As Sunak and the right wing media trumpet the virtually meaningless trade deal with countries in south-east Asia (see TNE website, theneweuropean.co.uk), I have – while sitting in an interminable queue to get on a ferry at Dover – been working out my personal Brexit dividend.
Leaving aside such annoying trivialities as border chaos, chronic labour shortages, additional costs for businesses, hugely reduced inward investment and the gross deterioration in waterway standards since we left the EU, I have made conservative estimates of the financial impact of Brexit on me as an individual.
So far, since the end of January 2020, using the OBR’s figures, Brexit has cost me at least £11,000, or £290 per month. The “new” trade deal with countries with which we already had trade deals might reduce that £290 per month by about 24p. So – hang out the flags, folks – I’m going to be very marginally less worse off. I’m fortunate enough to be able to weather that sort of impact, but there are millions for whom even the slightest financial hit is a major blow.
So I’m finding it very difficult to identify a Brexit dividend. I can easily identify the negative impacts and why Brexit has divided us into those who continue to claim the benefits (without being able to say what they are, beyond the spurious claims about taking back control and regaining the sovereignty we never lost) and those who see it for what is it – the biggest con trick since the Trojan Horse, but with far more negative consequences for far more people.
The positive case for rejoining the EU needs to be broadcast repeatedly alongside the stark and chronic impacts of Brexit on every UK citizen. Unless, of course, you are one of the increasing number of sovereign individuals or other chums of government ministers.
Brexiteers claim ludicrously that the delays at Dover any time there is a rush to leave England have nothing to do with Brexit, even though it’s blindingly obvious to even readers of the Express, Mail and Telegraph that we used to sail through passport control and customs with no delays – until we left the EU. Lengthy, rigorous checks happen if you’re a citizen of a third country, as anyone who has tried to enter the USA will tell you.
It’s as idiotic a claim as Kemi Badenoch’s that an increase of 0.08% in the UK’s trade makes up for the huge trade dent caused by Brexit, and it will only get worse when the full range of checks is implemented.
They clearly haven’t clocked the connection between their witless denials of the Brexit impacts on many fronts, and the ever-increasing proportion of the UK population who can now spot a porkie and understand just what a colossal mistake leaving the EU was. Just because Johnson has faded away doesn’t mean the shameless lying has stopped. Long may that continue. It’s their hole – let them keep on digging. The majority in favour of Rejoin can only increase, and the pressure to do so only intensify.
I shall leave the small print and final judgment to the experts re the, just announced, CPTPP agreement. But I must ironically congratulate our government on moving the UK an inch forward by joining a new trade group after dragging us back a mile by leaving a far bigger one on our doorstep!
Get Johnson gone
Barbara Callan makes a persuasive point in “Let Johnson rot as a sad fringe figure, not a martyr” (Letters, TNE #335).
But why should the rest of us stump up the near-£155,000 in salary this proven liar and disgrace would pick up as an MP between now and a last-minute election in January 2025, not to mention his expenses and his increased profile as an MP? Just (deservedly) censure this cheat and get him gone.
For me the ideal outcome would be for him to linger, an unwanted backbench MP who inevitably loses his seat at the next election. It’s more of the “necessary pain” we must endure to be rid of this lot. Being deselected makes him a martyr and allows his supporters to cry conspiracy.
An excellent article by Patience Wheatcroft regarding Johnson’s appearance at the Privileges Committee (“Here lies Boris Johnson”, TNE #335). Patience is also a credit to the European Movement.
Re: “We need to talk about Pablo”, TNE #335. I don’t think we can judge anyone in the past with the moral gauge and values we have today. Picasso was born in 1881 and was a difficult character who reached his artistic peak in the Spain of the 1950s – still deeply conservative, old-fashioned, misogynistic and under a far-right dictatorial system.
But in the 1970s, Spain did a 180-degree transformation to become one of the most liberal countries in Europe. Had Picasso been born then, his personal story would be different.
Was Picasso a good artist? Yes. Was he a good person? No. Was he indulged and pandered to like a big baby when he should have had his ego punctured many times? Hell, yes.
This sentence in Florence Hallett’s article sums it up: “There is a long tradition of allowing male genius carte blanche”.
Meanwhile, we forget to mention the thugs, murderers and misogynists whose unique artworks line the walls of prestigious galleries throughout the world. Do we judge every artist by their behaviour or their artwork? If we do the latter, our galleries would lose a third of their work overnight.
Not a good person? Not an example to follow? Picasso wasn’t a criminal. He happens to be dead, too. Document it, discuss it, tell young people that this behaviour is not acceptable now, and maybe wasn’t acceptable then either. Show the art anyway.
Lorenzo Luis Albano Farias
In the summer of 1960, I stayed twice at no 9 rue Gît-le-Coeur (Inside the Beat Hotel, TNE #335). Once at the beginning of a hitch-hiking trip down to the south and once on the way back.
