The Judgment of Jeremy Corbyn

The Judgment of Jeremy Corbyn

MARTIN SIEFF | 13.08.2018 | WORLD / EUROPE

The Judgment of Jeremy Corbyn

For a man who is assailed and accused of lacking judgment even more than US President Donald Trump, it’s amazing how often British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has already been proven courageously and presciently right.

In 1990, Corbyn opposed the most powerful and successful peace time prime minster of the 20th century, Margaret Thatcher when she tried to impose a so-called poll tax on the population of the UK. His judgment was vindicated: Thatcher’s own party rose up and threw her out of office.

At the beginning of the 21st century Corbyn was pilloried throughout the UK media for his outspoken opposition to Prime Minister Tony Blair’s support for the US invasions of both Afghanistan and Iraq. Blair was prime minister for a full decade and won three landslide general elections, yet today he is discredited and politically virtually a recluse. Corbyn‘s opposition to both wars looks wise, as well as principled and courageous.

Corbyn’s support for the revolutionary Irish Republican movement was so strong that the UK security service MI5 monitored him for two decades listing him as a potential “subversive” who might undermine parliamentary democracy. On the contrary, in the late 1990s, Prime Minister Blair engaged the Irish Republican Army and its political wing Sinn Fein in a peace process that has led to a lasting peace in Ireland. Corbyn, who supported strongly the 1998 Good Friday Agreement proved once again to be ahead of his time.

Corbyn has never been afraid of taking ferociously unpopular positions. In 2015, after shocking Islamic State terror attacks in Paris he advocated the urgent need for a political settlement to end the Syrian Civil War. His advice was ignored by every major Western government. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and millions more turned into destitute refugees flooding into the European Union since then.

Corbyn was also ahead of his time in seeking to engage Iran constructively. He hosted a call-in show on an Iranian TV channel for three years from 2009 to 2012 even though he knew that at the time such activities would seem to rule him out from ever being a serious contender to lead the Labour Party. But in 2015, the Conservative government of the UK, along with those of the United States, France and Germany joined in signing a far reaching nuclear agreement with Tehran.

Corbyn’s economic positions have long been despised by the Western liberal intellectual elites who have been spared the price of having their livelihoods destroyed by such policies. He strongly advocates using the power of government to encourage the rebuilding of major national industries and manufacturing power. These views are hardly radical, Robert Skidelsky, one of the most influential UK economists of the past generation has given significant support to Corbyn’s proposal of a National Investment Bank. These policies are neither Marxist nor revolutionary. But they can certainly be described as Social Democratic and humane.

Corbyn is no unprincipled careerist either. In voting his convictions and his conscience, he puts 99 percent of the UK parliamentarians of his generation to shame. Between 1997 and 2010, during the Labour governments of Blair and Gordon Brown, Corbyn voted most often against the official party line than any other member of parliament (MP) – a total of 428 times and an astonishing figure. In 2005 he was labeled the second most rebellious Labour MP of all time when his party ran the country.

One of the few areas Corbyn was clearly ambiguous on was the question of whether the UK should remain in the 28-nation European Union or leave it, and even here his ambivalence appeared honestly come by and reflected the genuine divisions in his country. Corbyn recognized the enormous differences between both extremes that have been tearing the British public apart on the EU issue.

Ironically, only Donald Trump in the United States – a figure for whom Corbyn certainly has no personal or policy sympathy whatsoever – is comparable to the degree to which he has defied the Conventional Wisdoms of the political media establishment yet done impressively well in fighting elections that were supposed to be impossible.

In fact, the record and pattern of Corbyn’s career has been very clear: His real “crime”- which he has repeated consistently – is to be years, often decades, ahead of Conventional Wisdom.

In routine, tranquil times, people like Corbyn are usually seen as troublemakers or even as dangerous lunatics. But at times of crisis when the wisdom of mediocrities is exposed as worthless, such figures prove vital to national survival.

When told that General James Wolfe, the UK’s one brilliant general of the mid-18th century, was believed to be insane, King George II replied “Mad is he? Then I wish he’d bite some of my other generals!”

