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In Australia (I imagine NZ is very similar) taxes pay for medicare, pension, welfare, infrastructure support (roads, bridges) student loans, disability support, residential aged care, university fundi

He did not know that this gesture was anti-semitic because it is NOT anti-semitic. There's nothing to add — except that you people should start thinking by yourself instead of believing words coming f

When a government wants to control its population, the best way to do so is to fear its people by creating an external enemy. This way, people feel endangered by an outside menace, become more patriot

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1 hour ago, Vesper said:

Brexit SIGNED! Von Der Leyen & Charles Michel sign deal before RAF jets fly deal to Boris

https://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/1377954/brexit-news-eu-news-ursula-von-der-leyen-charles-michel-eu-uk-trade-deal-latest

What are the implications of this deal for UK citizens? 

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17 minutes ago, kellzfresh said:

What are the implications of this deal for UK citizens? 

EU releases brutal graphic which shows full extent of how Brexit will affect UK

A document put out by the European Commission compares the rights of people living in EU member states with those of UK residents after the trade deal was announced today

 

The document shows that as non-members, people from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will face border checks and roaming charges in mainland Europe from January 1.

UK citizens will also require a visa for visits of more than 90 days, and will no longer benefit from "frictionless trade", the graphic points out.

By comparison, a string of green ticks show the benefits of EU membership for those living in member states.

It was among a raft of documents released by the European Commission after a new post-Brexit trade agreement was announced.

It also pointed out that the UK will no longer be part of EU programmes including the student exchange initiative Erasmus.

Critics have branded losing out on Erasmus "an act of cultural vandalism".

Lord Adonis, vice-chairman of the European Movement, shared the graphic on Twitter, writing: "This is how bad the deal is for Britain."

Boris Johnson today gleefully announced that the UK has "taken back control of our laws".

Labour leader Keir Starmer says his party will vote for the Brexit deal - but said: “It is not the deal that the government promised - far from it."

Speaking at a press conference minutes after the deal was announced, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said: “It is time to leave Brexit behind.

"Our future is made in Europe.”

The expected deal comes with just days left before the current trading arrangements expire on December 31, with MPs set to vote a day earlier.

 

b4edd5c406fee0843298e0c9db695356.png
 
 
0_Brexit.jpg0_Brexit.jpg
 

EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement: protecting European interests, ensuring fair competition, and continued cooperation in areas of mutual interest

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_2531

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LOL

Trump 2 days ago:

'We have vaccinated tens of millions and will have half the country vaccinated with the (I am NOT joking) TRUMP Vaccine by the end of January.

 

Reality:

The CDC said this morning that barely 2 million have been vaccinated with the FIRST round (of two needed) vaccines

and only 6 million total doses (so enough for only 3 million people) have been sent (and over half of that 6 million is all tied up with a ruined distribution scheme)

Also, NONE of the vaccines so far have come from Trump's Operation Warp Speed (fucking stupid name), all the firms so far who actually have made working vaccines opted out as they knew it was a train wreck.

The US is tracking to well over 100,000 more dead in the next 30 days, half a million total cumulative US COVID-19 deaths sometime in February.

Well over 350,000 US dead by NYE (when today and tomorrow's death counts are added in) 

 

Murderous cunt:

Coronavirus Donald Trump GIF - Coronavirus DonaldTrump Contagious -  Discover & Share GIFs

68a45253703b732fe68c08173dbfe552.png

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2 hours ago, Vesper said:

EU releases brutal graphic which shows full extent of how Brexit will affect UK

A document put out by the European Commission compares the rights of people living in EU member states with those of UK residents after the trade deal was announced today

 

The document shows that as non-members, people from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will face border checks and roaming charges in mainland Europe from January 1.

UK citizens will also require a visa for visits of more than 90 days, and will no longer benefit from "frictionless trade", the graphic points out.

By comparison, a string of green ticks show the benefits of EU membership for those living in member states.

It was among a raft of documents released by the European Commission after a new post-Brexit trade agreement was announced.

It also pointed out that the UK will no longer be part of EU programmes including the student exchange initiative Erasmus.

Critics have branded losing out on Erasmus "an act of cultural vandalism".

Lord Adonis, vice-chairman of the European Movement, shared the graphic on Twitter, writing: "This is how bad the deal is for Britain."

Boris Johnson today gleefully announced that the UK has "taken back control of our laws".

Labour leader Keir Starmer says his party will vote for the Brexit deal - but said: “It is not the deal that the government promised - far from it."

Speaking at a press conference minutes after the deal was announced, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said: “It is time to leave Brexit behind.

"Our future is made in Europe.”

The expected deal comes with just days left before the current trading arrangements expire on December 31, with MPs set to vote a day earlier.

