Gut reaction – A Brexicon

641 days after the referendum and one year to go until the United Kingdom leaves the European Union. Mrs May embarks today on a tour of the nation to summon up the Brexit spirit. To seek to align the divisions. Strange that she should do so given that when she called the 2017 election this was because the country had come together in all things Brexit, unlike Westminster. How wrong she was. Taming Westminster has been the easiest of tasks, save for that of getting the state broadcaster on message. No meaningful opposition to her triggering Article 50 and practically none to the so-called great repeal legislation.

But what about the country?

The nation has never been so divided along so many lines. It reads like a Saturday fixture list.

Older -v- Younger

Scotland -v- England

Catholics -v- Protestants

London -v- The Provinces

Country -v- Town

Educated at university -v- University of life

Travelled -v- Stayed at home

Linguists -v- Anglophones

Tabloid readers -v- Tabloid haters

Commonwealth -v- Continental

Elite -v- Downtrodden

Expertise -v- Instinct

Extremist -v- Centrist

It is hard to imagine that a whistle-stop tour around the country can do anything meaningful to heal the rifts and May is not the right person to do so. There is an insufficient arms-length distance between the Cameron government which promised a referendum to appease the “said-by Major-to-be-illegitimate” back benchers and May’s present bunch. This places her in a conflict position.

Does she do what is right for the country or does she continue to act in a manner detrimental to the nation but convenient for burying the reckless promise made by her colleague?

She called an election which backfired spectacularly. Her authority is fundamentally damaged, not least due to her bad judgement call and the cynical steps she had to take to preserve her tenure to the exclusive benefit of one part of the nation.

The country has plodded on, half in and half out. As the Prime Minister of Luxembourg remarked, the UK used to want in with as many opt-outs as it could obtain and now wants out with as many opt-ins.

There is one certainty. As time has passed people are beginning to appreciate the complexity of the question which David Cameron allowed them to answer in June 2016. A decision which they were singularly ill-qualified to answer.

If you are a Remainer with a degree of foresight then your instinct that Brexit was a catastrophe will have been proven to be right, notwithstanding the aversion of a complete currency crash and a recession (for the time being).

Remainers have done expertise to death. The forecasts, the studies, the warnings of the professionals, the financial, the judicial.

However, there is now at the fingertips of the Remain campaign an emotional element of which it previously could not take advantage. Brexit is beginning to smell a bit and those associated with it will assume its fingerprint. The attempts to rationalise by means of fact-based debate have met a largely glazed-over audience. But this is different.

Everybody likes to be a bargain hunter, a detective, a savvy consumer. Nobody likes to be thought of as lacking instinct; vision easily obscured by wool over the eyes.

Oh for the sort of instinct and intuition that means you avoid being sold the bruised apples under the counter, or the car made of two halves welded together. The same that allows a viewer to say “it was the vicar” at the earliest opportunity and beam with pride at having sussed it out, good and early; way before the clues made the solution easy.

Four million people signed a petition after the referendum. Those people will not have been converted to the Brexit cause but neither will they all have gone on to become campaigners and activists. They managed, however, to smell the Brexit rat. To suss out the Brexit confidence trick. Good and early.

One of the Remain adverts featured a poster with a picture of four proponents of Brexit and the words “We are better than this”. It was particularly effective in its “gut reaction” simplicity.

