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|Smoke 'em if you got 'em:|
at 13:06 16 Nov 2017
DUI lawyer is busted for drugs after barging into stranger’s home in high heels, no pants
By Joshua Rhett Miller
November 14, 2017 | 4:29pm
A New Jersey attorney nude from the waist down save for a pair of high heels strutted into a stranger’s Rutherford home and announced “I’m here,” police said.
Justin Christodoro, 39, of Hackensack, subsequently was arrested in neighboring Lyndhurst on Saturday after a resident returned home to find an unknown car with an unconscious man inside parked in his driveway, NorthJersey.com reports.
“It was occupied by a man sitting in the front passenger seat wearing only a black shirt and black high-heeled shoes,” Lyndhurst police Capt. John Valente told the website.
A cop from Rutherford who responded to the scene as backup recognized the man’s clothing as being similar to a report from an earlier incident at a home on Eastern Way.
The homeowners told police they were home at about 4:45 p.m. Saturday when someone walked in an unlocked back door. The man, wearing only a tight T-shirt and black high heels, then realized he was at the wrong house and left, according to Rutherford police Capt. Patrick Feliciano.
Christodoro, who was disoriented after being awakened by police, said he didn’t know how he ended up in Lyndhurst and put on a pair of sweatpants he had inside his car, according to Valente. He was then arrested after officers found a plastic bag inside the car containing what police suspected was pure MDMA, the active ingredient in ecstasy, police said.
Christodoro, who could not be reached for comment, was charged by police in Rutherford with criminal trespass in connection with the first incident and also faces a drug possession charge in Lyndhurst. Valente confirmed to The Post that Christodoro identified himself as an attorney, according to an arrest report.
Christodoro, according to the New Jersey court system’s website, was admitted to the state bar in 2004. In an ad for his practice posted on YouTube he says he specializes in drug offenses, drunk driving cases and child support litigation. He could not be reached for comment at the number listed on NJCourts.gov.
|Automotive industry remoaners; Get on with it!|
at 10:38 15 Nov 2017
Honda UK warns MPs of consequences of leaving EU customs union
Motor industry says threatened new tariffs could add £1,500 to price of an imported car, and make exports more expensive too
Dan Roberts Brexit policy editor
Published: 19:10 GMT+00:00 Tue 14 November 2017
The devastating impact of a hard Brexit on the UK car industry was laid bare on Tuesday to MPs, who were told every 15 minutes of customs delays would cost some manufacturers up to £850,000 a year.
Presenting the industry’s most detailed evidence yet to the business select committee, Honda UK said it relied on 350 trucks a day arriving from Europe to keep its giant Swindon factory operating, with just an hour’s worth of parts being held on the production line.
The Japanese-owned company said it would take 18 months to set up new procedures and warehouses if Britain left the customs union but that, with 2m daily component movements, even minor delays at Dover and the Channel tunnel would force hundreds of its trucks to wait for the equivalent of 90 hours a day.
“Outside of the customs union, there is no such thing as a frictionless border,” said Honda’s government affairs manager, Patrick Keating.
“I wouldn’t say that the just-in-time manufacturing model wouldn’t work, but it would certainly be very challenging.”
Brexit: failure to update customs system could be 'catastrophic'
Until now, many large multinationals have chosen to present such commercially-sensitive data to the government in private, but with MPs still struggling to force disclosure of 58 sectoral analysis reports produced by Whitehall officials, there is growing demand for the impact of leaving without a deal to be spelled out.
Witnesses said new tariffs would add an estimated £1,500 to the price of an imported car, and Rachel Reeves, the Labour MP and former Bank of England economist who led Tuesday’s hearing, encouraged the executives to outline how exporters might also face a possible £300 cost due to tariffs on their imported components.
If Britain leaves without a trade deal, ministers plan to apply World Trade Organization tariffs that stand at 10% for finished vehicles and about 4.5% for automotive components. More than a third of the 690 cars a day produced by Honda in Swindon are sold in Europe, which is also the source of 40% of the company’s parts.
Honda and other witnesses from Aston Martin and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) argued that customs and trade threats were only the start of their concerns.
Aston Martin also feared a “semi-catastrophic” end to EU recognition of UK regulatory approval, something Keating revealed Brussels was now threatening in the event of a “no-deal” Brexit.