 

b4edd5c406fee0843298e0c9db695356.png
 
 
0_Brexit.jpg0_Brexit.jpg
 

EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement: protecting European interests, ensuring fair competition, and continued cooperation in areas of mutual interest

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_2531

Wow. A whole lot of changes. If I was a British man, I would have tried to get an EU member country citizenship immediately people voted for Brexit in 2017. All these new rules wouldn't apply to me once I show a different passport lol

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Trump’s $2,000 checks stall in Senate as GOP blocks vote

 
Sad, even the Republicans are against Trump. 
Would have been nice to get 2,000 but what can we do.
600 is better then nothing. 
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A Season’s Greetings Message to Donnie, Rudy, and Their Fellow Klansmen

A time for celebration, forgiveness, and extending a warm hand to those with whom you may have had differences in the past. Well, fuck that.

https://thebanter.substack.com/p/a-seasons-greetings-message-to-donnie

https%3A%2F%2Fbucketeer-e05bbc84-baa3-437e-9518-adb32be77984.s3.amazonaws.com%2Fpublic%2Fimages%2F0f0dce77-f1de-458d-8343-50921b967dc5_1200x1200.jpeg

This is the time of year for spreading joy and seeing the best in your fellow human being. A time for celebration, forgiveness, and extending a warm hand to those with whom you may have had differences in the past. Well, fuck that.

To the discerning eye, you appear to be suffering on the way out. But my appetite is merely whetted. I pray in the coming days that suffering increases exponentially. Astoundingly, after years inflicting incalculable misery upon the people of this nation purely for the sake of greed and ego, the atrocities you are perpetrating at this late date exceed the sum of all previous atrocities. As you know so well and deep down in that place where your soul once was, you are not worthy of anything even approximating mercy.

May the cancer of your spirit— now clearly metastasizing on your pasty, creased faces—consume you visibly and whole. May your utter lack of humanity and empathy materialize as 200 proof karma swallowing internal organs, bursting blood vessels, and propelling you to pine for a sweet but elusive death.

In all this time, I never quite figured out why it is you so loathe America, the country you seek to overthrow as I write. Is it the shards of meritocracy that still remain, enough for a Black man born with nothing to outshine you? Is it the thousands of vibrant, self-made women who spurned your menacing advances? Is it the millions of hard working people who find more organic satisfaction in their rigorous daily labor than you find in all of your pawns, schemes, and subterfuge? Is it the nobility of medical professionals, the bravery of soldiers, the dedication of educators?

Who can really say? All I know is through a combination of parasitism and neglect, you have done almost everything within the power granted you to destroy those granting it. And now, as it turns out, you must pay in ways that defy even your own gruesome imagination. I have reserved a front row seat.

With each passing day—the clock seemingly slowing down in half-the-distance-to-the-goal-line fashion—your desperate clinging to misbegotten power increases. The options considered become more devious. The M.O. more toxic. The results more deadly. The endgame more cataclysmic. As unrepentant mass murderers—and pardoners of the same—you display the attitude of the garden-variety killer, who once venturing beyond a certain arbitrary mind-boggling body count determines all forthcoming bloodlust is essentially a freebie. May this cynical calculation prove as wrong as your claim that COVID-19 would just disappear.

There is no principle you won’t mock, no oath you won’t break, no line of decency you won’t cross. There is no responsibility you won’t eschew, no situation you won’t exploit, no person you won’t prostitute. May the coming reckoning bring searing child-like screams. Hallelujah, the chickens have come home to roost. After decades of lucky sevens you have rolled a snake eyes for the ages.

While it is impossible to know what awaits those on the other side with literally no redeeming qualities, on this side, may the walls close in quickly enough to cause ineffable agony yet not quickly enough to snuff it out. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and Happy New Year, you worthless sacks of subhuman fecal matter.

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23 hours ago, kellzfresh said:

Wow. A whole lot of changes. If I was a British man, I would have tried to get an EU member country citizenship immediately people voted for Brexit in 2017. All these new rules wouldn't apply to me once I show a different passport lol

And Boris Johnson's dad has done exactly that :lol:

Screenshot_20201231-135015_Twitter.jpg

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For Europe, the Brexit deal makes the best of a bad business

The EU got an orderly transition that leaves Britain worse off than membership

https://www.economist.com/europe/2021/01/02/for-europe-the-brexit-deal-makes-the-best-of-a-bad-business

When the trade deal between the eu and Britain was done, there was little celebration in Brussels. Instead, the moaning began. “This is a dark day for the European fishing industry,” declared Gerard van Balsfoort, chairman of the European Fisheries Alliance, a lobby group for fishermen. Indeed, conflict over matters piscatorial dominated the final stages of the negotiations, leaving economists flabbergasted that such a tiny sector could hook so much attention.

Yet there is more to life than mackerel. On the whole, the eu is content if not happy with how things turned out. From the union’s perspective, it was important that Britain’s departure was orderly; that it left Britain with worse trading access than the status quo; and, consequent to that, that it removed any temptation for other countries to follow the Brexiteers out. The eu has a good claim to say it managed all three.

