British Election Heralds Collapse of United Kingdom

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Finian Cunningham
December 16, 2019

Boris Johnson is entitled to crack open a few bottles of champagne after being re-elected prime minister, with his Conservative party winning a landslide majority. But when the celebrations are over, Britain is facing a thumping hangover – from the inescapable fact that half of the United Kingdom is now on an irrevocable path of separatism and independence.

Johnson has won a decisive mandate to “get Brexit done”, at least from London’s perspective. His party now has a substantial parliamentary majority of 80 seats in the House of Commons which will ensure delivery on his promise to execute Britain’s departure from the European Union on January 31. The actual final severance will take another year or two to complete because of negotiations between London and Brussels to definitively hammer out divorce terms. But at least Johnson can claim that he has consummated the final journey to leave the EU on January 31, a journey which began over three years ago when Britons had originally voted for Brexit in the 2016 referendum.

However, crucially, the Conservative government’s mandate for Brexit only applies to England and Wales. It was in these two countries that saw the significant swing of voters from the opposition Labour party to Johnson’s Tories. Thus, in effect, his parliamentary majority stems from voters in England and Wales.

By total contrast, in Scotland and Northern Ireland, the other two regions which make up the United Kingdom, the voters resoundingly rejected Johnson’s Brexit plans and voted for parties wanting to remain in the European Union. The outcome is consistent with the 2016 referendum results when Scotland and Northern Ireland both voted against Brexit.

Moreover, the latest election results have reinforced the call for independence in both Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The Scottish Nationalists swept the election to enhance their already existing majority. They now control nearly 90 per cent of all seats in Scotland. Party leader Nicola Sturgeon says there is an unquestionable mandate to hold a second referendum for Scottish independence. The previous independence referendum held in 2014 was defeated. But Scottish nationalists claim that popular support for their cause has surged since the Brexit referendum in 2016. The Scots, by and large, do not want to leave the EU. To remain in the EU therefore necessarily means separating from the United Kingdom and its central government in London.

Boris Johnson has so far rejected calls for holding a second Scottish independence referendum. But his position is untenable. Given the parliamentary numbers for separation stacking up in Scotland, he will have to relent. Nationalists there are demanding the holding of another plebiscite as early as next year.

In Northern Ireland, the election outcome is perhaps even more momentous. For the first time ever, nationalist parties have a majority over pro-British unionist parties. Mary Lou MacDonald, the leader of Sinn Fein, the main nationalist party, says that there is now a clear mandate for holding a referendum on the question of Northern Ireland leaving the United Kingdom. Given the breakthrough nationalist majority in the latest election, that would inevitably lead to a United Ireland, from the northern state joining with the existing southern state, the Republic of Ireland.

Nationalists in Northern Ireland have long-aspired for independence from Britain. Northern Ireland was created in 1921 from an audacious act of gerrymandering by the British government when it partitioned the island of Ireland into an independent southern state (which became the Republic of Ireland) and a small northern state (which became Northern Ireland). The latter remained under Britain’s jurisdiction. The arbitrary, imperialist act of partitioning Ireland was done in order to give the British authorities in London a mandate to rule over a portion of Irish territory because in newly created Northern Ireland the pro-British unionists were in a majority over nationalists. It was British establishment cynicism par excellence.

The present political structure of the United Kingdom of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland is only a century old. (Before that, the UK included all of Irish territory, but London was forced to grant partial Irish independence due to an armed insurrection.)

In any case, nearly a century after the setting up of Northern Ireland the natural demographic changes in its population have now created a majority for nationalists. The outcome of the election on December 12 is an undeniably huge historic event. For the first time ever, the nationalist mandate has overcome the unionist vote. The historic violation by British gerrymandering against Irish nationalist rights to independence and self-determination has finally been reversed in terms of electoral ballot.

When the Northern Ireland peace deal known as the Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998 to bring an end to nearly 30 years of armed conflict, enshrined in that treaty is the “principle of consent”. The British government is treaty-bound to abide by the electoral mandate of a majority in Northern Ireland wanting a United Ireland.

The threshold for triggering a referendum on Northern Ireland leaving British jurisdiction has now been reached. And nationalist parties are openly demanding that the legislative process to achieve that separation is now implemented.

Jonathan Powell, a seasoned British diplomat who oversaw the negotiations of the Good Friday Agreement, is not one for hyperbole. But in an interview with Matt Frei for Britain’s LBC Radio on December 14, Powell said he expected to see the “collapse of the United Kingdom” within the next decade, if not sooner. He was referring specifically to the electoral results in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Boris Johnson’s seeming victory in the British election is a double-edged sword. He may claim to have a mandate to cut off ties with the European Union. But the results also mean Scotland and Northern Ireland are empowered to now cut off their ties with the rest of Britain. The separation of those two states, leaving behind England and Wales, spells the end of the so-called United Kingdom.

Johnson’s election success is not “unleashing great potential” as he claims. Rather, it is unleashing an existential constitutional crisis for the British establishment.

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Election Result Signals a Possible End of the United Kingdom

By Alan MacLeod

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Corbyn Rallying in Middlesbrough 3116b

On the face of it, Thursday’s election result could hardly have been better for Boris Johnson and his ruling Conservative Party. Campaigning on a simple slogan of “get Brexit done,” the Tories romped to victory, winning 365 of a total of 650 seats, easily enough for a comfortable majority government. In his victory speech, the Prime Minister claimed that he was humbled that the British public had put their trust in him, and promised to make it is mission to work night and day, flat out, to get Brexit done by January 31st, “no ifs, no buts, no maybes.”

Even better, his rivals suffered huge defeats; after what he called a “very disappointing night for the Labour Party,” Jeremy Corbyn announced he was standing down after four years in charge. Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson suffered the embarrassment of losing her East Dunbartonshire seat.

The results will be interpreted as a very clear mandate for Johnson to push forward in his plans for a quick departure from the European Union. And yet the irony is that it is precisely this insistence from many in the Conservative and Unionist Party, to give it its full name, that could lead to the breakup of the union, ending the United Kingdom forever. An October poll found that the majority of English Conservative voters would accept the fragmentation of the UK as a price for leaving the EU. Those voters may get their wish– and sooner than expected.

Scotland, who overwhelmingly voted to stay in the EU, gave the Scottish National Party (SNP) an enormous majority as the party won 47 of the country’s 59 seats on 45% of the total vote share, 12 more seats than it got in 2017. This is added to the 69 out of a possible 129 representatives in occupies in the local Scottish government, a remarkable achievement in a multi-party, proportional representation system.

The result is an undeniable mandate for a second independence referendum, the last on coming in 2014, where 45% of Scots voted to leave the union. Polls suggest that the majority will vote for independence this time. A key talking point from the anti-independence side was that the country could not be certain of staying in the EU if it left the UK, a trump card that has now turned to dust. Johnson has talked of blocking a second referendum, but SNP leader and First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon has suggested they might organize one anyway, without the backing of London, and as imminently as in a few months.

In England, the two unionist, pro-EU parties, Labour and the Liberal Democrats felt the ire of voters, leaving the political center rather vacant. Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland the strongly right-wing Protestant Democratic Unionist Party leader Nigel Dodds spectacularly lost his seat to Sinn Fein’s John Finucane. Finucane’s father was the victim of an infamous murder by loyalist paramilitaries. But Sinn Fein, a leftist party that stands for a united Ireland, has its own deep connections to the IRA. Since September, surveys have shown that a majority of Northern Irish also favor leaving the UK and unifying with the Republic of Ireland, which wrested its own independence from the UK in 1922 after a bitter armed struggle. The fact that Johnson is charging ahead with Brexit, which has much more profound consequences for Northern Ireland due to its land border with and deep connections to the EU member state to its south, will do nothing to reverse this trend.

For the first time in history, the north has elected a majority of Irish nationalist and republican politicians to the Westminster parliament, with Sinn Fein receiving 47% of the vote itself. Its leader Mary Lou McDonald claimed that the calls for a referendum on Irish unification were now “impossible to ignore.”

The underlying reason for the growing nationalist and separatist sentiment is the decades of neoliberal policies that have brought with it economic dislocation, austerity and a generalized discontent. Both real wages and living standards have been on a long, slow decline since the 1970s. This has been most apparent in the post-industrial north of England, not coincidentally the area with the strongest pro-Brexit sentiment. On the other hand, the populations of the ravaged cities of Glasgow and Belfast have had their energies channeled into a more progressive vision of independence.

It is precisely the Conservative Party who are most responsible for implementing the economic changes that have led to this situation. Ironic then, that they have been granted the dubious honor of pushing through a Brexit that will likely only make the problem worse. In his victory speech outside 10 Downing Street, Johnson described himself as a “one nation Conservative.” He may be ruling over a much smaller one very soon.

‘Russian Troll’ Turns Out To Be Glasgow Security Guard

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A Twitter handle alleged to be a prime example of a ‘Russian troll’ account was actually run from Glasgow by a Scottish security guard. Asked about his tweets, the Scotsman said he is “just anti-crony capitalism.”

