Thursday, 9 January 2020

Beyond The Brink: The Brinkmanship Is Over For #BrexitBoris And His Merry Band Of Brexidiots

Source: Byline Times
Boris Johnson has always known that leaving the EU is not in the UK's interests. Now he must live with it - and each of us must take our own path out of this mess.

Like spoilt kids, Johnson and his Brexidiot cronies want Little England to have the benefits of EU membership without the obligations. 

Their only weapon has been brinkmanship - threats of a referendum, threats of invoking Article 50, threats of leaving without a withdrawal agreement, and now threats of trading with no free trade deal. 

But the EU27 have called Britain's bluff every single time, and now Britain is beyond the brink. 

All that is left is endless whingeing about how tedious it is to be a 'third country' and the negotiation of 600 international trade agreements

There is no half-way house. 

This is crippling for services, in particular. The City can push for 'equivalence' instead of passporting for financial services, but knows that equivalence can end quickly (ask the Swiss). Everyone else is stuck with a mish mash of different rules, including inconsistent recognition of qualifications and some weird visa restrictions for business travellers. Why else would the EU have simplified it all with just 'four freedoms of movement' for goods, services, capital and labour? What else would tempt others to join the trade club?

So people and businesses must simply adapt to the UK's new status.  If you want to export anything to the EEA, then relocate the relevant operations to an EU27 member state, get qualified there (as I did in 2018) - whatever it takes.

The time for trusting the UK government to look after your interests is over.

You're on your own.

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Well, At Least We'll Learn A Lot From These Lunatics

"You only learn when things to wrong," my first legal boss used to remind me, and he wasn't wrong. Four years at the bar, sifting through the debris of old deals, taught me a lot about negotiating new ones. Observing the slow decline of Reuters in the mid-90s was another tutorial, as was enduring the tech boom and bust, working through a bunch of old loans that GE had bought a decade later and then launching Zopa into the teeth of the credit boom and ensuing financial crisis. Advising on the odd regulatory hiccup since then has reinforced the concept, which also helps with morale, of course. And with so much 'going wrong' on such a grand scale right now, maintaining morale is more important than ever. So what do we stand to learn? Well, I reckon the top 3 lessons of 2020 will be: the importance of facts, that the worst is yet to come and we need to figure out how to preserve government know how for when it can be used again...

You Can't Fight The Facts: The Truth Will Out...

The current crop of populist leaders have all seized power by targeting nationalistic lies at the gullible. The marriage of patriotism and intelligence has ended in divorce. Whether it's #ScottyFromMarketing downunder, Trump, Modi, Maduro, Bolsinaro, Erdogan, Orban or our very own #BrexitBoris, they've all avoided letting the truth get in the way of an emotive story. 

It's not unusual for politicians to lie, misinform and gaslight their voters. What is unusual is the sheer scale of the latest political mendacity. 

Yet, the bigger the lie, the harder it is to control or suppress the truth, and one by one these fascistic fantasists are finding themselves facing hot blasts of unadulterated fact. Eventually their lies will be exposed for all to see, and any majority support will melt away.

But don't hold your breath...

Nationalist Economies Will Get Much Worse Before They Get Better...

The 'quid pro quo' (to borrow a well-worn phrase from 2019) for this love affair with lies is that nationalist governments are not focused on their societies' genuine problems, let alone solving the root causes of those problems. Nationalism involves denying the real problems and blaming others for imaginary ones. This creates new problems while the country's infrastructure and governing processes decay. This has been a constant feature of the Trump regime, in particular (as Michael Lewis has observed), but is perhaps best encapsulated by Brexit. 

Reversing the decay will require an electorate to fall out of love with the lies and support reform. That would give politicians permission to identify and define the actual problems, prioritise the most pressing ones, burrow into the data to identify the root causes and the improvements that would provide the most bang for the buck, and put in place the warning systems to alert us to future failings. The changes would need to be communicated carefully, in the face of inevitable resistance by the rump of nationalist disciples. But that process would take a looooong time, since anyone who understands the issues today will have lost interest, retired or found a new role by the time things get bad enough for anyone to want to fix them, let alone muster widespread support for doing so.  

Compare that process with Dum Cummings latest blog post (ironically entitled 'Two hands are a lot' since he couldn't find his arse with both of them). His undoubted success as a right wing, nationalist, populist political strategist will be dwarfed by his failure as a government strategist. But the Johnson government will have to be seen to fail before anyone else will get a mandate to undertake the huge job of reversing the decline.

