Category Archives: Europe

Turns out that Brexit means Brexit. Who knew?

As the final, definitive break the the European Union approaches — the transition period that has shielded us from most of the implications of Brexit ends in 16 days — we’re starting to see headlines like “Furious British expats blast EU’s new post-Brexit travel rules which will ban them from spending more than three months at a time at their holiday home from January” in the Daily Mail.

As with so many of the unpleasant surprises that await us after 31st December, it’s really important to remember three things:

  1. This is not a punishment for Brexit.
  2. It’s not even a consequence of Brexit.
  3. It is Brexit.

What the UK is doing is leaving the European Union to become a third country that operates under the same rules as other third countries instead of as a member country.

This is, in other words, exactly what people voted for — or, at least what they say they voted for.

Turns out that Brexit means Brexit.

C. S. Lewis on the 2019 general election

From our old friend C. S. Lewis:

If we are going to be destroyed by a far-right government, let that government when it comes find us doing sensible and human things — praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts — not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about politics. They might break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.

That’s got to be my strategy. Fury, denial, despair — none of these will help. Simply getting on with life just might.

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How to vote in the forthcoming election

I was at a friend’s house last night, as she said she was surprised I’d not written anything about the forthcoming General Election. When she pointed it out, I was surprised, too — but, really, the whole thing is so utterly wretched that it’s difficult to summon up any enthusiasm for.

But of course it does matter, and more than any election in my lifetime. That’s because, while normally no parliament can bind its successor, Johnson’s Tories will make a permanent break with our biggest and closest trading partner — a break that will be impossible for a subsequent parliament to mend, because it’s dependent on a third party.

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My MP seems to be running ELIZA code from the 1960s

You may remember that eleven days ago I wrote to my MP, Mark Harper:

Whatever your feelings may be about just “getting Brexit done”, you must know that this is no way to do it. I beg you at least to vote to provide Parliament with proper time to analyse the deal documents, to scrutinise an OBR report on the economic implications, and to debate them properly both in the House and in select committees.

Today, in response, I get a letter explaining that what people in the Forest of Dean want is to “get Brexit done”.

But whether that is true or not(*), it bears no relation to the actual subject of my letter, which was about giving a complex bill proper scrutiny. I even explicitly stated that whether or not we want to “get Brexit done” did not bear on my point.

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Dear Mark Harper: scrutinise the deal

Yet another letter to my MP, as the country comes apart around me.

Dear Mark,

Boris Johnson returns from Brussels with a deal that, according to the best economic assessments, will wipe 6.4% off GDP, with particularly painful effects on economically depressed areas like our own Forest of Dean.

For no compelling reason, this is being done in a tearing hurry, such that the deal is not able to undergo the scrutiny that any ordinary piece of policy would be subjected to. Clearly 48 hours is nowhere near enough to properly scrutinise documents that will profoundly affect the national identity and economy for the next 50 years.

Whatever your feelings may be about just “getting Brexit done”, you must know that this is no way to do it. I beg you at least to vote to provide Parliament with proper time to analyse the deal documents, to scrutinise an OBR report on the economic implications, and to debate them properly both in the House and in select committees.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Mike Taylor

Writing to my MP about no-deal Brexit and suspending Parliament

Dear Mark Harper,

I have written to you more times than either of us probably cares to remember about Brexit, which I believe is a bad deal for Britain and particularly for under-privileged areas like the Forest of Dean. But let us assume for the moment that we both accept Conservative Party policy is to press on with Brexit because of a mandate from the 2016 referendum.

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Labour must dump Jeremy Corbyn or lose all their Remainers

I get mailings from the optimistic Labour For a Public Vote group. Today, I wrote back. Here’s what I wrote.

Hi, Mike. Thanks for somehow finding the energy to push on with this very dispiriting task.

I have come reluctantly to the conclusion that nothing is going to change in Labour while Jeremy Corbyn is leader — that your party’s position will remain vague and spineless even while it haemhorrages support to the Lib Dems. (They look stronger now, not only due to the good local-election and Euro-election results, but because the potential remain-vote splitting of Change UK has not materialised.)

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The two big things we learned from the European election

Almost all of the UK’s European Election results are in! We don’t quite have all the results yet, but there’s enough for us to see the trends. Let’s look at the numbers and see what they tell us. Here’s the Guardian’s summary (from here):

I see two big trends here.

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Who should you vote for in the European elections?

With the European elections nearly upon us, it’s nearly time to decide how to cast our votes. Unfortunately, the choices are very complicated. A friend has asked me to lay out the options, and this post is my attempt to do so.

Hold on to your hats. This is going to get difficult.

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A letter to my Labour council candidates on why I can’t vote for them

I have just sent this email to the Labour party candidates for the local elections that are happening today.

Dear Jackie Fraser, Doug Scott and Shaun Stammers,

I will be voting today in the council elections for Mitcheldean, Ruardean and Drybrook. In the past, I have voted for Labour councillors. But I am writing today with a heavy heart to tell you that, because of the NEC’s dreadful non-decision on a Brexit policy, I cannot vote Labour in this election (nor in the forthcoming European election).

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