The Not So Special US-UK Relationship

The Not So Special US-UK Relationship

The Not So Special US-UK Relationship

The Anglo-American ‘Special Relationship’ has been known to exist as a close alliance between the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom since the days of FDR and Churchill forged during the Second World War. It is called special because of the unique historical and cultural bonds of kinship that unite the American and British peoples through a perceived shared heritage, common political/social/economic values and language. Together over the course of 72 years it has been the White House with the support of 10 Downing Street as its principal strategic leading ally in Europe.The so-called ‘Special Relationship’ is an unprecedented coming together and sharing of two nation states intelligence and national security infrastructures and spy-intelligence organisations. The US-UK relationship is highly integrated at an intelligence, defence, foreign policy and security level. As well as being two highly developed, mature, sophisticated economies that do a tremendous amount of trade and investment with each other there are cultural affinities with a shared language and common ancestry.

At a political level the relationship between the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is an institution of the Anglo-American special relationship and the poster child of it. When it has been good and based on mutual admiration and mutual chemistry with a strong bond of friendship such as Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, Tony Blair with Bill Clinton and George W Bush, John F Kennedy and Harold Macmillan and FDR together with in war time arms Churchill it has served to create an aura of confidence and glamour as well as excitement in the conduct of Western global leadership under the American order. Low points included the evident cold body language and distaste Edward Heath had for Richard Nixon.

Also Harold Wilson fell out with President Johnson regarding not having British involvement in the Vietnam War. British Conservative Prime Minister John Major did not get on well with American liberal ‘New’ Democrat President Bill Clinton regarding differing positions on the Irish peace process and Northern Ireland as well as Major helping Republican George Bush during the 1992 Presidential Election.

Now, quite possibly the US-UK “special relationship” has suffered serious damage and could be at its lowest ebb ever, which will have tremendous consequences for the UK’s position in the world going forward outside of the European Union. The relationship and alliance has always meant far more to London than to Washington DC. But in so heavily involving the British intelligence services in interfering in the 2016 US Presidential election directly working against the Republican candidate Donald Trump and in favour of the Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton, the British State may just have crossed a red line to far in the mind of President Donald Trump.

There has been much banging on about Russian interference in the 2016 US Presidential election. This of course is never spoken of in the context that various American and British Governments have not only covertly interfered and intervened directly in other countries internal democratic elections and political systems such as the case with the British Conservative Government of John Major attempting to help the Republican Bush 1992 campaign against Bill Clinton, but also overtly, such as was the case with Iran after WWII. However, the more one learns of the extent of the British intelligence state’s involvement in the 2016 US Presidential election working in favour of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, the more one begins to see that an argument can be mounted that the level of British State intervention in the 2016 US Presidential election to help tip the balance in favour of one candidate against the other is unprecedented.

Such is the case of one British political ‘activist’ by the name of Simon Bracey-Lane who mysteriously worked as an activist for the Bernie Sanders 2016 Presidential campaign and a very strange organisation called The Institute of Statecraft which runs something spuriously called the ‘Integrity Initiative’. The Institute for Statecraft and its Integrity Initiative is a front for the British Government’s intelligence services. It is funded largely by the British Foreign Office and NATO Governments. It came into being in 2015 long before Donald Trump was ever perceived to be a serious candidate for the White House and its sole purpose is to continue in that most ridiculous and backwards ‘Cold War’ mentality of smearing all things Russian and smearing anyone who takes a positive interest and positive perspective on Russia and the great Russian people.

It would seem Bracey-Lane was an agent of the British Government on a mission to collect up data on Bernie Sanders, the chief rival for the Democratic nomination to Hillary Clinton back in 2016 and then in all likelihood pass such data to the 2016 Clinton Campaign. The British Government at the time at made it known it wanted Hillary Clinton elected President. Senator Sanders was of course a left wing firebrand, the closest American politics gets to having a socialist, who was lukewarm towards Israel and intent on revolutionising American domestic and international policy to take it in a more progressive and liberal internationalist direction. Sanders wanted to reform the bloated US defence budget and military-industrial complex and attempt to tone down aggressive impulses in American foreign policy. With a little extra push in a few primaries and caucus he might well have secured the Democratic Party nomination.

This involvement by the British State in the internal political affairs of the United States is disconcerting. Not only did the British State intervene extensively in the 2016 US Presidential election to tip the balance towards the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, it has at the same time being displaying a deeply ingrained prejudice and bigotry against all things Russian. Indeed, over the last few years the level of anti-Russian hysteria in England alongside the level of anti-EU hysteria has been an appalling and irrational spectacle to behold. Even in English police stations they now have posters up about how to look out for ‘Russian gangs’ etc. which is absolute rubbish, but then the English police are themselves utterly rubbish, as the world has witnessed recently with the disgraceful bungling of the Gatwick Airport drone fiasco. The English really need to calm down and focus on their own internal affairs such as the mess they have created for themselves with this thing of theirs called Brexit.

