‘Nations stumble upon establishments, which are indeed the result of human action,
but not the execution of any human design.’
Adam Ferguson, An Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767)

30 October 2019

On the Record | Brexit: Prometheus Bound

Please see my latest wire as Brexit diarist for The New York Sun, ‘Brexit: Prometheus Bound’:

For Brexiteers apoplectic at perpetual deferment of Britain’s exit from the European Union, I must be the bearer of sad tidings. Like Prometheus, their gut-wrenching agonies are without end. A snap election on December 12 will exacerbate their turmoil. UK independence from the EU is as elusive as ever.

Prometheus, according to Greek myth, was punished by Zeus for having given humanity the gift of fire. His fate was to be tethered to a rocky crag where each day, to excruciating pain, an eagle tore out his liver. At night the organ regenerated, and Prometheus’s torments were renewed with the rising sun.

Much as each day Parliament inflicts fresh insults to the cause of British independence. The Prime Minister’s agreement with Brussels is only the most recent assault upon the patience of the British people. Boris Johnson returned from negotiations beaming, superficially succeeding where his predecessor, Theresa May, had failed, by reopening talks and removing the reviled Irish backstop. On inspection it’s only been moved to the Irish Sea, a variant of border disorder.

Mr. Johnson’s plan perpetuates Britain’s subservience on such questions as trade, migration, fisheries, and the ongoing oversight of the European Court of Justice. For the pleasure of divorcing the EU, ante up £39 billion — a cost that could double as concocting a long-term agreement may require 3 years to hammer out. If this initial handiwork is an indication of the Government’s negotiating acumen, the future bodes increasingly ill.

True to form, MPs punted on Boris’s deal. Owing to what is known as the “surrender act,” this required the Government asking Brussels for an extension. The Prime Minister sent a counter-letter, politely asking the EU to ignore the first.

Then the Speaker of the House ruled that convention prevented a subsequent examination of the deal — a welcome diversion for the Commons. It turned its focus upon enabling legislation, gave it preliminary approval for “public consumption,” but quibbled with the Government’s timetable for speedy resolution.

Brexit then entered a state of “limbo” in parliamentary parlance, its fate in the hands of EU bureaucrats increasingly exasperated by Remainer supplication. Brussels, strapped for cash and facing an economic downturn, made all the appropriate tut-tutting remonstrances but in the end agreed to prolong Britain’s agony until the end of January 2020.

This is the third such extension since the original March 29 deadline: a provisional April 12 deadline and the now moot October 31.

This Promethean purgatory also plagues the minority Conservative government.

Read more . . .

Remarks are welcome on DMI’s Facebook page.

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My thanks to editor Seth Lipsky of The New York Sun.

23 October 2019

On the Record | Brexit: Boris Becomes Charlie Brown

Please see my latest wire as Brexit diarist for The New York Sun, ‘Brexit: Boris Becomes Charlie Brown’:

For a workable Brexit analogy, think Charlie Brown, Lucy, and the football. Try as he might, Charlie is never given a chance to kick the pigskin. Every time he comes close, Lucy snatches away the ball, leaving our protagonist to tumble on his backside. You’d think someone would come to Charlie’s defense and call Lucy out, but no one does.

The British government’s inability to advance on securing the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union was never more in evidence than today [October 22nd] in the House of Commons. MPs toying with the fate of independence did Lucy proud. Their contempt for the Charlie Browns of Brexit Britain, came into focus as an ignoble spectacle.

Charlie Brown portrays the “everyman,” and he is every Briton — some 17.4 million — who voted in 2016 to exit the EU. Lucy represents those dissembling Remainer MPs who vehemently stand up for the rights of the people but at the moment of action, frustrate the democratic will. As for those who let this travesty continue, count the avatars.

They include the anti-Brexiteers in Brussels. The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow. The UK Supreme Court, who are silent when the rules of parliamentary justice are trampled upon, provided their collective EU super-state aims are met. The press is crawling with these avatars of the Remainer movement, manufacturing new objections at every juncture.

Read more . . .

Remarks are welcome on DMI’s Facebook page.

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My thanks to editor Seth Lipsky of The New York Sun.

21 October 2019

On the Record | Rule Britannia: Where’s the Nelson of Independence?

Please see my latest wire as Brexit diarist for The New York Sun, ‘Rule Britannia — Where’s the Nelson of Independence?’:

As opposing fleets of British and French-allied ships of war lined up for battle off the Cape of Trafalgar on October 21, 1805, Admiral Lord Nelson ordered a signal to be raised from his flag-ship, H.M.S. Victory: “England expects that every man will do his duty.”

Britons expect similar devotion to duty from their elected representatives. Given the choice in 2016 whether to remain or leave the European Union, a clear majority voted to exit and restore Britain’s independence. More than three years later, they are still waiting, as MPs and elites enthralled by the allure of the EU super-state frustrate the voice of democracy.