Britain’s exit followed a rigid process dictated by the eu. Although the Vote Leave campaign had pledged not to use Article 50, the official process for leaving laid out in the eu’s founding treaty, the British ultimately triggered it. (eu officials privately claimed credit for goading them to do so.) Negotiations took place according to the eu’s schedule. The remaining 27 member states were not divided, which back in the mists of 2016 had been a worry for diplomats. The things the eu cared most about were dealt with in both the withdrawal agreement reached last January (which sorted out citizens’ rights, the Irish border and how much money Britain owed the union) and the trade agreement reached over Christmas (where a deal was struck over eu fishing rights in British waters, despite griping from Mr van Balsfoort’s constituents). By contrast, big British interests, such as the rights of the country’s enormous financial sector to do business in Europe, have still to be decided.

To anyone not obsessed with romantic notions of sovereignty, it is clear that the deal leaves Britain worse-off than with eu membership. European officials distributed graphics explaining what Britain would miss, ranging from the big stuff (financial passporting for banks, Britons losing the right to live and work in 27 countries) to the small (no more pet passports, no guaranteed cheap mobile-phone roaming). In public, officials made clear that the negative effects of Brexit were the inevitable consequence of leaving the bloc. In private, they spoke of the need to drive Britain’s face into the mud. The eu does not want a successful rival on its borders, and the threadbare deal agreed will not help Britain become one. After the four years of political chaos during which Britain laboured to extricate itself, Euroscepticism in other eu countries has gone off the boil. The British showed that there is a path for anyone wishing to leave the union. But it is costly, arduous and leads to a backwater.

Brexit is still bad for the bloc, even with a deal. Given that its claim to being a superpower relies on its economic clout, watching gdp equivalent to 18 of its 27 countries walk out of the door is not good. About a quarter of eu defence spending went as well. The fact that it was on amicable rather than chaotic terms only slightly sweetened the pill. Instead, Britain joins the club of the eu’s awkward neighbours. The deal provides a rather wobbly foundation for a new relationship between Britain and the continent (see article). As a result, the eu faces years of tweaks to its relationship with a country whose population is nearly eight times that of Switzerland, with which it has similarly frustrating ties.

Brexit is not an existential concern for the eu, as some feared it would become. The eu will enjoy a strained relationship with a neighbour too small to worry much about, but too big to ignore. Given that the eu is seven times the size of Britain, it should be able to handle it as it does the rest of its fragile frontier. But it is a problem the union, surrounded by instability on its borders from north Africa to Turkey to Russia and challenged from within by democratic backsliding in Hungary and Poland, would rather not have. When it comes to Brexit, there is no such thing as a good deal for the eu. 

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The yanks are on the verge of a full blown coup d'état attempt by Trump and his fascist vermin

‘I just want to find 11,780 votes’: In extraordinary hour-long call, Trump pressures Georgia secretary of state to recalculate the vote in his favor

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-raffensperger-call-georgia-vote/2021/01/03/d45acb92-4dc4-11eb-bda4-615aaefd0555_story.html

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These are the words of a #Traitor.

 

 

Trump, in Taped Call, Pressured Georgia Official to ‘Find’ Votes to Overturn Election

The president vaguely warned of a “criminal offense” as he pressured Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in the call, according to an audio recording.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/03/us/politics/trump-raffensperger-call-georgia.html

WASHINGTON — President Trump pressured Georgia’s Republican secretary of state to “find” him enough votes to overturn the presidential election and vaguely threatened him with “a criminal offense” during an hourlong telephone call on Saturday, according to an audio recording of the conversation.

Mr. Trump, who has spent almost nine weeks making false conspiracy claims about his loss to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., told Brad Raffensperger, the state’s top elections official, that he should recalculate the vote count so Mr. Trump, not Mr. Biden, would end up winning the state’s 16 electoral votes.

“I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,” Mr. Trump said during the conversation, according to a recording first obtained by The Washington Post, which published it online Sunday. The New York Times also acquired a recording of Mr. Trump’s call.

The president, who will be in charge of the Justice Department for the 17 days left in his administration, hinted that Mr. Raffensperger and Ryan Germany, the chief lawyer for secretary of state’s office, could be prosecuted criminally if they did not do his bidding.

“You know what they did and you’re not reporting it,” the president said during the call. “You know, that’s a criminal — that’s a criminal offense. And you know, you can’t let that happen. That’s a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyer. That’s a big risk.”

The effort to cajole and bully elected officials in his own party — which some legal experts said could be prosecuted under Georgia law — was a remarkable act by a defeated president to crash through legal and ethical boundaries as he seeks to remain in power.

By any standard measure, the election has long been over. Every state in the country has certified its vote, and a legal campaign by Mr. Trump to challenge the results has been met almost uniformly with quick dismissals by judges across the country, including a Supreme Court with a conservative majority.