On Monday, crowdfunded journalism outlet Byline published an article detailing a “complicated” analysis of Twitter page @didgery77332nd, also known as ‘Smoo,’ concluding it’s a “fair assessment” that Smoo is a “foreign-based troll pushing Russian messaging.”

The supposed ‘Russian troll’ takedown comes amid recent unfounded claims that Russian bots sought to influence the Brexit referendum. However, the alleged foreign troll ‘Smoo’ has been tracked down and is actually a security guard from Glasgow, according to The Scotsman newspaper.

The man denied his page was anonymous, telling the Scottish newspaper that Smoo is a pet name from his childhood. “Smoo has been my nickname since I was six years old. It’s not difficult to track me down. People might not agree with my opinions, but that doesn’t make me a Russian troll,” he said.

The Byline ‘investigation’ into the social media page was carried out by writer JJ Patrick, who said he undertook the project after the owner of the account responded to his Twitter post about Russian Brexit trolls. Patrick’s analysis details why he suspects Smoo to be a fake Scottish account peddling “Russian or Russian-inspired disinformation”.

His reasoning includes that the account spread conspiracist memes and made “horrific use of English.” The Byline article zeroes in on the Smoo account’s language patterns in a failed attempt to debunk it.

“Their use of the word ‘Way’ to replace ‘With’ is not Scottish. In fact, having confirmed this by consulting a broad spectrum of Twitter users from across Scotland, ‘Way’ would almost certainly not be used. Rather, ‘With’ would be substituted with ‘Wae’ or even ‘Wi’.”

The person behind ‘Smoo’ has since tweeted to say his views “are not pro-Russia just anti-crony capitalism & corrupt governments.”

RT.com has reached out to both ‘Smoo’ and JJ Patrick for comment.

Via RT.

 

Opposing Zionism is not racism, rules Scottish court (Apartheid is) #BDS

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By Yvonne Ridley | MEMO | July 14, 2017

In yet another landmark legal victory, members of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign emerged from court victorious today after being accused of racism. Their “crime”? Standing up to Zionism.

The trial ended three years of speculation and pressure for SPSC members whose robust defence of their actions won the day in Glasgow Sherriff’s Court when the verdict was announced on Friday.

Four days of evidence and cross-examinations earlier this month focussed on the actions of two SPSC members who faced charges of racism and aggravated trespass for a protest against Israeli company Jericho cosmetics, which operates around the Dead Sea in the occupied West Bank. The protest was held in the wake of Israel’s 2014 military offensive against Palestinian civilians besieged in the Gaza Strip. More than 2,200 Palestinians were killed by the Israelis during the offensive, including 550 children, before in the war ended on 26 August. During the demonstration on 13 September 2014, the SPSC protesters denounced the killings.

Police were called to the shopping centre where the protest was being held, leading to the arrest of the two SPSC members accused of racism. “In other words,” explained Mick Napier, one of those arrested, “we were accused of being motivated by hatred of Israelis rather than opposition to Israel’s repeated massacres, apartheid across the whole of Palestine and genocidal violence in Gaza.”

During the Glasgow trial, the SPSC was buoyed by a High Court ruling in London that the Conservative government in Westminster acted unlawfully when it tried to prevent local councils in Britain from divesting from companies involved in Israel’s military occupation. The successful legal challenge for the right to boycott was brought by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in London, supported by War on Want, the Campaign Against the Arms Trade and the Quakers.

However, Napier wasn’t convinced that the result of the latest trial was a foregone conclusion. “Given their past record, we felt it was unlikely that even this High Court ruling in favour of BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions] would stop Scottish prosecutors’ related efforts to criminalise the campaign in support of Palestinian freedom.”

The prosecutor — called the Procurator Fiscal in the Scottish legal system — claimed in open court that the two accused in the Glasgow case were recycling an ancient anti-Semitic “Jewish blood libel” by speaking about Israeli mass murder of Palestinians. The Procurator Fiscal’s office made these claims, said Napier, while the violated people of Gaza “were still looking for ice-cream freezers and vegetable refrigerators in which to store the bodies of children killed by Israel’s military.”

In their testimony last month, Napier and his co-accused Jim Watson both rejected the claims made by prosecution witnesses, a Chief Inspector of police, the manager of the Jericho stall and two local Zionist activists. The prosecution claim was that staff were intimidated by “racist” placards and the shouting of “racist abuse”; this was the description of the SPSC’s criticism of the pro-Israel counter-demonstrators for supporting Israel’s most recent massacre of Palestinians.

The “racist” placard with which the Procurator Fiscal and Zionist witnesses took particular issue was a symbolic but graphic image of blood dripping under the name “Dead Sea cosmetics”. Napier pointed out that at the time of their protest, the UN Secretary-General was describing Israel’s massacre of thousands of Palestinians as a “moral outrage and criminal act” and a “gross violation of humanitarian law.”

“When the Scottish government joined in by denouncing the ‘deep inhumanity’ of the Israeli massacre,” noted Napier, “the Scottish procurators fiscal were working hand in glove with pro-Israel lobby groups to silence voices of Palestine solidarity.”

The SPSC has faced repeated efforts by pro-Israel lobbyists and Scottish prosecutors to criminalise the group’s pro-Palestine activities. The Zionist record to-date is one of almost total failure; legal action has failed to secure any convictions of pro-Palestine activists. “There was, however, a consolation prize [for the Zionists] when we were both found guilty of refusing to leave the shopping centre when asked to do so by the police,” said Napier. “I was also convicted of aggravated trespass for protesting inside the shopping centre. We will be appealing against both convictions so any celebrations by the Zionists will, I suggest, be a bit premature.”

In February last year, two employees of the pro-Israel Community Security Trust made allegations against SPSC members but that was also thrown out by Kilmarnock Sheriff Court when the Sheriff ruled that the crime as alleged had not taken place. “Had we not had the benefit of an Al-Jazeera Arabic language broadcast of the protest where the CST tried to secure an assault conviction there might have been a different outcome,” added Mick Napier.

Anyone wanting to help the legal fund for this latest appeal can donate on the SPSC website here: http://www.scottishpsc.org.uk

British Prime Minister Wants Election Now, Before Cost of Brexit Becomes Clear

British Prime Minister Wants Election Now, Before Cost of Brexit Becomes Clear

Prime Minister Theresa May, who was actually against Brexit before she was for it, made another dramatic U-turn on Tuesday, declaring that Britain needs to elect a new Parliament in June, three years ahead of schedule, despite her clear promise not to call an election when she campaigned to succeed David Cameron last year.

Her decision to subject Britons to a third national election campaign in just over two years — after the 2015 general election and the referendum on exiting the European Union ten months ago — was met with something less than enthusiasm by many voters.

In her address to the nation, May claimed that a fresh election was necessary to keep opposition parties from obstructing her Conservative government during negotiations over Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.

That argument rang hollow, however, given that the opposition Labour Party had just voted for the government’s bill to begin the process of leaving the E.U. and is not campaigning to overturn the results of last year’s referendum.

To most political observers, it was clear that May’s decision was driven by something else: a desire to capitalize on the unprecedented weakness of the Labour Party, which is divided over Brexit, and its own leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and has trailed the Conservatives by up to 21 points in recent polls.

As the writer Robert Harris and the broadcaster James O’Brien suggested, it might also be in May’s own self-interest, and that of her party, to ask the nation for a five-year term now, before the costs of Brexit become apparent.

Although even many die-hard Labour supporters seemed resigned to defeat, some on the left welcomed the chance to vote against what they see as the potentially disastrous policy of a complete break with Europe.

Paul Mason, a journalist and filmmaker, suggested that Labour should accept that under Britain’s current electoral system, it can no longer win power alone and should form “a progressive alliance” with other center-left parties, including the Greens, Scottish and Welsh nationalists and, perhaps, Liberal Democrats.

This idea was described in detail last year by Jeremy Gilbert, a professor at the University of East London, who argued that it was nearly impossible to see “Labour winning a parliamentary majority without first completely selling out,” as it had under Tony Blair.

“In practice, Gilbert explained on the website Open Democracy, such an alliance “would mean coming to some kind of arrangement with other parties — especially Greens and Liberal Democrats — according to which they and Labour would stand down their candidates in key marginal constituencies in order to give whichever party had the best chance a clear run at beating the Tories.”

“Significantly, such a pragmatist strategy would probably mean accepting that Labour is finished in Scotland, and coming to some kind of arrangement with the SNP,” he added. “For now, most Scots don’t want independence — they want radical federalism. But they also want to be represented both in Holyrood and in Westminster by an unambiguously social democratic party. They do not trust Labour to be that party.”

While such a strategy seemed in line with the first remarks on the election released by the leader of the Scottish National Party, Nicola Sturgeon, it seemed significant that the Labour leader’s statement made no mention of opposing Brexit, the Conservative government’s signature issue and the specter haunting the nation.

Despite the confidence of the bookmakers and pollsters in predicting a Conservative victory in June, not everyone was convinced it would be a rout.

“Conservatives will not just win seats. They will also lose them,” observed Ian Dunt, the author of “Brexit: What The Hell Happens Now?”

