Brexit, British Government, Employment law, Negotiating, Theresa May

Has the UK “led the way” on Workers’ Rights? The honest answer is: No

This blogpost was written on Saturday March 9th, 2019

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Speaking in Grimsby on Friday, March 8, the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, said:

We have also committed to protecting the rights and standards currently set at the EU level – from workers’ rights to environmental protections.

Brexit will not be a race to the bottom. In fact, in most of these areas the UK has led the way, ahead of the EU. And this week we have said that if the EU expands workers’ rights, we will debate those measures in Parliament and decide if we want to follow suit.

…But we will not tie ourselves in automatically to follow EU changes without Parliament having its say.

That would mean weakening workers’ rights if the EU ever chose to do so. And it would not be taking back control. The UK has led the way in the EU, and we will lead the way outside it.

To put it at its mildest, this is simply not true.

The UK has consistently opposed and sought to water down proposals for EU employment and social law more or less stretching back to the start of its EU membership in the 1970s. Back in those days, with Labour in government, and the trade unions and the Left within the party hostile to the then European Community (EC), seeing it as a “capitalist club”, the UK blocked moves on “industrial democracy” proposals because their adoption might undermine the workplace position of the then dominant trade unions.

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Article 50, Brexit, British Government, Theresa May

It’s a Long, Long Way from Gove to Here. 3 years is a long time in #Brexit politics

This blog was written on March 6th, 2019

Michael-Gove-672233It’s a Long, Long Way from Gove to Here

“The day after we vote to leave, we hold all the cards and we can choose the path we want.” – Michael Gove, April 2016

“I don’t believe it (no-deal Brexit) will be Armageddon” – Suella Braverman, March 2019

It’s a long way from “holding all the cards” to it won’t be “Armageddon”. Three years is indeed a very long time in politics.

Speaking to the Institute for Government last Monday, Sir Ivan Rodgers, the former UK ambassador to the EU who resigned from that position because his advice on Brexit strategy was being totally disregarded in London, said there was no chance that the UK would be able to disentangle itself from the EU even if Brexit goes ahead. He added:

“These fantasies of release and liberation – they are fantasies. We are going to be negotiating on everything from aviation to farming for evermore with our biggest neighbour. We cannot live in glorious isolation. Talk to the Swiss and to the Norwegians – they live in a permanent state of negotiation with the EU.”

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Article 50, Backstop, Brexit, British Government, Irish border

One month to go and #brexit gameplaying goes on…

This blogpost was written on Wed Feb 27, 2019
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UK Labour’s Starmer & Corbyn in Brussels. Pic via Skynews

With each passing day it becomes clearer and clearer that far too many politicians in the UK, including the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, think Brexit is some form of game of political point scoring, with little or no thought for the immense damage to lives and livelihoods that will ensue.

On Monday of this week the leadership of the Labour Party, still reeling from the defections of nine MPs last week to the independent benches, announced that it planned to table a motion in the House of Commons calling for a different Brexit deal than the one Theresa May has agreed with Brussels. If the plans it brings forward are voted down in the Commons Labour may then call for a second referendum.

So, what are these Labour plans?

Apparently, the party wants a “future relationship” which would see the UK in “a” customs arrangement with the EU, but the UK would not actually be a member of the existing EU customs union. It would be a bespoke union between the UK and the EU. As part of this arrangement the UK would have a decision-making role when it came to future trade deals being negotiated by the EU.

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Article 50, Brexit, British Government, Referendum, Single Market, Theresa May

Après Honda, Le #Brexit Deluge?

This blog was written on Feb 19, 2019
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A section from a pro-brexit referendum leaflet – it has not aged well…

I suppose that the modern equivalent of the old phrase “O that mine enemy would write a book” would roughly translate as “Just let them go ahead and Tweet that”.

For, despite the “right to be forgotten,” our tweets have a habit of following us around. Even if you delete them, someone, somewhere has them. As Terry Benedict might have said in Ocean’s 11 “On Twitter, someone is always watching”.

Sure enough, Monday last, the day the news broke that Honda intends to shutter its Swindon plant with the loss of 3,500 direct jobs, and thousands of indirect jobs, someone dug up this old, 2015 Tweet from Daniel Hannan, one of the original Brexiteers:

That idea that car manufacturers might disinvest after we leave the EU? It’s a – what’s the word? – oh yes. Lie.

That doesn’t seem to have aged well. Nissan, Ford, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) have all announced production switches or cutbacks. Now Honda.

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Article 50, Brexit, British Government, UK Labour Party

While #Brexit is a big thing, it’s the little #Brexit things that will add up and hurt…

This bog was written on Friday Feb 8, 2019

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It was a week of Brexit big things:

  • Nissan announcing that new models would not be manufactured in Sunderland after all.
  • Theresa May turning up in Northern Ireland and Brussels to tell people that she had a problem, but no solutions.
  • The Labour party setting out proposals which would see the UK as an equal partner with the EU in a “mini customs unions and single market”. But without the stuff the Jeremy doesn’t like.

Big things.

Yet it is the little things in the great scheme of things that people going about their daily lives generally care about. For the most part, few of us bother with politics. Politics are something that happens somewhere else as we just get on with organising the kids for school, driving to the job, doing the shopping, getting home, cooking dinner, falling asleep in front of the television. Life is just everyday ordinariness.

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Article 50, Backstop, Brexit, British Government, Theresa May

. #Brexit and the Dark Art of Bullshit

Written on Sat., Jan 26th 2019
this-week-2
Andrew Neil with James Delingpole on BBC1’s This Week

Negotiations can be full of sound and fury for the most part signifying nothing. This week has been one of those weeks where UK politicians and commentators sought to play the “gotcha” game. Remarks by EU spokespersons and Irish politicians on the backstop and what would happen with regard to the Irish border in the event of “no deal” seemed contradictory. “Gotcha – the Irish border issue was a hoax all the time designed to keep the UK trapped in the EU”.

While I can’t remember just how many labour negotiations I have been involved in over the past forty plus years, I can say with certainty that in every one of them someone or other, at some time or other, said something out of place that had to be corrected.

Negotiations are conducted by human beings. They are not run by algorithms. Human beings can make mistakes. But when verbal mistakes are made, or are alleged to have been made, it does not change the underlying balance of forces which is what ultimately determines the outcome of any negotiation.

By the way, algorithms are not infallible either. Garbage in, garbage out. Anyone who has ever spent any time on Twitter knows just how much garbage there is going in.

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Article 50, Backstop, Brexit, British Government, Theresa May

So… #Brexit? What happens next…? No one knows…

This blogpost was written early on Wed Jan 16th

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Last night the UK government lost the vote in the House of Commons on the Brexit agreement it had negotiated with Brussels by 432 to 202.

This is the largest defeat suffered by a government in over 100 years. In normal times a defeat such as this on the government’s flagship policy would result in the fall of the government or, at the very least, the resignation of the Prime Minister.

But Brexit times are not normal times and today the government will, in all likelihood, win the vote of No Confidence tabled by the Labour Party. While over 100 Conservative MPs voted against the government’s Brexit plans, they will not vote to bring that government down, thereby possibly letting Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, regarded by many as a radical leftist, into 10 Downing Street.

So, the UK government is likely to survive, though whether Theresa May stays on as Prime Minister may be another matter.

So, what happens next? Absolutely no one knows.

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