The UK political establishment has sneered at Jeremy Corbyn’s bark. Perhaps it is time they need to experience his bite.

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UK poll suggests Brits would now vote Remain, despite that the UK Govt. still seems determined to drive off the cliff

UK poll suggests Brits would now vote Remain

The EU and UK are facing a no-Brexit deal scenario (Photo: By Dave Kellam, via Wikimedia Commons)

By

The majority of people in the UK would now vote to remain part of the European Union, according to a new poll.

A YouGov survey on Friday (10 August) suggests 53 percent of voters would choose to stay in the EU, if a referendum was held now, as opposed to 47 percent who would opt to leave.

The survey canvassed more than 10,000 people ahead of Britain’s uncertain departure from the Union next March.

The BBC further reports that 82 percent of young people from 18 to 24 years of age would vote remain should a second referendum be held, citing an average of polls conducted over the past three months.

This compares to the some two-thirds of those over 65 who would vote leave.

Meanwhile, talks between the EU and the UK have floundered over the past few months as internal political rifts in Britain appear to further expose tensions over the issue.

Earlier this week, police chiefs in the UK issued warnings of “substantial risk to public safety” by losing access to EU security databases.

The National Farmers’ Union had also warned a no-deal Brexit runs the risk of food shortages as the British pound dropped to a nine-month low against the euro.

Jersey model

The EU and UK have remained at loggerheads on how to proceed given their respective red lines.

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, maintains there can be “no cherry-picking” when it comes to retaining UK access to the EU single market for goods.

But The Times, a British newspaper, citing unnamed sources, has reported that the EU may now be willing to make a big concession to appease UK demands.

According to The Times, European leaders may be ready to allow the UK to remain a part of the single market for goods while allowing Britain to opt out of the free movement of people.

The plan is expected to be presented next month at a summit of EU member states in Salzburg, Austria.

The reported proposal is based on the so-called ‘Jersey model’ where the UK would remain in the single market for goods.

“If May came with the Jersey model there would be a serious discussion among leaders for the first time,” a senior EU source, was quoted as saying in The Times.

The EU, in exchange, would then demand that UK’s prime minister Theresa May, adopt all future EU environmental and social protections.

Politicians who voted in favour of #Brexit must be held personally responsible for the consequences which undoubtedly will be quite severe

BREXIT – The Collapse of Confidence – What Now?

By True Publica,

These are some of the latest results coming from YouGov about the state of politics in Britain. Public sentiment is driven by the biggest post-war decision the country has made – Brexit – and it is now going very, very badly indeed. Much worse than anticipated.

69% of Britons saying Brexit is going badly

With 69% of Britons believing that Brexit is going badly, and with the political class pointing fingers in all directions, who does the public think is at fault? Now a new YouGov study shows that the answer is very different depending on whether people voted Remain or Leave.

The largest figure of blame for Brexit going badly – is the government. Two thirds (68%) of those who think Brexit is currently going badly say that it is the government’s fault. This includes three quarters who voted Remain (77%) and 58% of Leave voters.

With lots of talk of preparing for a no-deal Brexit, the possibilities of the Tory party completely disintegrating in 2019 becomes ever-more real. The electorate is now becoming very nervous of what Brexit may bring, given that the Conservatives have no idea themselves

The EU referendum: two years on

Slightly more of the British public think that voting to leave the EU was wrong for Britain than think it was the right decision, and on most measures, more people expect it will have a negative than a positive impact.

Despite all this negativity, most people in June, two years after the referendum still thought that the government should go ahead with Brexit, and the overwhelming majority expect that Britain will – ultimately – end up leaving. That was, until Theresa May’s Chequers plan.

The Conservative Leave vote is fracturing

“it appears to be Conservative Leave voters who are moving away from Theresa May’s Conservative party. In the week following Chequers the number saying they would stick with the Conservative party has dropped by ten percentages, with just 64% saying they would now vote for them in a general election.”