I was on my own on the first visit, but met some interesting people, among them Gregory Corso (I say met: he was in the room with a bunch of other beatniks, all stoned) and a beautiful black model called Bobbie who I think posed for Serge Jacques among other people. On the return trip, I was with a girl I’d met on the road. We occupied a tiny windowless room on the third or fourth floor. It was hot, very hot…
Last summer I took a little sentimental journey and discovered that it’s now the four-star Hotel du Vieux Paris. I didn’t stay.
I worked in Paris for a few years in the early 2000s and stayed in the Beat Hotel, in its renewed boutique hotel style. Its great history is celebrated there still. No shared bath, though!
Re: “The pack turns on a lone wolf president” (TNE #335), on Emmanuel Macron’s pension reform. The fact is that the French pension system is one of the most generous, from the age you get your pension to the amount you receive, and this is just not sustainable with an ageing population.
Leaving at 64 in 2030 when in all other similar countries people must ALREADY wait until 64 is not insane and unacceptable. Rather it is inevitable and reasonable.
Re: Nigel Warburton on the row in Florida over whether Michaelangelo’s David is pornographic (TNE #335). What do you expect from a country that defends and allows almost anyone to buy guns? Now that IS pornographic.
David Jeremy Paley
It’s all in the mind of the beholder, as Nigel Warburton says in his final sentence. It’s the kids’ parents with the dirty minds, not Michelangelo or the teacher.
In his Diary (TNE #335), Alastair Campbell refers with disdain to Neil Kinnock’s view that “John Charles was a better footballer than Pelé or Maradona”. I would suggest these kinds of comparisons are almost impossible to make – was Bobby Moore better than Messi, for instance? As Paul Simon says, “every generation throws a hero up the pop charts”.
I have watched football for 70 years and can’t think of a player who was genuinely world-class in two different positions other than Charles, at centre forward and centre half.
This view is shared by Sir Alex Ferguson, who when asked to name his all-time greatest XI named only 10 players as “John Charles could play both centre half and centre forward”.
Finally, in the year 2000, Italian football journalists voted for the best foreign player ever to play in Serie A. John Charles was their choice, ahead of many others, including Maradona, who in my opinion is not even the best-ever Argentinian. That was Alfredo Di Stéfano.
“It’s not easy being green” (TNE #335) was another typically incisive and worrying article by Jonty Bloom. Sunak may be an improvement on the previous incumbents, but how ludicrous that his government focuses on culture wars and migrant boats while the massive economic damage of Brexit holds us back, and a proper response to the green subsidies of the EU and US is not even on our radar.
Oldham, Greater Manchester
Paul Mason wants to “facilitate the defeat of Russian forces” in Ukraine (“The question of our age”, TNE #335). How many Ukrainian lives is he willing to sacrifice to achieve this end? The land border between the two states is 1,226 miles. Can the Ukrainians afford to monitor this?
This war is a tragedy and, like 1914-18, there will be no winners. Mason should be urging compromise and a retreat to a settled eastern border.
I much appreciated “Israel’s dream in the balance” by Emma Sky (TNE #335), which took a rational approach to the situation in Israel. So often the plight of the Palestinian people is not mentioned, but this article was fair, aware, and made the point that there can never be peace without justice.
We can all pray “for the peace of Jerusalem”, but it will need radical changes.
I heartily endorse the recent comments made by Richard Ross in Letters, TNE #335. Please give more positive coverage to Scottish politics. It would be great if TNE could endorse Scottish independence, as the Scottish people overwhelmingly voted to remain within the EU.
Petra Suckling’s letter (TNE #334) claims that PR would give us “proper democracy”. The problem is that we had a coalition government from 2010-2015 in which the minority party ditched all their manifesto promises and signed up to the Conservative agenda. They betrayed those who voted for them in good faith.
Their actions have led directly to the appalling situation the country now finds itself in, and to Britain leaving the EU. Perhaps a clear choice is better?
I find the Peter Trudgill columns both entertaining and informative. In TNE #333 he raises the question of why seemingly useful words just drop out of use. An interesting contemporary example is the desuetude of pronouns, which are now often replaced by some combination of “one” or “ones” as in “the ones”, to say nothing of the loss of compact terms such as whither, hither, thither and so forth. The latter are perhaps regarded as too old-fashioned?
As if to make up for this, we also see unnecessary additions. My bête noire here is “very few”, where very is totally redundant. Similarly to describe something as still extant is additional padding because if not “still” with us the object described is clearly not “extant”. There are many (aka very many) such examples encountered when reading or listening, but I wonder if Peter has anything more systematic to say?
Presumably losses and additions, as is the case with neologisms, depend on our sources. Is it the case that as we see and hear more examples via broadcast media, the rate of change increases?
Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex