LETTERS FROM LONDON
REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL
24 June 2017
All Mouth and No Trousers


Our Man in Brussels

Suave, sophisticated, stylish immaculate turned out EU negotiator, Michel
Barnier vs slovenly, mostly wrinkled, hair dishevelled, a rather pudding-faced,
hated by the EU David Davis. Dressed to un-impress. Now what could go
wrong? DD looked like he was in Brussels to sell Barnier a car and Barnier was
having none of it. I’m thinking would you buy a used car from this smug smirking
man? DD is such a jolly idiot to send. Laughing all the way to Little Britain.

Gifts exchange, and the ‘take a hike’ messages were? Davey gave Michel a
mountaineering book. ‘’Don’t fall off a cliff, Michel.” Michel gave Davey a walking
stick. “You’re going to need a crutch, Davey.”

Let the games begin. Beginning the negotiations with what is termed his ‘cave-
in’. Davey signed up to the EU’s terms of reference. Surely you are wondering
what does this mean exactly? OK. Possibly not, but nevertheless, this will see the
financial settlement, EU nationals and then Northern Ireland negotiated first, then
followed by trade discussed, all this once sufficient progress has been made in
these areas. Oh right. Sufficient progress; point scored by the EU then.

So it’s divorce first, future estranged relationship next. The UK had hoped a
trade pact could be negotiated alongside the exit deal. No, no, no. Divorce
papers served.

The EU and UK will negotiate for one week every month. Groups will form on
citizens’ rights, financial settlements and ‘other issues’, whatever they are. DD
reinforced that the UK will not be staying within the single market or customs
union. Right on, Davey. He described the talks as “very productive”. It’s one nil,
DD.


Our Woman in Brussels

Theresa went off to Brussels for an EU summit where she was there to brief the
leaders on her plans. It was the first time she appeared since she lost power.  
But wait. Dressing to impress? Not quite following Davey’s plan to impress.

Who knew Theresa had cleavage? Did we? And why do we know now? Hmmm.
I dread to think the motivation behind - or in this case - in front. Keeping her
cards close to her chest? It doesn’t look that way does it?

She has offered ‘Settled status’. So far, 3.5 million EU nationals who have lived
in the UK for more than five years will be granted, as it were, the right to stay.
Spouses and children? Not specifically included. Really? Well, separating
families is surely nothing new to this government. UK courts would decide. But
not without reciprocity. No cut-off date, so far. EU leaders not best pleased.
Evidently, if those EU immigrants don’t already have UK bank accounts, they will
no longer be able to. It just gets messier every day, doesn’t it?

We have all forgotten, or were not privileged to know, that as Home Secretary
Theresa insisted on blocking efforts to reassure EU citizens that they would be
allowed to remain in the UK in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote. The
only member of the Cabinet to oppose the move. Collective gasp here.


Duped by the DUP?

On the radio Jeffrey Donaldson MP, The DUP’s chief whip, repeated: “we’re no
pushover.” The DUP negotiators decided to play nursery games. They refused
to speak to Downing Street for 36hours. No really. Impressive maturity, no?
Clue: that the DUP was demanding more than £2 billion for health and
infrastructure is a good start.

According to Brexit brain (i.e. expert), Gina Miller on Question Time: “If the DUP
gets this hard-headed negotiated, 2.5 billion, 2 billion, 2.5 billion that they are
asking for, the Barnett Formula says that the other devolved powers are going to
have to have their share, too. That's about 3 billion for Wales, about 8 or 9 billion
for Scotland.” Not set in stone, but probable.

Earlier this year, openDemocracy revealed the DUP had spent £425,000 on pro-
Brexit campaigning and were trying to keep the source of the cash secret.
Under pressure, they admitted the money came via a shady group with links to
Saudi intelligence. The duplicitous DUP has told openDemocracy these links
“aren’t a problem for us” and have refused to reveal the true source of the cash.
The DUP: scary.


Hats Off to You

The press went momentarily mad over the Queen’s hat at the delivery of the
Queen’s Speech. Was it a flag wave to the EU? The neutral position held by the
Queen was questioned by irate Daily Mail readers. No surprise there. Even EU
MEP Guy Verhofstadt noticed the Queen's hat, tweeting: clearly the EU inspires
some in the UK. Finally, a bit of light relief. Fly the flag, toss the hat. OK.
Perhaps not the Queen’s.


Skirting the Issue

At Isca academy in Exeter the boys were told they couldn’t defy the dress code
during the intense heat wave. You know, the one that lasted all week and broke
the 1976 record? So, no shorts boys. But there was no rule on skirts.

At first a few borrowed from girlfriends, from sisters, some had shaved their
legs, then an estimated 30 boys arrived skirted in tartan-patterned skirts the next
day.

“Quite refreshing”… “nice breeze” said another. A tall boy was told his short
skirt exposed too much hairy leg. Really.

In the Devonlive video, seen by millions, a group of the rebel boys stand
together, arms folded in identical skirt defiance; skirting the rules. Cool.


Foot Note

New homelessness cases in England have risen 50% since Tory took control in
2010, according to government figures just published. Places to accommodate
homeless people are drying up everywhere. Evidently when Nick Clegg was
Deputy PM he has recently revealed that it was either CallMeDave or Georgie
(Osborne) - does it matter really?) who asked him: ‘I don’t understand why you
keep going on about social housing. It just creates Labour voters.’ Oh. One
reason could have been because he was a Lib Dem possibly?
                 
Labour MP, David Lammy, revealed the survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire are
being told they will be declared “intentionally homeless” if they refuse to accept
accommodation hundreds of miles away. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même
chose…

So far the entire situation has been utter chaos. Does anyone, really anyone
have a brain? Clearly if they do, they aren’t using it. How is this massive
mayhem possible?
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