55 4 mins 11 mths

The Prime Minister has achieved something beyond the expectations of almost everyone.

The talking heads assured us he is just an optimistic cheeleader who lacks the seriousness to operate at the top tables. The same people have told us for years there’s no way that the UK would get a good deal from the EU because the EU was intent on two things: protecting its internal market and punishing the UK by way of example to other countries daring to leave the club. Most of all they told us that Boris is an over-promoted clown, way out of depth, who would be crushed by the EU’s intellectual titans at the negotiating table.

Events appear to have turned out differently.

Whereas Theresa May, a supposedly serious politician, failed four times to get her Withdrawal Agreement through the Commons, Boris got his much better WA through at the first attempt. Tonight the Commons will approve the trade deal he has presented to Parliament. The first clue that it wasn’t too shabby came over the weekend when the Prime Minister’s enemies failed to produce anything particularly bad in it. The most they can come up with at the moment is something about sausages.

This evening the European Research Group, that group of moderate pro-independence Tory MPs and a Brexit Praetorian Guard, has given the deal the thumbs up. Even Nigel Farage is satisfied.

The deal preserves our sovereignty. It allows tariff-free access to the EU’s markets for the vast bulk of exports. It reclaims control of our borders and immigration. It reclaims total control over our money. It allows us to conduct trade with the rest of the world on terms which we are free to negotiate. It reclaims control over our laws and denies the European Court of Justice any jurisdiction in UK/EU affairs. All the red lines were preserved. It delivers everything which the experts predicted we would have to lose to get a deal. Instead, Boris delivered a deal which, at any time in the past, let alone since the referendum in June 2016, would have been regarded as good enough and a clear victory, even by Brexiteers.

It has been said by the sound people that in leaving the EU we can move from being bad tenants to good neighbours. The deal allows us to do that. It also allows the UK to finally get past banging on about “Europe” all the time. The issue blackened Ted Heath’s name for all time and brought down three Prime Ministers. We never belonged to a Continental club and took too long to leave.

The Prime Minister, his lead negotiator Lord Frost, and the negotiating team deserve congratulations. Only the churlish would say otherwise.

But we should still never trust the Tories.

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55 thoughts on “A MAN OF SUBSTANCE

  1. //It reclaims control of our borders and immigration. //

    Ironically, immigration from EU countries (which is what the above actually refers to) had already fallen by more than half since the 2016 referendum, while net migration from “third countries” rose to a record high of a quarter million in 2018. The latter is an immigration flow that, one would imagine, the UK has and always had complete control over. Looks like fewer Poles for more Pakistanis.

    But no new border in Ireland and our country is a step closer to unification and the UK a step closer to dissolution. So, yes, the Prime Minister has achieved something beyond the expectations of almost everyone. Well done.

  2. Lol I look forward to petem bosses sending him to Frankfurt on a sausage run 🤫
    And picking up some British fish n chips in Calais .
    Truth is I’m past caring , it was a mistake Brexit we won’t be better off at all
    In any measure able sense . Just stupid white pride
    Just glad it’s all over though ..
    got a rampant 2nd strain of COVID to deal with .and a crying toddler in the WH
    Think petem has missed those news item .. doesn’t fit the agenda

  3. So, fishing rights weren’t that important after all?

    In the short term no.

    Thanks to the Common Fisheries Policy the British fishing fleet is much too small to deliver adequate annual catches on its own. What’s agreed is that the British quota will slowly rise and the EU quota slowly fall over the next five years.

    From 2026 the quotas will be negotiated annually. If the UK wanted it could totally exclude EU vessels. I’m fine with that. It’s a steady transition and the future is open to negotiation.

  4. What’s agreed is that the British quota will slowly rise and the EU quota slowly fall over the next five years.

    What’s agreed is that 25% will be incrementally transferred to Brit fishing fleets over five years and after that quotas will be negotiated annually.

