Thursday, January 24, 2019

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 24.1.19

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain
  • All you need to know - maybe - about Spain's new driving laws
  • Spain is reported to be using the No Deal Brexit plans to push her claim for 'decolonisation' of Gibraltar. So, no surprise there.
  • For Brits in Spain worried about Brexit, the Ambassador will address your fears next week.
  • There are a many Spaniards who think that expats here cost the Spanish taxpayer a lot of money. In fact, the British government transfers an annual per capita fee. So, this is the number to cite if you come upon an unhappy local:- The UK paid Spain €280m last year for medical attention for Brits here.
  • Here's a few of what Lenox Napier calls in Business Over Tapas today 'dismal statistics:-
  1. Spain is the 2nd highest country to pour plastic into the Mediterranean (after Turkey) and the 4th country in the EU for consumption of plastic.
  2. Spain's suicide rate averages 10 a day, of which around 7 are men. 
  3. According to El Diario, 32% of Spaniards have never read a book, either for work or pleasure 
  • I'm also indebted to Lenox for this comment doing the rounds in respect of the trial of footballer Ronaldo for tax evasion: "What a country we have when people queue up outside the courthouse to get the autograph of a multimillionaire who has defrauded the Public Purse. Then they’ll all go home and vote for Vox because they think that immigrants are all thieves’. 
The EU and Brexit
  • Mr Barnier - the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator - has said that the EU would respond immediately if the UK asked for a closer relationship, adding: "We are open to reworking the content and ambition of the political declaration". Nice of him/them.
  • Michel Barnier has warned that the move led by Labour MP Yvette Cooper to block the prime minister from delivering a no-deal Brexit is doomed to fail unless a majority for an alternative agreement is found.
  • Richard North: "The EU has never for one minute believed that the UK would go through with a No Deal Brexit, as it is self-evidently a lot worse - in economic terms - than the deal on offer." Hmm. This might just have been a misjudgement.
The UK and Brexit
  • Sir Ivan Rogers - former UK Permanent Representative to the EU - last night: "I continue to think that our political debate is bedevilled by muddled thinking and by fantasies and delusions as to what our options really are in the world as it is, as opposed to several different worlds people on different sides of the debate would prefer to inhabit. I had hoped that the fantasies would be dissipating by now in the face of reality but they are still being propagated on all sides. This denialism is pretty universal but, if we are to take good decisions about our future, it is now genuinely urgent that we get beyond the myth-making".
  • Richard North: "Those who don't want a no-deal also don't think any responsible Government will do something so self-evidently self-harming, but are using the possibility as evidence that Brexit is going badly wrong, and may prove a disaster, thereby justifying a new referendum. And those who like the idea of no-deal are using developments to sell the public the proposition that it is perfectly viable and won't be so bad, that it can be "managed". It's a "proper Brexit" unlike the "dog's breakfast" that the prime minister has on offer. None of the players on the extremes, therefore, has reacted in the way the prime minister hoped and expected, while the centrists also do not accept the prime minister's 'It's my way or the abyss' contention. They think their options for the future relationship have a better chance than the prime minister of commanding a majority in the Commons. This has brought us to the stage in what amounts to 'revolutionary politics' where it is essential for both the revolutionaries and the counterrevolutionaries to extirpate any 'compromiser', leaving us with the 'bizarre spectacle' of Brexiteers, many of whom used to argue that the Norway or Swiss options would be a vast improvement on remaining in the EU, now dwelling on the 'patently absurd' proposition that either would be 'a terrible betrayal'". So, lunacy.
  • RN has this to say about the WTO option being pushed by the Brexiter extremists: "With the road running out and under the pressure of simply having to specify where one wants to end and how to get there, the option of 'WTO only' - which all serious leave thinkers and politicians had themselves disparaged before the referendum - has now emerged, in various guises, as the preferred option of the hard Brexiteers. As one astute commentator, who voted leave, put it rather superbly this weekend, it is the 'I have no solutions and can’t be arsed to think' option. Says Sir Ivan, 'it's a gross dereliction of responsibility and a huge failure of leadership, under cover of increasingly empty demagogic rhetoric about betrayal'. Perhaps it's time to arrest some people for treason . . . 
  • Tom Harris: "Leavers still regard Remainers as traitors and quislings. Remainers won’t even consider the reasons for voting Leave other than stupidity, racism and inbreeding. This is what referendums do to previously sensible countries. We need to accept that staying in the EU or leaving it are both reasonable futures. Neither is ideal and neither will be cataclysmic. But it serves each side to motivate their supporters with colourful and excitable rhetoric. The problem is that, as we have discovered, motivation can so easily turn to enragement. We should be grateful. If this is the state we get ourselves into when we’re offered a choice between reasonable alternatives, just imagine what might happen if parliament were ever to offer us a referendum that included a genuinely extreme proposition."
  • Odd old word of the day:- Colt pixy: A spirit or fairy in the shape of a horse which wickers(neighs) and misleads horses into bogs.
Finally . . .
  • A nice cartoon. Or possibly a prediction:-

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