Is this safe . . . ?

It is slightly disconcerting, when a WordPress update is announced to begin the installation procedure only to be informed that the update’s genuineness could not be verified as no certificate could be found. Does WordPress not know if it is genuine or not ?

I think we should be told.

In other news, an SSL Certificate has been purchased for this domain – the trick now is to validate it. Instructions have been received but to this old head are total Greek (I have nothing against Greece by the way). Anyone have a spare 3 year old geek I could borrow for an hour or two ?

Update to the above . . .

The address for this blog and all decadenona.org sites should now be prefixed by “https” . . .

eg : https://www.decadenona.org/blog

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This time last year . . .

Not exactly this time last year as the EXIF information this photo says 11th October, and we have now reached the 29th, but you get the idea. Kirkcudbright Tolbooth illuminated for the Festival of Light last year. No such festival this year alas – and one wonders if there will be one in 2021 ?

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A Poem of Isolation . . .

A Brief Pageant of English Verse

I won’t arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
I’ll sanitize the doorknob and make a cup of tea.
I won’t go down to the sea again; I won’t go out at all,
I’ll wander lonely as a cloud from the kitchen to the hall.
There’s a green-eyed yellow monster to the north of Katmandu
But I shan’t be seeing him just yet and nor, I think, will you.
While the dawn comes up like thunder on the road to Mandalay
I’ll make my bit of supper and eat it off a tray.
I shall not speed my bonnie boat across the sea to Skye
Or take the rolling English road from Birmingham to Rye.
About the woodland, just right now, I am not free to go
To see the Keep Out posters or the cherry hung with snow,
And no, I won’t be travelling much, within the realms of gold,
Or get me to Milford Haven. All that’s been put on hold.
Give me your hands, I shan’t request, albeit we are friends
Nor come within a mile of you, until this trial ends.

This rather brilliant little verse arrived in the SF inbox recently from our contributor Alastair Glegg. No one seems to know who wrote it, but it certainly strikes a note with me. Out of my study window I can see fat woodpigeons pecking at the red berries on the hawthorn tree at the bottom of the garden, and the grass in the park is strewn with conkers.

From Hazel Wood, Highbury, 23 October 2020

You can see the original post HERE

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That Australian Deal . . .

A few words (I lie, quite a lot of words) of explanation from Full Fact about the mysterious “Australian Deal”. Is it a real deal, is it myth, is it no deal, or what is it. I have read what follows, and I am still not sure that I understand it all, and I rather suspect that not many of our cabinet ministers do either. They don’t do detail and this all requires the need to get on top of a great deal (see what I did there ?) of detail and to be able to deploy it at will when it is needed.


“What does an “Australia style” Brexit deal really mean?”
20 October 2020
What was claimed

An “Australian terms” trade deal could be called a deal on Mongolian or Afghan terms.
Our verdict

Mongolia and Afghanistan actually have more favourable trade terms with the EU, at least as far as tariffs are concerned, than Australia.

“We hope that the EU will change their position […] But I think it’s only fair also that we communicate one other thing, which is that we are ready, if required, to leave on what have been called Australian terms.”

Michael Gove, 18 October 2020

“Could be called Mongolian or Afghan terms as well as Australian.”

Andrew Marr, 18 October 2020

As the Brexit trade deal talks with the EU approach the endgame, there’s been much talk about the possibility of the UK moving to trade with the EU on “Australian” terms.

While the UK government has said it wants to have a “Canada-style” trade deal with the EU after the UK leaves the transition period at the end of 2020, this now looks less likely.

The Prime Minister has said the country should get ready for a trading relationship with the EU more like Australia, though that essentially means trading under no free trade agreement with the EU.

On Sunday, Andrew Marr suggested to Michael Gove that “Australian terms” could equally be called “Mongolian or Afghan terms”.

This isn’t quite correct. Afghanistan and Mongolia actually trade on more favourable terms than Australia by virtue of being less developed countries.