Let’s not forget what that actually means. That fall in the electorate voting Tory would prove quite a drama because the fall of ten per cent – is a fall recorded just before the Chequers plan and just after – not the overall fall. This defection has led to the voting intention changing from Tory to Labour.

Voting Intention: Conservatives 36%, Labour 41% (16-17 July)

The latest YouGov/ Times voting intention survey sees the Conservatives on 36% (from 37% in our most recent survey) and Labour on 41% (from 39%). Elsewhere, Liberal Democrat voting intention stands at 9% (from 10%) while 14% would vote for other parties (unchanged).

What this means is that the electorate is losing confidence in the party driving Britain’s Brexit negotiations. This is demonstrated quite clearly as Theresa May’s overall standing collapses.

Theresa May’s favourability score plummets to new low

With the government still reeling in the aftermath of the Chequers Brexit plan and the resignations it precipitated, new YouGov favourability polling reveals that the Prime Minister’s popularity has hit an all-time low.

It should be noted that, as stated above, those turning against the Prime Minister appear to be Leave voters. The only truly amazing statistic about Theresa May is that at the summer recess – she’s still Prime Minister. And few would have bet on that at any odds just six months ago.

The Conservatives are suffering from the events following the Chequers Brexit plan

Having now outlined their most recent Brexit plan, voters are even less clear on where the Conservatives stand on Brexit than they were before. The proportion of people who think the Tories’ policy on Brexit is “very” or “fairly” clear has fallen from 26% in mid-June to 16% now, while the proportion who find it “fairly” or “completely” unclear has risen from 58% to 69%.

The way of interpreting this is quite clear. It’s a mess. We have a lot to be fearful of because of politicians.

What Now?

Jeremy Hunt’s appointment to foreign secretary and the four biggest positions at the head of the U.K. government — prime minister, chancellor, foreign secretary and home secretary — all filled by people who voted to remain in the EU but are now tasked with negotiating a path out.

The electorate don’t believe in their plans for Brexit – even though they agree Brexit should mean Brexit.

That means a battered Britain is in for a further period of instability and more confusion, as a government led by people who don’t believe in Brexit in the first place will now finalize a framework to present to the EU who won’t agree to it anyway.

A no-deal scenario is now a stronger possibility and even the terms of that have to be agreed between the EU and the U.K. by the deadline. This would actually be an economic calamity for both the UK and the EU.

Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, said: “Politicians come and go, but the problems they have created for the people remain. The mess caused by Brexit is the biggest problem in the history of EU-U.K. relations. And it is still very far from being solved.”

As our report – The real Brexit ‘dividend’ – “a decade of economic underperformance and political crisis” from the London School of economics emphasised, “barring a vote to remain in the European Union, Britain faces the prospect of a lost decade of economic underperformance, subdued wage growth and investment and, increasingly, political crisis.”

Truthfully, in a no-deal scenario, that forecast is optimistic. Brace yourselves. It’s time for a new way to manage Britain and it isn’t the way we have right now.

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Featured image is from TruePublica.

#Brexit Free trade deal with US would be disaster for Britain, not to mention the end of the NHS

Free trade deal with US would be disaster for Britain

With Brexit on the horizon, the UK is now looking for ways to open up trade with countries outside the EU. A trade deal with the US is one of the most significant options politicians are exploring and an agreement that would increase imports and exports of food and drink could be an important component of this. This has raised the possibility of the UK accepting US food standards, which, to put it mildly, are a lot lower than current British/EU standards

Not only are US foodstuffs awash with toxic ingredients, animal welfare standards are appalling, which is a major issue to the British people who have a long history of campaigning for animal rights and utterly reject several forms of farming common in the US. Prime among these is the use of drugs such as steroids, bovine growth hormone and antibiotics in cattle farming, drugs that taint both the meat and dairy products. A few years ago the entire Mexican football team failed a FIFA drug test before a fixture, they hadn’t been taking steroids or growth hormone, they had been eating US produced beef.

