by Martin Odoni

You know, despite the mocking assessments of Brexiteer propagandists, the United Kingdom has actually had a pretty good deal as members of the European Union. Under the Treaties of Maastricht and Lisbon, the UK really did have all the best of EU membership, and little of the worst. Whatever one feels about the EU, and there is, as I always concede, plenty to dislike, the simple reality is that the UK has seldom really suffered the sharp end of it.

Due to being members of the old European Economic Community prior to the 1990’s, the UK was allowed to enforce a number of opt-outs when Maastricht was put into effect, which members joining subsequently could not. Two in particular substantially blow most of the case for leaving the EU out of the water.

The first of these opt-outs was joining the Single Currency. There was a long and wobbling debate over it during the Tony Blair administration, in which they generally spoke in favour of joining, but were always teetering back and forth over whether to proceed.

In truth, it was overwhelmingly right that the UK did not join the euro. Painful and unnecessary as Austerity has been for the country since the Global Financial Crisis of a decade ago, it would have been far worse without control of its own currency supply. This is a rule I would apply to any country: A country without control of its own money supply is not an independent country, because any time it embarks on policies that the issuer of its currency disagrees with, the money-tap can simply be turned off. This is the essential process by which Greece in particular was, almost literally, tortured by the EU for ten years. Any time Greece tried to re-stimulate its flatlining economy with new investment, the European Central Bank, which blindly wanted Greek spending pared to the bone at any cost, would simply cut off its access to euros. When money stopped circulating, the Greek economy would revert to cardiac arrest.

This vindictive EU treatment of eurozone countries with a high National Debt is often raised as a key reason to leave. But the UK has been allowed to stay out of the eurozone all along, so it has never been an issue. Avoiding association with a political union that behaves in such a way could be raised as a point of principle, a perfectly respectable argument, but it is long past time people stopped saying, “Look what the EU did to Greece, we could be next!!!!” Because we most certainly will not, at least as things stand.

Similar with immigration controls. There seems to be an inexhaustible supply of Brexiteers who cannot be persuaded that the British Government, not the EU, is currently in control of UK borders. It is true that the EU has an ideal of open borders across the continent allowing people to travel where they wish without requiring a passport. And new members joining the EU are compelled to become a part of this vision, by signing up to the “Schengen Area“. But again, the UK joined well before Maastricht, and so was able to reserve the right to opt out. The Schengen Area is not even a specifically EU Agreement anymore, as it has been joined by various non-EU states – Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein – while various EU states are not part of it – Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and, oho, the United Kingdom. Being able to opt out means the UK already has control of its own borders.

Brexiteers are trying to ‘escape’ from an arrangement the UK is not part of.

Both of these complete misunderstandings keep rearing their ignorant heads in public discussion of Brexit, no matter how often they are debunked. But what makes them truly aggravating is not just that they are ‘illnesses’ the UK has never contracted. It is that the proposed ‘cure’ – Brexit itself – will in the long run make it far likelier that the UK will contract them.

This is the aspect too many people miss. If Brexit goes ahead, especially a No Deal Brexit, the UK economy will undoubtedly take a heavy hit. In the very distant future, the country might eventually make a net gain of some description. But for the foreseeable future, life in the UK, already generally less-than-affluent, will become harder for a lot of people. Even allowing for the stubborn, fact-resistant, story-changing arrogance of Brexiteers, there are bound to be at least some of them who will eventually come to regret that Brexit ever went ahead. And given the narrow margin by which Leave won the Referendum in 2016, it would not require too many defecting Brexiteers for there to become a majority to rejoin the EU.

But at that point, with the UK almost certainly in very bad shape and pretty desperate for a change-for-the-better, the EU would effectively have the country over a barrel as never before. So, what terms do people think Brussels would insist on imposing on Westminster as the price for returning to the fold?

Well of course, the UK would have to join the eurozone, and the Schengen Area. As what would be effectively a ‘new member’ of the EU, the UK would be compelled to do so anyway, but any ‘leverage’ to force Brussels to make an exception would be quite non-existent. Under such terms, we really will have to look at the way the EU tortured Greece and say, “We could be next!!!

This, Brexiteers keep insisting, is ‘taking our country back’.