This British Government front called the Institute for Statecraft and its ‘Integrity Initiative’ was launched in 2015 by the British Government as a secret operation to propagate anti-Russia propaganda into the western media stream and create generally an aggressively hostile anti-Russian media narrative, for what purpose and to what end only the British Government and those who hold such severe and obsessive anti-Russian opinions can answer.

The Institute for Statecraft and its ‘Integrity Initiative’ programs where designed to smear anyone who does not follow the anti-Russia line. The Steele dossier which has been of such great help to the Robert Mueller Special Counsel Investigation was also a largely a British Government operation but seems to have actually emanated from this Institute for Statecraft mission. The ‘Integrity Initiative’ builds ‘cluster’ or contact groups of trusted journalists, military personal, academics and lobbyists within foreign countries. These people get alerts via social media to take anti-Russian action when the British State perceives a need.

It would seem there are some at the very highest levels of the British State who would like nothing more than to start an all out war against Russia, which would be the gravest strategic and human mistake probably made since the last monster thought he could achieve such a diabolical scheme circa 1941. And perhaps there are some at the top of the EU who have never forgiven nor gotten over that it was Russia that was the main liberator of the European continent against the German Nazi Third Reich and it was Russia who was the principle and superior opponent against the Wehrmacht.

Yet the fact of the matter is as per usual when the English are involved they generally end up causing more damage than good. All these anti-Russian efforts by the British State and involvement in the internal affairs of American politics such as infiltrating the Bernie Sanders campaign and gathering up a dossier on Donald Trump has ironically and paradoxically served to actually weaken to its worst level the US-UK ‘special relationship’. Quite possibly US-UK relations are at their lowest point. The management of the President of the United States’ visit to the UK was a public relations disaster for the British Government of Theresa May and Mr. Trump has made it quite clear he has little time for the British Prime Minister, openly attacking her handling of the Brexit negotiations, openly pining for Boris Johnson to replace her and openly stating that a US-UK Free Trade Agreement post-Brexit is not a certainty. Also President Trump has little time for Britain’s defence establishment and its pathetic and ridiculous Henry Jackson Society so-called Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson. President Trump cannot stand pip squeaks like Gavin Williamson and that is why Trump kept the entire British Government in the dark about his troop pull outs in Syria and Afghanistan.

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How can #Brexit be about democracy after this?

How can Brexit be about democracy after this?

How can Brexit be about democracy after this?

By Graham Vanbergen: I have written endlessly about the involvement of dark money and right-wing free-market fundamentalists agitating for Brexit who secured positions in high office and the very corridors of power. In my recent book, ‘Brexit – A corporate coup d’etat’ – I highlighted how they established, built and nurtured authoritative organisations to ensure that Brexit was not a wasted opportunity to push forward the next stage of the global reign of free markets

But don’t take my word for it. Some of our media partners at TruePublica have uncovered just as much democracy wrecking shenanigans going on in the background.

Take openDemocracy. They put an investigations team on following the money and found a link between foreign billionaires and Brexit just as I did. They found illicit secretive sources of political funding and exposed Arron Banks, the self-proclaimed ‘Bad boy of Brexit’ and the ongoing scandal of his huge donations. They even worked with accountants to show his insurance businesses were verging on bankruptcy at the time of the referendum and yet he brought £8 million to the Leave campaign. This donation is now under investigation.

Like me, they found the link with Steve Bannon, Trump, Cambridge Analytica and the now infamous Facebook data scandal. That wasn’t that hard but confirming the use of advanced social engineering systems that were used in the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan designed originally to ‘change hearts and minds,’ was. But sadly, that too is a fact of the farce that Brexit has become.

Then there are our partners at Unearthed, the investigative arm of Greenpeace. Their undercover investigation, published in the Guardian, raised concerns about the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) work on Brexit that may have broken charity rules by campaigning for a specific policy outcome. It’s all about a hard Brexit and a US-UK free trade deal.

The IEA is registered as an educational charity. It has been under investigation by the Charity Commission since July as a result.

I go into some detail about the IEA and others and also highlight one American organisation in my book with over 450 business relationships and links to hard-right free-market think tanks, themselves linked to the hard right-wing Tea Party and other profit-driven fundamentalists. These powerful American outfits are also pushing for a hard Brexit and nothing less.

Carol Cadwalladr’s epic award-winning investigations published in The Guardian and The Observer highlighted the secrets of dark money and the foreign billionaires behind Brexit. Again, she was following the money and made the connections between big business interests and Brexit. The list of scandals uncovered by Cadwalladr continues to grow.

Then there’s Theresa May. She has been accused of holding secret weekly Brexit meetings with Cabinet ministers and civil servants of which no record has been made. This is unheard of outside of a wartime government. Of the clandestine gatherings, one insider told the London Evening Standard: “In terms of democracy this feels like a scandal.” It is.

This government is defined by its secretiveness and a desire to avoid any scrutiny whatsoever. Theresa May and her cabinet are now avoiding parliament on anything serious. The problem is, as I have said time and time again over the years even before she became the PM – Theresa May is an authoritarian leader, not a collaborative one who believes in democracy. She has decided what is best for the country and no parliamentary participation is allowed if it does not agree with her position. One only has to look at the scale of democracy denying instruments (such as trashing privacy and constructing the West’s biggest surveillance state) she brought to the country in her time at the Home Office.

The ‘Meaningful Vote’ was cancelled – but only because she was facing democratic defeat. A second vote was then forced upon May – a confidence vote leaving her badly wounded. But no second referendum is allowed. As far as the PM is concerned only she has the right to interpret the view of the country. Let’s not forget May pretty much lost a general election campaign in which she demanded a personal mandate. May disappears into secretive meetings precisely because she can’t communicate with anyone at all – not the electorate, or the Tory party or that of parliament. In the meantime, the government have just been accused of wasting £100,000 on a social media campaign to get support for her Brexit deal at the vote she just cancelled. It is not that May is in a difficult position – it’s that she is clueless as are her woeful advisors.

All these reports, investigations and scandals that have emerged since Britain’s EU referendum must surely lead everyone to conclude that the EU referendum result was, in fact, more the outcome of a paid-for propaganda exercise facilitated by ultra right-wing radicals in the Tory party than democracy in action. It is leading Britain into chaos.

Democracy was denied to Britain when we found out that foreign-born billionaires and corporations had massively overspent official campaigning budgets set in law. Democracy was denied when Theresa May came to power and it will continue to be denied as she constantly changes the goalposts to best suit her game.

There is only one thing we can be sure of. The ‘investors,‘ especially the vulture funds, hedge funds and special interest groups exposed by all these scandals are looking to profit from the very chaos that Brexit causes – and it is unbelievable how been successful that plan has turned out to be!

 

Graham Vanbergen is the contributing editor of TruePublica, a columnist at the European Financial Review and author of Brexit – A corporate coup d’etat.

#Brexit Dark money investigations: what we’ve found out, and why we’re looking

Dark money investigations: what we’ve found out, and why we’re looking

by Adam Ramsay

For the past two years openDemocracy has been tracking down the secretive, wealthy donors trying to influence British politics unseen.

Arron Banks with Nigel Farage: two of “the bad boys of Brexit”. Image, Ben Birchall/PA Archive/PA Images

It started with the Democratic Unionist Party. We forced them to confess that a huge Brexit donation had come via a secretive group in Glasgow. We showed that the chair of that group was connected to the former head of Saudi intelligence and to a Danish man involved in gun-running in India.

We travelled round Northern Ireland and the west of Scotland, banging on doors and meeting sources, but were blocked at every turn. BBC Northern Ireland picked up the story and followed it to Kiev. We still don’t know for sure where this cash came from, but we did help force a change in the law, so this could never happen again.

Then there were the Scottish Tories. We showed that a huge portion of their surge in 2016 was funded by money from secretive sources, and eventually got one of those groups fined. An independent Scottish media organisation, The Ferret, followed our story, and forced an Electoral Commission investigation. And it’s not just the Scottish Tories. We exposed one of the key loopholes allowing dark money to flood into the Labour Party, UKIP and the Lib Dems too.

And then there was “the man who bought Brexit”, Arron Banks. Did the millions he poured into the Leave campaigns really come from his own pockets? We showed that he didn’t appear to be nearly as rich as he claimed: it was hard to understand how he could have afforded his lavish donations. We worked with accountants to show his insurance businesses were verging on bankruptcy at the time of the referendum, and with a reporter in Lesotho to show that his diamond mines didn’t have many diamonds.

The Bannon emails

We got our hands on emails from Banks showing that he’d asked Steve Bannon – advisor to Donald Trump, founder of Breitbart News and vice-president of Cambridge Analytica – for help fundraising in the US. We met sources who showed that he’d lied to Parliament, and then, when asked about our story on the BBC, that he’d lied again.