Then there is the issue of the chemical cocktails allowed to be sprayed onto food crops in the US, things like the notorious Roundup from those lovely folks at Monsanto; it is impossible to prevent these chemicals entering the food chain and thanks to wholesale corruption and corporate criminal greed, no-one has actually done the studies to know just what effects these chemicals are having on the human population.

Here is a breakdown of just three of the toxic US food stuffs we want nothing to do with in Britain:

Chlorine Washed Chicken

The use of chlorine to wash chicken carcasses is currently banned in the EU and Britain

animal welfare is sidelined to keep costs down. In the EU, cost is also important, but the law means it can’t come at the expense of the birds’ basic welfare. There is a legal minimum amount of space, lighting and ventilation for EU poultry-rearing houses.

The more space the birds have to move around in, the fewer can be housed in a single area, which in turn has an effect on production costs. As there are no laws governing this in the US, the birds can be crammed in tightly so they have limited movement, with little light or ventilation. This reduces production costs but increases the risks of disease and contamination in a flock.

Washing the chickens in a strong chlorine solution (20-50 parts per million of chlorine) provides a brash, cost-effective method of killing any microorganisms on the surface of the bird, particularly bacteria such as species of Salmonella and Campylobacter. This helps prevent the meat being contaminated with microbes during slaughter and evisceration.

Why is the process banned in the EU?

US chicken has been banned in the EU since 1997 because of this chlorine-washing process. But this isn’t because the treatment itself has been deemed dangerous. A report by the EU Scientific Committee on Veterinary Measures, for example, highlighted that the chemical cleaning treatment can be effective at removing food-borne pathogens depending on how it is used. The real fear is that heavily soiled birds may not be sufficiently disinfected, and that relying on chlorine washing could lead to poorer hygiene standards overall.

EU officials believe the food industry should be continually improving hygiene standards in all steps of processing – the “farm to fork” principle, and so have banned chickens washed in chlorine as a deterrent to poor practices. But in the US there are no poultry welfare standards so the process is common. There have also been reports, including undercover video evidence by the Humane Society of the United States, of both inhumane and unsanitary practices being carried out within poultry houses due to a lack of animal welfare regulation.

Although there are some benefits to this chlorine washing, there are concerns about it. Some US abattoirs and processing plants rely heavily on chlorination because their other hygiene standards are so poor that they would be illegal in Europe. The process is also very good at removing odours and surface slime, meaning the meat can be passed off as fresh for much longer than it should be.

Chlorine isn’t toxic at the levels used in the washing process and doesn’t itself cause cancer. But studies have shown that the treatment can cause carcinogens such as semicarbazide and trihalomethanes to form in the poultry meat if the concentration of chlorine is high enough.

Genetically Modified Corn

Pick up a box of cereal or other packaged food at any U.S. grocery store, and chances are you’re looking at a genetically modified product. The Center for Food Safety, a nonprofit organization that seeks sustainable alternatives to harmful methods of food production technologies, estimates that more than 70 percent of the processed foods in U.S. grocery stores contain some genetically modified ingredients — mostly corn or soy. But, in most cases, these modified foods have received only limited testing.

For example, take the three genetically modified corn varieties already being sold by Monsanto that are the subject of new analysis by French scientists. Two of the varieties have been genetically modified to contain unique proteins designed to kill insects that eat them, and the third variety was engineered to tolerate Roundup, Monsanto’s best-selling herbicide. Foods containing this “modified” corn are now being eaten by people all around the world, but the French researchers contend that Monsanto’s studies do not prove the corns are safe to consume.

Under current U.S. law, corporations are not required to make industry-conducted studies public. But, in this case, thanks to a lawsuit and the involvement of European governments and Greenpeace attorneys, these studies were released for independent analysis by scientists not being paid by Monsanto.

The researchers, affiliated with the Committee for Independent Research and Information on Genetic Engineering (an independent, nonprofit association dedicated to studying the impacts of genetically modified organisms), published their detailed critique of the Monsanto studies in the International Journal of Biological Sciences (2009; 5:706-726). They concluded that the data — which Monsanto claimed proved the corn varieties were safe to eat — actually suggest potential kidney and liver problems resulting from consumption of all three modified corn varieties, as well as negative effects in the heart, adrenal glands, and spleen. The findings confirm a 2007 report from the same researchers on a single variety of modified corn.