By trying to bend Mr. Raffensperger to his will, Mr. Trump was asserting the power of his office in ways that recalled his 2019 phone call to Ukraine’s president, during which Mr. Trump pressured President Volodymyr Zelensky to begin a bogus investigation into Mr. Biden by withholding vital military aid to the country. That call was the centerpiece of the scheme for which Mr. Trump became the third American president to be impeached for committing high crimes and misdemeanors.

As he did when he urged Mr. Zelensky to “do us a favor,” Mr. Trump on Saturday pleaded with Mr. Raffensperger to help him politically. The results of the 2020 race are expected to be certified by Congress during a session on Wednesday despite efforts by some of Mr. Trump’s allies in the House and the Senate, who have said they will challenge the results in several states, including Georgia.

Mr. Trump said he hoped Mr. Raffensperger’s office could address his claimed discrepancies before Tuesday’s Senate runoff election in Georgia, one that will decide the balance of power in the Senate. The president is slated to campaign on Monday night in Georgia for the two Republican incumbents, Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler.

“I think we should come to a resolution of this before the election,” Mr. Trump said. Otherwise, he said, “you’re going to have people just not voting.”

“They don’t want to vote,” he said. “They hate the state. They hate the governor and they hate the secretary of state.”

He added: “The people of Georgia are angry, the people of the country are angry. And there’s nothing wrong with saying that, you know, um, that you’ve recalculated.”

Mr. Raffensperger politely but firmly rejected the president’s entreaties, standing by the election results in his state and repeatedly insisting that Mr. Trump and his allies had been given false information about voter fraud.

“Well, Mr. President, the challenge that you have is the data you have is wrong,” he said.

Legal experts said Mr. Trump might have violated Georgia state laws against solicitation of voter fraud and extortion by seeking to exert pressure on Mr. Raffensperger.

One state law makes it a felony to “solicit, request, command, importune or otherwise attempt to cause another person to engage in election fraud.” By urging election officials to “find” votes that were not legally cast for him, Mr. Trump could be prosecuted under that law, said Ryan C. Locke, a criminal defense lawyer and former public defender in Atlanta.

“He’s telling the secretary of state to ‘find votes so that I can win — votes that are not due to me,’” Mr. Locke said. “The recording alone is certainly enough to launch an investigation. It’s likely probable cause to issue an indictment.”

He said Mr. Trump could also be in violation of laws prohibiting extortion. But he and other legal experts said it was unlikely that prosecutors would pursue a case against Mr. Trump in the waning days of his administration.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris — at a drive-in rally for Georgia’s Democratic Senate candidates in Garden City, Ga. — referred on Sunday to Mr. Trump’s call, saying it was “the voice of desperation — most certainly that.”

“And it was a bald, baldfaced, bold abuse of power by the president of the United States,” she added.

Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois and one of the leaders in the Senate, said the call was “more than a pathetic, rambling, delusional rant,” calling the president “unhinged and dangerous” and saying that Mr. Trump’s Republican allies “are putting the orderly and peaceful transition of power in our nation at risk.”

Former Speaker Paul D. Ryan, a Republican who has largely stayed silent in recent weeks, urged his former colleagues on Sunday to abandon their challenge to the results, calling it the most “anti-democratic and anti-conservative act” he could think of.

“The Trump campaign had ample opportunity to challenge election results, and those efforts failed from lack of evidence,” he said. “If states wish to reform their processes for future elections, that is their prerogative. But Joe Biden’s victory is entirely legitimate.”

The 10 living former secretaries of defense, from both parties, echoed that sentiment in an opinion article on Sunday in The Post. They said the military should not be used in any way to alter the outcome of the election, saying: “Governors have certified the results. And the Electoral College has voted. The time for questioning the results has passed.”

The call from the White House to Mr. Raffensperger’s office came on Saturday afternoon at 2:41, after 18 other calls by the White House switchboard to the office during the past two months, according to a person familiar with the conversation. Saturday’s call was the first time Mr. Raffensperger had talked with Mr. Trump directly despite the president’s repeated tweets disparaging him.

Officials in the secretary of state’s office recorded Saturday’s call, and Mr. Raffensperger told his advisers that he did not want to release a transcript or a recording unless the president attacked state officials or misrepresented what had been discussed, according to a person familiar with his direction.

As expected, that attack came in a tweet on Sunday morning, in which Mr. Trump claimed that Mr. Raffensperger “was unwilling, or unable, to answer questions such as the ‘ballots under table’ scam, ballot destruction, out of state ‘voters’, dead voters, and more. He has no clue!”

In a response on Twitter, Mr. Raffensperger wrote: “Respectfully, President Trump: What you’re saying is not true. The truth will come out.” The recording of the call was made public several hours later.

David Shafer, the chairman of the Republican Party in Georgia, tweeted that the decision to release the audio was “lawlessness.”

During the call, the president again embraced several conspiracy theories, including debunked charges that ballots in Fulton County, Ga., were shredded and that voting machines operated by Dominion Voting Systems were tampered with and replaced. Mr. Germany can be heard telling the president that such charges are flatly untrue, even as Mr. Trump insists otherwise.