“The Conservatives are likely to lose most of the 27 seats they took off the Lib Dems in the last election,” Dunt explained, as a result of anger over Brexit from the 48 percent of the country that voted against it. “These are uniquely chaotic and volatile political times,” he added. “If a progressive alliance against hard Brexit could be formed, it would hit the Conservatives. It might not defeat them — but the prime minister needs to massively increase her majority in order to justify this decision.”

In other words, the fact that the U.K.’s major parties were both sharply divided over Brexit makes it hard to predict exactly how an election dominated by the issue will turn out.

“The fact that the leadership of both main parties has disintegrated would under normal circumstances be a big story, but in the current chaos it is no more than a side effect,” John Lanchester wrote in the London Review of Books last year, just after David Cameron resigned.

The deeper problem is that the referendum has exposed splits in society which aren’t mapped by the political parties as they are currently constituted. People talk about Britain being ‘divided’ as if that’s a new issue, but societies are often divided, and the interests of all groups and individuals do not align. If they did, humanity would be the Borg. Political parties are the mechanism through which divisions in society are argued over and competing interests asserted.

The trouble with where we are now is that the configuration of the parties doesn’t match the issues which need to be resolved. To simplify, the Tories are a coalition of nationalists, who voted out, and business interests, who voted in; Labour is a coalition of urban liberals, who voted in, and the working class, who voted out. This means that if a general election were held tomorrow on the single issue of the referendum, the voter wouldn’t know whom to vote for. It wouldn’t be at all clear which faction in either party was likely to prevail when the hugely important details of what Brexit means come to be debated.

10 things you can do to resist hard Brexit

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0 things you can do to resist hard Brexit

Adam Ramsay 28 March 2017

As Article 50 is triggered, here’s what you can do to stop Britain’s slide to the hard right. Add your own suggestions in the comments.

Whichever way you voted in the referendum, hard Brexit is not about fulfilling a democratic mandate to leave the European Union. It’s about Theresa May’s government using the process of leaving the EU to force through its hard-right Daily Mail agenda – at a high cost to the majority of people living in the United(ish) Kingdom. Here are ten ways you can resist, and we’d love to hear more from you in in the comments below.

1)    Join a migrant solidarity group

Jimmy Mubenga, Wikimedia

What Brexit will mean for those who moved to the UK from other European countries is still up in the air. But let’s remember that there are already huge numbers on the rough end of Britain’s increasingly brutal anti-migrant rhetoric. And as Brexit fails to transform Britain into the Land of Hope and Glory that Boris Johnson and UKIP’s Nigel Farage promised, we can be pretty sure about who will get the brunt of the blame from the prime minister who, as Home Secretary, brought us the infamous racist van.

Long before Brexit, there was the tale of Jimmy Mubenga, a 46 year old father of five, who was suffocated to death by the G4S security guards on his deportation flight. Right now, there’s people like Manchester’s Abbey Kyuyene, who faces being deported to Uganda, where he can expect to be imprisoned for the rest of his life because he’s gay. There’s the child locked up for five months alongside a convicted child abuser simply because he came here from somewhere else. And there’s the hundreds of people we imprison indefinitely just because they want to live here.

There are the families Britain breaks apart because Theresa May believes they aren’t rich enough for love. There’s the horrific conditions we expect many of those seeking asylum in the UK to live in and there’s the people freezing in refugee camps just across the Channel. There are the workers who suffer exploitation rather than risk their paperless status being exposed and there are the families still dying in the Mediterranean as they attempt to make it to European soils.

All of these situations were bad before Brexit. All of them risk becoming worse as the government and its cheerleaders in the press cast around for someone to blame for the fact that Brexit will fail to give people any more sense of control over their lives.

All across the country, there are migrant solidarity groups organising to stop their neighbours being deported, demanding the closure of detention centres and providing a range of kinds of practical solidarity. As hard-right Brexit accelerates, they will need more people, more help and more support. Powerful people like to scapegoat migrants because they believe they can be divided from their communities most easily. Organising those communities to fight back is the best way to scare them off.

There’s Glasgow’s Unity Centre, Liverpool and Manchester migrant solidarity, No Borders, Calais Migrant Solidarity, the campaign to close Yarls’ Wood, Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants, Stop Funding Hate, Student Action for Refugees, the People & Planet Undoing Borders campaign… and many, many more people organising to support migrants here in the UK. Work out what’s going on near you, ask how you can help, and get involved – whether you speak another language, have research or legal skills, or can phone an airline to help stop a deportation, there are lots of thing we could all be doing to help our neighbours.

2)    Stop the trade deal shock doctrine

Protests against the EU/US trade deal, “TTIP”. Image: stop-ttip.org

One of the most terrifying potential ramifications of Brexit is a Trump-May UK/US Trade deal. And a UK/China trade deal… and… I could go on. While the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy has vast problems, American agribusiness will be very keen to ensure that what replaces it is nothing like the careful environmental protections that eco-Brexiters like Paul Kingsnorth will have been hoping for. With vast corporations desperate to prise open British markets after decades of EU subsidy and protection, one of the most predictable consequences of Brexit is Britain’s countryside becoming the latest item shed in Westminster’s accelerating asset striptease.

One of the most predictable consequences of Brexit is Britain’s countryside becoming the latest item shed in Westminster’s accelerating asset striptease.

And the fire-sale of the English countryside will only be one item in such a negotiation. Expect US health insurance companies, with their famous lobbying heft, to try desperately to bury both mandibles into what’s left of the NHS. Expect all of the worst bits of the EU/US Trade Deal to be regurgitated back onto the table. Expect the return of some version of the ‘Investor State Dispute Mechanism’ corporate courts, which have been used to ban regulations designed to protect us from cancer or workplace accidents because they damage company profits.

And expect people to organise against them. Global Justice Now and War on Want have so far led the fight in the UK, working with partners across the world and winning astounding victories along the way. Of them, the former is probably easier to get involved with, as it has groups across the country. You can join here.

3) Stand with Scotland

Forth Bridge, George Gastin, Wikimedia Commons.

The Conservative party made very clear before the referendum that they expected to keep the UK as a whole in the single market. As such, May doesn’t really have any mandate for her hard Brexit. But the situation north of the Tweed is worse: Scotland voted by 62% to remain in the EU, and yet people here face being dragged out against their will. May hasn’t even been willing to consider any of the potential ‘special deal’ options proposed by the SNP, Labour and Lib Dems in recent months, along lines I once called a ‘Reverse Greenland’. The only democratic way to resolve the constitutional conflict between the result of the 2014 independence vote, the 2016 result, and the situation Theresa May insists on dragging Scotland into is another independence referendum.

Last night, a majority of members of the Scottish parliament voted to hold such a referendum. For Westminster to block it would be a democratic outrage. And yet that is what Theresa May seems to be proposing to do. Pressure from outside Scotland will be key if Scots are to be allowed to vote on their constitutional future once more.

Write to your MP and demand that they allow they people of Scotland to vote on their constitutional future. (But make sure you read the next point first.)

4) …and with Northern Ireland

The Peace Bridge, Derry, Northern Ireland. Discovernorthernireland.com

If Scotland faces a democratic deficit, the North of Ireland faces disaster. Like Scotland, people in Northern Ireland voted to Remain in the EU. Unlike Scotland, there are significant reasons why Brexit will be a particular problem for people there. The imposition of passport and customs controls along the border between the North and the Republic will cause real economic harm. It will provide another opportunity to return to the old days of sectarian discrimination. The chances that border posts will become a target for violence, which could then escalate, are not trivial.

The chances that border posts will become a target for violence, which could then escalate, are not trivial.

And it’s not just the border. The EU and its human rights laws provide the framework for the Good Friday Agreement which has brought two decades of relative peace, and gave a constitutional framework in which people could be either Irish or British in both identity and citizenship, and live side by side without violence.

So far, the British establishment has got away with treating Northern Ireland with disdainful disinterest. In the run up to the European referendum, their unique case was largely ignored by politicians and the media. In the run up to their recent election, no one paid any attention. It’s only with the death of Martin McGuinness and the collapse of negotiations this week that the media has started to take note.

What should happen in Northern Ireland? It’s too easy for those not from there to propose simple solutions: a united Ireland is certainly tempting, and may be the solution, but that’s as contentious a question as ever. Certainly, we need to make sure that the British government realises that there are people outside of Ireland who care about it. And so, again, a simple place to start may be writing to your MP and demanding at the very least that they do all they can to prevent a hard border. You might even want to include points about both Scotland and Northern Ireland together.

5) Take part in a Reclaim the Power action

Leaving the EU means leaving behind inter-state collaboration on one of the defining issues of our time: climate change. And that means grassroots action will be more important than ever. Fortunately, the good folks at Reclaim the Power (whose name long predates the similar sounding Brexit slogan ‘take back control’) are organising a wave of direct action against the fossil fuel industry, and offer you the chance to get your hands dirty in the fight against the fossil fuel industry. They tell you how to get involved here.

