‘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)

19 November 2018

On the Record | Britons Await the Promise of Brexit

Please see my latest wire as Brexit diarist for The New York Sun, ‘Britons Await the Promise of Brexit’:

Prime Minister Theresa May’s loss of another Brexit minister, Dominic Raab, invites a paraphrase of Oscar Wilde, “to lose one Brexit minister, Prime Minister, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness.”

Carelessness does not even begin to encompass Mrs. May’s ineptness since the June 2016 referendum vote in favor of exiting the European Union and striking out once more as a sovereign country in command of its laws, borders, public purse, and trade policies.

Mr. Raab’s reasons for his departure — he could not ‘in good conscience” support Mrs. May’s draft withdrawal agreement from the European Union — echo the Brexiteer consensus: Dissatisfaction with the proposed resolution of the so-called “Irish backstop.”

Government attempts to address the Irish question, allowing Brussels to maintain the integrity of its single market and customs union, have resulted in proposals that leave parts of the UK — that is, Northern Ireland — under EU jurisdiction.

Adding insult to injury, the draft framework forbids the UK from unilaterally curtailing the backstop, while giving significant authority to the EU and the Irish government. In his resignation letter, Mr. Raab said the draft “presents a very real threat to the integrity of the United Kingdom.”

Mr. Rabb said he could not support “an indefinite backstop arrangement, where the EU holds a veto over our ability to exit.” That echoes in spirit Boris Johnson’s complaint that it would reduce Great Britain to a “vassal state.”

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.

15 October 2018

On the Record | ‘No Deal’ means ‘No Problem’ as Brexit nears

Please see my latest wire as Brexit diarist for The New York Sun, ‘“No Deal” means “No Problem” as Brexit nears’:

“Brexit deal hopes dashed.” So reads the headline in the London Sun, after Brexit minister Dominic Raab flies to Brussels for emergency talks with EU officials. Disappointment springs from the fount of so much angst for the United Kingdom — Ireland. Is the promise of Brexit coming undone?

Much ado about nothing, methinks.

Don’t get me wrong. Britain’s successful uncoupling from the European Union is very much a concern. It’s just that this latest crisis isn’t really much of a crisis. It’s a manufactured crisis.

The question of an “Irish backstop” is only one more obstacle thrown up to wrong-foot the British prime minister. And to the EU’s satisfaction, Theresa May has proven herself less than adept on the Brexit file.

Brinkmanship diplomacy, this isn’t.

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.

07 October 2018

On the Record | A ‘Dream Team’ for the Tories Comes into Focus

Please see my latest wire as Brexit diarist for The New York Sun, ‘A “Dream Team” for the Tories Comes into Focus’:

One thing provided by the autumn party conference of the ruling Conservatives in Britain is a glimpse of the emerging dream team. It pairs with the boisterous polemicist Boris Johnson the calm, impassioned Jacob Rees-Mogg, who delivered a Brexit “primer” that will set a kind of standard in the seasons ahead.

It illuminates why he is so popular among party activists. “BoJo,” famed journalist, former London mayor, and ex-foreign secretary, along with investment banker “The Mogg,” have the potential to become the next Thomas Jefferson and Albert Gallatin, Calvin Coolidge and Andrew Mellon. Theirs is a vision for Britain as an open, free-market, growing independent country, hewing to limited government and fiscal prudence, and leading its vast commonwealth loyalists in the liberal tradition.

“Making a success of Brexit” was the theme of this fringe gathering, to fulfil the promise of the 2016 referendum to leave the European Union that became, in Mr. Johnson words, Britain’s “Independence Day.” And for Mr. Rees-Mogg, “just the vote was itself a success.”

For him, it was a vote to leave Brussels and its fixation on regulations and tariffs, to cast off Remainers’ insidious progress toward “managing decline,” and to resurrect Margaret Thatcher’s faith that “a mature economy can revive and reform and succeed by its own efforts and endeavors.”

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.

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And, from Nova Scotia, may I wish you a peaceful Thanksgiving week-end!

03 October 2018

On the Record | Brexit Backtrack Hints of Treason, Johnson Warns

Please see my latest wire as Brexit diarist for The New York Sun, ‘Brexit Backtrack Hints of Treason, Johnson Warns’:

The most astonishing moment of Boris Johnson’s speech on the fringe of the British Conservative Party conference was his thinly-veiled suggestion that the compromise plan on Brexit backed by Prime Minister Theresa May is flirting with treason.

The former foreign minister, laying the ground for his own bid for leadership, stopped short Tuesday of directly accusing Mrs. May & Co of having committed treason. He didn’t even use the T-word. He skated, though, close to the line.

Were Britain to leave the European Union and relinquish membership rights, yet remain subject to evolving trade regulations as part of the Chequers compromise, Mr. Johnson said, its authors would “risk prosecution under the 14th century statute of præmunire, which says that no foreign court or government shall have jurisdiction in this country.”

That was a nod to a series of laws designed to block papal authority, bowing to which was seen as an act of treason. The laws of præmunire are now defunct. The point, though, put into the sharpest relief yet the rift among the governing Conservatives.

Read more . . .

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

25 September 2018

On the Record | Brexit: A Hostage to Fortune

Please see my latest wire as Brexit diarist for The New York Sun, ‘Brexit: A Hostage to Fortune’:

“Insanity,” according to conventional wisdom, “is doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different outcome.” Britain’s prime minister is coming dangerously close to fulfilling this charge. The Times of London reports “contingency planning for a snap election” this autumn, to save Theresa May’s job and her Brexit proposal after being effectively snubbed by Brussels.

Mrs. May continues to extol the benefits of Chequers, her party’s program for future relations with the European Union once Britain exits. She’s persisting even though both Leavers and Remainers trashed its half-in/half-out provisions. Only when her EU counterparts reiterated that its provisions were unacceptable, has she contemplated — perhaps — a Chequers redo.

Rumors are swirling around Downing Street that, in the face of factions at home and recalcitrance abroad, the Prime Minister will appeal to voters to strengthen her mandate. It would be a “Hail Mary pass” to unite Tories behind her Brexit strategy and convince Brussels that Britain means business.

Haven’t we seen this brainstorm before?

Read more . . .

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