“You should want to have an accurate election. And you’re a Republican,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Raffensperger, who replied that “we believe that we do have an accurate election.”

Mr. Trump responded: “No, no, no, you don’t, you don’t have, you don’t have, not even close. You guys, you’re off by hundreds of thousands of votes.”

In addition to Mr. Trump and Mr. Raffensperger, others on the call from the Georgia secretary of state’s office included Mr. Germany and Jordan Fuchs, Mr. Raffensperger’s deputy. On the line as well were Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, and Cleta Mitchell and Kurt Hilbert, lawyers working for Mr. Trump.

Ms. Mitchell and Mr. Meadows repeatedly sought to challenge the voting in Georgia and pressed Mr. Raffensperger to reveal confidential voter data in an effort to back up their claims. They were rebuffed by Georgia’s election officials. Ms. Mitchell, a partner at the firm Foley & Lardner, was on the call with Mr. Trump despite the fact that nearly all lawyers with top-tier firms have refused to represent the president in his attempts to overturn the election.

But the tape is dominated by the president, who spoke for the bulk of the call, at times interrupting Mr. Raffensperger. At one point, when Mr. Trump alleged that 5,000 dead people voted in Georgia, Mr. Raffensperger said the president was mistaken.

“The actual number were two,” Mr. Raffensperger said. “Two. Two people that were dead that voted. And so that’s wrong.”

At another point, when Mr. Trump claimed that a video of the vote-counting at State Farm Arena in Atlanta revealed that one employee was guilty of flagrant ballot stuffing, Mr. Raffensperger responded that the video was selectly edited by Mr. Trump’s lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani and other lawyers.

“They sliced and diced that video and took it out of context,” Mr. Raffensperger said. “The events that transpired are nowhere near what was projected.”

When Mr. Germany told the president that some of the accusations had been looked into and deemed untrue by both the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the F.B.I., Mr. Trump responded that the agents were wrong.

“Then they’re incompetent,” he said. “There’s only two answers — dishonesty or incompetence.”

Mr. Raffensperger said Mr. Trump’s accusation that ballots were scanned three times was incorrect. “We did an audit of that and we proved conclusively that they were not scanned three times,” he told the president.

The president appeared unable to conceive of a reality in which he lost Georgia, repeatedly reeling off statistics that he said proved he had won the state by “hundreds of thousands of votes.”

“You even see it by rally size, frankly,” Mr. Trump said, adding that he wanted to go over some of the numbers. He alleged that 250,000 to 300,000 ballots were “dropped mysteriously into the rolls,” a problem he said occurred in Fulton County.

“We think that if you check the signatures, a real check of the signatures going back in Fulton County, you’ll find at least a couple of hundred thousand of forged signatures,” the president said, citing one conspiracy theory after another.

“People have been saying that it was the highest vote ever,” he told Mr. Raffensperger, alleging that the cases of fraud were “many, many times” more than Mr. Biden’s margin of victory. “The political people said that there’s no way they beat me.”

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The UK’s European question is far from over

‘Brexit’ stemmed from the takeover of the Tory party by its Eurosceptic fringe, whose prejudices will now collide with reality.

https://www.socialeurope.eu/the-uks-european-question-is-far-from-over

As 2021 begins, the European Union and the United Kingdom have a new relationship, underpinned by their trade and co-operation agreement. This fractures, damages and complicates economic, political and social links between the UK and EU. And, alongside the 2019 withdrawal agreement, it ensures there is a customs and regulatory border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland—meaning the fractures go within as well as beyond the UK.

This attempted distancing of the UK from the rest of Europe, in the pursuit of some illusory, right-wing, ‘global Britain’ ideology combined with continuing propaganda around regaining sovereignty, is bound to fail overall. Instead, the UK is moving into the position of being a rather large economic and political satellite of the EU. And while in some ways, as intended by the Brexiters, leaving the EU will certainly weaken EU-UK relations, Brexit will mainly have the result of leaving the UK with less influence, less voice and less say but still hugely dependent on, and interdependent with, its European neighbours.

The political and media frenzy around the possibility of deal or no deal was deliberately stoked by the prime minister, Boris Johnson, and his entourage to encourage headlines of an ultimate UK victory in the talks (Johnson’s cowardice and self-interest always making a deal look the more likely outcome). The stand-off also served to take attention away from the fact that any deal was bound to put up trade and other barriers and to fracture the UK’s part in the EU’s economic and political institutions, and so to damage the UK. But now, in the face of a 1,246 page deal—and much more yet to be negotiated or unilaterally decided (on data, financial services and more)—the reality is laid clearly out for all to see.

Unique deal

The EU is well used to negotiating agreements with its neighbours and taking on board its own political and economic interests and constraints and those of whichever neighbour it is bargaining with—be that Turkey (customs union), Ukraine (association agreement), Switzerland (a set of bilateral treaties), Norway/Iceland/Liechtenstein (the European Economic Area) and now the UK (trade and co-operation agreement).

