But it never has been about what the people want, has it?

Plans for a United States of Europe by 2025 suffered a damning blow today after a new poll revealed they have little support across the major nations.

German politician Martin Schulz – the former President of the European Parliament and domestic rival to Angela Merkel – promoted the plan at a party conference.

He called for a rapid development of the EU after Britain leaves, accelerating integration and leaving behind those who do not want it.

But the plan is supported by less than a third of people in seven major nations – and just 10 per cent in Britain, in a vindication of last year’s Leave vote.

It’s always been about what the technocrats would impose upon the people.

Err, yes dear

Macron had a good year. In 2018, he could even stop Brexit

Sheesh.

The President of Frogland is going to stop a British democratic decision? That’s rather why we voted as we did isn’t it?

This was the year France won and Britain lost. Emmanuel Macron emerged to transform a sclerotic political scene, dazzling the world and many in his country with a youthful energy that made French rejuvenation a buzzword. Theresa May stumbled from one hiccup to the next, rushing to Washington for an awkward meeting with Donald Trump, triggering article 50 with no plan for the aftermath, and losing her majority in parliament.

Macron made headlines with slogans such as “Let’s make the planet great again”. May’s mantras – from “global Britain” to “Brexit means Brexit” – backfired or seemed to go nowhere. Macron secured a solid base in the national assembly for his upstart La Republique en Marche party. He made sweeping, lyrical speeches about Europe, heralding a new era of empowerment and European sovereignty.

Most Froggie, thinking that a couple of speeches changes the world.

Nostalgia’s a very powerful force

Ignore it at your peril:

A former foreign policy adviser to Margaret Thatcher has said that the return of blue British passports was an act of ‘nostalgia’ driven by ageing Brexit voters.

Charles Powell said it had been Mrs Thatcher’s Conservative government which phased out the old passport and brought in the EU-style burgundy version in the 1980s.

The new blue passports will start to be issued a few months after the UK leaves the European Union in March 2019.

Mr Powell told the Daily Express that the move to restore blue passports was ‘part of the nostalgia on which the predominantly elderly Brexit constituency thrives’.

Sure, it’s nostalgia. It might even be misplaced such. But there is a significant section of the country unenamoured with the European State to come, desirous of not being subsumed into the technocratic bureaucracy.

Sure, old maids cycling to morning communion and all that. But, as GKC himself pointed out:

We only know the last sad squires rode slowly towards the sea,
And a new people takes the land: and still it is not we.

They have given us into the hand of new unhappy lords,
Lords without anger or honour, who dare not carry their swords.
They fight by shuffling papers; they have bright dead alien eyes;
They look at our labour and laughter as a tired man looks at flies.
And the load of their loveless pity is worse than the ancient wrongs,
Their doors are shut in the evening; and they know no songs.

We hear men speaking for us of new laws strong and sweet,
Yet is there no man speaketh as we speak in the street.
It may be we shall rise the last as Frenchmen rose the first,
Our wrath come after Russia’s wrath and our wrath be the worst.
It may be we are meant to mark with our riot and our rest
God’s scorn for all men governing. It may be beer is best.
But we are the people of England; and we have not spoken yet.
Smile at us, pay us, pass us. But do not quite forget.

We did speak, didn’t we? And whether it was merely nostalgia or not, do not forget that.

An interesting version of a level playing field

Entrepreneurs who supported Brexit have complained of “outrageous” tax bills for their contributions to the Leave campaign.

Donations to political parties, charities and other bodies are usually deemed exempt from tax but HM Revenue and Customs has ruled that payments from individuals to referendum campaigns are liable.

Among those who have been asked to pay six or seven-figure sums are Lord Edmiston, who donated £1 million, the banker Peter Cruddas and the former Ukip donor Arron Banks who gave £8.1 million to the unofficial Leave.EU campaign and faces a £2 million bill. Demands were sent in the past fortnight, The Daily Telegraph reported.

As I understand it – open to being corrected – this is gift tax to stop people beating inheritance tax.

You give a large gift, you should pay the tax on it. Donations to a referendum campaign are such a gift. Thus tax is due from the donor.