NIGEL FARAGE Good Morning Britain Jeremy Corbyn TURKISH ACCESSION £350 million That look on Johnson’s face PRIME MINISTERIAL RESIGNATION Enemies of the People BETTING ON THE RESULT Rupert Murdoch Michael Gove DONALD TRUMP Shame on you Boris Hillary Clinton Cyber warfare INTERFERENCE Trump Towers Ecuador Register of foreign workers Jared Kushner MISTER BREXIT Paul Dacre BREXIT MEANS BREXIT strong and stable Arlene Foster The Sun JACOB REES-MOGG smooth & orderly IMPACT STUDIES Select Committee DAVID DAVIS Position Papers Embassy visit America First TRANSATLANTIC BRIDGE Overspending Whistle blower SOCIAL MEDIA UKIP leadership elections fishing quotas BRIDGE ACROSS THE CHANNEL SUBVERSION Frictionless Trade Deep & meaningful ISOLATION vulnerability PARTNERSHIP inflation Paul Manafort blue passports DROP IN STERLING Carillion NHS vacancies VOTE LEAVE BeLeave Funding ELECTORAL COMMISSION cheating WILL OF THE PEOPLE manipulation Targeted advertising BUSINESS VISITS ON HOLIDAY Off shore trusts TAX AVOIDANCE Panama Papers UNPATRIOTIC The Daily Express SINGAPORE Protest vote Question Time Radio host G8 rankings OUTING Cambridge Analytica BBC GUEST Troll Factory LEGATUM #RoadtoBrexit 1922 Committee DUP exact same benefits WE ARE LEAVING 2019 Directive IMPLEMENTATION IDS Robert Mueller investigation 5-star Marine Le Pen Geert Wilders The people have spoken Meaningful vote TRADE DEALS Steel tariffs DONE & DUSTED Foreign secretary JOHN REDWOOD financial advice Kate Hoey GOOD FRIDAY AGREEMENT Dublin base Wetherspoons REDUCED MAJORITY Andrea Leadsom BILL CASH easiest trade deal in history Liam Fox BREXIT BONUS Belfast regulatory alignment HARD BORDER Penny Mordaunt AUSTRIAN HUB Nadine Dorries Food banks UPLIFTING Brexit Central Paul Nuttall Donors Fish stunt Bankruptcy Court WTO Very French World War Two punishment Deal or no deal GLOBAL BRITAIN Vacuum cleaners PRODUCTION TRANSFERRED Frankfurt Office SOVEREIGN Lords Reform DELIVERING BREXIT freedom of movement JOBS FIRST BREXIT single market PRITI PATEL environmental Brexit A Customs Union The Customs Union Travel Visa RED, WHITE & BLUE BREXIT Leaked papers every sector POOREST AREAS voted leave EXPERTS HARDEST HIT Hate crimes POLISH PLUMBERS produce rotting LOSS OF INFLUENCE at the table GARDEN BRIDGE Doomed Eurozone CONFIDENCE Gisela Stuart UNCERTAINTY respect the decision VOTED TO BECOME POORER place at the table IVAN RODGERS resigns Mark Carney intervenes Money Laundering Dependent territories LONDON passporting Human Rights Act Votes for prisoners Misleading Parliament Europe’s capital CANADA Daily Mail SEXTUS South Korea Daniel Hannan PETER BONE Brexiteers When we leave WE ARE LEAVING THE EUROPEAN UNION  not a day later NOT A MINUTE LONGER Guardian investigation TRANSITION PERIOD implementation “That was a mistake”.


Dear Jeremy and Kier

Dear Sirs

I am 50 years of age. I have always voted Labour in every election at every level and I still receive your e-mails. I sent donations to the Labour campaign of Ed Miliband.

I have two children aged 16 and 19.

Brexit is not only an utter fiasco but it is now a dangerous ideological dark valley.

I agree with virtually all your policies in terms of restoring hope and equality to a financially divided nation where opportunity is so unequal.

However, the plain fact is that Brexit was conceived by a viciously right wing of the tory party and secured by the people using a tissue of lies and deceit. A Brexit which threatens disaster-capitalism now. An economic outcome achieved through the stoking of bigotry and xenophobia.

Labour’s position on Brexit has to change if there is any prospect of achieving its aims. Full stop. Anything else is simply fantasy. There is no “Jobs FirstBrexit. There is only a Brexit of:-

  • Economic underachievement and/or stagnation;
  • Loss of regional and global influence;
  • Isolation;
  • Increasing xenophobia and bigotry as the factors above materialise.

Dangerous times need brave people. Do it. Make the tories own “Brexit” and make them pay the price they deserve for the vast amounts of public money they have wasted saving their own political bacon. Only a deluded minority will now believe if looking with honest reflection that anything good will become of Brexit. It won’t and you must know that. Go for the jugular. Go back to Cameron and the MP’s which he should have had the guts to sling out to UKIP. Expose the cause. Expose the reality. Make them own their catastrophe and remind the nation why this happened.

My support for Labour has presently gone. The futures of my country and my children are too important not to have these cheats brought properly to account and for the madness to be ended.

Yours sincerely

There is a way out.

The word purgatory has come to refer to a wide range of historical and modern conceptions of postmortem suffering short of everlasting damnation and is used, in a non-specific sense, to mean a condition or state of suffering or torment, especially one that is temporary.¹

Thus feels Brexit. On the back of a 52/48 referendum which looks to have been wholly inappropriate as a vehicle for shaping British global influence in the 21st century. As effective maybe as a trial by ordeal. That contradictory process whereby God would show the innocence of an accused by allowing for some form of miracle to save the accused from death. Contradictory in that evasion of a drowning amounted to evidence of witchcraft in cases where the ordeal was water-based.