Honda pointed to a recent study suggesting the cost of converting an EU car to match US standards is equivalent to another 26% tariff increase.
The industry also fears the impact of new immigration rules for EU nationals. Already 14% of Honda’s 3,500 to 4,000-strong Swindon workforce are from other EU countries, but this is growing fast: of the 600 extra workers hired to build new Civic model last year, 40% were EU workers, as are 30% of the staff at the company’s European HQ in Bracknell.
On Monday, European business leaders including Britain’s CBI warned that the government had just two weeks to make progress on a Brexit divorce agreement if they were to get the clarity they urgently need by the anniversary of article 50 being invoked in March.
“People are sitting on their hands waiting for more clarity about the likely trading relationship with our biggest partner,” Mike Hawes, the chief executive of the SMMT, told the business committee on Tuesday.
Though Honda declined to discuss its UK profitability in public, the SMMT said car manufacturing was a low-margin business, yielding an average 2-4% return on investment.
EU business leaders tell PM: agree Brexit deal or face collapse in confidence
“You are pretty quickly getting into negative territory,” said Hawes when asked what this would mean in the event of a hard Brexit. “If we went on to WTO terms, it would be incredibly difficult.”
He predicted there may be a diminished choice of cars on sale for British consumers if there is divergence in regulatory standards as some niche importers would not bother to have additional testing just for the UK market.
“If there is any sort of divergence, manufacturers will have to decide whether they want type approval on that UK vehicle, so there might be a contraction in terms of choice,” explained the SMMT boss.
And the industry leaders dismissed arguments that mutual interest among European manufacturers would be enough to automatically force a solution.
While 56% of British car exports go to Europe, just 7% of EU exports go the UK. “The UK is an important market but what matters more is protecting the EU single market,” said Hawes.
Although 10% of the SMMT’s 800 members were revealed in a survey to have supported Brexit during the referendum, its chief executive said he had yet to meet a member who supported leaving now.
“This is a fiercely competitive industry, yet this is a subject that is pretty unifying across the industry,” he told MPs.
|What ails Donald Trump (& the Anglosphere)|
at 18:46 12 Aug 2017
My meeting with Donald Trump: A damaged, pathetic personality — whose obvious impairment has only gotten worse
I didn't get his endorsement when I ran for governor — but the severely troubled man I met has only gotten worse
Salon, Saturday, Aug 12, 2017 12:00 PM +0100
By Bill curry
In 1994, I visited the home of Donald Trump. He was a Democrat then, of sorts, and I was the party’s nominee for governor of Connecticut. He’d taken an interest in our state owing to his keen desire to lodge a casino in Bridgeport, an idea I found economically and morally dubious. I had scant hope of enlisting him, but made the trip anyway, thinking that if I convinced him I might win, he’d be less apt to bankroll my opponent.
I arrived at Trump Tower in early evening, accompanied by my finance chair and an old friend and colleague. Stepping off the elevator into his apartment, we were met by a display of sterile, vulgar ostentation: all gold, silver, brass, marble; nothing soft, welcoming or warm. Trump soon appeared and we began to converse, but not really. In campaigns, we candidates do most of the talking; because we like to, and because people ask us lots of questions. Not this time. Not by a long shot.
Trump talked very rapidly and virtually nonstop for nearly an hour; not of my campaign or even of politics, but only of himself, and almost always in the third person. He’d given himself a nickname: “the Trumpster,” as in “everybody wants to know what the Trumpster’s gonna do,” a claim he made more than once.
He mostly told stories. Some were about his business deals; others about trips he’d taken or things he owned. All were unrelated to the alleged point of our meeting, and to one another. That he seldom even attempted segues made each tale seem more disconnected from reality than the last.
It was funny at first, then pathetic, and finally deeply unsettling.
On the drive home, we all burst out laughing, then grew quiet. What the hell just happened? My first theory, that Trump was high on cocaine, didn’t feel quite right, but he was clearly emotionally impaired: in constant need of approbation; lacking impulse control, self-awareness or awareness of others. We’d heard tales of his monumental vanity, but were still shocked by the sad spectacle of him.
That visit colored all my later impressions of Trump. Over time, his mental health seemed to decline. He threw more and bigger public tantrums; lied more often and less artfully. The media, also in decline and knowing a ratings magnet when it saw one, turned a blind eye. Sensing impunity, Trump revived the racist ‘birther’ lie. In 2011, he told the “Today” show’s Meredith Vieira he had unearthed some dark secrets:
Vieira: You have people now down there searching, I mean in Hawaii?