We looked at how the Brexit money was spent, showing how several supposedly independent campaigns used the same obscure merchandise company based at the end of a terraced row in Ely (and yes, we went to Ely). We explained how Cambridge Analytica itself is the result of the privatisation of military propaganda, and we examined the terrifying connections between the Brexit campaign and Britain’s growing role as the global hub of mercenary firms.

Our story on Darren Grimes, the 22-year-old given a £675,000 donation by Vote Leave, triggered the court case which led to the conclusion that Vote Leave broke the law and to the campaign being referred to the police. We then revealed that the police waited months before bothering to collect the key documents relating to the case.

We investigated a group called Veterans for Britain, who had also taken a large donation from Vote Leave, and exposed connections to the expanding network of privatised military and intelligence contractors – including the mercenary military propaganda firm SCL, and its subsidiary, Cambridge Analytica.

We were one of the first outlets to seriously investigate the European Research Group. We showed how they were set up to turn the UK into “a low-tax, offshore haven”, that they were funded from the public purse and that they had members who were ministers – in breach of the ministerial code. We were the first outlet to disclose their membership, and that they’ve had an office in the Houses of Parliament since the 1990s. And that they got a donation via the same secret group who funnelled cash to the DUP.

Weird interests

As Brexit ministers came and went, we investigated them, too. We showed Steve Baker’s web of weird interests, including that he took thousands of pounds from an arms company whilst sitting as vice-chair of the group lobbying for the arms industry in Parliament, and how he’s got longstanding links to the American radical right. When he stood down, we showed how his replacement, Dominic Raab, was moulded as a politician by the dark-money ‘think tank’ the Institute for Economic Affairs.

Which takes us to Britain’s dark-money-funded think tanks. We showed how a staff member for a group called the Legatum Institute, connected to a hedge fund in Dubai and owned by a disaster capitalist who made a fortune from the collapsing Soviet Union, had unprecedented access to government ministers during the Brexit process, despite the fact that no one is sure who is paying his wages. And when he took a job with a private lobbying agency despite sitting on Liam Fox’s committee of advisors, our story forced him to resign from that committee.

Our work has run in parallel to – and often intersected with – that of others: Carole Cadwalladr is, of course, the icon.

But here’s the bottom line. People have different interests and ideas, and politics is a negotiation between them. We are not investigating the dark money in British politics either because we are for Brexit or because we are against it. We are investigating dark money because the rich and powerful will always hide selfish demands behind the language of ideology and policy wonkery. They hide their political donations because they don’t want us to know that what their representatives say is paid-for propaganda. If we are to have an open and honest conversation about the future of the country, we first need to understand where everyone is really coming from, what people’s interests really are.

And that means we need to keep shining a light into the dark money poisoning our democracy.

So please, contribute to our appeal, so we can keep striving for an open democracy.

We must stop a minority of #Brexit fanatics from holding the United Kingdom to ransom

By Andy Price
The hard Brexit wheels are coming off. We know it, the EU knows it, May knows it.
As the Brexit negotiations peter out this week in Brussels, fevered Brexit fanatics – from Boris Johnson, David Davis and Jacob Rees Mogg in the Telegraph, to many others on Twitter – are ranting and raving about the most sensible thing Theresa May has done in two and a half years of Brexit negotiations by suggesting extending the transition period in an attempt at genuine compromise.
This would be a good opportunity to remind ourselves of some salient facts. These Conservative MPs are speaking on behalf of the hardest of Brexiteers, a collection of somewhere between 60-80 of the Tory MPs.

That’s somewhere between 60 and 80 MPs out of a total of 317 Conservative MPs in the House of Commons. And while having 317 MPs means the Conservatives are the largest party at the last election, they did not win enough of the votes to form a majority. Therefore, for all their bluster and bloviating, let’s just state clearly what the members of this small group are: they are a minority faction, holding a minority view, in a minority government.

Their claims to speak for the “will of the people” as cast in the EU referendum of 2016 thus grow weaker by the day. Time alone is a good enough driver of this – the actual vote on referendum day is fading in the historical memory. But more than this, the electorate is changing by the day. Polling points to increasing scepticism about Brexit and even just the straightforward demographics are telling. More and more people are coming of age, turning 18, becoming voters. And young people are the group most opposed to leaving the EU.

This is the real driver of the hard Brexiteer’s frothing, wide-eyed cries of betrayal and surrender: these MPs surely know that whatever appeal they had in 2016 is withering before the nation’s eyes.

A bus passes an anti-Brexit advertisement paid for by the owner of a plumbing business in London, Britain, October 18, 2018. Reuters/Peter Nicholls

Still squabbling

Nothing more quickly erodes public opinion of politicians than politicians fighting amongst themselves. And the Conservatives seem to be spending more time doing this than any other activity – such as, say, representing their constituents – at present. It’s all doubly distasteful when those doing the fighting claim to be spending all their energies fighting not for themselves or their ideological positions but for the will of the people.

