As communities are starting to remove debris and deal with the floods after Storm Ciara, so are politicians and the MSM trying to tidy up after the storm of the GE in Ireland and the resignation of Ms Merkel’s designated successor in Germany, trying to make sense of what just happened.
These results, these events, will have an influence on Brexit which is as yet incalculable. Also, so far there’s no end to the spread of the Corona virus. One result of that event is that Michael Gove’s speech yesterday, on Border Controls (link), has created hardly any stir. After all, haven’t the reports about ‘super spreaders’ shown that border controls might perhaps be necessary?
It is not ghoulish or over the top to draw a connection between that epidemic and Brexit – not when a Labour Remainer – Mr Kinnock MP – did so In an interview. According to him, we’ll be more at risk after Brexit because Johnsons’ government will have lowered ‘our standards’ (link). It doesn’t seem to have occurred to him that it’s the EU’s open border policies which have put people at risk.
Next: Ireland. Sinn Fein has ‘won’, according to their leader who is putting her demands on the table:
“A vote on a united Ireland within five years is Sinn Fein’s price for coalition talks, it revealed yesterday, after the party secured a historic result at the ballot box. […] After all first preferences were counted it party took around 24.5 per cent of votes – almost double its share at the last election in 2016. The Fianna Fail and Fine Gael parties, which have dominated a two-party system, were left lagging on 22 per cent and 21 per cent respectively.” (link)
She is already demanding that the EU help Sinn Fein to achieve this goal (link), asking for a referendum. It certainly makes for nice headlines, but then we read:
“The nationalist party has exceeded all expectations, winning the highest share of first preference-votes and 37 out of 160 seats in the Irish parliament, the Dail Eireann. Fianna Fail emerged as the largest party with 38 seats, while Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael came third with 35.” (link)
That looks like another coalition horse-trading is on the cards. It is however important to note that Sinn Fein’s demands for a reunification and a referendum are ‘home made’, if you wish, and have nothing to do with Brexit, despite Remainers’ continuous claims when talking about NI and the backstop.
The EU, after that latest German experience, will certainly be very cautious to step in. After all, Brussels is in something of a shock in the wake of the resignation of the Merkel successor. Turmoil in Merkel’s party is increasing, with members allegedly leaving Merkel’s CDU in droves. The German Press regards this as indication that the Merkel Party has failed (link, in German). The point is that the CDU has lost the middle ground to the populist ‘radicals’ on the right (AfD) and left (“Die Linke”).
Similar to our experiences in the UK, this drift away from that middle ground is solely due to two events: over time, the middle ground has shifted or has been shifted to the left while at the same time those on the right have been demonised and declared to be ‘populist’ hard-right extremists which must be scorned.
At the same time the parties on the Left, whose political territory has been taken over thanks to that shift, were forced to move to more radical left policies, to keep their voters. In contrast to the Right, they haven’t been demonised – and they have ‘shock troops’, be they virtual on social media (Momentum) or practical on the streets, like Antifa.
In a thoughtful editorial The Times, seemingly suffering from memory loss, gives some advice to the parties now having to negotiate a coalition. Suddenly, it’s ok to ‘speak’ with those previously depicted as being of the devil. They observe:
“Fine Gael and Fianna Fail must calculate whether a coalition with Sinn Fein, no matter how unpalatable, is less risky than a rerun of the election, which might lead to Sinn Fein doing even better. Ultimately the test for mainstream politicians must be what will deliver effective government. The real danger is that prolonged political paralysis undermines faith in democracy. Fragmentation makes coalition-building harder but not impossible. Indeed it is striking that among the countries with the highest satisfaction with democracy in a recent Cambridge University study were Denmark and the Netherlands whose politics are the most fragmented. Something for German and Irish politicians to bear in mind.” (link, paywalled)
It’s interesting that The Times recognises that these previously denounced ‘fragmentations’ are about democracy, about what we the electorate want and what the main parties, certainly in Ireland and Germany, have failed to provide. It remains to be seen if Johnson’s triumphal victory, his ‘one nation conservatism’, will provide the practical solution – or if even this will end in tears.
While these events are simmering if not yet boiling in Ireland and Germany, Brussels is stunned by what happened. ‘Die Welt” reports (translated from German):
“Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer’s resignation as CDU party leader caught Brussels on the hop Nobody had been informed beforehand and many are now asking: What is going on in Germany? […] “There is stunned bewilderment over Germany,” a high EU diplomat told DIE WELT. There are no more constants in German politics. For decades, Germany had been considered “rational” and “stable”: “We now have a fragile Germany in a fragile Europe,” said another diplomat. Overall, skepticism prevails in EU circles about the German role in Europe. Leadership is no longer expected in the foreseeable future.” (link, German)
When there’s a perceived vacuum, others rush in to fill it. Thus the report from Brussels, about input into the mandate for the coming Trade negotiations by EU member states. There’s again talk about ‘punishment’ and about the necessity to tie us to Brussels regardless:
“European Union governments want the power to suspend any future agreement made with the UK after the negotiation of a new free trade deal as part of its “toolbox” of punitive measures against Britain after Brexit. The move could give Brussels the power to prevent British airlines landing in EU airports on their way to non-EU destinations or restrict cabotage rights, if deals on those issues are struck after the end of this year and if Britain ignores rulings by a dispute panel overseeing the future partnership.” (paywalled link)
These are proposals at the moment and it remains to be seen if they end up in that mandate document. It is noteworthy that the name ‘Michel Barnier’ doesn’t occur once in the report. If these proposals are accepted then we’re in for a bumpy ride:
“EU member states widened the scope of the draft system for dispute resolution to include the future supplementary deals, as well as the powers to impose fines and freeze parts of the association agreement that Brussels wants to form the basis of the future trading agreement. The commission has already said it will reserve the right to issue fines and suspend parts of the overarching legal framework for the future relationship if a UK-EU dispute escalates in an earlier draft of the EU negotiating mandate for trade talks.” (paywalled link)
Is there nobody in any EU member state telling the commission’s negotiators that their demands cannot and will not be met? Could our negotiators perhaps point to similar demands in other Trade negotiations? See next:
“France appears to have suffered a setback in its bid to demand “dynamic alignment” on all EU standards involving state aid, tax, the environment and social standards in return for the trade deal. Dynamic alignment would mean UK law would change to mirror EU standards over time, despite Britain having no say in the drafting of the new rules. Some governments fear that failure to future-proof the new trade deal against regulatory changes in tax, the environment and social standards would not protect their businesses and mean the free trade deal would have to be renegotiated in the future. But they also recognise that dynamic alignment is politically explosive in Britain and have told the commission to investigate “mechanisms” that could allow UK standards to be updated to stay in date with those in the EU.” (paywalled link)
Doesn’t it look as if the governments of EU member states are now incapable of running their own negotiations, having become dependent on Brussels – just as Remainers have kept telling us that ‘we’ are helpless and incapable?
And so to the final item on today’s list: the ‘Cummings Watch’. You’ll be glad to hear that there’s only been one article about him. In a ‘Johnny-come-lately’ opinion piece the DT has now also taken a stance – and it is both pitiful and hilarious. Referring to the fate of Blair’s Campbell and others, the lady writer concludes her piece with this advice:
“Unless he [Cummings] calls a swift truce with the Prime Ministerial girlfriend, he may well meet the same fate as those who went before him.” (paywalled link)
Do the Westminster hacks seriously believe that politicians and advisers should temper their advice according to the feelings of Johnson’s girlfriend? What century do we live in again? The 18th, where the mistresses of ‘sun kings’ led them by their balls? God give me strength!