Brexit BS

The narrative put about by anti-EU types is a Brexit Story, not unlike other forms of BS.



by Martin Odoni

On analysis of the proposal mooted by UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, for a solution to the border problem in Ireland created by Brexit, I can see three possible explanations, and only three. Here they are, in order of likelihood; –

  1. Johnson is ‘tabling a Habsburg ultimatum’.
  2. Johnson is trying to get around the problem by playing word-games, proposing a solution that plainly fails the purpose, but produces an outcome that is not word-for-word the same as what must be avoided.
  3. He really is as incredibly stupid as he looks.

To explain; –

The proposal is inherently absurd. The requirement of the Good Friday Agreement is for there to be no ‘Hard Border’ between Eire and Northern Ireland, which, as is well-recorded, rather clashes with the Brexit aspiration of ‘the UK controlling its own borders’. Johnson therefore wishes to impose a temporary ‘buffer-zone’ from the start of 2021, with its boundaries approximately five miles either side from the border itself. Customs checks would be carried out at these buffer zone boundaries instead of at the border, and this arrangement would carry on until a joint Anglo-Irish council arranges a final settlement in 2025.

So in short, Johnson’s answer to the requirement for there to be no active border between Northern Ireland and Eire is for there to be two active borders between them.

Proposed Irish border-buffer zone

Boris Johnson is proposing a ‘Brexit buffer zone’ around the Irish border for four years. In effect, this will mean TWO borders in Ireland.

This proposal is one of the daftest yet, and not just because it violates the Good Friday Agreement. In the long term it will violate the Act Of Union 1800 as well, which guarantees a Customs Union between Great Britain and all British-held territories on the island of Ireland. This requirement is undermined by the fact that trading conditions in Northern Ireland will quite explicitly cease to be aligned with the rest of the UK, especially after 2025.

Setting the deadline to 2025 is a very long-winded way of saying, “Let’s just kick finding a permanent solution to the problems of the border-in-Ireland into the long grass for five years, by which time, all the people who made this mess will probably have moved on anyway”.

It is a worst-of-all-worlds proposal.

Note the arrogance of putting the ‘buffer zone’ so far into Ireland’s sovereign territory for Brexit’s sake. This is not an Irish policy, it is a British one, so if Johnson wants a buffer zone, he should put it entirely on the UK side of the border. (Even then, it would still be an awful thing to do, as it creates serious freedom-of-movement issues for those living inside it – any buffer zone would in a sense become a third Ireland. But at least it would be the British accepting the price for a needless problem the British have created.)

So reflecting on all of this, here is what I mean by the three possibilities mentioned above; –

  1. Johnson is deliberately putting forward a proposal that is designed to be rejected, so he can claim that he came up with a solution but others are not co-operating with him. (Like the preposterous demands the Austro-Hungarian Empire placed on Serbia after the assassination of the Arch-Duke Franz Ferdinand in 1914 – hence my coining the term “Habsburg Ultimatum”.)
  2. Johnson imagines he has found a loophole in the description of the problem Brexit has created. He is thinking, “Well, they’re saying a Hard Border, which is to say one Hard Border, is unnacceptable, but they said nothing about more than one, so let’s go for two!” as though quibbling over the precise wording of the problem will be enough to make the ‘solution’ acceptable to Republican and Unionist communities alike.
  3. Johnson genuinely means this proposal as a way of reconciling Brexit with the Good Friday Agreement. Because his ‘lovable clownish buffoon’ image is not an act after all, and he really is that much of a congenital moron.

Loopholes are dirty tricks, every time. and they can get people around the letter of an agreement. But the desire to keep the Good Friday Agreement intact is no procedural quibble, trying to keep the paperwork valid merely for the sake of it. There is a purpose behind the attempts to make sure Brexit does not violate the Irish peace process – to prevent a resumption of the civil war known as ‘The Troubles’. The success or failure of that purpose is what will count. Not whether the solution just about fits the wording, but whether it is acceptable to the people whose futures will be most affected by it. To shift blame, to play word games, to mess around with loopholes, or just to behave with reckless, ignorant stupidity over the peace process is absolutely certain to harm it, when lives depend on its continued success.