A number of groups have formed in this post-referendum nether-world; or purgatory.

Tortured souls remoaning what seems to have been a death-like experience on 24th June 2016.

Others wandering around as if nothing has happened at all.

A small but vocal number rejoicing at the prospect of a final cleansing of the soul which then prepares it for the ascent into a Brexit heaven. This celestial Brexit boost is, of course, more spiritual than financial if Mark Carney is to be believed. But who is he to clip the wings of a nationalistic expectation which he cannot possibly understand? He does not appreciate the boundless opportunities that arise by virtue of being English, after all. German Wings? Euro Wings? No, these are English Wings.

This rejoicing group also obsessing with the perceived hell that lies below. That of infernal bureaucrats creating new laws and regulations. Computer-literate, multilingual modern ivory hunters cutting off the Brexit riches and leaving the nation-state lying in a pool of its own blood, unable to extricate itself from the net of regulatory interference.

Others wandering silently and hoping that the soul when purged of the sins of capitalism and therefore thoroughly cleansed may find a different heaven altogether. A Socialist heaven.

One of the most unusual search questions on Google must be this:-

“How long does it take to get out of purgatory?”

If the question is bizarre then Google’s response is even more so.

“A Spanish theologian from the late Middle Ages once argued that the average Christian spends 1000 to 2000 years in purgatory… But there’s no official take on the average sentence.”

So, assuming a mid-way point of 1,500 years and a departure date of 29th March 2019 there are only 629 years left of the initial Article 50 notice period. Of course, there is no heaven; and there is no hell. Neither is there a purgatory. It just feels that way at the moment.

There are regressive influences who have wished to perpetuate the idea of binary heaven and hell destinations. With religion, so also referendums, it seems. Riding on a wave of religious but also historical and empirical metaphor. Sovereignty and now damnation,  dissenters, treason, plotting and subterfuge; thwarting and subversion. Popular will. Insisting that Brussels would not receive a brass farthing.

At first glance there is no “way out” of this self-imposed purgatory. No salida de emergencia. So-called transition deals and implementation periods simply increase the length of the period of this desperate sojourn. Leaving over a cliff-edge has evidently been addressed by the impact studies which may exist. Casting the country out over the fire with wings which may or may not work is a singularly reckless escapade that  only the birdmen of Parliament would be willing to countenance. The super-dogmatic Disaster-Capitalists who view the population at large as some form of Darwinist experiment fodder.

The choice today remains exactly the choice that the public had on 23rd June 2016. Donald Tusk, Emmanuel Macron and Jean-Claude Juncker have made it clear that the UK can halt the process of leaving at will.

If that exit route were to be taken then there would have to be change. In reality England has been drifting into and out of the waiting room for tortured souls for many years. Opt-outs, posturing, showboating and negative engagement have meant that the full benefits of membership have never felt themselves apparent, save to the large numbers of British migrants.

A reliance upon English as the lingua franca has encouraged a reticence and arrogance that has impeded the true understanding of the place England occupies on the planet. Similarly it has obscured the magnitude of a Union whose strength is now coming to the fore in the context of negotiations which have been nothing of the kind. There are British migrants living in Spain who bewilderingly voted to leave such was the level of misinterpretation of the power positions of the parties. People who seriously believe that they are indispensable to whichever nation should have the good fortune and honour of receiving them; generally in the late autumns of their lives, too.

However, this de facto 27-member Union has done what every good Union should and stood as an effective and efficient framework to unite its members.

The way out of this purgatory is with the young. The split in voting habits on EU membership is as sharp a statement of division as any this country has seen and here lies the solution. England has tried a little foot in; now a foot out. Either way, it has not worked and is not working. Economically there may be an arguable case that it did but not in any real and sustainable sense. Saying you are the fifth largest economy in the world is of no consequence if you cannot afford to buy a house and sit there waiting for an inheritance.

Along with a belief in purgatory blood letting was a popular treatment modality at one time.

Blood transfusions are now routinely performed. England needs a new, oxygenated blood supply to treat its arterial sclerosis and there are signs that it is coming through.

“Under-25s were more than twice as likely to vote Remain (71%) than Leave (29%). Among over-65s the picture is almost the exact opposite, as 64% of over-65s voted to Leave while only 36% voted to Remain. Among the other age groups, voters aged 24 to 49 narrowly opted for Remain (54%) over leave (46%) while 60% of voters between the ages of 50 and 64 went for Leave.”²

When Guy Verhofstadt said that Brexit was a “catfight gone too far”³ within the Conservative Party he was using the power of understatement at a critical time, as a medic may seek to minimise the threat of a disease to a patient.