Moreover, the most prominent members of this group only do further disservice to their long-term goals. Jacob Rees Mogg, no matter what levels of popularity he has in the Conservative party, is categorically not the future of a tech savvy, multicultural, diverse, post #MeToo Britain. That ship has sailed, and no amount of quaint caricatures of a gilded past can stop the move to a different kind of Britain envisaged by the generation now turning 18.

But beyond Rees-Mogg, the other figures do the cause no favours either. Johnson and Davies, both key architects of the vote to Leave, very publicly walked away from government and the difficult job of delivering Brexit when things didn’t go their way. In a time of national crisis such as this, this behaviour does not come across as a principled falling on their swords but rather as a desertion of a sinking ship.

In short, the hard Brexit wheels are coming off. We know it, the EU knows it, May knows it. And the reason the wheels are coming off is equally as clear: the Brexit that took shape out of the days following June 23 2016 was always, always, undeliverable in any kind of form that didn’t cause untold political and economic damage to the UK. This is particularly true in the matter of the Irish border. History will show that the lion’s share of the blame for the type of Brexit that emerged in those early days lies with May. Her quite frankly ridiculous political game playing, aimed at pleasing the fanatics in her party, created the red lines that have that run through the heart of this whole debacle.

But even she now knows that the time for compromise has arrived. As in life, so it should be in politics – we compromise constantly in our private and professional lives: why should it be any different here? It seems May might be realising that, belatedly.

Sadly, she is hampered by the fanatics. And this is what the rest of us should be focusing on: how is it that a tiny handful of MPs holding a minority position in society – remember, 99% of the things they are fighting for in a hard Brexit were not on a ballot in 2016 (and indeed, many of them argued publicly against these positions) – came to hijack the political debate as a whole?

That worrying question has many answers – answers we need to address collectively over the coming years. In the meantime, let’s extend the transition period and give ourselves time to breathe as we reflect on how we got to this sorry state – and how we get out of here.


Andy Price, Head of Politics, Sheffield Hallam University


This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

#BREXIT – Finally Laid Bare For All To See

Source

BREXIT - The Final Truth

By Graham Vanbergen:

The dream of Brexit, that of the so-called ‘ultras,’ the buccaneering Brexiteers is finally being laid bare for what it really is – a fantasy. The tally of Theresa May’s appointments who have walked out has now reached 18. The record-setting turnover rate in Theresa may’s government is only trumped in the democratic West by the master of chaos himself – Donald Trump, who to date, has lost 68 members of his Executive office staff – including the Whitehouse physician. And this is the man the ‘ultras’ are courting.

This dream has now turned into a constitutional and political nightmare – it is humiliating to witness. Britain, once a diplomatic titan in an uncertain world is now in catastrophic freefall. Political implosion is what now beckons.

The walkouts in the Tory party have one thing in common, it is what binds them. Not one of them has stated what they would do, or how they would replace Theresa May’s proposal. The only option they are providing – without being honest enough to say so – is a no-deal Brexit.

These political chancers include Boris Johnson – the ex-Foreign Secretary, ex-Brexit Secretary David Davis and Dominic Raab who has also abandoned his post as the Brexit Secretary and chief negotiator with the European Union. Then there’s Shailesh Vara, Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Jo Johnson – Transport Minister, Guto Bebb – Minister for Defence Procurement, Suella Braverman – another Brexit Minister, Esther McVey – the Works and Pensions Secretary.

Less well known are Rehman Chisti who left his role as Conservative vice-chairman, Ranil Jayawardena – Parliamentary Private Secretary at the Ministry of Justice, Nikki da Costa – the director of legislative affairs at Downing Street, Parliamentary Private Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Conservative Party vice-chairman Ben Bradley, Maria Caulfield, vice-chairwoman of the Conservative Party, Scott Mann – a Parliamentary Private Secretary for the Treasury, and yet another Parliamentary Private Secretary, Robert Courts. Then there’s Andrea Jenkyns – Parliamentary Private Secretary in the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and finally Chris Green, who was a Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Department for Transport.

Two and half years into negotiations and the sixth wealthiest country on the planet has proved just one thing – it is incapable of negotiating any deals whatsoever – even with itself.

More cabinet resignations will likely lead to a vote of no confidence in Theresa May. That vote, if successful will spark a Tory leadership battle right at the moment that crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s on some sort of deal with the world’s biggest trading bloc should be done with smiles and handshakes all around.