But, that aside, what are the exact differences between all these deals and what could any of them they mean for businesses and consumers in the UK?
How did we get here?

It’s worth just taking a step back and outlining how the EU-UK Brexit negotiations got to this point.

The negotiation process was essentially split into two parts. First the UK and the EU negotiated the terms of withdrawal, and now they are negotiating the terms of a future trading arrangement.

At the beginning of 2020 the UK and the EU signed the withdrawal agreement. This avoided a “no deal” scenario and, as the UK in a Changing Europe (UKCE) think tank writes, “settled the UK’s financial obligations, the status of citizens in both the UK and the EU, and arrangements on how goods trade between Northern Ireland and the EU27 would continue after Brexit.”

Perhaps most importantly, the withdrawal agreement ensured there would be customs checks between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This avoids the need for customs checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and so prevents the need for a “hard border” on the island of Ireland.

(It is worth noting that the new UK Internal Market Bill, which breaks aspects of the withdrawal agreement and has prompted a legal challenge from the EU, could affect the implementation of the withdrawal agreement.)

The negotiation of the future trading relationship is happening now, during a “transition period”, which is due to end on December 31 2020. Until this point the UK and the EU continue to trade on the same terms as when the UK was a member of the EU.

While the potential failure to agree a new trading arrangement before the transition period ends has also been referred to as “no deal”, it’s important not to confuse that with the “no deal” scenario which was being discussed when the possibility of a withdrawal agreement looked uncertain.
WTO

To understand the difference between different trade arrangement options, it can help to start with the basic trading arrangement—what’s often called “WTO terms”.

Most countries are members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) which sets rules on international trade. There are two basic rules all members must abide by.

Firstly, if countries choose to set tariffs (taxes) on imported goods and services from other WTO countries, these must be applied equally.

This is called the “Most-Favoured Nation” rule and means that, for example, if a country cut the tariff on imports of copper from 10% to 5% for exporters from one country, it would have to set the tariff at 5% for every other country as well.

The second rule is that countries can’t set different rules for foreign and domestic products. For example, if you do not require domestic products to have a warning as to sugar content in food you cannot require it of foreign products.

However there is a big exception. If you are in a customs union (like the EU) or free trade area you can treat products and services from the customs union better than you treat other WTO members.

You can read more about how the WTO works here.
Canada and Australia

While Australia is currently negotiating a free trade agreement with the EU, it does not yet have one. If the UK moved to trade with the EU under “Australian terms”, it would have no favourable access to the EU market. UK businesses would face the EU’s standard WTO tariffs when trying to export to the continent, and EU businesses would face the UK’s standard WTO tariffs when trying to export to the UK.

However, Australia does have some agreements relating to trade and other issues with the EU. For example the EU and Australia have what’s called a Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA).

This means the EU and Australia recognise each others’ testing bodies. While the countries may have different standards, an MRA means that products certified as EU compliant in Australia can be exported to the EU without needing to be tested on arrival, and vice-versa.

(The UK and Australia have agreed continuity of the EU-Australia MRA once the UK stops following the EU’s trade rules next year.)

This means that if the UK is seeking to negotiate a future trade arrangement with the EU on “Australian terms” this would be similar to, though not exactly the same as, a “no deal” on “WTO terms”. There would be no free trade agreement with the EU, with the possibility of some other arrangements which may ease trade to some extent.

If the UK and the EU fail to agree on even these limited arrangements before the transition period ends, then the UK would end up trading with the EU on less favourable terms than Australia currently does.

By comparison, Canada (which the UK government has suggested as a model for its desired trading relationship) has a free trade agreement with the EU.

This grants Canada almost completely tariff-free trade in goods with the EU, but it still faces more regulatory barriers to trade than EU countries do when trading with each other. The Institute for Government says that Canada’s deal allows “very limited access for services” to the EU market.

When Andrew Marr was suggesting that an “Australian terms” agreement could equally be called a “Mongolian” or “Afghan” deal he was actually understating the level of access both countries have to the EU market.