This is yet another example of Johnson’s manipulative cynicism, of which we have already had too many in just the two months he has been Prime Minister. With his already relentless displays of blustering and deceit, I do not think I am being especially hyperbolic when I suggest that Boris Johnson could be the death of us all.

by Martin Odoni

The ‘GnasherJew‘ Twitter feed is notorious in British pro-Palestinian circles as one of the most vile and degraded smear-repositories on the internet. While claiming that their principal aim is to root out ‘left wing anti-Semitism’ (no particular explanation is ever given for their limp disregard for right wing anti-Semitism), in reality they are just yet another part of the UK Zionist lobby, which wants to destroy political opposition to the Israeli Government.

It is one of the most open secrets of the Twittersphere that one of the team running the GnasherJew feed is David Collier. Collier is a notorious and completely amoral racist hate-preacher, obsessed by his own almost disturbing animosity towards Palestinians and other Arabs. That hatred is only eclipsed by his hatred for anti-Zionists. (Long-time readers may recall that Collier attempted to smear me a little over a year ago, in a way that was swiftly overwhelmed by the sounds of my own mocking laughter.)

There is nothing more dangerous than an amoral man who feels emboldened, and Collier, it must be acknowledged, has been successful in his smearing of anti-Zionists. A lot of Labour Party members have been badly-affected by his lies and distortions over the last few years – almost all of them supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, whom he is trying to isolate within the party. That is not a development that should be made light of, incidentally. A number of decent people I know personally have seen their lives intimately ruined by this damnable conflation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, as they become unfairly stigmatised by the label of a prejudice of which they are not guilty. Doubtless, Collier and his crew are quite smug about witnessing such people intimidated, seeing it as a sign of ‘success’. Like all psychopaths, to Collier, success alone entails jutification, and so never mind that some of his victims have quite literally been traumatised by the social backlash against them. Collier has no way of grasping the idea that telling lies is wrong, even wrong when he does it in the name of a cause bigger than himself. Nor does it process in his meagre mind that if he needs to tell lies to uphold his ideology, there must be something innately wrong with that ideology.

However, Collier and his colleagues may be getting a bit too pleased with themselves, and they show some signs of – what is the current popular euphemism for taking dishonesty to self-endangering levels? Oh yes – they show some signs of ‘over-reaching’. This week, they tweeted an odd and rather needless announcement about their recent spate of not-doing-very-much. The tweet took a rather sinister turn in its second half however.

This declaration could prove to be a moment of real hubris.

Firstly, the admission that their feed’s purpose was solely about stopping Corbyn from reaching 10 Downing Street was a rather blatant giveaway that Collier et al are not really interested in combating anti-Semitism.

But secondly, the other sentence was startlingly idiotic. The underlying reason it was posted was probably a hope that it would scare and daunt Labour leftists into thinking that more rough times lie ahead, and so they may as well not bother campaigning whenever the next General Election is announced. (Yeah okay, Collier, good luck with that, if you think the Labour left are that soft!) But what the tweet does in effect is indicate that the GnasherJew team are openly planning to commit a crime, as one Twitter user highlighted by reply.

GnasherJew proclaim their own criminality

The team running the pro-Israel smear account, GnasherJew, are quite openly declaring their own criminal intent.

Under the Representation of the People Act of 1983, any knowingly untrue attempt to smear a candidate during an election campaign is explicitly criminal. Now, GnasherJew’s boasted ‘big stories’ may not exclusively involve actual candidates, but the reference to ‘big’ clearly indicates most of them will. (If not, the stories really are not ‘big’ enough to bother with, and the tweet becomes empty trash-talk.)

And the key issue is that, whether the stories are genuine or not, GnasherJew is either committing a crime, or about to commit one when a General Election is called.

For if the stories are true, the alleged anti-Semitic behaviours may well be forbidden by race hate crime laws, and GnasherJew should therefore be reporting them to the appropriate authorities immediately. Failing to report a possible crime can be indicted under the 1967 Criminal Law Act. So if GnasherJew delay reporting them for political reasons, they are liable to prosecution themselves.

And if the stories are false, well, see above.

I did ask last year how flamin’ stupid Zionist fanatics are. Looks like we now have the answer.

David Collier is an idiot

David Collier mistakes his own cynical deceitfulness and toxic hate-mongering for ‘intelligence’.

by Martin Odoni

With the prorogation of Parliament this week being ruled illegal, there is inevitable discussion of whether it should be reconvened now, or after the appeal in the Supreme Court is heard on Tuesday.