6) Confront racism where you see it

Image: http://blacklivesmatteruk.org/

For people of colour, racism is a lived experience and, well, you don’t need some white guy telling you what to do about that. But for those of us who aren’t from racialised groups, we’re going to have to up our game. There has already been a surge in reports of hate speech and worse since Brexit, and we all need to play our part in stopping it. Check out groups like Black Lives Matter UK and see what you can do to help, and stand up to the racism which surrounds us all, whether that’s a quiet conversation with an uncle or confronting fascists in the street.

7) Read up on what the British empire was really like

Caricature of Cecil John Rhodes,Punch Magazine, public domain.

It often feels like a lot of this couldn’t have happened if Britain had ever come to terms with its colonial history. British imperialists really weren’t the cheerful engineers, kindly building railways for people in far off lands that our culture keeps trying to tell us about. It was all a lot more blood and torture-filled than that. And there is a whole lot more that most of us could be doing to learn about what really went on, and how it is Britain really got rich in the first place.

Whether you prefer fiction or non-fiction, find a few books or articles about what the British empire was really about – ideally written by people from the places we colonised – and begin to sample a flavour of the carnage and plunder that the UK unleashed on the world for centuries. One thing you might want to do is start with one war from the list below, find a book or article on it by someone from the colonised group, and take it from there:

The Opium wars; The Carnatic wars; The Anglo-Cherokee war; Pontiac’s rebellion; The Anglo Mysore wars; The Anglo Maratha wars; The American Revolutionary war; The Irish Rebellion; The Kandyan wars; The Anglo-Turkish war; The Xhosa wars; The Ga-Fante war; The war of 1812; The Anglo-Ashanti wars; The Anglo-Burmese wars; Canada’s Rebellions of 1837; The first, second and third Afghan wars; The Anglo Sikh wars; The Flagstaff war in New Zealand – and in fact the New Zealand wars in general; The Anglo-Persian war; The Black war; The Indian Rebellion; The First Taranaki war; The invasion of Waikato; The Bhutan war; The Klang war; Titokowaru’s War; The 1868 ‘Expedition’ to Abyssinia; The Red River Rebellion; The Anglo-Zulu War; The Sikkim Expedition; The Anglo-Zanzibar War; The Boer Wars; The Anglo-Aro War; The British expedition to Tibet; The Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War; the Irish War of Independence; The 1920 conflict between British forces and the Dervish State; the Great Arab Revolt in Palestine; The British–Zionist conflict; the Korean War; the Mau Mau Uprising; the Cyprus emergency; the Suez Crisis; the Border Campaign against the IRA; the Falklands War. (Just a few, then.)

8) Join a trade union

 

photo: Timm Sonnenschein, TUC.

Brexit is also likely to mean a significant attack on rights at work. But, while the EU certainly helped drag Britain forward, it’s not international treaties which created the real pressure for workers’ rights in the first place: it was workers themselves organising for basic safety standards, weekends, paid holidays, sick pay and decent wages. Without the EU, we’re going to have to get good at that. Check out the TUC website and work out which one is for you. If, like millions of people, you’re already a member but aren’t involved, then get in touch with your union and find out what you could be doing.

9) Start paying for your media

Fewer and fewer people are paying for the news they read, watch and listen to. This means that journalism is more and more dependent on ‘native’ advertising and the patronage of vested interests, blurring the lines between editorial decisions and business or political ones. We can’t fix our politics without mending our media. And that means paying for it. You can set up a regular subscription to openDemocracy here – but whatever media you read and value, support it.

10) Come to the Convention on Brexit

openDemocracy is proud to be a media partner for a major national convention on Brexit, where we will have the conversations that have been largely absent from parliament and the media. It’s happening on 12 and 13 May in central London and will be the first large-scale event to offer organisations and individuals the chance to take part in crucial debates about the United Kingdom’s future, the wider changes that are sweeping western democracies and to debate and strategise together about what to do next.

Be there.

 

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UK’s Delusional Threats to Europe over ‘Hard Brexit’

UK’s Delusional Threats to Europe over ‘Hard Brexit’

UK’s Delusional Threats to Europe over ‘Hard Brexit'

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May delivered her much-anticipated speech on Brexit this week, and it was suffused with delusions of grandeur. When are British leaders going to realize that their days of imperial greatness are long gone? Listening to May, however, one would think that the world’s map was still splattered in red, white and blue colors of the Union Jack – otherwise known by former colonial subjects as the Butcher’s Apron.

The Conservative prime minister gave a bravado speech that heralded a blissful, prosperous future for «global Britain». May said that Britain was now open for free trade with the rest of the world, after having voted in a referendum last June to quit the European Union, after 43 years of membership.

Finally, after seven months of dithering and confusion on the matter, May declared that Britain would henceforth be seeking a «hard Brexit», whereby the United Kingdom would no longer seek to be part of the EU’s single market. It would therefore be free from obligations concerning migration and free movement of European citizens. That is, Britain would gain full control of its borders. A «soft Brexit» option would have involved a compromise between retaining single-market membership and accepting a degree of open borders.

No way. Theresa May was at last supposedly giving clarity on Britain’s position, saying there would be «no half measures, no half in, half out… Brexit means Brexit». The Financial Times approved of her upbeat message with the headline: «No more Theresa Maybe».

Listening to May’s prognosis of glowing prospects for «global Britain» – trading with the US, Canada, China, India and the Persian Gulf among others as bilateral partners – makes one wonder why Britain ever bothered joining the EU’s single market back in 1988, as her predecessor Margaret Thatcher had zealously committed to (15 years after its original accession to the European Economic Community, the precursor of the EU.)

Perhaps it has something do with the fact that nearly 50 per cent of the UK’s exports go to EU markets – free from any trade barriers. How Britain’s exports will fair in a global marketplace of cut-throat trade tariffs is a moot question.

According to the British government it’s all going to be rosy. That, by the way, wasn’t May’s position prior to the referendum. She campaigned for remaining in the EU and in doing so she had predicted that leaving the bloc would spell economic disaster for Britain. All that doom seems to have dramatically disappeared now in May’s apparently revised upbeat world outlook, without providing an explanation for her U-turn.

Here’s the thing: Downing Street’s supposed announcement of clarity on the Brexit this week raises, on the contrary, even more befuddling questions. May is aiming to conclude Brexit negotiations in two years with the European Commission based in Brussels. But that timescale is impossibly optimistic. Only a few weeks ago, her top diplomat charged with negotiating the Brexit was forced to resign because he dared to warn that a separation deal would take up to 10 years to finalize. And that longer-term view is probably a realistic assessment. For instance, it took Canada seven years to recently conclude a free-trade pact with the EU. For Britain, with many more legal entanglements to resolve, any less timeframe seems in the realm of «daydreams» – as some EU politicians caustically remarked following May’s speech this week.

Britain’s Foreign Minister Boris Johnson can crow all he likes that «the world is queuing up to do business with Britain». One of those potentially new trade partners is Britain’s old colony, the United States of America. Following President Donald Trump’s welcoming remarks for a «quick trade deal» with Britain earlier this week, there was much excitement from Johnson and other Brexiteers that a new lucrative horizon was indeed dawning.

The harsh reality is that Britain will be technically and legally a member of the EU until it concludes departure negotiations that could several years. Under those circumstances, as several EU politicians have pointed out, Britain will not be free to negotiate bilateral trade agreements with the US or any other nation. That means that Britain will not be able to gallop off into supposed new trade deals with the US, China or anyone else, until it finishes its no doubt protracted divorce proceedings with the EU.

The Brexit process is going to be a rude awakening for British leaders who seem to harbor delusions about Britain’s stature in the world.

This delusional thinking was revealed when Theresa May issued a barely veiled warning to the EU that Britain would not accept a «punitive» Brexit deal.

Despite her speech opening with charming talk of Britain being the best of friends with Europe, May drew a dagger towards the end.

«I know there are some voices calling for a punitive deal that punishes Britain and discourages other countries from taking the same path. That would be an act of calamitous self-harm for the countries of Europe. And it would not be the act of a friend,» said the British premier.

With a foreboding tone, she added: «Britain would not – indeed we could not – accept such an approach. And while I am confident that this scenario need never arise – while I am sure a positive agreement can be reached – I am equally clear that no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain.»

It was a glinting threat from May, akin to flashing a knife at the EU.

Earlier, May said in contradictory fashion that while Britain was leaving the single market, at the same time it was demanding «full access to markets as an associate member to make trading as frictionless as possible».

So, only in a rhetorical sense is the British government declaring a «hard Brexit» by purportedly «leaving the single market». For all intents and purposes, however, the British still want «full access» to the market, as May stipulated in her speech. And this privilege is to be had at the same time that Britain takes full control of its borders over EU migration.

That sounds like Britain wanting to have its cake and eating it. Supposedly being out of the market, but still in it for all practical purposes, while pulling up the draw bridge on the rest of Europe. Moreover, the British prime minister is declaring that if Britain does not get «full access» it will be perceived as «punitive» – and then in that case her country will «walk away» from negotiations.

Her haughty attitude sparked outrage across the EU. Guy Verhofstadt, the EU Parliament’s point man on Brexit, reportedly fumed that Britain’s «days of cherrypicking and a la carte Europe are over».