This raises the problem of how to avoid losing government know how in the meantime... 

Preserving Government Knowledge

How to manage the transition from one manager to another (succession-planning) is a major issue for everyone, especially large organisations and government departments. Michael Lewis has revealed that it was not something that ever concerned Donald Trump, and there is plenty of evidence from British civil servants that it was not a high priority for Cameron or May, and it is certainly lost on Boris Johnson. Many senior civil servants have left government, often simply to retire. Their knowledge and experience will have been lost without adequate transition arrangements. Meanwhile, the ministerial leadership, policies and/or performance of departments like the Home Office, Health, Work and Pensions, Prisons and Transport seem on the slide from bad to worse.

Similarly, areas of policy and funding that the UK agreed to centralise within the EU, and the framework on which Britain trades with the EU and other countries under EU free trade deals will be lost. Britain doesn't have any civil servants duplicating tasks that were performed at EU level (like funding the EU's least economically developed regions, 6 of which are in the UK); and the EU trade deals cannot be replicated outside the EU (and certainly not within the 11 months May and Johnson negotiated).

In the microcosm of a large government department poorly overseen by ignorant ministers and deserted by seasoned officials, or a region dependent on development knowledge and funding, this represents a massive dislocation. To put this in context, Venezuela's institutions collapsed in under 20 years, and the Soviet Union fell apart in 6 years. Hell, it only took 40 years for Britain's entire economy to collapse after the Romans left

The history of the British civil service is littered with experiments on how best to equip the nation's institutions with the right knowledge, expertise and experience. It does not make encouraging reading, but if Britain's economic history is anything to go by, it seems likely to take at least 10 years to turn things around, if there's the will to begin the process and work at it...


If we only learn when things go wrong, we're going to learn an awful lot!  

Thursday, 2 January 2020

How To Enjoy Boris Johnson's Amazing* Brexit ShitShow™ - Season 5

Boris Biosuit - flameproof for winters in Oz or Brazil
Peering through the smoke billowing out of Scotty Morrison's Amazing* Coalfired CookOutI can dimly make out the shape and outline of someone or something that should make 2020 a truly fabulous year for the little Englander. But what about the rest of you? Here are my top tips, in no particular order...

Lock the doors and only deal with private couriers

The downside to travelling from all over Britain to participate in million-people marches is that Duminic Cummings knows what you look like and where you live. Moving around outside your house is ill-advised. Dim Martin controls the high streets through his network of pubs, and soon your postman will be replaced by a robot distributing IEDs manufactured by Britain First.

Robot delivering an IED made by Britain First
So make the most of house arrest by adopting industrial security measures and, say, redecorating the bedroom like your favourite hotel suite. Get sand and a plastic coconut palm for the living room. Have family members choose a different name, accent and style of beachwear each week to simulate your desired foreign resort experience.

And remember, use only private couriers to receive deliveries that have been specifically ordered by you personally, dig a deep trench just outside the front door and never accept a delivery for the nice neighbour(s). Those times are over.

Hedge Rising Food Costs by Speculating On All Black Tickets

Kiwi sheep are agents of the NZRU
The ride is over for farmers, particularly those who breed sheep. Once the British sheep have all been burnt or buried, agricultural subsidies will only go to landlords developing caravan parks for Tory voters. This will also be great news for Kiwi shepherds, who will dominate the British lamb market. All New Zealand sheep are secret agents of the New Zealand Rugby Union, so you can easily hedge your exposure to rising food costs by pre-purchasing tickets to All Black matches and flogging them on secondary ticketing sites or agreeing profit-share deals with local touts.

Commit to, Say, Building a Zip-line From Dover To France

Last mile of Dover to Paris Zip Line
As I've explained before, the key to success, wealth and happiness in this neo-post-truth world lies not in a hard day's work for a fair day's pay. No. In 2020, you will only be able to finance your house-bound fantasies by leveraging the 'bandwagon' and 'snowball' effects. To do this you must concoct a hugely ambitious, unique, deceptively simple, vaguely plausible scheme that is not actually achievable or demonstrable but is nevertheless the kind of thing in which your victims investors can have faith.  Boris Johnson himself has succeeded with commitments to an airport in the middle of the Thames, a 'garden bridge' in London, Brexit (of course) and, most recently, a bridge from Scotland to Northern Ireland - or vice versa, depending on your point of view - whereas the best part about a zip-line from the UK to France is that it's one-way.

* causing great surprise or wonder; astonishing.
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