    If the UK wanted it could totally exclude EU vessels.

    Yes it could. It could then also face export tariffs to its biggest market.

    It doesn’t seem such a red line now, does it?

  5. “Could” is lifting a lot of weight there. The bar to imposing tariffs is a high one to reach.

    Jeez Paul, don’t be churlish all the time.

  6. The bar to imposing tariffs is a high one to reach

    The bar to imposing tariffs is dependent on the fishing rights negotations.

    Unlike the MPs giving it the thumbs up I haven’t read the more than 1200 page document in some three days and like everything the devil is in the detail.

    It’ll get through Westminster no problem but I’d advise you to see what transpires before crowing on with the ‘themmuns’ identity politics.

  7. Fantastic deal!

    No tariff on goods. Because that’s what the UK is known for, right? How has the services negotiation gone? Oh, that’s right, no deal there.

    And as for UK sovereignty – do you not include Northern Ireland in your UK definition? Because a huge amount of sovereignty was lost there.

    As for Scotland, they aren’t happy. So, ultimately England and Wales don’t yet realise how diminished they are on the world stage. Yet.

  8. The same people have told us for years there’s no way that the UK would get a good deal from the EU because the EU was intent on two things: protecting its internal market and punishing the UK by way of example to other countries daring to leave the club

    Oh and a certain Mr Moore was one of those people. If (and its a very big if) this deal is anywhere near as good as Pete thinks it is, it totally destroys the Brexiteers scaremongering about the evil Brussels empire being ideologically unwilling to part with a generous deal for its former member.

  9. How has the services negotiation gone? Oh, that’s right, no deal there.

    Massively important point.

    It seems that Britain retains sovereignty of Britain. Well, at least until the Scots go anyway.

  10. CRITICS HAVE described Britain’s post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union, signed on December 24th, as “thin”. Nowhere is it thinner than on financial services, of which there is scant mention in the accord’s 1,255 pages. That should not have been a surprise: it was decided long ago that Britain’s future relationship with the EU in finance would be dealt with separately, and later. That the sector was not a priority for Britain’s supposedly pro-business Conservative government did raise some eyebrows. But senior Leavers recognised that there were more votes in protecting fishermen than moneymen—and took the view that Britain’s leading banks and fund managers were, in the meantime, big and smart enough to look after themselves.

    This leaves a big question-mark hanging over the City, London’s financial district. It must now wait until January or later to learn what degree of market access its firms will enjoy in the EU in the future.

    The Economist

  11. A Man of Substance

    No, a chiselling charlatan whose number one priority has always been himself, as his previous wives and girlfriends and employers will confirm. A man who tells lies casually and frequently. A man who is prepared to break the law when it suits his political interests. A man who betrays wives and friends and allies (hello Sammy Wilson) without the slightest qualm.

    So a complete tosser as a human being, but for sure a cunning unscrupulous bastard as a politician.

  12. It is a complete betrayal to the people of Northern Ireland.
    There has not been or will not be a bigger dent in the future for the United Kingdom than this.
    When i placed my vote to leave a border down the Irish Sea wasn’t what i voted for.
    The majority of people in the UK voted to leave not three quarters of it.
    I have been a Unionist all my life but no more.
    It’s a disgrace it really is.

  13. Interesting that Peter & JM, both unionists from the state of NI, are pretty scathing of this while alleged arch unionist Pete is lauding it.

    A microcosm of how Brexit has affected the various parts of the UK, a demonstration of the English nationalism that drove it and hopefully a harbinger of things to come.

  14. Paul

    Pete is on record here as stating that he would sacrifice NI in order to see Brexit happen. Pete is no Unionist, arch or otherwise. He is an arch-Little-Englander though.

    Pete will sit here, eating his rationed piece of weekly (but British!) fish, stubbornly insisting that Brexit has worked, as his precious ‘Union’ crumbles around him.