The Brexiteers who promised us so much mislead everyone. John Redwood said – “getting out of the EU can be quick and easy – the UK holds most of the cards“. David Davis said – “there will be no downside to Brexit,” and my favourite bad guy of them all – Liam Fox, who famously said – “the free trade agreement that we will do with the EU should be one of the easiest in human history.” They were all ruinously misguided at best.

So what now? Well, if Theresa May does survive the next round with her knife-throwing colleagues, the chances of getting her deal through parliament now looks a bit belly up – euthanised by misadventure. In turn, a politically cataclysmic fight for a second referendum will open the doors to the proverbial abyss of chaos, as if we weren’t already most of the way there. And even if Ms May does win the day, what do we get? When politicians and political commentators were working through the options last year they spoke of EEA countries like Iceland, Liechtenstein or the Norway/Canada deal, but this deal is none of those. May has effectively put on paper a deal she herself said no British Prime Minister should do.

Throughout all of this – Britain has not taken back control. A hard Brexit might give us control but at an economic cost that would prove much worse than the effects of the 2008 financial crash where taxpayers bailed out a bunch of irresponsible louts in Lambougini’s.

To be fair to Theresa May she was dealt a bad hand but has proved beyond any doubt she is no card player. Her appointments, designed to keep enemies close – betrayed her, and her strategic decisions throughout have had all the hallmarks of political despair, like a cornered animal facing the final moments with its attacker.

Much as I dislike Theresa May for her bad form in the Home Office, she has at least stuck to her guns – unlike the pitiful shards of a political party that boasted about strong and stable leadership, now forced to the edge of its own cliff. The ‘resigners,’  those that have chosen to walk away from their self-imposed dilemma are much worse though. They have abandoned the people they represent and the country they serve and now wait like salivating wolves ready for the final slaying in the glory hunting hope of being the next leader of the pack.

This shambles all started with Britain’s worst ever Prime Minister, David Cameron, stating in some sort of ‘moment of Blairism’ that he “thought he was right all along” to call the referendum. He wasn’t. This hoodie-hugging pig lover’s other decision of delusion was to blow up the wealthiest county in Africa and turn it into a slave-trading nation, which created the migrant crisis currently destabilising Europe.

Today, the two main political parties of Gt. Britain have literally torn themselves limb from limb. The third has already been cremated and is now dust. Now we have thugs from the DUP calling the shots. Society is fully divided, the country has been reduced to the status of international laughing stock and the very union of Britain is now at threat.

Theresa May’s terrible plan is to make us subservient to a political union next door that is itself fracturing. The ‘ultras’ want to make us subservient to a political union across the Atlantic that would be even worse. Heads we lose, tails we lose.

Brexit is a politically generated crisis and a crisis of their ongoing mismanagement. In reality, it was a contest between the centre-right and radical right – now it’s turning into a fight for all of society.

There’s no way out of this crisis. No matter which way you turn it is a conundrum – like a riddle with no answer.

The fact that David Cameron, who let this uncontrollable genie out of its bottle, was so tragically mistaken is one thing, but the rest of this mess really only demonstrates that many of those walking the corridors of power are psychologically flawed and unfit for office.

This is not Brexit, it’s Brex-Shit – and nothing else.

#Brexit: The Men Who Want to Push Britain Off a Cliff

The Men Who Want to Push Britain Off a Cliff

Theresa May has a Brexit deal. Now a group of feckless Conservatives wants to torpedo everything.

The pro-Brexit, Conservative lawmaker Jacob Rees-Mogg speaking to the media outside the Houses of Parliament on Thursday.CreditCreditMatt Dunham/Associated Press

LONDON — I am scared. The markets are scared. The politicians I have been talking to are scared, or livid.

A few days ago, Prime Minister Theresa May unveiled her deal with the European Union. Within 48 hours, Britain’s government spun into crisis. Mrs. May’s survival is threatened as furious prominent Brexiteers go public with their intention to unseat her. Four ministers have resigned, more resignations may follow and nobody believes that she has the votes to get her deal through Parliament. What happens after that is a conundrum.

The cause of this paralysis is the hard-line Brexiteers, a frighteningly powerful cohort within Mrs. May’s Conservative Party, a group that is heedless about economic damage to Britain in pursuit of a political goal.

The first minister to resign was Mrs. May’s Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab, a cold-eyed man in a hurry, a flintily ambitious Thatcherite. The bid to topple Mrs. May was initiated by Jacob Rees-Mogg, a vain, drawling member of Parliament, a financier who once campaigned alongside his nanny in a Mercedes and has built a career as a political rock star and possible leader on the back of such affectation. They join an earlier defector, the flailing, floppy-haired Boris Johnson, a man who is half-crazed by his repeated failure to become the Conservative Party’s leader and who is desperate to grasp at his last chance, even if it means undermining the country.