The Conservative Party has become a malignant tumour to England which also threatens its surrounding tissues north and west. It arose from a suspicious but long-standing and thought-to-be-benign cyst.

Tempting it is to conclude therefore that Britain finds itself in a course of aggressive chemotherapy, as opposed to a form of spiritual purgatory. A chemotherapy effectively now adminstered remotely by natural process. A stand-off between the tumour, the patient and destiny, assisted by concerned medics and onlookers.

The positive signs are that the tumour is turning on itself having met with little resistance from inside the body. The tumour must be defeated by the strength given to the immune system by the new blood supply.

As the period of purgatory looks to be extended so does the course of treatment and the number of restorative oxygenated cells available. Body and soul to be cleansed, as one. A miracle? Or just the power of modern thinking?





Reasons to be cheerful, Part…

The year 2017 has been a strange year, more odd still than 2016 and that takes some doing. A reflection and a time for hope and aspiration.

The strength and the stability

Unbelievable. An election called to smash the opposition that wasn’t really opposing. The one resulting from the failure of Westminster to unite behind the Brexit vision despite the fact that the nation had apparently done so.

The shedding of a tear

Following the outcome of the snap election that was not going to happen. Announced to the One Show. Along with a conversation about which one of the multi-millionaire couple puts the bins out at their house. Well, maybe not talking specifically about that particular house.

James Chapman’s departure

The blight of a former member of Davis’ team doing the dirty on Twitter was evidence enough that all was not functioning well under the good captain at the DExEU. Amid Chapman’s tales of incompetence that were subsequently to pale into insignificance the most extraordinary rebuttal of his claims consisting of little more than “we all know dear old James was always a Remainer”. Rounded off by “well-wishers” enquiring as to the state of James’ mental health.

Dr Fox and his easiest ever negotiation

The Doctor might like to ask the former territorial SAS man about that one.

The chlorinated chicken

The former territorial SAS man might like to ask the disgraced former Defence Secretary now turned cabinet minister about that one. Here he is…

The enemies of the people

Well, Olympic fencing is pretty offensive, isn’t it?

A jobs-first Brexit

You are joking Jeremy, seriously?

We want you to stay

Faced with an exodus of skilled workers ideas mooted for employers to have to have logs of foreign workers to prove their patriotism soon gave way to these sort of desperate pleas from the Prime Minister.

Question Time

From Boston, Grimsby, Frinton, Clacton, Hastings, Ramsgate and tonight, joining David Dimbleby from Barnsley…

Of course we all know that currencies can go up and down

Really, Steph McGovern and your enlightening BBC Breakfast Butty Van crew? They went on a tour of Great British businesses. Around the Great British countryside. Or the Great British Seaside. Because Great Britain’s Great, hell yeah. When can we expect sterling to recover to its pre-referendum levels then Steph after this 18-month “blip” or “trading correction”?

The “negotiations”

The “what”?

The timetable for “negotiations”

Is that the timetable which insisted on certain matters being resolved before trade talks could commence? The one that Davis would never agree to but which subsequently governed these “negotiations”?

The red lines

Well, they’re yellowy-orange, maybe.

The Northamptonshire Triumvirate

Bone, Hollobone and Pursglove. Pursbone? Holloglove?

Monsieur Barnier

Well, he’s “very French” according to our former Tate & Lyle enforcer (and good at timetabling it seems).

The Trump trade deal

What are Gove and Farage doing in New York? Why is Murdoch there? Should Gove be sacked? Better ask Dacre over lunch before being too hasty. His wife works there.

Quentin Letts’ Tweet

Let’s have more of the Gandhi and less of the Johnson to extract the nation from a predicament in which he compared our departure from the “shackles” of Brussels to that of Indian independence. “Come on Boris, the light’s fading and the number of overs is limited, old boy.”

Jacob Rees-Mogg

Wouldn’t pay a farthing (he’s never spent one, mind) and knows the literal meaning of a shambles as well as seeing the metaphorical entity every day at work.

The lack of papers (1)

On the table in Brussels. Not even for show. Everything’s all in Davis’ head. He doesn’t have to be especially clever to do his job, eh Dr Fox? It is, after all, a doddle, like you said.

The lack of papers (2)

Automotive sector? “No”. All of them. No, to all of them. The ones in painstaking detail that you need not know about because they are too painstaking in their detail. Chill out and trust me.