Tomas Prouza, the Czech’s EU minister, noted sardonically of the British position: «Trade as free as possible, full control of immigration… where’s the give for all the take?»

What May was alluding to in her threat of walking away was that Britain would undercut the EU by slashing corporation tax, thereby luring foreign companies away from continental Europe to set up shop in Britain. That is, turning Britain into a tax haven to cheat the rest of Europe.

May also hinted that Britain’s military forces in NATO might be pulled out of Poland and the Baltic states, which would have the effect of destabilizing these EU members, given their congenital paranoia over alleged Russian aggression.

The British government’s threats to the EU stems from a misplaced arrogant attitude of a has-been world power, which somehow still thinks that it can pontificate to other, perceived lesser nations.

With a ballooning trade deficit with Europe and an all-but extinct industrial base, the only asset that the UK can claim is its City of London global financial center – which accounts for 80 per cent of its national economy. Despite Theresa May’s supercilious tone, Britain will find that it needs Europe a lot more than Europe needs Britain. And if cut loose harshly, the former Great Britain is in no industrial shape to ply the global markets as it once did with the backing of its colonial armies of occupation.

Britain’s «hard Brexit» is all «hard talk» belying typical British subterfuge to wheedle self-serving concessions. Such conceited British attitude will only stiffen EU resolve to make minimal trade concessions in the final separation. If the British are seen to get a «cherry-picked» deal of access to the single market, yet be able to spurn any immigration, that would be tantamount to giving an exit license for other members of the EU to do likewise. And given the level of Euro-skepticism rising across Europe, Brussels and other pro-EU governments must, of their own necessity, act sternly towards Britain in its divorce arrangement.

Britain can indeed expect a «hard Brexit». On much harder terms from the EU than delusional British politicians are arrogantly demanding. Less Rule Britannia; more like Fool Britannia.

Scottish Zionist Wants to “Bomb the lot of them”

See you on the dark side of the moon? The lunatics are everywhere these days.

Beware of British Exits

Beware of British Exits

The new British government of Theresa May is playing for time and stalling with the triggering of Article 50. It is clear that the whole machine of British governance was completely unprepared for the result of the EU referendum. It is also an indication that withdrawal from the European Union is going to be a mammoth task that will consume all the energy of Whitehall for many years to come. In many ways it is mission impossible which further reinforces the reckless irresponsibility of David Cameron for calling the referendum in the first place. No responsible Prime Minister would ever have agreed to open such a dangerous Pandora’s Box.

History teaches us that British exits are fraught with peril and have been handled in the usual British governmental way of incompetence and ensuing disaster. As Dr Henry Kissinger has said, «time is not neutral». The past is still very much with us and informs the present while shaping the future. Ergo, it is instructive to review the success of British Exits of the past and the consequences that have flowed from them which are still with us today. When it became clear to the British ruling elite that the British Empire was no longer financially sustainable (rather than any moral considerations) that was the trigger for Brexit from the imperial colonies which Britain had acquired through invasion, land grabs and colonisation. 

Take India for example. The borders that the British Government in the late 1940s drew up to partition India into Hindu and Muslim areas with two separate States creating Pakistan left tens of millions of minorities stranded in newly divided India and Pakistan. Millions of Muslims travelled into Pakistan and Hindus vice versa into India. The ethnic shuffle this partition created led to terrible violence costing the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in the ensuing population transfer. The issue of Kashmir is still a flash point of tension between India and Pakistan to this day.

A similar situation was left behind by the British partial exit in Ireland. By the end of the First World War and the excessively draconian crackdown on southern Irish nationalist rebels after the attempted insurrection of Easter 1916, the British Government decided to partition the island of Ireland into two separate states similar to the exit strategy they had pursued in India. While the South of Ireland was set on a path to become an independent republic, the North was reduced to a rump of six counties, roughly the size of Yorkshire, with its own devolved Parliament and local Government but still within the UK, purposely designed to ensure a pro-British majority due to the presence of descendants of English and Scottish Protestant settlers (shipped in during the 16th century as colonists known as «unionists» or «loyalists») by omitting three counties from what is known as the Province of Ulster.

As with the partition of India and Pakistan, a significant minority of Roman Catholics who felt more Irish than British were left stranded in what became Northern Ireland and were confronted by a sectarian devolved administration that actively promoted discrimination against the Catholic minority in housing, employment, cultural rights and local government. The civil unrest that broke out in British administered Northern Ireland mirrored the violence that erupted with the British partition and exit from India and Pakistan.

Then there was Rhodesia, what is now known as Zimbabwe. After trying to get rid of the racist white minority government of Ian Smith, the British Government cut a deal with the equally unsavoury extremist Robert Mugabe handing over the country to him which he still runs to this day. With the washing of their hands of Zimbabwe the British Government left the country in the hands of a crazed, megalomaniac dictator who has run Zimbabwe into the ground ever since.

Along with Brexit from the European Union and the concerns over British withdrawal there has been quite a to do recently concerning Chinese investment in critical British national infrastructure, namely the proposed nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point C. While the Chinese have no history or record of interfering with other countries key national assets, the British have a track record of this which also highlights another disastrous British Exit. The Suez Canal was stolen from Egypt by the British Government of Benjamin Disraeli in the 19th century. Rather than return the Suez Canal to its rightful owners, the Egyptians, the British Government attempted to maintain possession of it even when they were divesting themselves of their imperial possessions elsewhere even going to the extreme lengths of invading the canal when the Egyptian regime of Colonel Nasser rightly nationalised it bringing it back under Egyptian control. The British military intervention ultimately failed, thanks in part to the wise decision of the Eisenhower administration to initiate a run on the pound to reign in British imperial pretensions and adventures abroad. The British led military disaster had the counterproductive effect of strengthening the rule of Nasser, not weakening it. It was also one of the greatest military humiliations the British had suffered since their inability to stop the advancing Wehrmacht during the Fall of France in the summer of 1940 and the infamous retreat and scuttle at Dunkirk.

Now Europe and the rest of the world are braced for the next great Brexit in a long line of inglorious, inept and in many cases as illustrated above – deadly – British exits and withdrawals. Unfortunately, many British Governments whether they be Tory, Labour or Liberal down the ages have not acquitted themselves well when it came to disentangling themselves from commitments either abroad or within the British Isles. Sadly, as history has shown, wherever the British State has inserted itself abroad where it had no business interfering in and then exited, a litany of death, violence, destruction and civil and ethnic unrest has followed. So the historical portents are not promising. The EU is rightly in no mood to bend over backwards to accommodate the peculiarities of the UK in its self-induced Brexit crisis. Other European member states have spent the last forty-three years constantly accommodating the peculiarities of the UK and giving out special dispensations to London.

Now, after the disgusting Leave campaign which was endorsed by the majority of the British electorate, Brussels patience with the difficult Brits has understandably been exhausted. There is very little good will left towards Britain in Brussels which makes the next epic British Exit just as fraught as the previous Brexits.

Palestinians Say Thank You To Celtic Football Fans!

Posted on August 23, 2016

Celtic Palestinians!

Palestinians express their thanks for the amazing display of solidarity shown by Celtic football fans in Glasgow, Scotland last week. Humanity at its finest! Sadly, in a show of pettiness, the Union of European Football Associations, or UEFA, is attempting to punish the fans by imposing penalties, in the form of a hefty fine, upon the team. The fans, however, seem to be taking it in stride, having set up a crowdfunding appeal, raising enough to pay off the fine as well as to send some extra money left over to Palestinian charities!

See report by RT. The UEFA should hide its head in shame.

Scottish Football Fans Wave Palestinian Flag During Match With Israel

[ Ed. note – Amazing! See more on the story here, plus commentary by Yvonne Ridley here. By the way, the Scotts won the match 5-2. Bravo! ]

Celtic: UEFA should ban israel from International competitions & not try to suppress support for Palestine

Celtic fans defy UEFA ban to fly sea of Palestine flags in match against Israelis (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

The Celtic football team faces a penalty from UEFA after the Scottish club’s fans waved Palestinian flags during a Champions League playoff match against Israel’s Hapoel Be’er Sheva. The not-so-warm welcome was followed by a defeat for Israel: Celtic FC won the match 5-2.

Scottish police urged fans to not bring Palestinian flags, threatening them with arrest, the Daily Record reported. Under Scottish law anyone found guilty of inciting “hatred against a group of persons based on their membership (or presumed membership) of a group,” could be detained.

But despite the UEFA warning, the Scottish fans went on to display Palestinian flags at the match, handed out prior to the game by “Palestine Alliance” activists.

The mass action to show support for the Palestinian cause was organized via a Facebook group titled “Fly the flag for Palestine, for Celtic, for Justice”, which according to the group registered over 1,200 in attendance.

In organizing the event the activists called on Celtic fans to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, and what the group called “Israeli apartheid, settler colonialism, and countless massacres of the Palestinian people.”

The activists also urged UEFA to join their cause and not support Israel and its policies.