These discussions, however, lead on to an edgier question; precisely what sanction, if any, should be imposed on the Prime Minister to penalise his actions. Boris Johnson has not only imposed a deeply irregular, and clearly excessive, suspension onto Parliament, but he is also talking openly of disobeying the orders Parliament has given him, suggesting that he is only compelled by them “in theory”. Given that the most important instruction – that he must seek a fresh extension to Article 50 if he is unable to secure a new Withdrawal Agreement with the European Union by the 19th of October – was actually made law by the passage of the Benn-Burt Bill, Johnson’s words are an effective declaration that he considers himself to be above the law. (A threat in no way alleviated by Kwasi Kwarteng’s fudging comments on the BBC this week.)

There is a case therefore for arguing that we should forget what penalties to dish out to Johnson for the time being, and instead focus just on how he can be stopped at all. If he is allowed to carry on as he is, then the United Kingdom will have taken the most critical step towards a real dictatorship. For if the precedent is set that the Prime Minister is not bound by the law, or by the sovereignty of Parliament, then, rather by definition, there will be nothing that he/she is not allowed to do.

On prorogation, interesting arguments have been raised that the Court of Session’s ruling is enough alone to make Johnson’s position untenable. On the extension to Article 50, EU expert David Allen Green has warned that Johnson would potentially face a custodial sentence should he fail to implement the Benn-Burt Bill, as he would be guilty of misconduct in a public office.

The question remains however as to who should enforce both Johnson’s removal, and his punishment. It seems unthinkable on present indicators that he will simply step down because someone else told him to, no matter how strong the case they make for him to do so. It is doubtful that Johnson would even hear the case out. As is well-recorded, attention-span is not one of his strong points, and it is clearly vastly exceeded by his ambitiousness.

I would cautiously suggest that the first direction to turn is the Head of the British State, the reigning monarch. She does technically have the power to dismiss a Prime Minister. Now for a constitutional monarchy to work, the Queen must remain politically impartial at all times, intervening in no way in matters of Government policy, so the obvious retort would be that if she tried to step in she may have to abdicate. But there are several reasons why I do not think this is much of a consideration.

Firstly, the reality is that the Queen has been on the throne since 1952, and she is now in her 90s. I therefore suspect that, as a deterrent, the threat of being forced to surrender the crown will probably have lost a lot of its sting by now. After being a voiceless political headpiece for nearly seven decades, she would have every right to feel fed up of the whole business by now, and therefore sacrificing her position for the sake of ridding her kingdom of an over-mighty leader would be a small price to pay.

Secondly, and far more importantly, it may have stemmed from a Government policy, but prorogation in itself is not a political matter. As soon as Johnson moved to prorogue Parliament, he turned it into a constitutional matter instead, and now that he has been found to have lied to the Head of State in order to bring it about, the constitutional and legal grounds are entirely on the Queen’s side. Assuming that the Supreme Court upholds the judgement of the Court of Session next week, then she will have a confirmed legal finding to support her case. The main question mark over her taking action would be whether she has the courage, or the energy, to dare.

This doubt is because, were the Queen to make an attempt to fire Johnson, there will definitely be pushback, especially from Conservative politicians hysterically crying out that she is violating the constitution. The hypocrisy of that would be as aggravating as it would be counter-productive, but it is hard to picture Brexiteer extremists like Michael Gove or Jacob Rees-Mogg accepting it with equanimity. There is also the worry that Johnson might still refuse to go, citing the requirement for Royal impartiality, even though that impartiality is required on political matters, not constitutional ones. At that point, force of some description would have to come into play.

Queen v Boris

Thanks to Boris Johnson’s over-reaching arrogance, different parts of the British state are in conflict in ways not seen since the 17th Century. In that era, they led to a massive series of civil wars.

As a country, the UK really is in murky, unexplored territory. We are already mired in a stand-off between Downing Street and Parliament, and it could lead on to a confrontation between Queen and Prime Minister. I am as uneasy about the consequences of the Queen winning it as I am of Johnson doing so. Either outcome would establish a precedent allowing powers for an individual that, I believe, no one person should ever be allowed to wield.

by Martin Odoni

I must be naive. I genuinely thought throughout the last few days that, at a time of growing and really alarming constitutional crisis in the United Kingdom, even a Prime Minister as greedy and self-obsessed as Boris Johnson would have realised that now was a good time to tread lightly for a bit.