The Florence speech

I have come to the city of Machiavelli to restore some trust in our position…

 An environmental Brexit

Green Giant Gove looking as comfortable as Mr Ben emerging from the shop on Acacia Avenue.

The payment to Northern Ireland

Are you seriously suggesting that the Prime Minister of a country like the United Kingdom would agree to pay taxpayers’ money to another political party having an influence in one region only to form a national government?

The Northern Ireland Border Issue

Brexit Means Brexit but maybe not Brexit as much in that part of the United Kingdom. Sort it out with ANPR or that massive airship from Cardington, near Bedford. (Ed: it recently crashed didn’t it?).

2018 will be a year for Britons to be proud

All must hope so Prime Minister. How might that happen?



A letter to Ian from Marc

Dear Ian

Clare has asked me to write to you. I understand that over lunch you were discussing Brexit . I hate to use that word. I feel it diminishes the significance of a 44 year old relationship breakdown as much as “Brexiteer” gives its proponents an inappropriately gallant and brave aura. There is no d’Artagnan to be found here. She said that we took a similar view of the referendum result but that you were resigned to acceptance of “it” because you viewed yourself as a democrat.

Your view is one I respect; however, it seems that we presently have differing opinions as to our respective best responses to the “result”. She invited me to write to you and I thank you for affording me an opportunity to do so. Your opinions are well-respected by her and she is a good judge. I hope that you do not mind me responding in this forum because the response might have a wider application. I, too, believe that I am a respecter of democracy, as much as we can know it, and in so far as we can define it.

A survey carried out by Ipsos Public Affairs in October 2016 asked voters which issues they attached most importance to when voting in June 2016. Some 74% of those who voted to leave the EU attached “very important weight” to the ability of the UK to “make its own laws”.¹·¹ So, it is reasonable to suggest that 3 out of 4 of the 17.41 million who voted to leave did so believing that the issue of “sovereignty” was of the most fundamental importance. The total electorate was 46.5 million. I postulate that 13 million people evidently believed that the nation had lost parliamentary sovereignty, those very voters attaching the greatest significance to that issue when determining the recipient of their votes. More so even than immigration and the effect of the same on the UK economy, the second and third issues by the same weighting.

But I shall return to them.

On 2nd February 2017 the Government published a White policy Paper entitled “The United Kingdom’s exit from, and new partnership with, the European Union”. Section 2 deals with the overwhelmingly important issue of sovereignty (for those who considered that they may have wanted to leave the European Union). The admission is unequivocal:-

“The sovereignty of Parliament is a fundamental principle of the UK constitution. Whilst Parliament has remained sovereign throughout our membership of the EU, it has not always felt like that.”

I think that the appropriate response to this admission is to look then at why it has not always felt that Parliament had, after all, retained its sovereignty.

For decades I have protested about the misinformation generated by significant sections of the UK media. Indeed the European Commission in the 1990’s set up a special “myth-debunking” unit to deal with the emerging nonsense¹·². You will find an Economist link below to bendy bananas and the other mischief that has occupied the media’s irresponsible attentions.

I recently spoke with a retired lady and mentioned that I had bought some bleach at a hardware shop. Her husband suggested that shortly I would no longer be able to walk around a shopping centre with a bottle of bleach.

“Because of more EU Regulations…” she guessed.

Of course, as her husband pointed out, the reason is that anti-chemical attack legislation is being planned; domestically, I should add.

Supposedly thoughtful and experienced “leaver” views have focused upon the “Common Market” that Britain joined in 1973 and ratified by way of a first EU referendum in 1975. Indeed, rather more convincingly than the second one in 2016. This is the idea which some people advance (with subtle media encouragement) that we were joining a free market and nothing more. In December 1972 the then Prime Minister Edward Heath published in The Illustrated London News in the following terms:-

“The Community which we are joining is far more than a common market. It is a community in the true sense of that term.”

Heath then went further in his understanding.

“It (the European Community) is far more than a common market…

…it is concerned not only with the establishment of free trade, economic and monetary union

…but…with social issues which affect us all – environmental questions

…working conditions in industry

…consumer protection

…aid to development areas

…maintaining good relations between the industrialized countries which is vital for the prosperity of the whole world.”

My decades of protest at this gross manipulative bias have met a brick-wall of general casual acceptance. Even worse, a casual acceptance actively preyed upon by some of the very representatives who were meant to epitomise the parliamentary sovereignty so revered by those who voted to leave the European Union.