The new report also concludes that the Monsanto rat-feeding studies were so small and so brief that they clearly lack sufficient statistical power to prove the corn varieties are safe. So, why did governments grant permission to farmers to grow this genetically modified corn? Back in 1992, the industry persuaded the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to rule that their crops are “substantially equivalent” to traditionally bred crops. This assumption — that genetically modified foods pose no particular risk — has led to our current system of weak regulatory oversight.

According to the nonprofit Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology, a project designed to facilitate dialogue about the pros and cons of genetic modification, “No single statute and no single federal agency govern the regulation of agricultural biotechnology products.” And, compared with the battery of tests demanded of chemical pesticides (evaluation of chronic exposure, carcinogenicity, etc.), the testing requirements for genetically altered crops amount to little more than a polite suggestion.

Beef tainted with hormonal growth promoters

In some non-EU countries, hormonal growth promoters are used in beef production to increase cow size and reduce fat content. But in Europe, these promoters were banned in the 1980s over food safety concerns. This has raised questions over whether UK farmers are set at a disadvantage to overseas producers and whether non-EU meat poses a food safety risk.

The production of meat is controlled by hormones. Growth hormones control the extent of growth, muscle and fat production, feed consumption and milk production.

Treating animals with specific combinations and doses of hormones can make a carcass more valuable, as muscle growth can be increased and fat is reduced. Most importantly, hormone-treated animals are cheaper to rear as they need less feed to maintain muscle. Overall the increase in productivity from using hormones is 5-20%.

The most widely-used treatments are combinations of sex hormones (androgens and oestrogens) for use in beef cattle, growth hormones for milk production in cattle and growth in pigs and adrenal hormones (beta-agonists) which increase muscle in pigs and cattle. Sex hormones are released via a plastic pellet implanted behind the ear, while growth hormones are given by injection. Beta-agonists are included in animal feed and absorbed in the intestine.

A European Commission directive banning the use of hormones in meat production was introduced in the 1980s. Imported meat from animals with detectable levels of hormonal residues was also banned.

The ban was introduced as evidence suggested oestrogenic hormones were carcinogenic at high levels. While animals given correct dosages were unlikely to have high levels, they could occur if there was misuse, such as tissue from an implantation site being sent for consumption.

But the EU was not just concerned about health – the ban was also based on consumer perception that using hormones to manipulate growth is unnatural, unnecessary and a risk to animal welfare.

In the US, where hormones are used, officials maintain there is no good evidence of any health risk from using hormones. The country has long-debated the issue with the EU as it claims the ban is against the spirit of free trade between countries.

The EU’s position on hormonal growth promotes has strengthened since the 1980s, partly because of examples of illegal hormone use – particularly muscle-building beta-agonists – in some countries. Monitoring residues of growth promotors is now more stringent and coordinated by a single body in each member state. In the UK, residues are monitored by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, which also also monitors residues from meat imported from other EU countries. Exporting countries also have their own surveillance programmes and infringements can lead in the cessation of exports to the EU.

Overseas producers supplying the EU usually designate special production units where no hormonal growth promoters are used. The loss of extra productivity is balanced by the high prices received. However, it can still be argued that producers in these countries are at an advantage compared with EU producers because the bulk of their production benefits from greater overall efficiency and can ‘subsidise’ exports of meat from untreated animals.

The main argument against growth promoters is the food safety risk, but consumers in many non-EU countries are apparently unconcerned about their use in meat and milk production. Promoters are seen as a normal part of animal production and as a tool to make livestock farming more efficient.

While some claim they compromise animal welfare, most hormonal growth promoters have no measurable effects on welfare indicators, so the basis of a ban on welfare grounds is unclear.