Everything is up in the air in Britain’s tumultuous politics right now, but there is one certainty: There is no limit to the practical, economic and psychological damage these Brexiteers are prepared to inflict on the rest of us in the pursuit of their delusions or their demented desire for power.

They savage Mrs. May’s deal and offer no practical suggestions for anything else. This is an utter failure of responsibility. Yes, the prime minister’s deal is pitiful, an awkward compromise that will hobble Britain’s economy and diminish our power. But the truth is — and everyone knows this — there is no better, purer Brexit available without a permanent economic hit.

If they were reasonable people, the pro-Brexit faction would now be shocked into facing reality. But they are not. These are the same politicians who tricked voters out of Europe by promising them that leaving would be all gain and no pain. Britain would become proud, sovereign, powerful, more prosperous. It could slash immigration, enrich its health service, cut magnificent and profitable trade deals with the rest of the world, opt out of European Union laws and still trade with and travel freely in Europe.

It was always rubbish, marketed by people deliberately indifferent to facts. The European Union was never going to let us leave the club while retaining all the advantages of belonging, any more than a tennis club allows ex-members to use the facilities for free. It said so, patiently, repeatedly. The agonizing negotiations of the past 18 months proved that over and over

Mrs. May finally managed some wriggling round the edges, reducing part of the huge and unavoidable economic penalties of Brexit by keeping Britain in the European Union Customs Union and parts of the single market. It is a valuable concession, and one the European Union has agreed to principally in order to not inflame sectarian tensions in Northern Ireland, which would otherwise have to rebuild a border with the Irish Republic. The price that must be paid for remaining in the market is that Britain agrees to faithfully track and follow its rules, while no longer having any voice in how they are made.

These restrictions have sent the hard-line Brexiteers into a cold fury, but they were inevitable. You can’t even join a tennis match if you insist on drawing your own courts and deciding your own scores. The Brexit fanatics blindly ignore that. They have learned nothing, acknowledged nothing.

Rather than accepting their shameful role in deceiving voters over what was possible, they are doubling down on denunciation. They accuse Mrs. May of betrayal, of trapping and binding the country, of breaking her word. It is sheer selfish manipulation, political destructiveness on a huge scale, because they cannot get what they want; indeed, they cannot agree among themselves on what they want. They want the prime minister removed, but while they may secure the votes to challenge her, they’re unlikely to get enough to unseat her.

Even if they succeed in wounding her so deeply that she decides to step down and a hard-line Brexiteer takes her place, a new prime minister cannot negotiate a harder Brexit; the European Union has made it clear that the withdrawal deal is closed. If these craven politicians did find their way to power and tried to force a “no deal” Brexit — leaving the European Union without any kind of agreement in place — Parliament and the country would revolt. Nearly four out of five voters thought Brexit was going badly this July. In some areas that voted Leave, there have been big swings toward staying in the European Union.

In their grab for power, these monstrous, preening egos, desperate for validation and vindication, are already steering the Brexit process out of control, knocking Mrs. May’s deal sideways, increasing the speed at which investors and businesses flee. This chaos could last weeks or months. But the group’s ruthlessness in mowing down the middle ground of a compromise Brexit may give them whiplash. For members of Parliament, who must pass the final vote on any Brexit deal, the recent Brexiteer extremism has made their choices far starker and has raised the stakes.

If Mrs. May’s deal cannot get through Parliament, and the nightmare of a no-deal looms, then it becomes much more likely that a decisive number of members of Parliament will resolve that the final decision has to be returned to the electorate, in a second referendum that is being called the People’s Vote. Last month, an estimated 700,000 people marched in London in support of such a referendum.

The People’s Vote could offer the British electorate three choices: no deal, Mrs. May’s deal and remaining in the European Union. A recent poll found support for such a vote is now running at almost 60 percent, while the Remain vote has shifted from 48 percent in the referendum to 54 percent now.

A few weeks ago, I feared that a second vote would feel illegitimate, that a compromise Brexit, though bad for the country, should go ahead. The dangerous intransigence of the hardest Brexiteers has changed my calculation, and may change that of many others.

These hard-liners are ruthless. They aren’t prepared to accept a compromise that the prime minister has constructed for them. Instead, they are blowing it up. By eliminating the center option, they intend to push Britain to the hardest possible Brexit, toward the wrecked economy and shattered lives that would follow. They have destroyed any sense that I — and many others — had, that we owe it to them to honor and accept the original referendum. They are polarizing and galvanizing us. If no deal is the Brexiteers’ preferred option, I can with a clear conscience campaign for Remain in a People’s Vote. Anyone else could, too.