But the EU-UK deal is unique in creating a major series of barriers to trade and co-operation, rather than opening up opportunities. Still, as for the EU’s other neighbourhood agreements, it sets up a whole range of new governance, consultation and management bodies for the agreement under the so-called joint partnership council. Alongside these sit a detailed set of arrangements for dispute settlement, for review of the whole agreement and the possibility, with notice, to withdraw from it in its entirety. The EU and UK are condemned to keep trading, to keep talking, to update and amend the agreement and to deal with disputes.

But the status quo of EU membership has been ruptured. The UK has chosen to give up power and influence, vote and voice. There is plenty here to keep policy experts occupied—not least comparing Norway’s democratic deficit, given its limited ability to influence EU law, with the even lesser influence the UK will have on EU laws and regulations (though the UK’s diplomats would do well to talk in depth to their Norwegian counterparts about best routes to attempting to influence new EU laws). Despite the multiple new EU-UK committees set up by the agreement, the UK’s diplomats and officials will still have much less contact and interaction with their EU counterparts than they had inside the EU: knowledge, influence, networks are all weakened by Brexit.

And the UK’s freedom, much hyped by Johnson, to go in a different direction looks very constrained—both by the EU-UK agreement itself and by the reality of standards being increasingly set in competition among the world’s three main blocs: the United States, the EU and China. UK products sold to the EU will anyway of course have to meet EU standards—and be certified to do so (except where there are some provisions for mutual recognition). The multiple types of non-tariff barriers removed in the creation of the EU’s single market in 1992 are back with a vengeance for EU-UK trade. This will dampen EU-UK goods trade and hit services most dramatically and deeply of all.

The UK may attempt to engage in regulatory competition on labour or environmental standards. But the range of provisions for dealing with unfair state aids, divergence in labour, environmental and climate standards and ‘rebalancing’ the level playing-field if it all goes wrong should provide reassurance to those who fear the UK government may still go down the Singapore-on-Thames route (as should, for example, the EU moves to suspend Swiss access to its stock markets last year—it is not a passive partner in its agreements with its neighbours).

The EU has not established these provisions in the partnership agreement simply to leave them idle. Nor, given the deep lack of trust which the EU member states and Brussels now have in the UK, and especially in the current UK government, has the EU left any option uncovered to revisit the agreement, in part or in whole, if it proves necessary.

EU satellite

The UK’s European question has, then, not gone away, whatever Johnson may declare. Brexit itself was driven by the takeover of the Tory party by its Eurosceptic fringe, supported and encouraged down the decades by the major part of the UK’s right-wing media. Whether Tory divisions over the EU, and the nature of the UK, will be calmed for now by the reality of Brexit is an open question. Indeed, the Tories created a European question where there was none—where the UK was an agile and influential EU power and where its public was broadly accepting of the EU status quo.

Now, as a satellite of the EU, the UK will mainly prosper—and recover its political and democratic stability and integrity—to the extent that it rebuilds a close, strong and honest partnership with the EU. But the route to that is not straightforward. Certainly, the Johnson government will not be able to avoid the perpetual consultations and talks that the new agreement requires, including its errors or unintended frictions (alongside the many foreseen and deliberately introduced frictions). But, in the face of the costs and damage of Brexit, the Tories will surely decide they have no choice but to maintain their ideological falsehoods.

They will continue to pretend that rupturing economic, social and political links is creating a vast new European free-trade area or freeing Britain to establish new trade deals (that are replicas at best of prior EU trade deals). The ideology of Brexit will remain—in replacing the convenient European health-insurance card (EHIC) with a global one (yet to be seen), in wantonly withdrawing from the EU’s Erasmus programme or in refusing any structured foreign and security policy co-operation with the EU.

And as the new barriers and frictions to trade between Britain and Northern Ireland become ever more apparent—as grace periods run out and as the Irish government ensures access to EHIC and Erasmus for citizens of Northern Ireland—there will be more obfuscation and denial from the UK government.

Overall, then, the degradation of British politics, the pretence, the false pictures and fake news—the deluded yesteryear language of pseudo-imperialism—are bound to continue under the current UK government.

Key question

Whether the UK itself will survive the real impacts of Brexit and the decay of its politics which brought us to this juncture is one of the key political questions for the coming period. Northern Ireland is on its own new trajectory, semi-detached from the UK in ways that can only continue to intensify the Irish-reunification debate. Scotland has elections in May 2021, and, since last June, there have been sustained majorities in opinion polls for independence.

The EU-UK deal will set up challenges a-plenty for a future England-Scotland border if independence in the EU is the eventual outcome. But in the face of the myriad borders which are now being installed by the UK government—whether it be with the EU, Northern Ireland or even lorry drivers gaining access to Kent—these challenges may not dent that independence majority. Hypocrisy will continue here too, as the UK government which has established such deep barriers to the EU through Brexit continues to fulminate against the possibility of a Scotland-England border.