With food security and climate change coming to the fore, some have argued the need to improve production efficiency while reducing greenhouse gas emissions means EU producers could argue for the use of growth promoters. However public perception of the treatment of animals used for food production will always be a major consideration.

Sitting ducks: Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by #Brexit

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Photo by ijclark | CC BY 2.0

English nationalism as expressed by Brexiteers is a strange beast. Donald Trump gives an interview in which he assumes the right to intervene in the conflict between Theresa May and Boris Johnson over Brexit. He speaks with the same confident authority as he would in his own country, sorting out differences in the Republican Party over who should be the next senator for Alabama or South Carolina. His attempted roll-back later does not alter the tone or substance of what he said.

The aim of Trump’s intervention in the short term is, as always, to top the news agenda and to show up everybody, be they allies or enemies, as weaker and more vulnerable than himself. More dangerously for Britain, in the long term, his domineering words set down a marker for the future relationship between the UK and the US outside the EU which could be close to that between the colony or the vassal of an imperial state.

The terminology is the Brexiteers’ own: Johnson claimed in his resignation letter that the Chequers version of Brexit a few days earlier was so watered down that it meant that “we are truly headed for the status of a colony”. He cited, as concrete evidence of this servitude, the anger he felt towards the EU for frustrating his efforts to protect cyclists from juggernauts, though media investigation revealed that it was the British government that blocked the life-saving measure.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the fundamentalist Brexit leader, reached back far into the Middle Ages for a bizarre analogy to illustrate his point that Britain would entirely fail to escape the EU yoke under the terms envisaged in the White Paper on Britain’s future relationship with the EU. He described the intention to keep Britain within the EU rule book for goods and agriculture as “the greatest vassalage since King John paid homage to Phillip II at Le Goulet in 1200”.

The use of such an arcane example is presumably intended to show that Rees-Mogg has deeply pondered the great triumphs and betrayals of English history. In doing so he unintentionally reveals one of his many blind spots by choosing an event long preceding the creation of a British nation state incorporating Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

A problem about the whole Brexit debate, which has confused the issue since long before the referendum in 2016, is that discussion is focused on the economic connection between Britain and the EU when it should really be about the political relationship.

Trump says that the present Brexit plan rules out a US-UK free trade agreement, but even if it did not, there is a strong element of fantasy and wishful thinking in the Brexiteers’ vision of Britain’s economic future. Again it is worth looking at Johnson’s letter because it is almost touching in its naivety and wishful thinking about Britain’s future place in the world economy. We are to stifle “self-doubt”, and instead be more “nimble and dynamic and maximise the particular advantages of the UK, as an open outward looking economy”.

Apparently, the world is full of hermit kingdoms that have long been short of such vibrant economies and, once freed from the shackles of the EU, we will be able to meet their long unsatisfied needs.

It is easy to mock and the mockery is well-deserved, but it should be balanced with a much stronger part of the pro-Brexit case which is simply the pursuit of national self-determination regardless of the economic consequences. This demand for independence has usually preceded the formation of nation states, once imperial possessions, the world over. Most nationalist movements have claimed with varying degrees of truth or exaggeration that their economic, social and sectarian troubles stemmed from imperial misrule and independence would cure all. When this fails to happen few nationalist movements have had a realistic alternative plan.

Brexiteers similarly buttress their perfectly legitimate demand for self-determination with dubious assumptions about the degree to which EU regulations hobble the British economy. Most Brexiteers are on the right so they are neither familiar nor comfortable with anti-imperial arguments traditionally advanced by the left. They would not be happy to be reminded that much of what they say is the same as Sinn Fein – “Ourselves Alone” – says today in Ireland or Indian and Kenyan nationalists said before independence. A further cause of reticence is that focus on the economic benefits of Brexit masks the extent to which the result of the referendum – and the rise of populist nationalists in the US and much of Europe – are fuelled by opposition to immigration and racism.