    He is precisely the type of person Boris Johnson was aiming at with his, “Get Brexit Done” mantra.

  15. Good to see you back here Seimi. I hope you’re going to stick around.

    Yes, of course Pete’s a little Englander, hence my ‘alleged’ qualification but he’s also something that the overwhelming of LEs aren’t, an EU citizen. Pete blows with the wind and like a lot of the far right is a mound of contradictions and hypocrisy. Five minutes ago he was screaming that Johnson was a spineless weakling.

  16. There are several million know nothing idiots who were fooled by Boris’s ‘Get Brexit Done’ mantra and who voted for him last December on that basis. They are people who care little for politics and know even less about what Brexit entails but loved the whole tabloid fuelled satisfaction of sticking it to an imaginary enemy, this time ‘Brussels’ . It’s the oldest laziest and most destructive political trick in the book. Pete is not one of those idiots, he is a lot more knowledgeable but flawed by his ideological rigidity and desire to support anything that is opposed by ‘the left’.

  17. Pete is not one of those idiots, he is a lot more knowledgeable but flawed by his ideological rigidity and desire to support anything that is opposed by ‘the left’.

    Colm

    Not all of us on the left opposed Brexit. The Guardian’s Larry Elliott was one of them and here he explains why he supports it, and also why Labour must support Johnson’s deal:

    “In the 1990s Britain crashed out of the ERM on Black Wednesday, the single currency became a reality, and we saw the arrival of fully turbo-charged globalisation. It became axiomatic – for parties of the left as well as the right – that there was little that could be done (or should be done) to meddle with market forces. People, goods and money should all be free to move around the world. Nation states were deemed to be redundant and the focus of politics changed. There was no longer any real debate about economics; instead, radicalism was increasingly challenged towards cultural change.

    In the 2000s, Labour’s traditional coalition started to come apart. The university graduates and white-collar public sector workers who increasingly came to dominate the party embraced the mix of economic and social liberalism. The party’s blue-collar wing, which tended to favour economic activism and social conservatism, did not. A particular cause of friction was the sharp increase in net migration after countries in eastern Europe joined the EU in 2004.

    Gradually, Britain became two countries. One half did well out of globalisation; the other half did not. One half liked the idea of unrestricted free movement of capital and people; the other half did not. One half was broadly satisfied with the status quo; the other half was not.

    To make matters worse, when those who were unhappy sought to voice their concerns they were ignored or told to pipe down. The EU referendum in June 2016 provided them with an opportunity to be heard and they took it. It was a sign of the boiling resentment that they were willing to ignore the wildly hyperbolic claims of imminent disaster from both the domestic and political establishment and to vote for Brexit. Having done so, they expected the normal rules of democracy to apply. What they didn’t expect was to be vilified and for the losing side to do everything in its power to overturn the result. They found the idea of being told to think again in a People’s Vote an insult, which indeed it was. The demolition of Labour’s “red wall” in the 2019 general election was the result.

    As Starmer now seems to have belatedly realised, there is little political mileage in continuing to carp about the decision made in June 2016. Johnson is happy to “own” his trade deal because it allows him to say that he will use the freedom provided to address the grievances of leave voters. He would be delighted to see Labour oppose it.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/dec/27/why-boris-johnson-perfectly-happy-own-brexit-trade-deal

  18. It was what I expected – An Association Agreement. This was not so much about Leaving the EU as keeping the Tory Party together. Quelle surprise.

    I am given to understand from other posters elsewhere that freedom of movement for EU lorry drivers is maintained in the UK but, the EU have not reciprocated, so UK lorry drivers will have additional paperwork and costs.

    I find it ironic that those here saying that this deal brings a united Ireland closer, especially as the whole purpose of the EU is to extinguish nations and nationalism, other than for the EU itself. So the North joins the South and becomes just another part of someone else’s province. I hardly call that progress and not what the founding fathers of today’s Eire would have wanted.