Trump: Absolutely. And they cannot believe what they’re finding
As Trump recycled old lies, Vieira had a queasy look but no apparent knowledge of the facts. Of course, there weren’t any. Trump had no proof of Obama being born in Kenya. (Since there is none.) It’s highly doubtful he had any researchers in Hawaii. (It was only after Vieira asked him that he claimed he did.) Later, when Trump’s story crumbled, he followed a rule taught by his mentor, Roy Cohn, infamous architect of McCarthyism: Admit nothing. To Trump, a lie is worth a thousand pictures.
By 2016, the private Trump was on permanent public display, raging over mere slights, seeing plots in every ill turn of events and, as always, stunningly self-absorbed. He was called a racist, a sexist and a bully. But his mental health issues were euphemized as problems of “temperament.” He lied ceaselessly, reflexively and clumsily, but his lies were called merely “unproven” or, later, “false.” The New York Times called the birther story a lie only after Trump grudgingly retracted it. Not till he was safe in office claiming that millions of phantom immigrants cast votes for Clinton did the paper of record use the word “lie” in reference to a tale Trump was still telling.
In 2016, the precariousness of Trump’s mental health was clear to all with eyes to see, but like extras in a remake of “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” reporters averted their glances. The day after the election, they were all in a state of shock, like staff at an asylum who woke one morning to find that the patient who thought he was Napoleon had just been named emperor of France. Once he took office, many publications began keeping running tallies of his lies. But all take a more cautious approach to questions of their origins in his deeply troubled psyche. To date, no major network, newspaper or magazine has run an in-depth analysis of Trump’s mental health.
The pathologies of American journalism are by now clichés: aversion to policy analysis; addiction to horse-race politics; smashing of walls that once separated news, opinion and advertising; an ideology that mistakes evenhandedness for objectivity. Yet we hear scant talk of reform. The press excels at public rituals of soul-searching but has little taste for the real thing. That said, its reluctance to discuss mental health reflects its virtues as well as its vices. Of major outlets, Fox News does by far the most psychological profiling. (It turns out all liberals are crazy.)
Like the language of politics, the language of psychology is imprecise; the term “sociopath” is as hard to nail down as “liberal” or “conservative.” What separates a serial liar from a pathological liar? Mere suspicion from paranoia? Righteous anger from uncontrolled rage? How do we ever tell mental illness from ill character? Our view of any antisocial behavior hinges on whether we view it through a moral, legal or therapeutic lens; to take a human life other than in self-defense is insane, and also criminal and, to many, sinful. Do we treat, punish or forgive? It’s so hard to say.
The diagnosis we associate with Trump is “narcissistic personality disorder” (a term that only lately replaced “narcissistic character disorder”). You’ll find it in the Diagnostic Survey Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, fifth edition. Back in February, a principal author of the prior edition, Dr. Allen Frances, wrote a letter to the Times rebuking mental health professionals for “diagnosing public figures from a distance” and “amateur diagnosticians” for “mislabeling” Trump with narcissistic personality disorder. Allen says he wrote the criteria defining the disorder and Trump doesn’t have it. His reasoning: Trump “does not suffer the disorder and impairment required to diagnose mental disorder.”
Frances does what he accuses others of doing. By saying flatly that Trump doesn’t suffer a disorder, he diagnoses a public figure we assume — for multiple reasons — he hasn’t treated. Nor can he or anyone else tell “from a distance” that Trump doesn’t suffer the requisite impairment and disorder. No president ever seemed so impaired or disordered, but we needn’t compare him only to other rotten presidents. Trump is the Chuck Yeager of lying, a shatterer of records thought untouchable. That he is frozen in pathological, crotch-grabbing adolescence is well documented; that his judgment is often deranged by rage is self-evident.
This week the world watched two men of obvious, serious emotional impairment in control of ungodly nuclear weapons trade puerile taunts while threatening to incinerate millions of innocent human beings. Donald Trump, having made war on Mitch McConnell, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nordstrom, China, Mexico, Australia and the cast of “Hamilton,” baiting a man who idolizes Dennis Rodman and just murdered his own brother. This is simply unacceptable. We know how Kim Jong-un got his job. It’s time we thought about how Trump got his. One answer is that he got it the way authoritarian leaders do in liberal democracies: by exploiting the weakness and naïve politesse of the old order. To contain him, let alone remove him, we must relearn the rules of debate.