As well as free trade agreements which the EU has with various countries, it also grants certain less developed countries reduced or tariff-free access to the single market.

Afghanistan is classed as one of the least developed countries and so benefits from an “Everything But Arms” arrangement with the EU.

This means Afghan businesses can export all goods except arms and ammunition without tariffs or quotas to the EU.

Mongolia also receives tariff-free access to EU markets for two-thirds of product lines.

This is by virtue of being a lower-income country (though not as low-income as Afghanistan) which has ratified various conventions related to good governance, human rights, labour rights and environmental protections.

Lower developed countries which have not ratified these conventions benefit from tariff reductions or removal on exporting two-thirds of product lines to the EU, but not complete tariff removal on all of them.

By Abbas Panjwani

Full Fact, 2 Carlton Gardens, London, SW1Y 5AA

Full Fact is a registered charity (no. 1158683) and a non-profit company (no. 6975984) limited by guarantee and registered in England and Wales. © Copyright 2010-2020 Full Fact. Thanks to Bytemark for donating our web hosting, and Alamy for providing stock photos. Privacy, terms and conditions.

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Discours de Michel Barnier en séance plénière du Parlement européen

Michel Bernard Barnier (born 9 January 1951) is a French politician serving as the European Commission’s Head of Task Force for Relations with the United Kingdom (UK Task Force/UKTF) since November 2019.

I append below the remarks of M. Barnier made to the European Parliament, dated 21 October 2020. My schoolboy French is not up to translating this, so what you see is by courtesy of Google Translate. I have altered the spelling of one word – defense to defence, which I think is easier on UK eyes. We must be nearing the end of this long drawn out act. M. Barnier and the European Union have acted courteously, helpfully, and constantly desirous of a settlement in accordance with that mutually agreed between the two sides in 2019. That agreement has now been repudiated by our Government but the European Union, amazingly, have continued to remain open and cooperative in the face of such bad behaviour. How long this can continue it is hard to see. But the UK will come out of it badly, in terms of practical affairs, and with what is possibly worse, a trashed international reputation.

The speech appears in the original in these terse short sentences, and I have not sought to change that in any way.

Mr President, dear David,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

A few words, if I may, in addition to what Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič said, on the negotiations on the future partnership with the United Kingdom.

The European Council last week was an important moment in these negotiations, as President Charles Michel has just recalled.

The European Council reaffirmed to our British partners and friends that the European Union wants an agreement, as we have always said.

An agreement that is for the mutual benefit of each party, while respecting the autonomy and sovereignty of each party, and which reflects a balanced compromise.

However, there will be no deal at all costs, as President Ursula von der Leyen has said on numerous occasions.

This is the position which is at the heart of my mandate, confirmed by your Parliament and by the European Council, reaffirming our constructive attitude to continue the discussion and negotiations.

I would like to remind you that the Union’s attitude in these negotiations has not changed and will not change until the last day.

We will remain calm, constructive, respectful, but also firm and determined in the defense of the principles and interests which are ours.

We will seek the necessary compromises, on each side, to have an agreement until the last useful day. Our door will always remain open.

And as we recalled at the end of the European Council, we are ready to step up discussions on all subjects and do so on the basis of legal texts.

We were ready, with my team, to come to London on Monday, at the beginning of this week.

What will not change either is the framework we have set on behalf of the European Union for our ambitious partnership with the United Kingdom.

That is in respect of our decision-making autonomy, the integrity of our internal market, and the preservation of our long-term economic and political interests.

These principles have been stated by the Union since the moment when the United Kingdom chose – as was its sovereign choice – to leave the European Union more than 4 years ago,

And these principles are naturally compatible with respect for British sovereignty, which is a legitimate concern of the government of Boris Johnson.

