Whitehall – the habitat of Mandarins
They’ve been back for one day, the MPs in the new HoC – and it looks already like the start to Groundhog Day Mk II. Did we expect anything different? Not really. One thing is different though: the general atmosphere in the Chamber was quiet and calm, the screeching non-existent. It was, dare I say it, boring – so boring that I gave up as there was nothing new under the lights of the HoC chandeliers. And, in case you’re interested, they’re back this morning at 11.30 – you can watch them here.
There are two items which agitated our MSM, albeit only mildly given that there are other news from Iran. The first is that visit by Ms vdLeyen and M Barnier. According to ‘sources’, Johnson will tell them that there won’t be any extension (link). The Times writes:
“Boris Johnson will warn the new European Commission president today that he is prepared to walk away from the EU without a trade deal at the end of the year. Taking an uncompromising stance, the prime minister will tell Ursula von der Leyen that there are no circumstances under which the government would extend the transition period beyond December 2020.” (link, paywalled)
Many of us are suspicious about this assurance. After all, we didn’t see BoJo ‘die in a ditch’ last October, and we now see what his manifesto promises are worth as the promised scrapping of DfID will now not happen – here is an interesting report.
A quick note about those Trade Talks and that talks with the USA should run in parallel. Jeremy Warner (Remain) in the DT has a very peculiar warning which makes me doubt he actually understood what had happened in the Ukraine six years ago. You have to savour the whole thing:
“Boris Johnson […] finds himself torn between the US and Europe. In order to demonstrate a clean break with the EU, the political imperative is to sign off on free trade arrangements with the US before agreeing something similar with the EU. That’s what his hardliners would like. Yet given the relative importance of the two markets, the economic imperative is the other way around. Look to Ukraine, whose free trade deal with the EU turned out to be incompatible with existing arrangements with Russia, for evidence of quite how difficult these tussles can prove. Ukraine’s attempt to break free has not worked out well.” (paywalled link)
Let’s not quibble about the fact that the Ukraine wasn’t negotiating with Putin about ‘Leaving’, they already had left Russia. Let’s instead ask if Mr Warner and the Remainers, bound to pick up this point, are seriously suggesting that Trump would annex some territory – either ours or the EU’s? Good grief!
And so to the ‘debate’ about Johnson’s WAIB – the 3rd Reading, with the House as Committee, the Mace having been removed and the Speaker not in his chair. The deputy speaker explained to the new members what it all meant, telling them there would be no maiden speeches allowed during these particular debates and warning MPs generally that “their freedom to describe their constituencies as 2nd Garden of Eden will be limited”. And still they did it …!
It was predictably dire, I fell asleep – no, I don’t want Bercow back! – but I did notice that the latest battle front in this Brexit Saga will be the fate of the EU citizens. Now that “sources” are back from holidays, here’s the background:
“Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, raised “issues of concern” in a letter to the Brexit Secretary Steven Barclay before Christmas, The Telegraph can disclose. The concerns included the need for a fully independent watchdog to enable EU citizens to make complaints against the Government. The warnings, which have been echoed by the European Parliament, emerged on Tuesday evening.” (paywalled link)
This letter must have slumbered in the depths of Whitehall over the Christmas holidays but was promptly leaked to Remain MPs and journalists for the start of the 3rd Reading. There are short articles in The Express – here and here, the last one showing clearly how that fate of EU citizens is the current political wrecking ball being used by the SNP.
So what is it all about? It’s about the EU and Brussels desperately trying to have a foothold in the UK, to be able to interfere in our internal affairs, to dictate how we should run them:
“In what appeared to be a two-pronged attack, both the European Commission and the European Parliament have raised concerns about whether the UK will keep to the spirit of the Brexit withdrawal agreement. Mr Barnier warned in his letter before Christmas that the watchdog – officially the ‘Independent Monitoring Authority’ (IMA) – must have the ability “to act rapidly and in full independence” on complaints from EU citizens, adding that he looked forward to “constructive co-operation on these matters” […] The European Parliament, in a draft resolution to be debated in Strasbourg next week, expressed “concern” about the setup of the IMA, and noted that the authority must be “truly independent” and should be operational immediately transition ends.”(paywalled link)
Ah – ‘constructive cooperation’! Read: ‘you’ll have to do as we say’, and we’ll ‘monitor’ that you do it right, i.e. ‘according to our demands’. My blood pressure went through the roof when I read how this latest EU interference came about:
“Mr Barnier’s letter emerged as Whitehall officials voiced concerns that the Government was secretly trying to neuter the watchdog’s effectiveness by handing ministers the power to abolish the body in the new draft of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill released after the election.” (paywalled link)
You can bet your last shirt that these ‘Whitehall officials’ let M Barnier know about their ‘concerns’, perhaps suggesting such letter, to be used by ‘concerned’ MPs in the ongoing 3rd Reading of the WAIB. After all, how on earth could our country be run, how on earth could our institutions work without the helping hand of the EU, keeping their eagle eyes on us, monitoring as if we’re derelict school kids bent on making mischief! There’s more:
“It is understood that EU Commission lawyers have decided the re-drafted Withdrawal Agreement Bill meets the letter of UK obligations because ministers must transfer the powers to another body, but officials have questioned the political intent behind the move.” (paywalled link)
Ahaha! So it’s about intent, not fact, according to those EU lawyers. It’s apparently driven by Remain Mandarins running for help to the EU. And what is wrong with these Remainers who subtly interpret Mr Barclay’s letter to the EU as proof that their concerns are valid when in fact they ought to accept what he says – it’s after all written with the input of their own civil service colleagues! Note the wording used by the DT in their report:
“Replying to Mr Barnier’s letter of Dec 19, Mr Barclay glossed over such concerns, noting only that the Bill established the IMA and “provides the full powers that we have agreed” to monitor the implementation of the citizens’ rights part of the Withdrawal Agreement.” Mr Barclay noted in his letter of Dec 23, which has also been seen by The Telegraph, that a total of 2.6m applications had been made for ‘settled’ status, with only five out of the 2.2m applications so far concluded being refused settled status on “criminality grounds”. He added that the government had provided £9m in grants to assist vulnerable groups with the application process, while countering that some EU member states were still to set out how UK citizens on the EU will be able to safeguard their rights.” (paywalled link)
And that ought to have been that – not just for the EU, but also for the Remain civil servants and Remain journalists. That the Remain MPs on the opposition benches are abusing this issue – well, they need something new to show how ‘concerned’ they are. That last sentence in Mr Barclay’s letter is reinforced in this reply from the Home Office:
“A Home Office spokesperson said:” We have done far more than any other EU member state has done for British citizens, and it’s time they adopted a similarly generous approach.” (paywalled link)
How I despise all those MPs and indeed those Remain Mandarins, posturing to show their concern for EU citizens while totally disregarding the fate of our expats in EU member states! Why do they not demand that the Government takes a hard stance with Barnier about reciprocal arrangements for our citizens?
The fact is that Remain does not trust us to run our affairs unless Nanny EU is there to tell us what to do and how to do it. They make me sick!