    As for the UK ? Who needs Scotland and Wales ?

  19. As for the UK ? Who needs Scotland and Wales ?

    A poll of Tory party members in 2019 showed that well over half of them were prepared to see the breakup of the UK if it secured a “clean” Brexit for England. This reflects the surge of tens of thousands of UKIP members who joined the Tories in 2018-19, significantly changing its political complexion at grassroots. It is now the English National Party in all but name.

  20. Northern Ireland is the toothache that never gets fixed. There would be many British who would jump for joy if it left the union, preferably yesterday.

    If Scotland left the UK, not sure how that helps it’s economy, or anything else.

    Departure may mean a new opening to the EU for the Scots, but a new barrier of some kind between Scotland and England. And the family and other connections between Scotland and England are much deeper than those between Scotland and say Germany or Spain.

    Ultimately, ” independence ” decisions are based on emotion much of the time, not on economics, often not anything that might be measured.

  21. Phantom

    Ultimately, ” independence ” decisions are based on emotion much of the time, not on economics, often not anything that might be measured.

    I totally agree. I personally don’t think independence for Scotland would be good for them in the long run. I can understand where they’re coming from though, everything north of Birmingham gets treated like s*** by Westminster.

  22. I hardly call that progress and not what the founding fathers of today’s Eire would have wanted.

    So, we’re back to this hoary old rubbish? As has been explained here ad nauseam previously, those who fought for a Republic the ‘founding fathers of today’s Eire’ wanted Irish people to make Irish decisions for Ireland. That is precisely what currently happens. I’m sure the citizens of Ireland are frantic tha some anti EU little Englander doesn’t consider that ‘progress’.

    As for the UK ? Who needs Scotland and Wales ?

    Superb, not even an acknowledgment that the state of NI is part of the UK, never mind the no concerns of Wales & Scotland going. I would have voted for that Brexit Mark, keep up the sterling work.

  23. Between 2018 and 2019 the membership of the Tory party increased by 45% from 124,000 to 180,000. This was after UKIP leaders urged their supporters to “take over the Tories” in order to secure Brexit. This guaranteed that Johnson would win the leadership and explains why the majority of the membership is no longer unionist but English nationalist. It also guarantees that the most right wing candidate will probably win the next leadership contest, unless they are called Pritti Patel.

    Membership of UK political parties

  24. 180,000

    That’s an incredibly low number to belong to a leading party in a big country like that.

  25. Yes, the other membership figures for 2019:

    Labour 485,000
    SNP 125,000
    Lib-Dems 115,000
    Greens 49,000
    UKIP 29,000

  26. What the EU has lost after 4+ long years……… finally the UK will be free of the EU. But apart from trying to dissuade others to leave, why did the EU fight so hard to get the UK to change its mind? Because the EU knew it would lose a lot. And this is what it has lost:

    12% of its population (down from 513m to 447m) – €2.4 trillion in GDP (down from €15.9tn to €13.5tn) – It’s second largest contributor, amounting to 5% of its total budget (~€12bn per year)

    Its foremost military power, losing ~23% of its defence spending (In 2016, UK spent €47bn on defence, EU total was €200bn) – A nuclear power – A member of the UN Security Council – A member of the “5 eyes” defence network

    Its premier financial centre (London accounts for a third of EU capital markets) – A manufacturing power, 9% of the EU’s manufacturing capability, (the 9th biggest manufacturer in the world with 2% of global production)

    Its leader in fintech (UK attracted more fintech investment in the first half of 2020 than the rest of the EU combined) – Its second largest recipient of foreign direct investment (~20% of the EU’s total in 2018) …

    Its most prestigious universities. Of the 10 best universities in Europe, 8 are British – Unfettered access to the UK’s exclusive economic zone (waters). The EU will lose ~6.8m sq km by losing the UK, roughly 27% of its total (25m sq km).