What is at stake today in these negotiations is not the sovereignty of one or the other of the Parties. We have said it since the Political Declaration: any future agreement will be made with respect for the decision-making autonomy of the European Union and with respect for British sovereignty. What is at stake is the proper organization of our future relations after the divorce, which is now a given,

We want these future relations to be as intense as possible, for our cooperation in economic and security matters, but also for our joint investments in research or education and one day, undoubtedly cooperation in matters of foreign policy and defence.

We have of course heard the red lines mentioned by Boris Johnson: on the role of the European Court of Justice; on the legislative autonomy of the United Kingdom; and on fishing.

And we have been engaged at the negotiating table, for almost 4 months, to see how these red lines could be compatible with our own principles and interests, and with the desire to reach an agreement between us.

Because it goes without saying that any international agreement implies constraints between the two Parties, constraints mutually accepted.

So much for the general framework of these negotiations, which it is always useful to recall.

I think an agreement is within our grasp,

whether we, on both sides, are ready to work constructively and in a spirit of compromise;

if we move forward in the coming days, on the basis of legal texts as is our wish.

and finally, above all, if we are ready in the coming days to tackle and resolve the most difficult subjects.

Time is limited, very limited. We must therefore find with the British, if they wish, solutions to the most difficult problems.

As I indicated to the Coordination Group of your Parliament, led by David McAllister, and to the Conference of Committee Chairs, we have made progress in recent weeks with the British on several subjects:

Police and judicial cooperation – I know the vigilance of your Parliament, we have made progress on the issue of the European Convention on Human Rights, on data protection, Europol and Eurojust, or on extradition. There we can clearly see the outline of a chord.

Transport, where the United Kingdom has committed to a specific Level Playing Field, particularly in the field of road transport, is important for us,

The participation of the United Kingdom in certain flagship programs of the European Union, such as ‘Horizon Europe ‘or‘ Erasmus +’.

And thematic cooperation on issues of common interest, such as public health, so urgent at the moment, and, recently, cybersecurity.

On other subjects, even if there are still disagreements, prospects for solutions are starting to emerge:

In particular on trade in goods, services, energy or the coordination of social security.

Finally, there are three more complex subjects on which we must imperatively progress, as the European Council recalled – namely the Level Playing Field, fisheries and governance.

1 / the Level Playing Field – these rules of economic and commercial fair play which must be at the heart of our partnership.

The British often refer to the Canadian model in their speeches.

We have with the United Kingdom both a unique geographical proximity, and an economic interconnection built with the British for 47 years that makes this situation unlike any other.

And then, this is the first time in our 60-year history that we are negotiating a trade treaty with a third country:

on a “zero tariff, zero quota” basis,

which has no precedent, neither with Canada, nor with Japan,

and this, in a context of regulatory divergence, and not of convergence.

The requirement for a true level playing field framework will remain a fundamental requirement of the Union, as recalled by the European Council. We have noted with interest in the last few days that the British are ready to work on: fundamental principles for a specific state aid control regime in the future agreement, which would go beyond that provided for in the agreements existing free trade standards, as well as non-regression standards, with real guarantees of national implementation, and a dispute settlement mechanism.

But these intentions have yet to be reflected in the negotiations. It is also necessary that each party adopts unilateral measures in response to risks of distortion of competition.

2 / Similarly, the governance of our future agreement is a key to our common success.

This is the structure of our agreement, which must be comprehensive.

But also a binding dispute settlement mechanism, with an effective sanctions system – this mechanism that can be used by both parties. Maroš Šefčovič has just recalled the risk that the Internal Market Bill causes on the Withdrawal Agreement. That is why we must be more vigilant.

3 / Finally with regard to fishing, the last major blocking point.

There will be no economic deal without a lasting, fair and equitable solution for fishermen on both sides.

We will insist until the end to ensure a sustainable perspective for our European fishermen.

This requires reciprocal and stable access to water, and a fair distribution of quotas.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Our door remains open and will remain open until the last useful day to continue working together. With our team, which is also yours, we are ready to work intensively – day and night if necessary – to finalize a draft agreement within a deadline which should leave sufficient time for your Parliament and the Council to speak. Obviously, we will continue to inform you in full transparency.

