Nothing went wrong, just the EU happened

Italians used to be fervently pro-EU. What went wrong?
Stefano Montefiori
Italy once stood enthusiastically at the heart of the European project. But over the years disaffection set in

So, you’re a young, lusty, hetero male and you get invited to a party that’s going to be full of ex-convent schoolgirls turned models. You gird your loins and look forward to a good time.

Experience of the actual party leads to realisation that the booze is non-alcoholic beer and lite at that, the food vegan and the lust interest are the winners of that look alike contest Dolly Parton herself lost.

A certain disappointment might set in, no? Possibly disaffection?

In fact, leaving looks like a good idea?

Not greatly sensible perhaps

Senior Conservatives vowed last night to fight a guerrilla campaign to stop a “disastrous” no-deal Brexit after inflicting the first Commons defeat on a government finance bill in more than 40 years.

Twenty Tory MPs, including seven former cabinet ministers, broke a three-line whip to restrict the Treasury’s powers to prepare for leaving the European Union without a deal in March.

The rebels, who included the former defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon and the former Cabinet Office minister Sir Oliver Letwin, warned that they would continue to sabotage all no-deal Brexit legislation until Theresa May ruled out the option.

“I want to make it abundantly clear that a majority in this house will not allow a no-deal exit to occur at the end of March,” Sir Oliver told MPs.

Significantly, the Tory rebellion brought together the supporters of a second referendum and former Remainers who now back Mrs May’s deal or a Norway-style soft Brexit.

Well, yes. Except there’s no majority in the House for any of the other available options either. Whihc, given that no deal is he default is something of a problem, isn’t it?

It’s that old political problem really. Sure, w’re all in favour of sugar, spice, things nice, it’s the plan to get from here to there which is the problem.

So, other than no deal and WTO terms, what can you actually gain a majority of the House for? And, an important little caveat, a deal the EU itself would agree to?


The Trump administration has downgraded the diplomatic status of the EU mission in Washington, without informing the mission or Brussels, officials confirmed on Tuesday.

The downgrade from nation state to international organisation status reverses an Obama administration decision in 2016 to grant the EU an enhanced diplomatic role in Washington, and is being seen in Brussels as a snub reflecting a general antipathy to the EU in the Trump administration. The president has supported Brexit and has described the EU as a “foe”.

The change, first reported by the German broadcaster, Deutsche Welle, potentially means that the EU mission would have less clout and access to US officials.

It is an international organisation and it isn’t a nation. So, fair enough.

And yes, possibly a petty action. And I may well be petty for sniggering about it. But then so what?

Yes, well done Natalie

Here, in the bloodlands of Belarus, I found hope for the future of Europe
Natalie Nougayrède


Minsk is, of course, outside the European Union, in a nation where a dictator rules, in something of a grey zone between Europe and Russia. Few people in western Europe know about Belarus, let alone have been there. Yet it should be prominent in our consciences. “Belarus was the worst place to be in world war two,” the historian Timothy Snyder once noted. In his book Bloodlands, Snyder recounts how 14 million people were murdered between 1933 and 1945 in an area that stretches from the Baltic sea to the Black sea, with Belarus worst affected: a quarter of its population were killed as a result of both Stalin’s and Hitler’s policies.

We ignore much about our continent’s history if we overlook the plight of this region, where the two totalitarian systems converged with horrific consequences – at once plotting together and competing as they laid claim to territory and exterminated those living there, or deported people there to die.

Yes, quite, the dream or European Unity is so supported by the slaughter of the two previous attempts at European Unity, isn’t it?

A useful rule of thumb from Will Hutton

This case would best be made by Labour as the centre of a cross-party coalition: it has credibility as a fighter against poverty and abusive capitalism and an advocate for internationalism. But the case for tolerance and openness cannot be made from a tribal silo. I admire Tories such as Phillip Lee, Jo Johnson and Sam Gyimah who have resigned on this issue, and others such as Anna Soubry, Justine Greening, Sarah Wollaston, Ken Clarke and Dominic Grieve. I would be proud to stand and campaign alongside them – and also Nicola Sturgeon, Caroline Lucas and Vince Cable. Any differences are secondary to what unites us.

Given that Execution Dock might be an appropriate end for Willy we’re able to compile a little list here, aren’t we? Or as we might put it, anyone Willy would campaign with is objectively wrong by dint of that willingness.

Iceland’s in the EU now, is it?

Brussels has warned Britain that Brexit will stop its people eating fish and chips unless the UK caves to EU demands to fish its waters.

Theresa May on Thursday told MPs she had “firmly rejected” a demand for access to fisheries in return for a UK-EU trade deal.

Minutes later, Sabine Weyand, the European Union’s deputy Brexit negotiator, tweeted that a fisheries agreement was “in the best interests of both sides” and shared research that showed Britain needs EU imports of cod and haddock to keep eating fish and chips.

Well, not really Polly, not really

What few realise is that we are living through a revolution that has been a long time brewing among Tory party entryists. Those clawing to dethrone Theresa May are of a different ilk, only just within a recognisable Tory penumbra. Infiltrators, bent on destroying from within the party that harbours them, inhabit another planet from Heath, Clarke or Heseltine – but nor are they Thatcher’s children, either. Leaving Europe is only a part of their revolutionary project, a means not an end. Because they are revolutionaries, the more dramatic the break and the wilder the chaos, the better. They are bent on the creative destruction of a stagnant old order, so as to plough up the ground for a fertile new radical right beginning. Tax-haven Singapore beckons.

We’d not want to be, post-Brexit, as left wing as Singapore.

Froggies not living in real world

Advocates of new Brexit deal ‘not living in real world’ – Irish minister
Pro-Brexit British ministers are “not living in the real world” if they think they can renegotiate the divorce treaty agreed with the EU last week, Irish Foreign …

Reuters UK

France demands UK climate pledge in return for Brexit trade deal
President Macron and other member states fear Britain could gain advantage over them by undercutting EU environment laws.

The Guardian

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