“Dear Marc” wrote my MP on 18th February 2016, “…outside of the EU, we would be able to make the laws in the UK Parliament that work in our national interest, and stop sending £350 million a week to Brussels…”.

That sounds like restoration of “never-lost” sovereignty and how much do we send again?

I once read a play by the Swiss playwright, Max Frisch, named Biedermann und die Brandstifter. The play premiered in 1958 and its English title was The Fire Raisers. In essence, the character Biedermann is conned by an affable stranger and allows the stranger into his attic at a time when reports of arson are rife. He is then further duped and lets another stranger in. The warning signs are obvious to all apart from Biedermann and his wife. The attic becomes a stockpile of inflammable material and Biedermann then watches as his house is burned down by virtue of his unwillingness to deal with the lodgers and resignation that he had to share the house with them.

In our present predicament the house is not just existing bricks and mortar. There are children in it. 39.9% of those who voted aged 55 or over voted to remain in the European Union. 68.5% of those aged 18-34 are believed to have done so.¹·³

The wilful peddling and casual acceptance of lies is also undergoing something of a metamorphosis. The fodder for the naïve is being replaced by something rather more sinister.

“Remainer Universities” staffed by academics subjected to scrutiny by a Member of Parliament as to their political views, with impunity; High Court judges publicly vilified and called “Enemies of the People”.

I return to immigration, the stuff of Daily Mail and Express hyperbole for decades. “Waves of migrants” stealing jobs so gleefully exploited by UKIP in their distasteful poster campaign showing migrants fleeing conflict. If the National Socialists were still with us they may have had a breach of copyright claim.

The deliberate attempts to merge the concepts of refugee status with economic migration. The blatant falsehood surrounding Turkey’s accession to the European Union. The roadside billboards:-

Turkey (population 76 million) is joining the EU. Vote Leave.

The reality, of course, failed to interest the rabid media. Migrant workers were draining the country of resources, claiming benefits and hospital beds while editors foaming at the mouth with mock-indignation were content to allow the lies to become more virulent.

As long ago as 5th November 2013 the Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM) at University College London had reported that “UK immigrants who arrived since 2000 are less likely to receive benefits and less likely to live in social housing than UK natives. What’s more, over the decade from 2001 to 2011, they made a considerable positive net contribution to the UK’s fiscal system, and thus helped to relieve the fiscal burden on UK-born workers”.²·¹

The Prime Minister was also complicit to an extent because as Home Secretary she clearly had possessed the powers conferred on her by the European Union²·² to control levels of intra-EU migration so as to restrict the right to remain of those who did not have work after 3 months. The reality, of course, was that:-

i) most intra-EU migrants were working (hard) and contributing taxes, as above; and

ii) there was no inclination whatsoever to implement restrictions at a time of austerity and public spending reduction.

However, she failed to advise and properly inform the populace of the fact that unfettered immigration into the UK simply did not exist.

Potential referendum voters were subjected to demonstrable and fundamental dishonesty at almost every conceivable level on issues which they were likely to have viewed as the most important when considering how to vote.

But what of the referendum itself?

Constitutionally this was an advisory referendum. It is just that nobody wanted to tell the population that is was not binding. Ultimately Parliament is sovereign. The United Kingdom has a parliamentary democracy, ironically so revered by those wanting to leave. But binding the (second) June 2016 referendum was not. Explicitly so.

Actually, a consultation paper; nothing more and nothing less. David Cameron did not want to be seen to have been offering something which diminished his “come on then, bring it on” credentials and UKIP kept quiet too because it served their interests to have their supporters believe that it was binding in terms of encouraging voter turn-out.

Being non-binding may also explain why it was so poorly constituted from a democratic perspective because:-

a) those likely to be most directly affected were disenfranchised, namely:-
i) 16 and 17 year olds who had previously been afforded a vote in the Scottish independence referendum;
ii) those who were now living abroad and had done so for more than 15 years but retained British citizenship; and
iii) EU citizens living here and paying taxes, some for decades but who had not applied for UK citizenship before the referendum; and

b) there was no “supermajority” requirement as is required under most constitutions in situations of major constitutional review (generally a 60/40 or 66/33 requirement to effect change being required). Therefore those wanting to remain were always at a fundamental disadvantage because the status quo is more difficult to promote, such is human nature; and

c) statistically older voters are more likely to vote. Again, that is life but it slews a supposedly democratic process.

In 2016 the population of the UK was 65.6 million, its largest ever, according to the Office for National Statistics. Consequently under 27% of the population voted to leave but this is said to constitute the “Will of the People”.