But to find an agreement, it takes two. And finally, come to an agreement.

This is why we will also have to be ready to assume the consequences of a possible “no deal” and must continue preparations for this scenario by the end of the year. We have been carrying out this preparatory work for many months, in good cooperation with Member States and stakeholders.

Our attitude and your unity are the key to the success of this negotiation, which, as we know, does not only concern the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom, but also, more broadly, the future of the European project. .

Thank you for your attention.

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Rapidly changing since – er – – – – 1983 ?

The image above was in the Guardian as part of a photo gallery entitled “Landscape Photographer of the Year, 2020”. I was instantly attracted to this picture of Battersea Power Station as we used to pass by it on the train coming and going from Victoria Station when I was a boy. It was visible from many parts of London, and to use a word I have come to hate, was something of an icon. We have known for sometime that redevelopment was proposed following its closure as a functioning power station, so I was interested to read what the caption had to say about this. I post below the text as it was alongside the photo.

Battersea at dusk, London | Ron Tear | Lines in the Landscape special award runner-up

‘The rapid conversion of Battersea power station makes for an ever-hanging canvas as a backdrop to the trains leaving Vauxhall station. Here is a classic view with both stationary and moving transport. Taken from Ebury Bridge, Victoria, I managed to gain an £80.00 fine for taking our old diesel VW into this part of London without paying the charge!’

I was again instantly struck by the use of the description as “rapidly changing” because it seemed to me that Battersea Power Station has been being redeveloped ever since I can remember. So a little research in the ever useful Wikipedia revealed that, “following the station’s closure, the Central Electricity Generating Board had planned to demolish the station and sell the land for housing, but because of the building’s then Grade II listed status, they had to pay the high cost of preserving the building. In 1983 they held a competition for ideas on the redevelopment of the site. It was won by a consortium led by developer David Roche[35] and which included John Broome, owner of Alton Towers Ltd. This consortium proposed an indoor theme park, with shops and restaurants. At an estimated cost of £35 million, the scheme was risky and would require over 2 million visitors a year to make any profit. The scheme received planning approval in May 1986 and the site was purchased by John Broome for £1.5 million in 1987. Work on converting the site began the same year.”

There then followed a long, sad and sorry tale of stops and starts and ‘lack of funding’ which brings us to the present day. I suppose the text above is meant to tell us that now work has actually started it is going along well – or was until Sars-Cov-2 arrived. But I still think that a redevelopment which started round about 1983 – thirty seven years ago can hardly be described as “rapid ” !

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Bordering on the Border . . .

Recently the Welsh Assembly said it was going to close off the Welsh border to visitors in an attempt to limit the spread of the Sars-cov-2 virus. I thought back to Welsh holidays of the past, and the winding lanes we had driven along near the border. The extract from the Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 map above – not a winding lane, but a B road, shows just how difficult such an idea is to put practice if you are, say, a senior policemen in an area alongside such a border. The same is true of the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. The Welsh/English border on the map above is the line of black bars with cross hatchings. In the short section of road shown it crosses the road three times. It will be a nightmare to police, baffling to visitors, and difficult for local people whose regular trips to shops, work, school or friends might involve several such crossings. Such is life in a pandemic.

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Don’t say you weren’t warned . . .

Gina Miller

Gina Miller writes in “The Guardian” about the way we are drifting (drifting ?) into authoritarianism. The parallels are not exact, but the similarities between our present situation and that of Germany after 1933 are painful. Then as now, many people either ignored what was in plain sight because they did not want to see it, or else said that their new Government and Leader must only be doing this because it was absolutely necessary. A few voices here and there are speaking out, but seem to get little attention. Much of the gutter press (and much of the press is in IN the gutter now) either back up the UK Government’s actions or bay for further and more extreme ones. Just like the Völkischer Beobachter of yore. Article begins . . .