But there is a price to pay for the Brexiteers’ skewed picture of Britain and its place in the world. If it leaves the EU, as seems inevitable, it will become a lesser power and no longer able to balance between America and Europe as, to a degree, it has hitherto been able to do. Dependence on the US will inevitably increase and we have just had a rude foretaste of what this means for Britain’s future in the Trump interview in The Sun. He knows that Britain has nowhere else to go and must bend the knee, something swiftly confirmed by the evasive British government response to his unprecedented intervention in the UK’s internal affairs.

The British government would clearly like the old post-Second World War order and Britain’s place in it to continue forever. The Cold War is being revived to serve as glue to hold Nato together and Russia is being boosted as an external threat as potent as the Soviet Union. Trump’s meeting with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki is portrayed as an ill-considered maverick action. Journalists, think tank “experts”, and retired diplomats vie with each other on CNN and the BBC in explaining how Trump is selling the pass to Putin and Kim Jong-un.

But it is not Trump, but the establishment on both sides of the Atlantic which are out of date. There was a twenty-year period between 1991 and 2011 when Russia could be ignored, though this was never wise because it always remained a nuclear super-power capable of blowing up the world. This changed in 2011 when Nato had the exceptionally bad idea of intervening militarily in Libya to overthrow Gaddafi with disastrous consequences for everybody. Russia restored its status as a great power through successful intervention in Syria in support of Bashar al-Assad.

During this period Britain sought to reinforce its status as the leading ally of the US in Iraq and Afghanistan, but failed politically and militarily in both wars. The extent and consequences of this failure have always been underestimated in UK where everything that went wrong could be conveniently blamed on Tony Blair.

What we are really seeing under the rubric of “Making America Great Again” is an American retreat from empire. Monstrous though Trump is in almost every way, he often shows a greater grip on the crude realities of power than his critics give him credit for. British politicians and civil servants are hoping that the Trump visit is a temporary bad dream but is in fact it an early sign of a post-Brexit reality in which Britain will play a lesser role in the world

Boris Johnson’s resignation: good riddance to a national embarrassment

 

The Guardian view on Boris Johnson’s resignation: good riddance to a national embarrassment

Theresa May tried to hold her party together over Brexit. Two senior resignations mean she now has to win the battle against the leaver fanatics

‘Boris Johnson is the most overrated politician in Britain, especially by himself’
Boris Johnson is the most overrated politician in Britain, especially by himself’ Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Theresa May has been prime minister for just two years. Until Monday she had managed, often at sapping cost, to hold the Conservatives together behind a Brexit strategy that combined unsustainable contradictions, studied vagueness and some abruptly dangerous red lines. Last week at Chequers, Mrs May persuaded her cabinet to blur some of the red lines, clarify some of the vagueness and make some of the choices that are required for the relatively frictionless post-Brexit relationship with the EU that she rightly prefers. She has now discovered the political cost of that.

The Chequers agreement has now caused two – and there may be more – serious cabinet resignations: first of David Davis as Brexit secretary, then of Boris Johnson as foreign secretary. The wider Tory party response – starting with Monday’s tense exchanges in the Commons and followed by a meeting of Tory backbenchers – has yet to make itself fully felt. The prospect of a vote of confidence challenge to Mrs May is clearly real. But the deeper political question facing the Tories is clear too. Will the hardline leaver minority at Westminster allow Mrs May to govern with a new Brexit policy that leans rather more towards Europe? Or will they risk wrecking the Tories as a party of government by seeking to prevent it? The coming days will determine whether Mrs May’s part of the Tory party has the power to prevent the anti-European, anti-regulatory, English nationalist bits of the party from vetoing everything else the party stands for or seeks to do. It is not an exaggeration to say the soul of the party may be at stake.

These were serious resignations, but the resigners themselves are not. As Brexit secretary in a government whose whole existence is dominated by Brexit, David Davis was a big figure in the first two May years. But he does not, by himself, have the clout to derail the new post-Chequers Brexit policy. Mr Davis was an underwhelming Brexit secretary, and was marginalised by Downing Street in favour of Mrs May’s Brexit adviser Olly Robbins. He has not led recent negotiations, spending a mere four hours with the EU’s Michel Barnier since 2017. He has regularly telegraphed his unhappiness, and his resignation letter was first drafted a month ago. It was a surprise that he signed up to the Chequers document. It was not a surprise that he quit at the weekend. Giving his job to Dominic Raab, yet another all-too-brief appointment as housing minister, was designed to preserve the post-2016 cabinet Brexit balance.

