist imperialist adventure, but the Tories’ own sacred cow, the first great British champion of the European “single market without barriers – visible or invisible”* had been reborn:

ANNA SOUBRY SPEAKING IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS

The world has turned upside down so many times, none of us know our arses from our elbows. Right-wing Brexiteer Edward Leigh MP, interrupting Anna Soubry’s speech to insult her, as is the arcane custom of our parliamentary representatives, unintentionally paid her the highest compliment:

“You’re no Margaret Thatcher”

That’s the best news in British politics for a generation.

*Margaret Thatcher, speaking at Lancaster House in 1988.

 

The Delusion That Bankrupted A Nation

Pieter Boel Large Vanitas Still-Life 1663 Oil on canvas, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lille.
Image: Wikipedia

The latest economic facts about Brexit:

Mark Carney. Governor of the Bank of England, “told MPs yesterday that UK households were £900 per year worse off than they would have been based on forecasts from May 2016 – just before the Brexit vote. As the Bank of England governor put it, “that’s a lot of money”. And that’s before we’ve even left the EU.

The vote to leave the EU has [caused] the value of the pound to tumble and inflation to rise from 0.5% to 2.5%.

But worse economic disruption could be yet to come if May’s hard-Brexit plans wrench us out of the EU’s single market, with which we do half our trade.” Open Britain.

Lucas Vorsterman Triumph of Poverty c. 1624 -30
Pen in brown, with gray and brown wash, black and red chalks, and white highlights, British Museum, London. Image source: WGA

 

Is this really the Will of the British People?

DON’T BE AFRAID TO WAKE UP.
STOP  BREXIT MADNESS


His name is Will, he belongs to the people, because he is dependent on kind, rational people to look after him,
and if you care about him, and other dogs, and other animals,
and people less fortunate than you, even people you don’t like, if you care about the next generations,
if you care about their future,
and their environment, and their education,
and their access to social justice and culture, regardless of income, race and creed,
if you care about your country, the rolling green and the salty tides, the shopping and the chilling,
the ancient castle reflected in the water-lily filled moat and the modern National Health Service,
if you care about advancing technology to cure diseases and mend our broken planet,
if you care about human rights and taxation only with representation,
and your affordable glass of wine under the summer sun,
if you care about standards of excellence, equality of opportunity, and self-fulfillment in a hostile world,
if you care about the precious stone set in a silver sea –

STOP BREXIT.

New battle lines

Of course, Brexit was never going to be just about leaving the EU. Our internal political system is in turmoil. The fitness for purpose of our democracy is under question. Personal relationships have strained or broken.
Everything we took for granted about our country and our political beliefs is shaken. Britain – or more precisely, England – is in the throes of growing pains.
As soon as you hear someone say “Never since the Norman Conquest has England…..” you know they are defending a castle in the air.
And yet…..there has been no confusion in England as great as this since the Civil War, which was not a simple battle between flashy Europhile Royalists and plain russet-coated English Parliamentarians, but a mess of ideologies, prejudices, opportunism, superstition, nostalgia, pragmatism, courage, cowardice, principles, convictions, compromises and betrayals.
The 17th century English Revolution was a great experiment in republican government. There is nothing great or experimental about Brexit – the right-wing reality is a reactionary coup d’état in the interests of the few, not of the many sincere democrats who voted for it.
There is no coherence, no leadership and no civil disobedience yet. If they come, let’s hope they are not in battalions.
Andrew Carrick Gow Cromwell Dissolving the Long Parliament in 1653.
Oil on canvas, 1907. Auckland Art Gallery. Image: Wikipedia
One of the most tortured bodies in this mess is the Labour Party, the country’s only hope for domestic welfare and the protection of public services, which lost votes in the Election because of the leadership’s fudged Referendum policy, and will be unelectable again if it doesn’t support the Single Market.
 “Two things are now clear: Brexit involves a series of political choices, an our future relationship with the EU will be inferior to the one we currently enjoy. Sitting on the sidelines is therefore not an option.
For the Labour Party, the challenge is huge. The majority of Labour voters backed remaining in the EU, but a significant proportion did not. As a party we campaigned to Remain, and most of us do not believe the challenges facing the country are best solved by leaving – quite the opposite – but since the referendum we have failed to reach
a common and coherent position…
So, the choice is clear. We can sit back and wait for the consequences of a hard Brexit to become so severe that it topples this terrible Tory government.
Or we can stand up for those who will be worst affected and fight for membership of the Single Market and the Customs Union.
Future generations will not forgive us for inaction or for perceived complicity in a Brexit that damages our country and our economy.” Catherine West MP
THE VITAL LINKS:

New report: Busting Lexit Myths

The Labour Campaign for a Single Market

and the leaked Government report on the adverse effects of Brexit on Britain


Thank all our gods, he’s here again to cheer up a dreary post: the irresistible Will, of the People:
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel by Manet

In the light of a cold winter’s day

“The Treasury’s analysis shows that the UK would be permanently poorer if it left the EU”

antarctic-1

Analysis of the long-term economic impact of EU membership and the alternatives has been published by the Treasury.

Details

This document assesses continued UK membership of the EU against the three existing alternative models:

  • membership of the European Economic Area (EEA), like Norway
  • a negotiated bilateral agreement, such as that between the EU and Switzerland, Turkey or Canada
  • World Trade Organisation (WTO) membership without any form of specific agreement with the EU, like Russia or Brazil

The Treasury’s analysis shows that the UK would be permanently poorer if it left the EU and adopted any of these models. Productivity and GDP per person would be lower in all these alternative scenarios, as the costs would substantially outweigh any potential benefit of leaving the EU. The analysis finds that the annual loss of GDP per household under the three alternatives after 15 years would be:

  • £2,600 in the case of EEA membership
  • £4,300 in the case of a negotiated bilateral agreement
  • £5,200 in the case of WTO membership

The negative impact on GDP would also result in substantially weaker tax receipts, significantly outweighing any potential gain from reduced financial contributions to the EU. After 15 years, even with savings from reduced contributions to the EU, receipts would be £20 billion a year lower in the central estimate of the EEA, £36 billion a year lower for the negotiated bilateral agreement and £45 billion a year lower for the WTO alternative.

Extract from GOV.UK website

Vasily_Vereshchagin_(Russian,_1842-1904)._The_Road_of_the_War_Prisoners,_1878-1879
Vasily Vereshchagin The Road of the War Prisoners, 1878-1879.
Oil on canvas,
Brooklyn Museum. Image source: Wikipedia

Don’t Leave, Tiffany

Tiffany told everyone she was too good to be there….

awakening conscience

William Holman Hunt The Awakening Conscience 1853. Tate Gallery. Image: WGA

and stormed out….

“The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion” (Edmund Burke) and one big delusion, Brexit, is already being ridiculed internationally by political satirists. It is the Ship of State run aground by its captain’s folly, a misled charge for glory and independence through the wrong exit, leaving everyone standing awkwardly in the backyard among the garbage containers, too embarrassed to go back in.

rochesterLord Rochester with Monkey by Huysmans, 1670s, an allegory of human pretentiousness and folly.
“….I’d be a dog, a monkey or a bear,
Or anything but that vain animal
Who is so proud of being rational.”
(Satire Against Reason and Mankind)
Rochester, when he wasn’t drinking and whoring himself to death or writing
obscene satires and plaintive love lyrics, was a critic of the government’s unwise decisions and duplicity.

Brexit has given teen slang a new word, according to clever and twinkly US chat show host Seth Meyers.

The definition of brexit (verb): to leave a party without thinking of the ramifications of your decisions.

“Tiffany told everyone she was too good to be there and stormed out without realizing she had no money for a taxi, her phone was dead, and she was 3 miles from the nearest subway #Brexit”

apollo_d

DON’T LEAVE, TIFFANY: Apollo and Daphne, marble sculpture 1622 -25 by Bernini. Image: WGA

“Ourselves with noise of reason do we please
In vain: humanity’s our worst disease”.
Tunbridge Wells, John Wilmot, Lord Rochester