    But perhaps most importantly to the empire builders in Brussels, they have lost 1 out of 28 of their “subjects”… 242,000 sq km of “their” territory. They thought they “owned” the UK. The British people disagreed. Long live a free and prosperous UK…….

  27. SNP 125,000

    That’s an incredible number of party members for a population the size of Scotland where the other prominent parties have a presence.

    Djaym, Joel Rodrigues says just believe.

  28. You know what djaym. Most of the above would appear correct. But, I do doubt your landmass assessment. And thats ignoring you probably included NI in your stats.

    But, only the the most moronic could fail to point out that a lot of your stats are based on the UK being in the EU for nearly 40 years. See how far the UK has come in that time.

    Brexit is a ‘plague on both your houses’, but the UK will suffer the most.

  29. Yes Paul

    Scotland’s population is 5.5 million so that works out at over 2% in the SNP. I’d hazard a guess that the SNP are as numerous in Scotland pro-rata as the East German Communists in the days of Honecker.

  30. I’d hazard a guess that the SNP are as numerous in Scotland pro-rata as the East German Communists in the days of Honecker.

    Except the numerical equation is where the anology ends, right?

  31. Far be it from me to suggest that the SNP has any authoritarian tendencies whatsoever. Alec Salmond has a few gripes though and the new Hate Speech law is a wee bit…

  32. // Of the 10 best universities in Europe, 8 are British//

    Let me guess, that survey was conducted by someone or something British, right?

  33. Whenever anyone uses such terms as obtaining ‘freedom’ from the EU as djaym does above all they demonstrate is a complete lack of understanding or knowledge is what the EU is or how it works.

  34. they demonstrate is a complete lack of understanding or knowledge is what the EU is or how it works

    Oh do tell, Colm

  35. Seimi –

    Pete is on record here as stating that he would sacrifice NI in order to see Brexit happen.

    No I’m not. I said that if the people of NI chose to secede from the union as a result of our national liberation then so be it. That would be democratic and in no way would it constitute me or anyone else “sacrificing” NI.

    The ultimate aim, for GB, the UK, the EU, whatever, must be a sustainable settlement based on the general will. Anything less is destined to fail.

  36. Let me guess, that survey was conducted by someone or something British, right?

    To be fair, British universities have always done very well compared to the rest of the planet.

  37. I think it is probably fair to suggest that British universities punch above their weight. But the issues with any ranking system is always going to try and design one that is completely objective. And I’m not sure there is one for universities. So it is going to be based on a certain amount of subjective analysis, and that is always likely open to bias. And so isn’t suprising that a British newspaper has so many British universities in the top of their rankings. I’m sure a French newspaper would probably have many French universities in the top of their rankings.

  38. The Times Higher Education names 7 of the top 10 being British.

    Yet we’re told they’re nothing more than Marxist hives of indoctrination. good to see the Brexiteers have at last come to at least some of their senses.

  39. Left wing madrassas, I think is the preferred term. And they are exactly that

    So what’s all the boasting about?

  40. //US and UK universities perform very well.//

    Dave, don’t tell me you think that’s objective FFS.

    About 80 percent of them are in English-speaking countries, and after viewing Australian universities close up, I’m not going to be convinced by any English-speaking survey that the 5 Ausssie universities it mentions on the first pages are better than anything in the 20 or so European countries that it never even mentions.

  41. Noel.

    Dave, don’t tell me you think that’s objective FFS.

    The site explains how it ranks universities. What do you actually have a problem with?

  42. Sorry, Dave, I didn’t see your question.

    One problem I would have is simply the obvious lack of common sense in the findings. About a dozen European countries have more PhD graduates per capita than Australia has, yet they don’t make much impact in the results, while AUS has about 5 unis represented (in the first few pages I looked at). Of course there’s a dumbing down in colleges all over the world, but in the race to the bottom, from my limited experience, probably Australia is ahead of the field. (anecdotes on request)

    The survey also included things like “diversity of staff” and “diversity of student population”, and I fail to see how that could be a mark for the quality of a university.