Boris Johnson and David Davis at the Tory party conference in October, 2017
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Boris Johnson and David Davis at the Tory party conference in October, 2017. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA

Mr Davis nevertheless resigned on a matter of policy principle. He did not believe that the new facilitated customs arrangement would fly with Brussels. He disliked the role that the European court of justice might play in arbitrating future trade rules. These are not foolish questions. But he did not resign because of his personal ambition, since he is realistic about his chances of future office.

The same cannot possibly be said about the former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, whose departure 18 hours after Mr Davis could change the crisis facing the government from one concerning Brexit policy to one concerning the future of Mrs May. Mr Johnson is the most overrated politician in Britain, especially by himself. He was an embarrassingly useless foreign secretary. He diminished Britain’s standing in the world and he diminished his own reputation by the way he played his role, not least by his praise for Donald Trump. He was simply not up to the job. But Mr Johnson does not do serious. He does self-interest. The British government is better off without him. The Tory party should not deceive itself that he is the answer to its problems.

The Tory party has a historic reputation for being serious about power. But the modern Tory party can also be an extraordinarily febrile hothouse. It now faces a battle that was always going to have to be fought eventually, between the fanatics of the right and the pragmatists of the centre-right. Mrs May has been tenacious and sometimes skilful (though sometimes not) in postponing the battle. But the moment has arrived – and it must be resolved

Hypocrite!: Anger as Brexit supremo Nigel Lawson applies for French residency

‘Hypocrite!’: Anger as Brexit supremo applies for French residency

Many of the long-time British immigrants in France expressed outrage at Lord Lawson’s application for a residency permit

Nigel Lawson applies for French residency British politician and former Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson participates in a debate on the EU at the Institute of Directors convention in London, Britain, October 6, 2015. 2015. REUTERS/Toby Melville

leading campaigner for Britain’s exit from the European Union has been accused of hypocrisy after applying for permanent residency in France.Former Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson told newspaper The Connexion that he is applying for a permanent residency card, known as a “carte de sejour,” which it is hoped will avoid complications after Brexit.

Brexit will end the right of EU citizens to live in Britain and vice-versa. Both Britain and the bloc say they want expats to retain their current rights, but questions remain over the status of 3 million EU nationals in the U.K. and 1 million Britons in other EU countries.

Lord Lawson, 86, who chaired Britain’s Vote Leave campaign, said he was “not worried” about his status as a Briton in France. He live in who lives in an 18th century country house in Gers, south-west France,.

Pro-EU group Best for Britain said that Lawson “looks like a hypocrite.”

Spokesman Paul Butters said the thought of Lord Lawson applying for a French residency card “takes the biscuit”.

“It seemed to Lawson that no cost was not worth paying to leave. But with this news, it seems the cost will be paid by others while the former chancellor suns himself in his luxury home in France.”

There are more than 150,000 Britons living in France whose future has been complicated by the bitterly fought 2016 UK referendum that voted to leave the European Union by a narrow 52 percent majority.

Many of the long-time British immigrants in France expressed outrage at Lord Lawson’s application for a residency permit and said they hoped it would be turned down, reported The Local.

Russell Hall, who lives in the Dordogne told The Local: “What annoys so many of us is his extraordinarily blasé and casual attitude. Perhaps his wealth and privilege protect him from the chaos and disruption that will affect so many more humble Brits who have chosen to live in France, either full time or part of each year.

“It beggars belief that as many of those seeking a carte de séjour in France struggle to satisfy the many criteria and to assemble the substantial documentation in support of their application, Lord Lawson airily dismisses their concerns, saying he is “not particularly worried. It comes under the category of tiresome rather than serious.”

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