We can start by distinguishing name calling (bad) from merely naming (which is not just good but vital). I too recoil from quack therapists diagnosing strangers on cable TV. But you don’t need to be a botanist to tell a rose from a dandelion. In 2016 Trump compared Ben Carson to a child molester and pronounced him “incurable,” but few raised the far more real question of Trump’s own mental health. Do we dare not state the obvious? You needn’t be an amateur diagnostician to see that Donald Trump is mentally ill.
Trump embodies that old therapists’ saw “perception is projection.” You can use this handy tool to locate the truth, exactly opposite from whatever he just said. He has a weight management problem, so women are “fat pigs.” He can’t stop fibbing, so his primary opponent becomes “Lyin’ Ted Cruz.” His career is rife with fraud so the former secretary of state becomes “Crooked Hillary.” He is terrified of ridicule, so Barack Obama is a “laughingstock.” When he says America’s a wasteland but he’ll make it great again, we know his secret fear.
Late in the presidential campaign Hillary Clinton famously dubbed some large portion of Trump’s base a “basket of deplorables.” A constant theme and core belief of her campaign was that his campaign was fueled by racism and misogyny, evils against which Democrats stand united. The evils are genuine and enduring, but political corruption and the economic inequality it fosters did at least as much and probably more to fuel Trump’s rise.
It’s likely that Trump’s arrested development also got him white working-class votes, among males especially. The infantilization of the American male is a phenomenon we have been slow to recognize. It is a product of fast-narrowing economic horizons fueled by cultural forces; by beer ads and anti-intellectualism, by addiction and violent video games, and now by Trump, on whom Jon Stewart pinned the fitting moniker “man baby.”
Countless surveys say our children are less racist and sexist than our parents. What many may not be is more adult. The issue isn’t the bros in the beer ads; we assume they have jobs. It’s the tinderbox we create by mixing ignorance and inequality with dashed hopes and an overwrought sense of victimization. They say presidents lead us down the paths we’re already on. It’s our job to make sure this one doesn’t.
One thing Trump has taught us is that the drafters of the 25th Amendment weren’t thinking about mental illness. It is unlikely anyone it puts in charge would have the courage to take action. In any case, progressives must put their primary emphasis on crafting a blueprint for political reform and economic justice. While they’re at it they could try making better cases on national security and climate change.
They must take another lesson from Trump: to say out loud things they never said before, not as Trump does, but with honesty, decency, reason and specificity. Trump got to be president in part because there were so many things Democrats and the media didn’t think or couldn’t bring themselves to say. Trump’s whole life is a fraud that Robert Mueller may soon expose as a criminal enterprise. His business career was a disaster till a book someone else wrote and a TV show someone else produced made him a celebrity. He then fell into the only line of work he ever prospered in: licensing that celebrity. He does it pretty well, but Zsa Zsa Gabor did it first and Kim Kardashian did it better and neither of them should be president.
In 2016 Trump’s real vulnerabilities were his mental health and personal finances. We can now add his proto-fascism and his possible or intended treason to the list. Trump was lucky in the draw. His defects were so monumental, so toxic, we had no protocol for talking about them. There are effective and responsible ways to talk about all such things, but first our media and political elites must find the courage to name them. They know as well as you or I who he is.
|Grown-ups start Brexit fight back:|
at 13:15 20 Jun 2017
Hammond, Carney Fight for City of London as Brexit Talks Start
by Svenja O'Donnell and Richard Partington
2017 M06 20 10:32 GMT+1
Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond and Bank of England Governor Mark Carney joined forces to defend the financial-services industry as the government seeks to shift its Brexit focus away from controlling migration to safeguarding jobs.
The chief stewards of the U.K. economy, speaking in their delayed annual Mansion House addresses in London on Tuesday, said breaking up financial services such as derivatives and lending after Britain leaves the European Union would result in higher costs for companies.
“Fragmentation of financial services would result in poorer quality, higher-priced products for everyone concerned,” Hammond said. “Avoiding fragmentation of financial services is a huge prize for the economies of Europe, and I believe we can do it.”