What does Johnson do instead? Having prorogued Parliament, an act that today was ruled unlawful by a the Court of Session in Scotland, he decides to double-down on his undermining of the authority of the House of Commons by violating a legal instruction it gave him by vote.

Court of Session accusation

On the subject of the Court of Session, Number 10 tried to claim its decision had ‘political bias’, and that there is some kind of ‘irregularity’ in using a Scottish court at all. Here is why that is a shameful fiction.

The instruction was to publish correspondence among Government officials and advisors relating to the decision to prorogue, along with the ‘Yellowhammer’ document – the Government’s ‘planning assumptions‘ for a No Deal Brexit.

Instead, Johnson produces a version of Yellowhammer that has been doctored, with an altered title to imply worst-case scenarios rather than expected scenarios, and substantial redactions.


More here.

Johnson has also refused to comply fully with the instruction to release correspondence.

Even without the appalling timing of these moves, this would be a terrible look. As it is, it makes a very swift mockery of Tory MPs who were scoffing during Monday’s Parliamentary debates that ‘of course’ the Prime Minister would obey the law at all times. As though that goes without saying and the very question need never have been asked.

But of course it needed to be asked, and now we have our answer. Johnson will bend and break the law when it suits him, so long as he thinks he can get away with it by making it look like he is complying. It took just two days for Johnson to disprove his defenders. Even with the pace of recent events, that is frighteningly fast. Well okay, the instruction was not a Bill and so technically it is not itself in law. But the sovereignty of Parliament is, and so when any MP disobeys Parlament’s express instructions, he/she is quite definitely breaking the law of Parliamentary sovereignty. If a Prime Minister does not accept the sovereignty of Parliament, or the majesty of the law, well, what checks will he accept? Will only the use of force rein him in?

(RELATED THOUGHT: When we have to ask ourselves, “Is what I’m doing legal?” that usually means that we know that morally we should not do it, but we want to know precisely how badly we can get away with behaving. So whether Johnson’s redactions and withholding of correspondence are within the law or not makes little difference. The point is he should not be doing either. But Johnson does not care about what he should be doing, he only cares about what he can get away with.)

I have to reiterate that, due to the summer recess, Johnson has effectively been in the job of Prime Minister for all of about three weeks. During that time he has triggered a constitutional crisis, compromised the authority of Parliament, and is now embroiling himself and the country in repeated and increasingly convoluted legal turmoil. He could hardly find a more effective deliberate way to turn chaos into pandemonium than what he is doing now. What can he be thinking with this move? Is he thinking at all?

I have already called him Britain’s worst-ever Prime Minister. It would seem Johnson is determined to prove me right.

by Martin Odoni

As I wrote over the weekend, Boris Johnson, already the worst Prime Minister the UK has ever had after being in office barely six weeks, has managed to push the country into a Constitutional crisis with his first significant action in the role. Sounds about right for such a psychopath really. He accomplished this by pressuring the Queen into suspending (“proroguing”) Parliament for a crucial period of over a month, from mid-September to mid-to-late-October. This would mean the House of Commons would have insufficient time to put together a Bill to prevent a No Deal Brexit happening on 31st October; certainly it would be easy for any MPs in favour of No Deal to ‘bog down’ any debate by filibustering and raising constant pedantic objections to waste time.

Now, the pretext Johnson has given for this completely anti-democratic and unconstitutional move is that he supposedly has a ‘major new program’ of domestic policies that he wishes to implement, and needs time and space to arrange a new Queen’s Speech to open Parliament.

Lying makes BoJob feel kewl

Boris Johnson saw Theresa May telling lies on that same doorstep for years, and now says, “Hold my beer…”

Please, people of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, do not be fooled. There is no way that this pathological liar would ‘just happen’ to be telling the truth on this one occasion, especially when the ‘incidental’ benefit to him is so clear.