“When someone is representing Israeli state institutions it is sadly never merely a game; football, UEFA, and Celtic FC are being used to whitewash Israel’s true nature and give this rogue state an air of normality and acceptance it should not and cannot enjoy until it’s impunity ends and it is answerable to international law and faces sanctions for the countless UN resolutions it had breached,” the group said on Facebook

UEFA fined Celtic two years ago when fans waved Palestinian flags at a game against Iceland’s KR Reykjavik. UEFA’s Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Committee took action based on Article 16 (2) (e), which forbids political, ideological and religious messages at sports events.

SEE ALSO Celtic fans fly Palestinian flags during Hapoel match | The Times of Israel

Scottish football fans fly flag of Palestine in match against Israeli team

Brexit, the Turkish coup and oil prices

Brexit, the Turkish coup and oil prices

Brexit, the Turkish coup and oil prices

By STEVE AUSTIN for OIL-PRICE.NET,

2016/07/22

We’ve been hearing a lot about Brexit. What is Brexit, by the way? Well, in June a referendum was held in Britain to decide whether the nation should remain with the European Union or not. The British people embraced uncertainty and voted to ‘exit’ the European Zone which is termed, Brexit. In a nutshell, Brexit, is the UK voting to exit from the European Union through a referendum. Frequent readers will recall how oil-price.net predicted Brexit nine months ago – as millions of welfare migrants flooding into Europe would exacerbate distrust between nations and trigger a breakdown of the EU.

If the stock markets were upbeat expecting a ‘remain’ vote, the euphoria evaporated quickly and immediately. The shock wave of Brexit spread to markets across the globe affecting almost all. Without exception, the US markets went down too. The pound slumped to its lowest since 1985. While gold prices rallied, oil prices fell. In the case of oil, Brexit pushed down the oil prices six percent in a single day to $48 per barrel. As markets expected demand for oil to slow down, investors moved to safer bets like gold and government bonds. When markets stabilized, the turmoil in Turkey threw cold water on investor confidence.

 

Effects of Brexit

In one stroke, Brexit has done; undone a lot and in the wake presenting a new Prime Minister for the UK in Theresa May. It’s a typical case of- both- fear about immigration and nostalgia for a ‘great’ Britain pushing the UK out of the European Union. Pernicious calamity or a benign move? Only time will tell. However, in the resultant twirling vortex, the Pound fell to a thirty year low vis-à-vis the Dollar. More than £100 bn was knocked off from the FTSE 100. In simple terms, any shock, like the Brexit, on the pound and Euro makes dollar more expensive. Technically, when dollar gets strong, the crude prices slump. It’s about weakening currencies like Pound, Euro and a strong Dollar. In the Brexit fallout, the oil prices slid by around $4 on various justified concerns. As pointed earlier, the pound hit a 31-year low and three UK property funds suspended. Markets stumped and slumped, Chinese commodities (mainly agriculture and iron ore) were sold off in a hurry. With the shift in dynamics, the Bank of England lowered the amount of capital banks should hold so that they can lend more.

Post Brexit, there were widespread fears of a domino effect across the world markets with annulled trade agreements, curbs in free movement of goods and services and panicked stock markets leading to recession. Wedged thus, in such cases, demand for oil naturally falls leading to weakened oil prices. In addition, a strong dollar means it’s costlier to buy oil which depresses the prices further.

Were the fears realized? Well, that’s debatable. For a start, unlike the Asian countries, many of the countries in Europe are pretty divested of oil and economic growth as of now. Yes, many oil companies have delayed projects waiting for the long term effects of Brexit to sink in. Yet, it hasn’t been all ‘crush’ ‘panic’ and ‘wrap up’.

The main point is that the immediate knee-jerk reactions are all short term volatility with trickled in uncertainty borne out of Brexit. Since then though, prices have recovered. If anything, the oil prices are back in the bracket of $45- 50. Specifically, Brent crude oil averaged $47 barrels a day in May. Indeed, this is the fourth consecutive monthly increase since January. A far cry from when oil prices bottomed at $26 last February. For the third quarter, oil-price.net raises its Brent forecast to $54 a barrel and WTI is $51 a barrel.

On the sidelines, many of the oil firms have actually performed better, that is after the initial fright. Deftly, the stocks of BP and Royal Dutch shell have gained in the wake of the referendum. The reason for this is simply that they have withdrawn funds from stocks exposed to the whims of UK economy and reinvested them in safer options. Also, these energy companies do business (revenue, dividends) mostly in US dollars and thus the present stronger dollar translate as better results for them. Essentially, the firms have grown in girth with the ingestion of British investors looking for better hosts. Asian stocks have rebound scaling new heights. For the US, Brexit means the Federal Reserve will shy away from raising the interest rates for now.

On the employment front, the news was good. According to the Labor Department, 287,000 jobs were added last month. In gasoline’s case, historically, when prices go down usage increases. In March, American gasoline consumption was at an all time high of 9.25 million barrels a day. Still, as a matter of fact, there’s a gasoline glut in the US at present. One reason, apart from Brexit for the brief fall in oil prices. The IEA predicts non – OPEC supplies to contract by 0.9 mbd in 2016. Taking the case of stocks, by July 15, the Dow Jones and the S&P 500 were scaling record highs.

Capital in oil

Let’s look at the bigger picture. Among the cluster of facts, is also the whole story of ‘investment’. Oil prices at $50 is still just about the manageable levels for the oil firms taking into account the high operating costs. Of course, this means lower investment in drilling and exploration. The old infrastructure has to be replaced, right? So, together with decline in output from existing fields, there may be a supply side deficit as the year moves on. Further, there’s a certain level of uncertainty in the market which rules out investment in the oil sector. Even before Brexit, investors were wary of investing in oil because of stringent environmental policies, low price and returns and unrest in many parts of the oil producing countries. With Brexit, the oil industry would be further divested of capital. Delay in investment means a supply crunch in the future. For instance, the North Sea Basin is one of the major oil producing basins in the UK. However, production in the basin has been declining over the years. If there is no money for maintenance, the basin will eventually shut down.

UK and oil post Brexit

Before Brexit, British industrial growth was at its fastest in six years. Now, the situation has changed dramatically. With a falling Pound, technicians working in the oil industry will move out of the country to greener pastures like Canada, Australia and the US. Right now, there is a free travel arrangement between the UK and the EU. With this free movement off the equation, oil companies will have to pay more for people moving between the UK and the EU because of bureaucracy hurdles and other add-on costs, which will increase the cost of travel. Notably, many of the oil and gas firms will move to EU from the UK. This is hardly good news. It stands to reason that the oil companies will prefer to employ people in the EU to work there instead of spending to bring in employees from the UK. In the UK,demand for energy may fall because of decline in economic activities. Also, consumers in the UK will pay more for oil because of the mismatch between pound and dollar.

There have been talks of another Scottish referendum (IndyRef), not to mention similar moves from Northern Ireland. In fact, Scotland overwhelmly voted to stay in the European Union. If they elect to move off, then the ownership of North Sea Basin comes into focus. To be clear, this could lead to more uncertainty affecting investor confidence and Scotland secedes from the UK, taking its oil reserves along. Also, UK has shale oil that’s waiting to be explored. Though estimates vary, it’s put between 2.8 and 39.9 trillion cubic meters. We don’t have any number as to ‘proven reserves’. It’s safe to say that gas that is actually extracted will be much lower than the estimates. And, you need higher investment to extract shale. With Brexit, UK will continue to import gas.

Turkey’s failed coup

Before the dust settled on Brexit, Turkey reeled under military coup and rocked the oil prices.

Effectively, Turkey is the only Muslim country in the world that has been a democracy for any length of time… thanks to the Turkish military who enforces it. Much in a similar way US service members pledge to defend the US constitution, Turkey’s millitary branch has the constitutional right (and responsibility) to act as a “reset button” against tyrants which muslim voters are prone to elect. This mechanism has worked well for Turkey in the past. Since the fifties, four military interventions in Turkey didn’t deter the democratic process in play. In each instance the military, after every takeover, facilitated the continuation of the elected Government. This is because Turkish military enforces and respects democracy. Thanks to this balance Turkey has thrived, that is till the arrival of the present President.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s rule has been autocratic with a strong Islamic bent poisoning the secular country. A staunch rival of Syrian President Bashar al- Assad, Erdogan backed terrorist Islamists groups to wage war against Assad. Indeed, it was because of widespread Saudi-funded wahhabism in Turkish mosques that ultranationalist and ISIS-friendly Erdogan was elected to power with the collaboration of Saudi Arabia. Turkey under Erdogan devised a plan to build a gas pipeline from Qatar through Syria in a bid to displace Russia as the foremost provider of natural gas to Europe. Syria’s Assad disagreed with Erdogan’s plan, so Turkey helped funnel Islamic fighters into Syria through its border leading to the Syrian civil war.

Map of Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline and Qatar-Turkey pipeline

The Turkish military took note and in application of the Turkish constitution acted swiftly to overthrow this dangerous dictator. However, in spite of thousands dead and more wounded, the coup attempt failed. Since then Erdogan has taken more alarming measures to gut its military, which prompted its NATO allies (friends of the Turkish military) to demand Turkey withdraw from NATO.