It’s just possible that the crash the Brexiteers are engineering could also be their own.

Jenni Russell (@jennirsl) is a columnist for The Times of London and a contributing opinion writer.

Theresa May Tells American Investors – Brexit Britain Is Up for Grabs (The future of the NHS is included)

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By Graham Vanbergen,

Britain will be “unequivocally pro-business” after it leaves the European Union, Theresa May has promised American investors. To neoliberal politicians, this was always the endgame.

The prime minister told the Bloomberg Global Business Forum in New York that the UK will be the low tax, high-skilled place to invest after Brexit.

Speaking days after EU leaders rejected her plans for future trading relations, Ms May will insist she is “confident” a deal can be reached. One wonders from where does this confidence emanate?

Do you get the feeling that Theresa May is setting up the UK/EU trade deal to fail, having primed American corporations and solicited its President in advance – or that she is using the US as a threat to bludgeon EU negotiators into capitulating to her troubled Chequers plan?

My suspicion is that one way or the other a trade deal will be agreed at the expense of the other. Either way, Theresa May will appear to have won something no matter what. But there’s a problem. Any US/UK trade deal will take years to formally agree and its net effect will be to align almost all standards and regulations to theirs.

Even more alarming is that Theresa May has said that the UK has a plan to create an economy which is appealing to investors across the world, with corporation tax the lowest among leading industrialised nations.

In 1978 corporation tax in the UK was 42%. By 1988 it was 25%, in 2008 it was 21%, is currently 19% and targeted to reach 17% by 2020 – with further reductions strongly hinted at. The current rate in Britain is the lowest in the G20 group of industrialised nations.

The two other leading economies of the EU alongside Britain do not compete on corporation tax.  In France, corporation tax is charged at 33.3% and Germany it is 32.9%. Other struggling member states like Italy charge 27.9% and Spain 25%. Only countries like Albania, Belarus, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia and Lithuania within the EU charge less. That is of course excepting tax havens such as Ireland that can only survive by charging 12.5% on corporate profits through PO Box addresses – that employs no-one.

Most economic experts agree that tax havens and very low tax countries cause unjust laws, political turmoil, increased inequality and discrimination. The reason tax havens are rich countries is simply because very little money is distributed to the rest of the economy – or in neoliberal speak – nothing ‘trickles down.’ In addition, low tax regimes also attract the wrong type of investment and have demonstrably shown historically to be little more than a race to the bottom.

Ms May said:

My message today is that a post-Brexit Britain will be an unequivocally pro-business Britain” stating that Britain will do the “most dynamic and ambitious free trade agreements with old friends and new allies alike.” 

“Crucially we also have a plan to deliver an economy that is knowledge-rich, highly innovative, highly skilled and high quality but with low tax and smart regulation. So let me say this bit very clearly. Whatever your business, investing in a post-Brexit Britain will give you the lowest rate of corporation tax in the G20.”

“You will access service industries and a financial centre in London that are the envy of the world, the best universities, strong institutions, a sound approach to public finance and a consistent and dependable approach to high standards but intelligent regulation.”

This is the language of a Prime Minister that is selling out on Britain as a country. Britain is up for sale to the highest bidder. These are either desperate measures or deliberate actions to prepare corporate America for the deregulation festival that will be on offer come April 2019.

Ms May was dealt a humiliating blow at a summit of EU leaders in Salzburg last week when they rejected her Chequers blueprint for post-Brexit relations. Was this plan designed to fail or was it designed to threaten?

Craig Murray, ex British ambassador commented:

The humiliation of Salzburg occurred because there was never a chance of any sympathy from EU member states for an attempt to dishonour the agreement (backstop” on North/South Ireland relations) of nine months ago. There is no way out of that conundrum. The government has belatedly remembered the existence of the FCO as a potential tool in international relations, and ambassadors in our Embassies in EU countries are currently staring in bafflement at dense and complex instructions urging them to convince their hosts that black is white.”

Ms May went further:

“Our relationship with the EU will change with Brexit. This is why I am confident we can reach a deal about our future relationship that is built in this spirit.”

Ms May attended the United Nations General Assembly, where she met with Donald Trump on Wednesday evening to push for a post-Brexit trade deal. Put on the table was a desire for a “big and ambitious” post-EU trade deal with America.

The Independent reports that

“such a trade deal is considered an important way for Ms May to help offset the economic impact of leaving the EU in March next year. It was high on the agenda when the prime minister ensured she was the first foreign leader to visit Mr Trump in Washington following his inauguration last year. Support from the US president could boost Ms May’s struggle to win over her critics, who have argued her exit plan is unworkable.”*

 

Featured image is from the author.

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