Ursula von der Leyen

Boris Johnson and the unelected President of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, have agreed to extend Brexit negotiations to the end of the month in the hope of coming to an agreement.

Why are we still wasting valuable time and resources on flogging this dead pferd?

Nothing the EU offers us will be to our benefit. They entered into negotiations in bad faith with the express intention of making sure any deal would be seen as a punishment to send a message to any other member states considering independence. Continuing to divert valuable trade negotiators away from negotiations with countries that want to do deals the right way is nonsensical.

Even if a deal was done by the end of this month nobody has got time to put it into action. Neither the civil service nor businesses here or abroad have time to make changes to IT systems and processes to make any of it work. The only deal now that can work is no EU deal and reverting to WTO terms.

Internal Market Bill

The British government has not “broken the law” with the Internal Market Bill.

International law does not apply in the UK in itself. The provisions contained in an international treaty the UK is signatory become law when Parliament passes an Act or Acts that give them effect.

The process for ratification of most treaties is fairly straightforward but a little disconnected. The power to sign treaties lies with the Crown but the Queen doesn’t actually sign them herself, it’s done by British Ministers exercising the Royal Prerogative (powers retained by the Crown which may or may not be devolved to the British government).

Once a treaty is signed it has to be ratified. This is when the UK agrees to be bound by the obligations in the treaty but at this point it is just an agreement between the UK and one or more countries or international organisations, it doesn’t actually change the law. This is where the disconnect is.

For the obligations in the treaty to actually apply to people (or bodies corporate) the British Parliament has to pass an Act of Parliament incorporating them into law. I very specifically say the British Parliament because this is not a power the devolved legislatures have. Only when this domestic legislation comes into force does what the British government signed up to actually become law.

But there is an important distinction to remember here: the treaty itself is not a law, the Act of Parliament is.

Now, the British Parliament has some limited powers in the ratification process. It doesn’t have the power to prevent a treaty from being ratified, for example. Technically. The British government are required to lay all treaties before Parliament for 21 days before ratification. If Parliament refuses to agree to ratification of the treaty the British government is required to make a statement on why they should be able to ratify it anyway. The process then starts all over again, effectively giving Parliament a veto.

The British Parliament is sovereign which, in short, means it can do what it wants. Literally anything. If something is illegal it can pass a law to make it legal. And because Parliament is sovereign it can repeal all or part of any law, even if it means the law no longer reflects treaty obligations. This isn’t illegal, the very act of doing it makes it legal.

State of the Union August 2020

While the media and political establishment have been either wetting themselves or shitting themselves about a poll showing 55% support for Scottish independence this week, the fact that 49% of English people said they were in favour of English independence last month seems to have gone largely unreported.

The 55% figure for Scottish independence is getting there but it’s still not enough to carry a vote. It’s a useful distraction from the real story though.

The Scottish National Party has been campaigning for Scottish independence since 1934. They an independence referendum in 2014 and secured a 45% yes vote. They have been in control of the Scottish Parliament since 2007 and have 80% of Scottish seats in Westminster. This poll shows 55% in favour of Scottish independence.

Plaid Cymru has been campaigning for Welsh independence since 1925 and were part of a coalition Welsh government with Labour for four years from 2007. The last poll on the subject published in June showed 32% in favour of Welsh independence.

Sinn Féin has been campaigning for Irish unification since 1905 and is the second largest party in Stormont and would be the second largest group of Northern Irish MPs in Westminster if they didn’t abstain. They are part of the power sharing coalition in Stormont with the DUP. The last poll published on the subject of Irish unification in February showed 49% in favour of Irish unification.

There is no campaign group of any note campaigning for English independence. There is no devolved government in England and all devolved functions are carried out by British government departments, agencies and ministers. Declaring yourself English is frowned upon and expressing any sort of pride or patriotism in England is denounced as racist. There is an active campaign of misinformation and misrepresentation in politics and the media to associate anything English with Britain, including conflating the two terms so that Britain and England are interchangeable words for the same thing. Yet despite this a poll last month found that 49% of people are in favour of English independence.

A well organised, well funded campaign for English independence would drive up support for the cause well beyond the 55% in favour of Scottish independence. If an English independence referendum was announced tomorrow the yes campaign would walk it and I would be the front of the queue at the polling station to vote for it.

Channel Taxi

The French government is demanding £30m from the British government to keep illegal immigrants in France, in France.

French border authorities routinely escort illegal immigrants across the Channel to English waters where UK Border Force pick them up and ferry them to England. Fishing vessels helping Nigel Farage video the exchanges have been threatened with sanctions and French patrol ships have taken to turning off their transponders so the taxi service can’t be tracked.

The British Home Secretary, Priti Patel, is responsible for the security of England’s borders. She has been talking tough on immigration for some time but has done very little until this week, formally asking the Royal Navy to assist in Channel.

I’m not entirely opposed to the idea of paying the French £30m to patrol the Channel with a couple of conditions. Firstly, we get to fine the French £5k for every illegal immigrant that makes it to England. Secondly, any illegal immigrant that makes it to England is immediately returned to France. At the current rate of illegal immigration we would recoup the £30m in under 3 months.

Wiley Anti-Semitic Tweets

I’m not familiar with this Wiley person, he’s apparently a Grime artist. I’ve just listened to 10 seconds of what is apparently his most popular track and it was a pile of wank.

But I have just been reading about his social media racism and the piss poor response by Twitter’s censors who are apparently ok with a black supremacist anti-Semite calling for genocide against the Jews.

This Wiley character believes that black people are the original Jews and that the current people who call themselves Jews are usurpers denying black people their birth right. He has called for Jews to be shot and for black people to go to war with them.

This is a criminal offence but Twitter have allowed him to stay on their platform as long as he deletes the offensive tweets. Utterly unbelievable but so predictably unsurprising as a black Labour-supporting celebrity.

He has been reported to the police by the Campaign Against Antisemitism who have also asked the Cabinet Office to withdraw his MBE. I won’t hold out any hope for justice.

Banana Equivalent Dose

Bananas are radioactive. They’re rich in potassium and about 0.012% of potassium is potassium-40, a radioactive isotope.

Don’t worry though, you would need to eat 10,000,000 bananas in one go or 274 bananas a day for 7 years to get a fatal dose of radiation. There is even a measure of radiation called the Banana Equivalent Dose.

Devolution Referendums 1997

The Brexit Party has announced that it is contesting the Welsh elections next year on a flagship policy of abolishing the Senedd.

The Welsh Assembly – now called the Welsh Parliament, or Senedd in Welsh – was established in 1999 following a referendum in 1997 in which the Welsh people voted by a majority of just 6,721 votes to introduce devolution in Wales. A further referendum in 2011 on increasing the powers of the Senedd produced a rather more emphatic 219,752 vote majority in favour.

It’s more than a little bizarre that a political party established entirely on the premise of forcing the British government to respect the result of the EU referendum would base a whole election campaign on overturning the results of two referenda in Wales.

The latest polling Wales suggests that 22% are in favour of abolishing the Senedd, 24% want to leave it as it is, 20% want to give it more powers and 16% want Welsh independence. It looks like the end of the road for the Brexit Party’s four Senedd members.

All referendums are equal but some referendums are more equal than others