The coronavirus pandemic is proving to be a cover for Boris Johnson’s government to seize powers that are without precedent during peacetime. I am becoming more convinced over time that some in his government and advisers saw the virus early on not only as a health crisis, but also an opportunity to push ahead with their plans to diminish parliament’s sovereignty, row back on the rule of law, and hollow out our hard-won rights. Ultimately, the aim is to solidify more power in the hands of the prime minister and a select few of his inner circle.

Their direction of travel was obvious before the pandemic hit – a year ago Johnson tried to shut down parliament – but under cover of Covid-19, it is now bold and blatant. As one of only three countries with an unwritten constitution – New Zealand and Israel being the others – the UK has always been vulnerable to a group of unscrupulous individuals coming into power who would not fear stretching the rules, protocols and parliamentary instruments to their limits, and seek to establish an authoritarian state.

They have now arrived, and with Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the house, dusting off ancient Henry VIII powers, statutory instruments, as well as carving out new powers contained in the EU Withdrawal Act and Coronavirus Act, he is systematically going about the task of disenfranchising our elected MPs.

Events have always been a problem for prime ministers – as Harold Macmillan attested – but they have played into Johnson and his advisers’ hands. Public unease about his response to the coronavirus is now palpable – instead of showing strong leadership and competence, he still appears to be in campaigning mode, more concerned about being seen to take action regardless of the merits. And with MPs muzzled, his coterie are able to bypass requests to publish data, modelling and the scientific evidence behind their pandemic strategies – or any studies into the impact of a no-deal Brexit.

Some MPs are finally beginning to recognise that in this new political world they are surplus to requirements, and as a result we have seen a few attempts at rebellion over the past few weeks.

There had been anxieties for years about the use and limited scrutiny of secondary legislation (laws created by ministers without parliamentary votes), but this is now the government’s modus operandi. Since 28 January, 256 of these statutory instruments related to coronavirus have been laid before parliament, an astonishing 122 of which breach the 21-day rule giving MPs time to scrutinise them.

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab told the virtual Conservative party conference at the weekend that Brexit is about taking back control of our laws and our sovereignty. Whether the UK gets a deal or not (I believe a deal will be achieved due to fears over further damaging a coronavirus-impacted economy), the transition period ends on 31 December – which means that, between now and then, the government could lay another 250-300 statutory instruments, without parliament having to pass any act. What they could sneak into these terrifies me because, however politically sensitive and controversial they are, MPs will be unable to debate, scrutinise and vote on them.

I knew only too well, long before the pandemic, the lengths our government would go to put itself above our domestic law. But to trash Britain’s international reputation for law and order – by inserting sections into the internal market bill that attempt to put the country above international law, and outside the scrutiny of parliament or UK courts – has ramifications that should worry us all, no matter what our political allegiance.

Raab also said that “the days of being held over a barrel by Brussels … are long gone”, but, with MPs voting to extend ministers’ executive powers for another six months under the Coronavirus Act, what about the barrel our own government is now holding us over?

In the years that followed the 2016 vote to leave the European Union, I was often invited to look ahead to what life would be like when the UK had to go it alone; but never, in my worst nightmares, could I have imagined the dystopian state of affairs we find ourselves in now.

Lindsay Hoyle, the Commons speaker, issued an unprecedented rebuke to the government for treating the House of Commons with “contempt”. I only wish he had gone further and asked Rees-Mogg why MPs are being denied the opportunity to participate in debates, and why online speeches are banned. Added to that, a freedom of information request I submitted confirms that a successful voting app, which was used in early May, has been sneakily discontinued – so we now have a dysfunctional, disfranchised House of Commons.

I also have my suspicions about the true motives underlying the government’s review into the appointment of judges and access to judicial review. On Twitter, Geoffrey Cox, the former attorney general who acted for Boris Johnson in my court case against his prorogation of parliament, posted a scene from the film A Man For All Seasons which tells of Thomas More’s stand during another period of tyranny in British history. More was urged to bend the law to his own ends but declined.