Also very challenged, in the midst of these international, economic, political, social and constitutional questions, is the Labour Party under Keir Starmer. Starmer has adopted a stance of going along with a Brexit deal—of not letting the Tories criticise Labour as Remainers—a narrow and backward-looking calculation. Apart from having, for now, no separate Labour policy on what EU-UK relations should look like, Starmer risks too being aligned with Johnson’s rhetoric and politics of treating Brexit as a done deal, the European question as settled.

But the European question for the UK looks like never being settled in the years to come. Labour will have to answer the question as to what closer or better relations with the EU look like—and waiting until four years time to answer that question, as the bumpy path ahead creates damage, frictions and upset, looks unrealistic. And closer relations with the EU will always run straight into the problem of becoming even more of a rule-taker, and creating more of a democratic deficit, than Johnson’s EU-satellite UK will be.

This is the challenge which the ‘soft’ Brexiters never answered—as they try, curiously, to re-fight old wars suggesting those who argued for Remain and for the UK public to be able to change their minds (which polls show they had done) were somehow responsible for Brexit, not the Tories themselves. For the UK to remain in the EU’s customs union and single market without any say over decisions—a rule-taker not a rule-maker—was not and is not a sustainable position. The extent of the democratic deficit which a small state like Norway faces is substantial. For one of Europe’s largest economies and states to create and sustain such a democratic deficit was never credible—let alone in the context of the UK’s divisive Brexit politics.

Mostly anathema

If Labour, then, wants—eventually—to have a European policy, to bring the UK closer to the EU, it will have to answer these questions. And while Starmer’s Labour looks unlikely to come anywhere near the question of rejoining the EU, from the EU perpective the idea of the UK rejoining in the next ten years or so is anyway mostly anathema. A stable, pro-European UK with a revived, strong democracy and politics—demonstrated over several years—might in a generation be able to rejoin but not in the next decade. Faced with these conundrums, the lack of a Labour European policy for now is perhaps not so surprising.

The UK’s potential fragmentation will also put the UK’s European question in another form. If, in a decade’s time, Scotland is independent and/or Northern Ireland has reunified with the Republic of Ireland, there will be more European questions for England and Wales, not fewer.

What the Brexiters have ensured is that a European question which was once only the obsession of the Tory fringes and the Eurosceptic media has become an unending question for the UK—and one that may, in part, lead to its demise. Brexit has upended the UK’s European alliances, shrunk its considerable influence within the EU (and in the wider world) and damaged its reputation, as well as its economy, society and politics.

On top of all this, there is an inevitable narrowing of the focus of UK politics. While the EU moves on to consider its relations with the US and China, its Covid-19 recovery strategy and funds, its European Green deal and its role in the world, the UK is condemned to dealing with the extraordinary range of barriers and bureaucracy which it has now introduced into its dealings both with the EU and within its own state (to Northern Ireland) and with the political fallout from the divisions Brexit has created.

The UK’s European question is dead; long live the European question.

This piece was originally published by the Scottish Centre for European Research

 

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The seven secrets of 2020

National governments had been choosing not to exercise enormous powers so those globalisation had enriched could exercise their own.

https://www.socialeurope.eu/the-seven-secrets-of-2020

A house of cards. A set of lies we have unconsciously accepted. That’s what our certainties seem like during profound crises. Such episodes shock us into recognising how unsafe our assumptions are. That is why this year has resembled a rapidly receding tide, forcing us to confront submerged truths.

We used to think, with good reason, that globalisation had defanged national governments. Presidents cowered before the bond markets. Prime ministers ignored their country’s poor but never Standard & Poor’s. Finance ministers behaved like Goldman Sachs’ knaves and the International Monetary Fund’s satraps. Media moguls, oil men and financiers, no less than left-wing critics of globalised capitalism, agreed that governments were no longer in control.

Bared teeth

Then the pandemic struck. Overnight, governments grew claws and bared sharpened teeth. They closed borders and grounded planes, imposed draconian curfews on our cities, shut down our theatres and museums and forbade us from comforting our dying parents. They even did what no one thought possible before the apocalypse: they cancelled sporting events.

The first secret was thus exposed: governments retain inexorable power. What we discovered in 2020 is that governments had been choosing not to exercise their enormous powers so that those whom globalisation had enriched could exercise their own.

The second truth is one that many people suspected but were too timid to call out: the money-tree is real. Governments that proclaimed their impecunity whenever called upon to pay for a hospital here or a school there suddenly discovered oodles of cash to pay for furlough wages, nationalise railways, take over airlines, support carmakers and even prop up gyms and hairdressers.

Those who normally protest that money does not grow on trees, that governments must let the chips fall where they may, held their tongue. Financial markets celebrated, instead of throwing a fit at the state’s spending spree.

Case study

Greece is a perfect case study of the third truth revealed this year: solvency is a political decision, at least in the rich west. Back in 2015, Greece’s public debt of €320 billion towered over a national income of only €176 billion. The country’s troubles were front-page news around the world and Europe’s leaders lamented our insolvency.