    Then there are all those parameters linked to “reputation”. This is the most important failing.

    One major phenomenon of our times, and it seems to be growing, is the cultural presence of the English speaking world in every other developed country. The full range of that strength probably won’t be recognised by someone living in an English-speaking country, but once you leave, as you did, you can see it everywhere.

    There are so many measures that you could look at that it’s hard to know where to start – but one would be the fact that the books bestseller lists in all continental countries I know regularly show a large majority of books that started off in English, often 8 out of 10 (i.e. more books translated from English than in the native language being read); another would be that most books you have to read as a student in any European college are available only in English. Many universities on the continent even offer complete courses only in English.
    Another, though less relevant here, would be the endless stream of TV series and films etc from anglophone countries. Many documentaries, “news” channels, news websites etc also simply lift their content from UK or US sources (without present it without adapting anything for their home audiences, which sometimes has quite amusing results – but that’s fun stories for another day).

    The result of all this is that most people in Europe can’t help but be aware of British and American colleges and their various reputations. How many people in Finland, for example, don’t know about Oxford or Harvard, and conversely how many people in the US or UK know about the quality of Finland’s colleges?

    Another related point influencing the survey is that English is the world language and practically everybody with an academic bent anywhere in the world can speak and understand it. This naturally leads to far more students going to the English-speaking countries to study than vice versa.

    Check out “Academic peer review” in the link in the light of what I said above. But also reputation among employers, number of citations etc. are heavily influenced, if not completely determined, by the global presence of English as a working language, but especially as the language of every academic field from science and commerce to the medicine and the arts (Law is the only part exception I can think of).
    These trends were also figured into the survey results yet (as far as I can see) have no bearing on college quality.

    Apart from that, you can simply imagine how impossible a fair assessment of the quality of universities would be. Who’s to go around and check out what it’s like to study in colleges from Buenos Aires to Budapest, Sweden to Siberia? BTW Where is Moscow, where Copenhagen, where Vienna?

    This survey seems to be suffering from a severe case of myopia.

  43. ” Diversity ” has become an exceptionally bizarre mantra.

    The physics department at Harvard should be staffed by those with an exceptionally strong background in physics, and the students that they serve should be strong enough to learn challenging material from them.

    No matter where the students and instructors are from.

  44. ” Diversity ” has become an exceptionally bizarre mantra

    Of all the points raised above that’s the only one you picked up on?

    One major phenomenon of our times, and it seems to be growing, is the cultural presence of the English speaking world in every other developed country. The full range of that strength probably won’t be recognised by someone living in an English-speaking country, but once you leave, as you did, you can see it everywhere

    Absolutely, it permeates at every level and would very likely have an impact on the university rating.

  45. Noel.

    No need to apologise mate I was just interested in your response and boy, did you give me a response! Does that one come out in paperback. 😁

    I appreciate you taking the time though mate and you raise some interesting points.

    I’ll have a more thorough look at the QS survey when I get a chance, but I’m willing to accept your points of criticism.
    I supposed to point I’m trying to make is that UK universities perform very well in comparison to the rest of the world, but I’d probably have to find a better survey to back that up. Certainly throughout history this has been demonstrably true.

  46. Interestingly (and for once a bit surprisingly) the theory of university indoctrination doesn’t check out

  47. When asked to elucidate & enlighten the assembled on what the EU is or how it works, Colm goes quiet.

    Quelle surprise

    said no-one

    ever

  48. Spare a thought for all the British passport holders now in Oz, NZ, Can, USA etc etc that work for various multinationals and had great jobs being their presence in EU. (no visa required).

    That complacent nicety ends tonight.

  49. When asked to elucidate & enlighten the assembled on what the EU is or how it works

    How long is a piece of string? As ridiculous a queation as asking what is the British Constitution and how does it work?

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