Marnix Amand in Prospect magazine has considered specifically the Swiss referendum experience (and experienced in such matters they certainly are). This was his verdict²·³:-

“David Cameron drew up a textbook example of a referendum done wrong: asking an ill-informed electorate to choose between a costly and constraining EU marriage full of unsavory compromises and a fantasized Brexit-with-benefits. The utter vagueness of the Leave option allowed their campaign to cast the widest net of all, encouraging each voter to keep their most favorable version of Brexit in mind, however far that may be from the Leave politicians’ intentions.

This was an act of political genius. It allowed hard and soft Brexiteers, free-market fundamentalists and protectionists, open-door internationalist and xenophobes to all joyously add their votes together and stick it to the EU.”

However, the lesson to be learned from Switzerland is clear. On an ill-conceived immigration referendum there in 2014 a subsequent election then gave the government sufficient legitimacy to effectively ignore the result.

Jeremy Paxman said of Cameron on Irish broadcaster RTE’s The Late, Late Show that what he had done was “nigh-on unforgiveable”.

We cannot and must not let our descendants suffer the poor democratic consequences of (as the marcher at a London protest pictured above in July 2016 put it):-

Lies, Deceit, Nurtured Ignorance

The house cannot be allowed to burn down due to the irresponsible actions and dishonesty of the lodgers in the attic. The house must be repossessed. If the fire has started already then it must be extinguished by education and allocation of resources made available to restore the damage. The house is the inheritance and if the price to pay is a somewhat deflating recognition of naïvety and a propensity to fantasise then it must surely be paid. As David Davis himself has said “if a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy”.

There I shall conclude without even anything other than a passing mention of electoral interference, computer “bots” programmed to target voters by artificial intelligence controlled abroad and the looming EU Tax Avoidance Directive 2019.

I hope that you can think of yourself as being democratic whilst helping to preserve the house. We need good people to do so and we need them quickly. Thank you for your time and attention Ian.

Kind regards





¹·³ Source: Survation

²·¹ University College London CReAM paper

²·² Article 7 of Directive 2004/38/EC

²·³ “Take it from the Swiss: the Brexit referendum wasn’t legitimate” by Marnix Amand / November 9, 2017

Copyright statement: “fair use” claimed for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, education and research.

Proper preparation prevents…

Taking a reflection at the Brexit White Paper produced by the Government after the referendum it would appear that some writing may have been on the wall.

Recently two members of Team Brexit appearing before the Select Committee seemed to suggest that the impact papers had not actually been comprehensively considered by DExEU. Redacted copies are now to be made available, it seems.

In the light of allegations that the British delegates to the “negotiations” have been ill-prepared (remember the picture of them sitting on one side of the table with no papers?) a look back at the great White Paper seemed timely; only 47 words in to the substantive script there appears a little clue.

Prime Minister Rt Hon Theresa May MP, Lancaster House, 17 January 2017

Foreword by the Prime Minister
“We do not approach these negotiations expecting failure, but anticipating success.
Because we are a great, global nation with so much to offer Europe and so much to offer the world.
One of the world’s largest and strongest economies. With the nest (sic.) intelligence services…”

Evidently not the best proof-readers though, eh?

Either that, or the document was so “hot-off-the-press” it wasn’t proof-read at all.

The task of redacting the impact studies now falls on the same shoulders…–2


A matzoh ball of a situation

A matzah ball, or a matso ball? Even a matzoh ball. It seems that many Jewish culinary enthusiasts cannot agree.

Unlike Brexit of course, the spelling of which is possibly the only issue surrounding “it” upon which a general consensus lies.

What is a matzoh ball?

Hard Brexit, soft Brexit; red, white and blue Brexit?

A matzoh ball is a dumpling typically seen in Jewish Eastern European chicken soups. It is typically made from a mixture of ingredients squashed together; a bread element, some chicken or other fat, water and seasoning.

Loss of sovereignty, immigration, laws, bureaucrats, taking back control.

When formed and splashed in the simmering-temperature clear chicken soup the Matzoh ball cannot be rectified. The die is cast. A bit like a soufflé.

“The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification…(under Article 50, Treaty of Lisbon)”

As witches being drowned (or occasionally spared) at the behest of the Witchfinder General the matzoh balls are either “floaters” or “sinkers” after a certain time in the boiling broth. Success or failure is judged thus.