In the clip More uttered these words: “This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast and if you cut them down do you think you could really stand upright in the winds that would blow then?” Cox and I have little in common, but we can both see only too well that the direction we are heading is a profoundly dangerous one.

• Gina Miller is a businesswoman and transparency activist who led the legal action that prevented Boris Johnson proroguing parliament.

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Living in a land of fantasy – but learning . . .

‘Britain’s car industry risks losing out even if there is a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU, according to documents seen by the BBC.

Car parts from Japan and Turkey used in the UK will not be treated as British, so some exports may see higher tariffs.

In a letter, Britain’s chief Brexit negotiator says the UK has failed so far to get the car parts deal it wants, and “obviously cannot insist on it”.’

 

This Government improves slowly, but daily, like old wine. Some months ago Dominic Raab made some interesting discoveries about the Port of Dover and what goes on there, now they are finding out that Japan and Turkey are not parts of the UK.

Things can only get better if we go on at this rate.

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“Interesting Times” . . .

We are living in “interesting times”. The uninteresting times are supposed to be times of peace and tranquillity, so “Interesting Times” are those of turmoil and strife. It is a commonly used expression which ironically seems to have no known origin despite being attributed to the Chinese.

“A controversial government Brexit bill that breaches international law has safely passed its final House of Commons hurdle, despite continued serious doubts among a number of Conservative MPs about the plan.

The internal market bill, which primarily sets out technical post-Brexit details involving the devolved nations, also gives ministers the power to unilaterally rewrite elements of the withdrawal agreement with the EU. It passed its third reading on Tuesday night by 340 votes to 256 and will now go to the House of Lords.” Guardian, 30 Sep 2020

This seems innocuous enough until you read around the subject and find that it means that 340 of our Members of Parliament think it is perfectly legal to approve legislation which involves the breaking of the Law. 256 good people voted against this idea and a considerable number appear not to have voted, or to have abstained, and so do not seem to have an opinion on the subject, or are too cowed to express how they feel.

On taking office as a Member of Parliament each new arrival is required to take an oath – no oath – no seat, no salary.

“I… swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God.” This is adjusted slightly for members of other faiths, or of no faith at all. Privy Councillors take a similar oath but of much greater length and detail.

So these 340 Members of Parliament have sworn that they will act “according to law” but now say that they intend to break the Law. Where do we go from here ?

But it doesn’t end with faithless Members of Parliament. I and many others in our Country have taken an Oath of Allegiance to the Queen, her heirs and successors on several occasions. Presumably if HM the Queen tells the Armed Forces to go to war – via the Government who are her advisers, I obey on the understanding that although the morality may be in doubt it is nevertheless a legal act under domestic and international law and so I get on with it. But now, we can no longer be sure that it is a legal act because the “advisers” have abandoned legality.

The Flag of the Chief of the Defence Staff

Now it gets interesting with a vengeance . . .

“The Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) is the professional head and highest ranking officer on active duty of the British Armed Forces as well as the most senior uniformed military adviser to the Secretary of State for Defence and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. The Chief of the Defence Staff is based at the Ministry of Defence and works alongside the Permanent Under Secretary, the ministry’s senior civil servant. The Chief of the Defence Staff is the British equivalent position of what in NATO and the European Union is known as the Chief of Defence.

Constitutionally, the sovereign is the de jure Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. However, in practice, the Government of the United Kingdom de facto exercises the royal prerogative and provides direction of the Armed Forces through the Ministry of Defence’s Defence Council, of which the Chief of the Defence Staff is a member.”

So, suppose the Government directs the CDS to some course of action, how can the CDS be sure that it is in fact a legal action ? He is now in a very awkward position as are all those who serve under him and who have taken some form of the Oath of Allegiance.

This is how “Law and Order” breaks down and the governance of a Country falls apart. What follows is often bloody and it takes a lot of time and effort, and maybe outside assistance, to get things back on an honest footing again.

“Interesting Times ” – no thank you.

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