Of course, tax money being spent on the same referendum – on either side – doesn’t face the same bill. Nor do corporate donations. Which does rather shade things in favour of the establishment, doesn’t it?

Huzzah!

British passports will return to having blue covers after Brexit, it has been confirmed.

The new design, which will no longer include the European Union insignia, will replace the burgundy cover that has been a feature of the UK passport since the 1980s once Britain leaves the EU in 2019.

Yes, at one level it’s trivial.

It’s also an extremely cheap (as in, zero cost, as the redesign will happen anyway) method of pleasing a pretty large number of Leavers.

Plus, a very cheap (zero cost) method of pissing off some number of Remoaners, which makes it even better.

Unilateral free trade

The point being that it needs to be the whole shebang.

For two reasons.

Economic – comparative advantage won’t play out properly if we’ve a protected sector (s). Protection will mean that the reorganisation to efficiency won’t happen properly.

Political – give one group privileges at he expense of all others and all will be calling for privileges.

It doesn’t have to be overnight though. It can be, possibly should, a process. Straight line (ie, from base year, not each year) 25% off import duties each year for four years. Double quotas each year. In year five, no duties nor quotas at all.

Good God, Paul Mason manages to notice something!

When I first started working at the BBC, in 2001, what struck me was not how most of the people in charge were from the same universities, or that it was assumed you were a ski enthusiast, or how casually people dropped the names of powerful people they knew. It was the uniformity of thinking. There were progressive people and conservative people, but they mostly subscribed to the groupthink of the elite.

Surveying the levels of anger, abuse and fractiousness in the upper levels of British society today, it feels like a very different country.

Well, yes, that is rather what has happened. The people of England have spoken yet.

Ain’t it been a shock?

So we can’t have a special trade deal then?

Britain cannot have a special deal for the City of London, the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator has told the Guardian, dealing a blow to Theresa May’s hopes of securing a bespoke trade agreement with the bloc.

Michel Barnier said it was unavoidable that British banks and financial firms would lose the passports that allow them to trade freely in the EU, as a result of any decision to quit the single market.

“There is no place [for financial services]. There is not a single trade agreement that is open to financial services. It doesn’t exist.” He said the outcome was a consequence of “the red lines that the British have chosen themselves. In leaving the single market, they lose the financial services passport.”

So, as everyone is already setting up, it’s branches (or is it subsidiaries?) somewhere in the 28 and job done.

On the other hand this is great, isn’t it? We can’t have a special trade deal. So, we’ve a short menu. Customs Union, Single Market, Switzerland, Norway or hard Brexit. No special deal means we have to pick from the extant menu.

Hard Brexit it is then and unilateral free trade to follow.

Oh Aye?

The European Union is considering a database of Bitcoin owners in Europe under laws designed to fight money laundering and terrorism.

As part of a crackdown on virtual currencies, MEPs will consider setting up a central hub of people who use the online exchanges where Bitcoin is bought and sold.

That the exchanges should know their customer seems fine. That the state? Hmm.

Some, you need to use “some” here

‘Sacrificed on the altar of trade’: Britons in Europe feel betrayed by Brexit deal
British nationals settled in Europe say they are used as ‘bargaining chips’, and that Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker’s deal does not guarantee their rights

I am a British national in Europe and I’m not feeling betrayed nor unprotected.

That is, there’s a “some” missing in this reporting.

What excellent news this is

Theresa May’s hopes of securing a unique post-Brexit trade deal with the EU were under threat on Saturday night as Brussels said it was coming under international pressure to deny Britain special treatment.

After a week that saw May reach a deal with the EU that will allow Brexit talks to move forward on to future trade relations, EU officials insisted a bespoke deal more favourable to the UK than other non-EU nations was out of the question.

So, whatever we do we cannot have a special trade deal.

Great, tell ’em all to fuck off and go unilaterally free trade then.

This is interesting, isn’t it?

The man who could be Germany’s vice-chancellor within weeks on Thursday called for the European Union to transform itself into a “United States of Europe”.