If history teaches us a lesson it’s that gutting the Iraqi military caused a power vacuum which let Islamists (ISIS) establish themselves without opposition. The same is about to happen in Turkey, NATO’s second largest military power after the US. European government are partly to blame for Erdogan’s move. By demonstrating their inability to stem migration flows and terror attacks, then outsourcing Europe’s eastern border control to Turkey, Europe has fueled the imperialist ambitions of Erdogan and his Islamist backers. Now Erdogan is taking more aggressive steps as he did with Syria and if he is not stopped, the situation will quickly deteriorate in Europe. Politically the situation is tense.

Now, to the question of oil: The Bosphorus Strait which handles about three percent of global oil shipments, chiefly from Russia and the Caspian Sea, has reopened. Turkey is also shipping oil from Caspian Sea and other countries directly to its exporting terminal bypassing Bosphorus. The Turkish straits, including Bosphorus and Dardanelles, are among the world’s busiest and strategic choke points. That they are back in business is great news for oil. Besides, BP’s 1768 kilometers long Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline which exported a staggering 740,000 million barrels of crude day in the first quarter continues nonstop. As for the ports, oil tankers are back to loading and unloading cargoes.

Limited impact of Brexit on oil

We are still wading through uncharted waters where the currents can change any moment. Still, as of now, the impact of Brexit has been lower than expected.

We at oil-price.net estimate that there would be excess supply at 1.5 million barrels per day until 2017. If, such a prediction holds true, oil prices should slump. However, look at the demand. In the first quarter of 2016, demand for oil has, in fact, increased 1.6 million barrels a day. And, according to the American Petroleum institute, crude inventories actually fell by 6.7 million barrels to July 1 to 520.9 million. Analysts were expecting a decrease of just 2 million barrels. OPEC, meanwhile, shares similar sentiments of whittled down oil inventories. It remains to be seen if the gains from Nigeria and Canada can offset the supply woes. Similarly, in its monthly report, OPEC has forecast world oil demand to whip up by 1. 2 million barrels per day in 2017, which is the same as its forecast for 2016.

After Brexit, the oil prices fell, rose, fell and increased. Sheer madness, as the wont of all stock markets. If you are wondering what might happens, don’t. We predict that, together, higher demand from across the globe, supply disruptions and falling crude production will stabilize this wobble soon. Ultimately, the future for oil, as always, is bullish.

EU look set to reject both TTIP & CETA, unfortunately same cannot be said about the isolated UK

EU and US negotiators gather for more TTIP talks

The EU-US trade agreement looks increasingly unlikely to happen, as not even member states are ready to back up the deal. Read on »

Anti-TTIP activists sprayed graffiti on the EU Commission buildings ahead of this week’s negotiations. (Photo: TTIP Game Over official Facebook page)

The EU still hopes to reach one of the biggest bilateral trade deals in history before US president Barack Obama leaves the White House in January.

But they still have find common ground on a number of issues and swing public opinion, and the bloc is about to lose a major free trade defender – the UK, which could be less focused on working for a EU deal while it would have to negotiate its own trade agreements after Brexit is effective.

More than a hundred officials are involved in the 14th round of negotiations on the EU-US Transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP), taking place in Brussels all week.

This time around, talks will cover all aspects of the deal, which aims to bring together the world’s two largest economic blocs by addressing all kinds of trade barriers.

If all goes well, a first draft of the text will emerge by the end of the summer, an EU source said on Friday (8 July).

But the Commission had hoped to reach end-game negotiations already with the previous round, in April. The talks initially aimed to conclude under the previous EU Commission in 2014 and also failed to respect the second deadline of December 2015.

Frustrated EU leaders have laid the blame on the American side, which they accuse of not really running with the ball.

EU trade chief Cecilia Malmstroem has claimed, however, that the main stumbling block at this stage is ”populism”.

Almost 3.5 million people have signed a petition to stop TTIP and CETA, a similar EU trade deal with Canada. Almost 1,900 cities, municipalities, and regions across Europe have declared themselves TTIP-free zones .

Last week, anti-TTIP activists sprayed graffiti on the European Commission buildings, walls and pavements in the European quarters, and the office of Businesseurope, the European business federation. They promised to disrupt negotiations by ”massive” civil disobedience, including a casserole concert.

Fault has been found with Jose Manuel Barroso, the previous leader of the European Commission, who launched TTIP negotiations a year before his term ended and also set out to sign them off.

The Portuguese considered that the best way to achieve a quick deal would be by keeping almost everyone in the dark. The strategy unravelled though, unleashing fears that the deal would undermine EU standards in the field of consumer protection, environmental legislation and workers’ rights.

The next commission led by Jean-Claude Juncker has enhanced transparency by setting up a citizens’ forum where chief negotiators report back to stakeholders during every round. The Commission also established a new unit that publishes negotiation texts and answers public concerns.

”The Juncker commission has tried to narrow the gap between political elites and citizens,” said Eugenia da Conceicao-Heldt, a professor of European and Global Governance at the Bavarian School of Public Policy. ”But people are not really reading the texts, which are very complex and technical.”

She added the deal wouldn’t be acceptable to either side unless it brought overall benefits – but didn’t rule out there would be losers of increased competition, notably in agriculture, an area where almost no progress has been achieved.

Trade has turned political

”It’s the first time in EU history that a trade deal has turned political,” da Conceicao-Heldt said. ”It’s very good to have a combination of business representatives and civil society representatives to talk about what’s on the negotiation table.”

But constructive talks are difficult in the context of wide-spread distrust, and the deal are mainly carried by EU institutions, already under pressure. Some member states, such as France, with a presidential election coming up, have been publicly distancing themselves from the deal while voting to endorse the Commission’s mandate, which was last renewed in June. Britain’s vote to leave the EU sidelines one of the staunchest champions of free trade.

”The EU doesn’t need another crisis,” Conceicao-Heldt said. If member states used the EU executive as a scapegoat, rather than helped it to explain the benefits of trade, trade negotiations were likely to get stuck

UK SITREP: The Brexit Farce and the Headless Chicken-Coup

Via The saker

July 09, 2016

by Jack J.

The British establishment have suffered two serious setbacks in rapid succession: The Tories have lost both of their leading figures, caused economic turmoil and empowered secessionist forces in Scotland, whilst the genuinely anti-establishment Leader of the opposition has been massively strengthened through a botched coup attempt.

During the 2015 General Election Cameron promised a referendum ‘on Europe’ to the British electorate, and won a slim majority through doing so. The defeat threw Labour into crisis and the feckless Miliband stepped down, triggering an election for a new leader of the Labour Party. Labour were in such disarray, that somehow a ‘Real Left’ MP (Jeremy Corbyn) was able to gain the backing of the 35 MPs needed to get on the ballot. (In both previous elections for leader John McDonnell [The Real Left candidate at the time] was denied such support, despite, or rather because, his politics resonated strongly with both the Unions and the Members.) With a Real Left candidate to vote for it was no real surprise that Corbyn went onto win, despite what the MSM were spewing at the time, but what was remarkable was both the margin of his victory (59%) and the surge in membership, both before and after (approx. 150,000). Thus the Labour Party membership gained a Leader who represented their views for the first time since Blair took over.

Despite receiving an absolute mauling from the MSM, Corbyn went on to win by-election after by-election with increased majorities, and then won the Local elections in May (which included various Mayoral contests, some by-elections and the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Parliament). These victories denied the prospective ChickenCoupers the pretext they needed to launch their coup, so instead they were forced to wait until after Brexit Referendum.

Corbyn, a life-long euro-sceptic, was forced to campaign for Remain to maintain party unity, and as much distance from the likes of Johnson and Farage as possible. None-the-less, he refused to share a platform with Cameron and his fear-mongering, opting instead for a ‘sceptical Remain’: ‘pro-EU but not as it stands’. Effectively, Corbyn positioned himself, and Labour, so as not to side with either Johnson or Cameron. The 172 used this to declare his Remain campaign a failure and launched their ill-fated coup, with full backing of the MSM.

ChickenCoup Fallout:

  • Corbyn has come out of this ‘smelling of roses’: calm, cool, thick-skinned, measured, magnanimous and looking like a leader, even reported as ‘looking like a Prime Minister’ in the Independent.
  • The Real Left massively strengthened: new progressive Shadow Cabinet, an extra 200,000 (yes, 200,000!) Labour Party Members, and momentum has reported a 100% increase in membership.
  • 10,000 people turned out at Parliament Square with 24 hours’ notice to back Corbyn and 250,000 people signed a petition to do so.
  • The Unions and the CLPs are over-whelming defending Corbyn.
  • The 172 Right-wing Labour MPs are weakened, discredited and facing de-selection.
  • Tom Watson, the Deputy Leader, put himself in the firing-line through his participation in the ChickenCoup.
  • Kezia Dugdale, the Scottish Leader, has lost face as a majority MSPs have come out for Corbyn contrary to her snipes.