Last week Prime Minister Boris Johnson returned from Brussels with a much-heralded UK-EU withdrawal deal. Yet when it was brought before the House of Commons on Saturday for approval, Remainer MPs decided instead to postpone the vote, opting for Sir Oliver Letwin’s amendment to forgo judgement until enabling legislation was passed (MPs fearing the Government had constructed a Trojan Horse by which to abandon its own legislation and “crash out” of the EU).

This procedure clearly put the cart before the horse — ensuring the workings of a law that does not yet exist— as anti-Brexiteers will resort to any tactic to frustrate British independence.

Not that adherents of independence should take undue umbrage. For Boris’s deal is nothing more than “Brino” — Brexit in name only — Brexit under false colors, as Admiral Nelson would assess it. Brexiteers are tired of living under the “affected” authority of the EU’s gold-stars-on-a-field-of-blue pennant. They yearn to restore sovereignty to a nation over which proudly flies the historic Union Jack.

Read more . . .

Remarks are welcome on DMI’s Facebook page.

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My thanks to editor Seth Lipsky of The New York Sun.

On the Record | Brexit — Boris lands in same trap as Mrs. May

Please see my latest wire as Brexit diarist for The New York Sun, ‘Brexit: Boris lands in same trap as Mrs. May’:

Let’s not beat about the pumpkin. The United Kingdom’s latest withdrawal agreement with the European Union is a disappointing deal. It fails to deliver Brexit. It is arguably a worse agreement than Prime Minister May’s flawed document. Her successor as premier, Boris Johnson, despite all his avowed “do or die” rhetoric, has failed to deliver on the 2016 referendum mandate for Britain to exit the EU and to regain its independence.

Nor can there be any doubt on the motivations of anti-Brexit sentiment. A contingent of Remainers — in Parliament, the broadcast press, and the political elite — make a mockery of the people’s decision to leave and are willing to employ any excuse to frustrate democracy, preferring to get their marching orders from Brussels.

Mr. Johnson’s agreement went before the House of Commons today for approval, mere hours before he is required by Hilary Benn’s “surrender” act to send a letter to Brussels requesting another delay if Britain did not secure a deal, approved by Parliament, by the end of October 19. Never mind that EU officials ruled out any extension after negotiations ended this week.

Parliament did not approve — ostensibly on the basis that it wanted more time to scrutinize the deal and to ensure that enabling legislation was in place. As required by law, the Prime Minister dispatched a “request for an extension” letter — unsigned — to Brussels. A second signed letter soon followed, to the President of the EU Council, Donald Tusk.

“While it is open to the European Council to accede to the request [for an alternative extension period] mandated by Parliament,” Mr. Johnson explained to Mr. Tusk, “I have made clear since becoming Prime Minister . . . that a further extension would damage the interests of the UK and our EU partners.” To wit: “We must bring this process to a conclusion.”

Read more . . .

Remarks are welcome on DMI’s Facebook page.

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My thanks to editor Seth Lipsky of The New York Sun.

05 September 2019

On the Record | Brexit: What Would Odysseus Do?

Please see my latest wire as Brexit diarist for The New York Sun, ‘Brexit: What Would Odysseus Do?’:

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a Classical scholar while a student at Oxford, may be thinking of Odysseus and his men who, homeward bound after their exploits at Troy, must navigate their ship between the twin dangers of Scylla and Charybdis — a six-headed sea monster and whirlpool, respectively — that threaten their destruction.

Even more gruesomely, Mr. Johnson, at the helm of the ship of state, must extricate his ministry from a constitutional dilemma, on Britain’s course for independence from the European Union.

Mere weeks before the UK is legislated to leave the EU, Brexit opponents have devised a Greek tragedy to stymie the Government. Remainers passed a motion allowing them to take over the “order paper,” effectively giving them control of parliamentary business. Their objective? To bring a bill before the Prime Minister, forbidding Britain to leave the EU on WTO terms, if he is unable to negotiate a successful trade deal before the October deadline.

Such is only the official rationale to stop “No Deal,” though. Don’t be fooled. The ultimate goal is to keep Britain ensnared in Brussels’ grip, through a withdrawal agreement that keeps it bound to regulatory and judicial fiat. Better yet, to annul Article 50 altogether and keep the UK within the EU, voiding the 2016 referendum to exit.

Adding insult to injury, Mr. Johnson cannot call for a general election to give him a fresh mandate. Never mind that he is leading in the polls. Legislation enacted in 2011, the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, requires a two-thirds vote in the Commons for the prime minister to request the Crown to “drop the writs.” So the Government faces the prospect of being legally mandated to go to Brussels to request an extension without being able to call for an election to avoid this humiliation.

Boris confronts the Brexit version of Scylla and Charybdis.

Read more . . .

Remarks are welcome on DMI’s Facebook page.

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My thanks to editor Seth Lipsky of The New York Sun.