Martin Schulz, the leader of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD), called for a new federal constitution for the EU by 2025.

Hours before his party voted to open talks on forming a new coalition with the beleaguered Angela Merkel, Mr Schulz made clear he would demand radical EU reform and far deeper integration than previously envisaged as his price for ending weeks of political crisis in Germany.

“I want a new constitutional treaty to establish the United States of Europe. A Europe that is no threat to its member states, but a beneficial addition,” he said in a speech to his party conference.

Under Mr Schulz’s proposals, Brussels would be given power over individual member states’ foreign and domestic policy, as well as taxes.

Countries who refuse to sign up to a new federal Europe should automatically lose their EU membership, he said.

How large will the EU be in 2026?

Still, a nice reminder that Brexit isn’t about leaving a free trade area, it’s about leaving the EU to come.

So, now we know why the third sector is so Remoaner then

Across the charity sector, trustees, volunteers and staff are increasingly worried about the looming impact of Brexit.

UK charities risk losing at least £258m in EU funds because of Brexit, including the loss of EU funding streams such as European Structural Fund (ESF), which, together with the European Regional Development Fund, makes up the bulk of the EU structural and investment funds programme, which by 2020 will have invested some €11.8bn in the UK since 2014.

The loss of £258m would be alarming in itself, but the full amount is likely to be far higher. Funds are often distributed by intermediary agencies in the UK, making comprehensive data difficult to analyse, but even this baseline number would equate to the loss of about 10% of all annual foundation grants, or half of what the Big Lottery Fund distributes each year.

Piper, tune etc.

This is all rather out of the totalitarian handbook. A very lite version of course but still. One of Anne Applebaum’s recent books runs through how the socialists (ie, Soviets) took over Eastern Europe. The entirety of civil society was absorbed into the Borg. Everything must be, and was, state directed. The Scouts, chess clubs, women’s charity organisations, all became state directed, state run. Those who tried to maintain independence from said state structures were persecuted.

Sure, the EU’s been doing it by doling out the cash but it’s the same basic idea. If all the bits and pieces of civil society are assimilated into the Borg then there’s no independent civil society any more, is there? Job done.

Sure, that’s why we lie

Yes, it is possible that peace in Ireland might manage to survive the imposition of a hard border if the UK leaves the EU Single Market and the Customs Union (because doing that will impose a hard border), but is that a risk that that anyone really wants to take? And how, anyway, can anyone begin to calculate that risk?

The peace settlement in Northern Ireland – as Fintan O’Toole so elegantly lays out – is based on ambiguity, and the way the Irish border issue in Brexit is currently going is trying to impose clarity, is trying to force a decision to be made. Without anyone understanding the consequences of that.

Great, so don’t impose clarity, keep the ambiguity.

Just lie.

The border is where the border is. It will be, post Brexit, exactly where it is today. And exactly what it is today too. Some road signs with the occasional customs patrol on either side.

Yes Mr. EU that’s a hard border. Very hard, dontcha see?

Now fuck off.

What a way to run a continent, eh?

The European parliament’s health committee this week voted down a proposal from the European commission that would have allowed the use of phosphoric acid, phosphates and polyphosphates in kebab meat made of mutton, lamb, veal, beef or poultry.

The full European parliament is now due to vote on the issue when it sits in Strasbourg in two weeks time. If it is rejected by the parliament, that would send the proposal back to the commission, leaving the future of the doner in limbo.

The European parliament’s Socialist and Democrats (S&D) and Greens/European Free Alliance groups have drafted a resolution to veto a proposal to authorise the use of phosphates in “frozen vertical spit meat” because they argue that there is no proven technological need.

No, not the specific proposal, just the very idea.

The governing body for 500 million people concerns itself with minutiae like “frozen vertical spit meat”? This has always been my main underlying argument against the EU. Fine with the idea of “free movement and trade” being decided up at that level. But the details belong well down the governance pecking order. And no, it isn’t necessary to have the same detailed rules for all to have free trade. You can have trade and competition in standards as well. The correct level for the governance of such additives in doner kebabs is the individual purveyor and her customers.