Brexit Fallout:

  • Cameron and Johnson, and their associates, ran awful fear-based campaigns that disgusted the electorate.
  • Cameron lost and is stepping down soon.
  • Johnson won, accidentally, and then bottled running for Leader, realising the impossible predicament he would find himself in if he won.
  • Teresa May now looks likely to be next Prime Minister.
  • SNP and the prospects for Independence have been massively strengthened: Scotland now has a Foreign Policy, polls are showing around 60% in favour of INDE., the SNP have legitimate cause for INDE. Ref II, and have reported a membership surge.
  • Northern Ireland has been ‘destabilized’.
  • The UK Economy has suffered, as has Europe’s.
  • The future of the EU is in jeopardy.

The Tories now have a choice between equally horrific and uncharismatic leaders, face a deteriorating economy, a difficult divorce from the EU and Scottish succession; all of which is very obviously and publicly problems of their own creation. On top of that, all the nasty things they have done to everybody really are starting to hit home. There is no way they can relish the prospect of taking on Corbyn, and Sturgeon, under these circumstances, but they have a slim majority and a Prime Minister with no legitimacy. From Right to Left, Young to Old, Destitute to Reasonably well-off, everyone is very upset, and with each passing week the opposition, both North and South of Hadrian’s wall, grows stronger.

Some Links:

For the first time this week, Jeremy Corbyn looked like a Prime Minister, Faduma Hassan,Independent. http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/jeremy-corbyn-prime-minister-iraq-war-chilcot-inquiry-labour-party-mps-coup-a7125311.html

Anatomy of a Failed Coup in the UK Labour Party, Richard Seymour, Telesur,http://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/Anatomy-of-a-Failed-Coup-in-the-UK-Labour-Party-20160707-0009.html

Tory Activists stage ‘painfully embarrassing’ march on Parliament in support of Andrea Leadsom,Tom Marshall, The Evening Standard. http://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/tory-activists-stage-painfully-embarrassing-march-on-parliament-in-support-of-andrea-leadsom-a3290256.html

Your Next Prime Minister, Mike Small, Bella Caledonia, http://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2016/07/01/your-next-prime-minister/

 

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Alex Salmond raises prospect of Tony Blair being tried for war crimes in Scottish courts

Alex Salmond raises prospect of Tony Blair being tried for war crimes in Scottish courts

The reckoning: Blair faces action over Iraq, says Salmond, as Chilcot report is published on Wednesday

The reckoning: Blair faces action over Iraq, says Salmond, as Chilcot report is published on Wednesday

TONY Blair faces a “judicial or political reckoning,” Alex Salmond has insisted, raising the prospect that the former prime minister could be tried for war crimes in the Scottish courts.

Ahead of the eagerly-awaited publication of the £10 million, 2.6m word report by the Chilcot Inquiry on Wednesday, the former First Minister stressed how he and other MPs believed evidence existed for “action to be taken” against Mr Blair.

READ MORE: Alex Salmond: The coup against Corbyn was planned to stop him calling for Blair’s head after Chilcot

 

Thoughts on the Media and the EU Referendum

Thoughts on the Media and the EU Referendum

By Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan and Rector (i.e. president) of the University of Dundee. Craigmurray.org.uk.

Al Jazeera’s Listening Post programme on the EU referendum media coverage was just broadcast. They only used about 5% of what they recorded of me, split into four soundbites to fit their format. I think the much more interesting points I made were not used at all. So just for the record, I also made these points:

a) I did not accept the argument that the BBC was biased in the referendum campaign towards Brexit. Indeed especially in the last few days, I thought it was biased towards Remain.
b) However the BBC had been guilty of helping promote Brexit by giving Farage massive and disproportionate publicity for many years, from when UKIP was a negligible electoral force. They were always willing to give right wings views publicity but not left wing views.
c) The right wing print media were indeed a major problem distorting democracy. However the solution to this should be to break up media ownership, not impose government control of content.
d) Project Fear had not succeeded in the Scottish referendum. It had seen a 35 point unionist lead cut to a 10 point lead, making it one of the most disastrous campaigns in history. The question of why Project Fear “succeeded” in Scotland but not the EU referendum was therefore a false one.
e) Media coverage focused on the despised political class rather than the facts.

I do not blame Al Jazeera at all or accuse them of doing anything unethical – they were looking for soundbites for their broadcast. But I do think the above points which they did not broadcast, were a great deal more interesting than their programme

Britain Is Not Going to Leave The EU Anytime Soon

June 29, 2016  /  Gilad Atzmon

 

By Gilad Atzmon

Despite the Brexit referendum, Britain is not leaving the European Union in the foreseeable future. No one in Britain has expressed a desire to issue Article 50 and officially launch withdrawal from the EU. In addition to the complex questions regarding the legal effects of the referendum and the added complications posed by a possible Scottish secession, it has become clear that the people who led the leave campaign were astonished by their victory. They clearly do not know how to rid themselves of the spoils of their achievement. In fact, the Brexiters and pretty much everyone else in Britain are relieved by Cameron’s decision to buy Britain three months of calm. The assumption is that this will provide sufficient time for the entire nation to search google and find out what the term EU stands for.

It is apparent that the leading Tory Brexiters: Michael Gove, Liam Fox and Boris Johnson share the ambition to become the next British prime minister. However if you expect Gove or Fox to formulate a coherent EU exit strategy you are either optimistic or naive. These corrupted politicians who are among the most devoted servants of the foreign lobby CFI (Conservative Friends Of Israel), are oddly quiet about Brexit. They behave as if it never happened. It isn’t modesty that keeps them silent.

Unlike Gove and Fox, Boris Johnson the Tory politician who led the call to leave the EU, seems to have switched sides. The man is clearly baffled by his unwanted victory. “52-48 result was not entirely overwhelming,” he told the BBC.

In a post referendum article in The Telegraph Johnson wrote,  “I cannot stress too much that Britain is part of Europe, and always will be. There will still be intense and intensifying European cooperation and partnership in a huge number of fields: the arts, the sciences, the universities, and on improving the environment. EU citizens living in this country will have their rights fully protected, and the same goes for British citizens living in the EU.” I can’t remember Corbyn or PM Cameron describing Britain’s relationship with Europe in such glowing terms.

If anyone is worried about any significant consequences ahead, Johnson provides complete reassurance. “British people will still be able to go and work in the EU; to live; to travel; to study; to buy homes and to settle down. …there will continue to be free trade, and access to the single market. Britain is and always will be a great European power, offering top-table opinions and giving leadership on everything from foreign policy to defence to counter-terrorism and intelligence-sharing – all the things we need to do together to make our world safer.”

So where is the change or what is left of the call to leave? “The only change – and it will not come in any great rush – is that the UK will extricate itself from the EU’s extraordinary and opaque system of legislation.”

Johnson is basically telling us that Brexit’s only consequence will be to resolve a few minor disputes with Brussels regarding immigration. “The Government will be able to take back democratic control of immigration policy, with a balanced and humane points-based system to suit the needs of business and industry.” It seems that it took only one day and Cameron’s resignation for Boris Johnson to transform into a remain enthusiast.

This is no surprise. The Brexit referendum was an ugly opportunistic political exercise. Its Tory advocates are amongst the most horrid neocons within the European political theatre. Still the results of the referendum are meaningful. If you leave out London, Scotland and Northern Ireland you find that the vast majority of Brits are expressing dissatisfaction. These Brits are tired of politicians controlled by party politics and global banking and they want to see a prospect of a real future. The people who voted against the EU voted against the type of global capitalism that sustains the political careers of Boris Johnson, Liam Fox, Michale Gove, David Cameron and also Jeremy Corbyn and his treacherous Labour Party.

Britain is not leaving the EU anytime soon. No one within the British political arena can implement such a maneuver.  But the Brits have sent a clear message to their politicians. And this anger is not going to just fade away.

Now Obama starts talking rubbish, “UK should be like Norway”. Norway’s only export of note depends on oil tankers

Now Obama tells Britain it should be like Norway

  • Obama says ‘hysteria’ over Britain’s leaving the European Union is unwarranted. ‘The average person is not going to notice a big change’
  • Norway is not in the EU, and yet it is one of America’s closest allies, the U.S. president said
  • Obama came up on the losing side of the battle after he aligned himself with Britain’s prime minister, David Cameron
  • Donald Trump hopes to ride the same populist wave to victory in the US
  • Both movements ‘tap into a fear that people may have about losing control, to offer some sort of vague nostalgic feelings,’ Obama said
  • ‘And the subtext for that is…a bunch of foreigners and funny-looking people are coming in here and changing the basic character of the nation’

Wow what a surprise! UK to Become Poorer Because of Brexit Vote

UK to Become Poorer Because of Brexit Vote

Recent UK referendum on EU-membership will make the country poorer, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said Tuesday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The United Kingdom will become poorer as a result of a recent referendum on the country’s membership in the European Union, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said Tuesday.

“It is very clear that the country is going to be poorer as a result of what is happening to the economy,” Osborne said in an interview with BBC Radio 4.

He added that the crucial task for UK authorities is to provide fiscal security.

On Thursday, the United Kingdom held a referendum to determine whether the country should leave the European Union. According to the final results, 51.9 percent of UK voters, or 17.4 million people, decided to support Brexit, while about 16.1 million opposed it.

The UK economy has already been noticeably affected by the results of the referendum, with UK shares and its national currency, the pound sterling, continuing their fall.

 

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