One doubt that needs raising is that if you study the (somewhat vague) policies Johnson claims to have in the pipeline, they appear to be mere reversals of public services cuts implemented by the Governments of David Cameron and Theresa May over the last nine years. The extra twenty thousand police he keeps mentioning, for instance, just barely offsets the reduction in officers due to the ignorant and toxic Austerity program started by George Osborne. So while the restoration of funding to a number of key services is welcome in itself, it is nowhere near as impressive or as exciting a pledge as Johnson is trying to make us believe.

Second reason for doubts is that Johnson announcing such a program seems to be a quiet admission that the aforementioned Austerity program started in 2010 was unnecessary and even harmful. This is a point some of us have been making for years. It is nice to see that the Tories have finally come around to this way of thinking, but it would be even nicer if Johnson could admit that he and his colleagues were wrong at the outset, and apologise for all the terrible and needless harm they caused.

Third reason is that Parliament has only just got back from its summer recess, which started on the 25th of July. Johnson could have arranged a Queen’s Speech with no great difficulty for this week, avoiding any need to suspend Parliament at all.

But the biggest reason of all is a simple matter of very obvious numbers. As Brexit has repeatedly demonstrated, there simply is not the right lay-out of MPs in the House of Commons to get a majority for, well, anything really. That is not just a problem for Johnson, it will be a problem for anyone trying to form a Government at the moment.

Johnson cannot even get one Bill through Parliament at present, given his majority-of-one, which only exists because of a shaky alliance with the Democratic Unionist Party. The Brexit deal agreed with the European Union fell at the first hurdle three times under May, the first time in particular being the heaviest defeat ever suffered by a sitting Government, and Johnson’s majority is significantly smaller than May’s was. The slightest rebellion, even just an absence or abstention or two from any Tory or DUP MP, and any Bill the Government tries to advance dies on its backside.

So when Johnson cannot get any one Bill to pass the Lower House, he wants to convince us that he thinks he can get an entire program of spending increases through? Given how rabidly pro-Austerity many of his remaining troops in the Parliamentary Party are, they are as likely to vote against such a program as anyone. Johnson may even be counting on that as a way of getting himself off-the-hook, in the unlikely event that a majority of MPs side with him in tomorrow’s Withdrawal Bill vote, and allow him not to fulfill the spending commitments.

You would have to be an absolute fool to believe this ‘big spending program’ pretext.

So don’t.

by Martin Odoni

Most people – at least those not spending the last three years touring the moons of Neptune – will likely be well aware that British Zionists and other assorted Israel supporters are fighting like mad to discredit the Labour Party on the, frankly implausible, grounds of ‘anti-Semitism’ supposedly being rife among its membership; the current approximate rate per-head of the membership is understood to be 0.06%, but we shall avoid digressing onto the matter of numbers here.

Now, the Labour Party have had a slogan used on-and-off since the mid-2000’s: For the many, not the few. Those trying to push the narrative of Labour anti-Semitism have made a habit of mangling it into For the many, not the Jew. It is an ugly distortion that frequently appears on placards at Zionist protests against the Labour Party.

Zion with Stewpid

No matter what the kid with the self-righteous expression on his face imagines, this gesture really isn’t clever.

That Zionists genuinely think that this pun sounds clever is beyond doubt; changing a single letter is the height of imagination in some circles. Sadly for them however, it is not clever. It is foolish, as it has an implication to it that reinforces an ugly stereotype about Jews.

The problem with the mangled version is that it encourages a clear separation of ‘Jews’ as a demographic from the majority of people. This in turn propogates the tired old notion that Jews think themselves ‘special’ or even ‘above’ the rest of humanity. This old caricature is often named with pejorative irony The Chosen Race. In reality, the notion of ‘Jewish exceptionalism’ is only really believed by extremist groups such as Israeli Orthodox Jews. But the original version of the slogan, For the many, not the few, fairly explicitly indicates that ‘the many’ are the disadvantaged masses, and that ‘the few’ are the privileged and powerful rich. So by altering it to ‘the Jew’, Zionists are inadvertently casting British Jews, not as victims, but as the nation’s privileged and rich minority whose interests are served by the status quo.

Conclusion of that? By using the mangled version of the slogan, Zionists and Israel-supporters are actually behaving in an anti-Semitic way, while trying to interpret all manner of behaviours by Labour members as anti-Semitic.

Ironic? Certainly. Back-to-front? Completely.

Consistent with the current standard of political debate in the United Kingdom? Entirely.