Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Ponters Pensées 28.6.16

The UK and Spain: As expected, the Spanish Foreign Minister - Motormouth Margello - has reacted to the Brexit vote by stepping up the demand that Britain agree to shared sovereignty of Gibraltar. Although the UK government would readily agree to this and although Margallo dresses it up as something that would benefit the inhabitants of The Rock, it's hard to see the latter voting for it. And there's the rub.

Amazon España: I recently ordered a book on Spain and yesterday took delivery of this.  I now have to investigate why they've sent me me 2 copies and, more importantly, how many they've charged me for.

The EU: I noted the other day that the President Junker didn't seem to get it. And he's still (not) at it. He's now showing the petty spite and the thirst for vengeance of the inadequate, autocratic, minor politician he really is. But at least there are people who feel the debacle is his fault and that he should go. And there's a relevant article in The Times this morning which I've added at the end of this post.

The Empire Fights Back: Can you really believe that some cretins are demanding the end of the use of English in Brussels? To lighten the mood, here's one Italian economist's take on the Brexit. But, if you really want to know what the issues are, you should follow Richard North's blog, where the ignorance of so many commentators is regularly exposed. By the way, although the majority of Brits residents in Spain see nothing but negatives in the current situation, I feel I should point out that we should eventually be able to get back the laminated Residence Card now only given to non-EU nationals. So, not all bad. 

UK Politics: What can one say? Fascinating times. Outright civil war in the Labour party, as predicted by some of us when the pathetic ex-Marxist Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader. If it wasn't so serious, it woud be beyond hilarious. And then there's the governing Conservative party, riven by differences not now over the EU but over the next Brexit step. As if that weren't enough grounds for humour and despair, there's the prolix leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party and the Scottish government saying she'll move heaven and earth to break up the UK so that Scotland can go on taking the Brussels shilling. From the frying pan into the fire. From one perceived yoke to another real yoke. Despite this mayhem, there are several people - surely psycopaths - who want to stand for the positon of the (dis)United Kingdom Prime Minister, after David Cameron's departure. There's nowt as queer as folk, as we say oop north.

English Football: Bad beyond mere words. See your local media for the obituaries.

Finally . . . . Here's the latest ad from the Australia Sex party. It probably shouldn't be watched by any Catholic readers. Assuming I haven't alienated all of them.

Seeking revenge will only make things worse, EU leaders warned: Bruno Waterfield, Brussels

John Kerry, the US secretary of state, emerged from a meeting with Jean-Claude Juncker warning the European Union against “half-cocked, scatterbrained or revengeful” responses against Britain.

The comments, as Mr Kerry finished talks yesterday with the European Commission president and Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign affairs chief, provided a window into the febrile and furious world of Brussels officialdom since the British vote.

“I think it is absolutely essential that we stay focused on how in this transitional period no one loses their head, nobody goes off half-cocked, people don’t start ginning up scatterbrained or revengeful premises,” Mr Kerry said.

Since the Brexit referendum results the European Union’s institutions have struggled to hold the line between two camps. The first, backed by Mr Juncker, is pushing for a punitive reaction by demanding Britain triggers exit procedures amid domestic chaos and threats by the Scottish Nationalist Party to hold a second independence referendum.

The other more conciliatory approach, led by Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, and Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, aims to give Mr Cameron time to avoid a major political crisis, perhaps prompting a rethink of the vote.

On Friday morning Mr Juncker had alarmed Mr Tusk and other national diplomats by repeating and emphasising the word “swiftly” in a joint Brussels statement putting the pressure on Mr Cameron to immediately begin Article 50 negotiations to leave the EU.

During a press conference Mr Juncker could barely hide his anger. When asked if the vote meant “the end of the EU” by a journalist he snapped “no” and stormed off the stage.

Later that afternoon Mr Juncker held a 15-minute telephone conversation with the prime minister, talks that were officially described as a “polite and friendly conversation”.

The reality was rather different.

The commission president lashed out at Mr Cameron, who had announced his resignation that morning, for delaying the exit procedure until after a new prime minister takes office in the autumn. He told Mr Cameron that the government was being carefully watched and that “any unilateral action in breach of the EU treaty” would be punished with financial and political sanctions.

Eyebrows were raised yesterday when Mr Juncker announced, according to a press statement, “his decision to dissolve the task force for strategic issues related to the UK referendum” despite the commission’s role in future negotiations on withdrawal.

The hardline stance taken by the former prime minister of Luxembourg, whom Mr Cameron had tried to block from the EU’s most powerful job, is said to have been a factor in the resignation of Lord Hill of Oareford, who stepped down as British commissioner on Saturday. MEPs close to Mr Juncker had called for Lord Hill to be stripped of his financial services role.

Mr Juncker has a firm ally in Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, who has threatened Britain with consequences designed to stop any other European country from following the “dangerous path” of a referendum on EU membership.

Last night Guy Verhofstadt, a former Belgian prime minister and the leader of liberal MEPs in the parliament, called on Mr Juncker “not to allocate a portfolio to the new UK commissioner” when Lord Hill is replaced by the government over the next three weeks.

During a debate today MEPs will demand, according to a resolution backed by Mr Schulz, that Britain’s exit talks “must take place immediately” alongside moves to strip British deputies of key legislative posts in the EU assembly.

“Britain has to be taught a lesson. It has to be made an example of to deter others from following the route of euroscepticism and national egoism,” a senior MEP from a eurozone country said.

In a highly symbolic development on Sunday afternoon Brussels ambassadors and “sherpas” representing EU leaders met without a British seat at the table for the first time since Britain joined the European Economic Community in 1973.

Officials representing the commission and parliament, with initial French and Italian support, called for a punitive approach to Britain unless Mr Cameron began withdrawal talks at a summit dinner in Brussels tonight.

German and Dutch diplomats swung the debate with arguments that the political crisis engulfing Britain after the vote meant that the government could not be expected to begin exit talks.

As talks went on, a German-led consensus emerged for allowing a delay that, amid financial market and political turmoil, might prompt Britain to back away from triggering the Article 50 withdrawal clause.

“Will they ever do it?,” said a source. “There is a significant camp that believes that if Article 50 is not triggered on Tuesday then it never will be.”

The Brexit crisis has left Mr Juncker badly damaged.  EU diplomatic circles have been particularly alarmed by his and the commission’s attempts to woo the SNP in order to put pressure on Mr Cameron.

“I will talk to the Scottish first minister in the following days,” Mr Juncker told Luxembourg public television on Sunday night. Yesterday his spokesman said that there was an “a very open door” to talks with Nicola Sturgeon.

Central and eastern European countries were last night pushing for Mr Juncker to step down in response to criticism that he was encouraging separatist movements across Europe. “The situation is evolving by the hour,” a senior EU diplomat said

Here are the 2 lovely French ladies whom I met on the camino and who are currently staying with me here in Ponters. And proving to be excellent, considerate guests. One of them is so exhausted from months of walking that she slept for almost 24 hours yesterday. And went back to bed an hour or so after she finally got up. We're hoping she can stay vertical for at least a bit longer today. . . .


Maria said...

If you want to buy books in English, try The Book Depository. They've always shipped the books decently and don't charge shipping.

Colin Davies said...

Many thanks, Maria. Helpful as ever.

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