Jerry Seinfeld is no stranger to the matzoh ball, and French linguist Sylvia Rochonnat sought advice as to the meaning of a Seinfeld-delivered “matzoh” gag from a script:-

George: Anyway, I’m thinking of making a big move.
Jerry: What?
George: I might tell her that I love her.
Jerry: Oh, my!
George: I came this close last night, and then I just sort of chickened out.
Jerry: Well, that’s a big move, Georgie boy. Are you confident in the “I love you” return?
George: Fifty-fifty.
Jerry: Because if you don’t get that return, that’s a pretty big matzoh ball hanging out there

Seinfeld aficionados may recall this scene and attempts by online linguists were been made to assist Sylvia to define and explain Jerry’s reference to a matzoh ball.

“…if she doesn’t say “I love you” in return there would be significant, awkward complications for future communication between them”¹·¹

…the UK seeks a “deep and special partnership”

“…this is a pun on ‘balls’, i.e. if George has misread his friend’s feelings towards him, it will be a great source of embarrassment to bare his soul & declare his love to her”¹·²

only 18% of people in nine countries surveyed compared with 49% of people in Britain believed that the European Commission should aim to keep the UK as close as possible

“…you’re at risk of getting seriously hurt emotionally”¹·³

Where are those impact studies?

“…it also plays on the image of a ball game (i.e. throwing a ball back and forth). So if you are throwing a ball, and it’s not thrown back to you, you feel pretty bad for having thrown it in the first place”²·¹

“The ball is in your court” May tells EU

The European Commission has said the Brexit “ball is entirely in the UK’s court” as the next round of formal negotiations kicks off in Brussels today∗¹

“…it’s a lot of dough (money) at risk/you could be left holding the bag”²·²

“I would say we are far from having reached the necessary financial commitments before we can open phase two, we are not halfway there.”∗²

With thanks to Jerry Seinfeld, it looks there’s a pretty big matzoh ball hanging out of somebody’s pants.


Sources and credits:-
¹·¹ Bruce Popp, USA 04/08/05,

¹·² Flo in London 04/08/05,

¹·³ Conor McAuley, France 04/08/05,

²·¹ Carolingua, USA 07/08/05,

²·² writeaway, USA 04/08/05,

∗¹Financial Times 09/10/17

∗²Emmanuel Macron 20/10/17


“We voted for the Common Market, not this.”

In December 1972 the then Prime Minister Edward Heath published in The Illustrated London News in the following terms:-

The Community which we are joining is far more than a common market. It is a community in the true sense of that term.

There appears therefore to have been some confusion as to precisely what “we” voted for and ratified in 1975.

The then Prime Minister seemed (with the presumed benefit of a contemporaneous understanding) to have felt differently to referendum voters in 2016, most of whom had never voted in 1975. You would now have to be aged 60 or over to have done so.

Heath then went further in his understanding.

It (the European Community) is far more than a common market…


…it is concerned not only with the establishment of free trade, economic and monetary union

“Monetary Union?”

…but…with social issues which affect us all – environmental questions

“Won’t affect me –  I’ll be long gone.”

…working conditions in industry

“Socialism through the back door, as Maggie said.”

…consumer protection

“Who needs cheap calls if you don’t go abroad?”

…aid to development areas

“Is that what the Welsh are bleating on about?”

…maintaining good relations between the industrialized countries which is vital for the prosperity of the whole world

“Why does anybody need trade agreements?”

…and with working for an improvement in relations between East and West

“It all changed when the wall came down.”

In the context of Heath’s message to the country something has gone seriously wrong in terms of the understanding of what people were voting for in 1975, evidently. All of Heath’s objectives in terms of the European Community are instantly recognisable to anybody in the run up to the 2016 referendum. If, therefore, voters wanted to take us back to what was voted for in 1975 how have they achieved their objectives?

They have not, of course.

The discernible change in circumstances upon consideration of Heath’s message in 2017 relates to events in 1990 onwards in the easterly “half” of our continent. The stated objective of the Community could not have been clearer in terms of inspiring an improvement in relations between east and west. Consequently when the wall came down the Community had partially achieved its objective. The rebuilding of a Europe split tragically by an iron curtain was the furtherance of the objective.

When a person aged 60 or over says

“I’ve got nothing against Eastern Europeans apart from them sending money back home, taking jobs, hospital beds, school places and claiming benefits. That’s not what I voted for. I voted for a Common Market only. I’ve no problem with that…”

he or she is clearly mistaken.

It’s funny how referendums cause such confusion. Not to mention how many people under 60 seem to think that they know what they cannot have voted for. Because “we” did vote in 1975 by a clear majority. A very clear majority if your only knowledge of a referendum is that, so-described, which took place in 2016.