Today, in the midst of a pandemic that has made a bad economy worse, Greece is not an issue, even though our public debt is €33 billion higher, and our income €13 billion lower, than in 2015. Europe’s powers that be decided that a decade of dealing with Greece’s bankruptcy was enough, so they chose to declare Greece solvent. As long as Greeks elect governments that consistently transfer to the borderless oligarchy whatever (public or private) wealth is left, the European Central Bank will do whatever it takes—buy as many Greek government bonds as necessary—to keep the country’s insolvency out of the spotlight.

The fourth secret that 2020 brought into the open was that the mountains of concentrated private wealth we observe have very little to do with entrepreneurship. I have no doubt that Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk or Warren Buffett have a knack for making money and cornering markets. But only a tiny percentage of their accumulated loot is the result of the creation of value.

Consider the stupendous increase since mid-March in the wealth of America’s 614 billionaires. The additional $931 billion they amassed did not result from any innovation or ingenuity that generated additional profits. They got richer in their sleep, so to speak, as central banks flooded the financial system with manufactured money that caused asset prices, and thus billionaires’ wealth, to skyrocket.

State aid

With the record-fast development, testing, approval and rollout of Covid-19 vaccines, a fifth secret was revealed: science depends on state aid and its effectiveness is oblivious to its public standing. Many commentators have waxed lyrical about markets’ capacity to respond quickly to humanity’s needs. But the irony should be lost on no one: the administration of the most anti-science US president ever—a president who ignored, intimidated, and mocked experts even during the worst pandemic in a century—allocated $10 billion to ensure that scientists had the resources they needed.

But there is a broader secret: while 2020 was a banner year for capitalists, capitalism is no more. How is that possible? How can capitalists flourish as capitalism evolves into something else?

Easily. Capitalism’s greatest apostles, such as Adam Smith, emphasised its unintended consequences: precisely because profit-seeking individuals have no regard for anyone else, they end up serving society. The key to converting private vice into public virtue is competition, which impels capitalists to pursue activities that maximise their profits. In a competitive market, that serves the common good by boosting the range and quality of available goods and services while constantly lowering prices.

It is not hard to see that capitalists can do much better with less competition. This is the sixth secret that 2020 exposed. Liberated from competition, colossal platform companies such as Amazon did astonishingly well from capitalism’s demise and its replacement by something resembling techno-feudalism.

Silver lining

But the seventh secret that this year revealed represents a silver lining. While bringing about radical change is never easy, it is now abundantly clear that everything could be different. There is no longer any reason why we should accept things as they are. On the contrary, the most important truth of 2020 is captured in Bertolt Brecht’s apt and elegant aphorism, ‘Because things are the way they are, things will not remain the way they are.’

I can think of no greater source of hope than this revelation, delivered in a year most would prefer to forget.

 

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Another MAGAt bomber (this time a fake bomb false flag)

Louis Shenker, a man suspected of placing a hoax bomb in van at a mall in Queens, New York, yesterday morning is a right-wing conspiracy theorist who was as recently as last week arrested and accused of arson and who has been under investigation by NYPD for at least a week. 

The van was covered in Black Lives Matter signage, which law enforcement officials have said was an attempt to discredit the movement. Shenker was already being investigated by law enforcement officials and had twice been to arrested; last Wednesday he was arrested and charged with criminal mischief and two counts of low-level arson, accused of burning a poster affixed to a NYPD barricade, the Manhattan district attorney’s office confirmed. Tom Winter, Jonathan Dienst and Ben Collins report for NBC News.  

Amherst, MA: Flyers Out Campus "Groyper" Troll - It's Going DownLongmeadow teenager says he 'sneaked into' Democratic, Republican  presidential debates -- and he has pictures to prove it - masslive.comLongmeadow teenager says he 'sneaked into' Democratic, Republican  presidential debates -- and he has pictures to prove it - masslive.com

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So judges have ruled Julian Assange cant be extradited to the US for the wikileaks revelations as he is a suicide risk. 

What is staggering, or should be,  for the last four years is the deafening silence from 'fellow jounalists' in defending him. All he did was reveal the truth, which you would think is a journalists primary job.

For me it just highlights how nearly every journalist working for a media corporation, their job depends on following an agenda.

Lets not forget apart from the horrific war crimes he released, there was also the tax avoidance names. Dozens of super rich billionaires, the queen, that all dodge tax. Bearing in mind nearly all the MSM is owned by a handful of tax avoiding billionaires, its not surprising none of the journalists working for them supported Assange...

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Donald kept saying “It’s all over the internet.” Yeah, well, so are Melania’s tits but that doesn’t mean they’re real.

 

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Loving how the gop shot itself in the foot by letting trump loose and campaign in Georgia. Lost them the senate after they did so well in the house elections. Also split the gop  in two in the process. Finally the voters are calling the ridiculous election fraud strategy as the BS it is. 

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