Carney called for a new system of cooperation over derivatives clearinghouses amid industry warnings that forcing the biggest firms to move would lead to skyrocketing costs and job losses.
Prime Minister Theresa May’s failure to gain the majority she sought in the June 8 election has forced the government to rethink its focus both on Brexit and austerity. The chancellor’s speech, with its emphasis on spurring growth and productivity, marks a shift away from May’s pre-election rhetoric, which touched little on the economy and instead focused on curbing migration.
Political FootballBy singling out financial services as a key driver of growth, Hammond put the City of London at the center of the Brexit talks, which kicked off in Brussels on Monday. The EU has proposed forcing the biggest foreign derivatives-clearing firms to set up shop in the bloc if they want to continue doing business there.
Oversight of derivatives clearinghouses has become a political football between the U.K. and the EU during Brexit negotiations, with several EU policy makers demanding control of clearing of euro-denominated contracts. The commission’s proposal called for greater EU oversight of clearinghouses based in foreign jurisdictions and suggested the option of forcing the biggest ones to move clearing of EU derivatives inside the bloc.
Almost two-thirds of EU capital-markets activity is executed through the U.K., while banks based in Britain lent more than 1.1 trillion pounds ($1.4 trillion) to the rest of the EU in 2015.
“Before long, we will all begin to find out the extent to which Brexit is a gentle stroll along a smooth path to a land of cake and consumption,” Carney said. “Depending on whether and when any transition arrangement can be agreed, firms on either side of the channel may soon need to activate contingency plans.”
Stronger HandHammond has long sought to promote a less abrupt break from the EU than advocated by some in the Conservative Party, stressing the need for transitional arrangements. May’s disastrous election performance has strengthened his hand, allowing him to push for a more central role in helping coordinate the government’s new tone on Brexit.
Major banks in London have warned the loss of so-called passporting arrangements, which allow them to operate across the EU from any member state, will probably lead them to relocate jobs and activities in European cities such as Frankfurt, Paris and Dublin. However, the prospect of a softer Brexit deal could result in lenders staying put.
HSBC Holdings Plc’s investment bank chief Samir Assaf said last week a hard Brexit is now unlikely after the U.K. election, and that could mean more jobs staying in London after the bank said it could move about 1,000 roles to Paris. A softer deal would be “very good news for us because it will be less hassle and we would be able to do much more things from London,” he added
Philip Hammond, U.K. chancellor of the exchequer, center left, and Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, center right, attend the delayed annual Mansion House speech, on June 20, 2016.
Hammond also made clear companies should still be able to attract global talent.
"While we seek to manage migration, we do not seek to shut it down," Hammond said. "We must push for a new phase of globalization to ensure that it delivers clear benefits for ordinary working people in developed economies."
While he maintained the Conservatives’ pre-election pledge to eliminate the budget deficit by 2025, Hammond acknowledged that voters had tired of budget cuts.
"Britain is weary after seven years of hard slog repairing the damage of the great recession,” he said, adding that growth rather than higher taxes and borrowing is the only way to fund public services. “We must make anew the case for a market economy and for sound money. The case for growth."
|Brexit, cause & effect, and the laws of the - economic - universe:|
at 10:10 3 Jun 2017
UK comes bottom of G7 growth league as Canada takes lead
It’s taken a year, but as Britain’s economy slumps and inflation bites, the warnings about the costs of our vote to leave the EU are coming true
By Nesrine Malik
Just because the world didn’t change on 24 June 2016 doesn’t mean that it was never going to change. The time-lag between cause and effect is a cornerstone of economic behaviour. This basic dynamic takes into consideration the notion, observable over decades of analysis, that shocks rarely impact economies – particularly sophisticated ones – overnight. The Brexit time-lag has just ended.
Before last year’s referendum, the UK looked set to deliver a strong, consistent economic performance. Leaving the European Union seemed an act of economic jeopardy, but the remain campaign’s warnings of meltdown did not come to pass. Even by the end of last year, six months after the Brexit vote, it looked as if the doomsayers had been proved wrong, with the UK economy the fastest growing in the G7 in 2016.
The weakness of the pound only seemed to inflict mild annoyance for those whose holidays had suddenly become more expensive. And besides, the leavers argued, our currency would bounce back at some point. Even the ratings agencies and the scaremonger-in-chief – the Bank of England – seemed to have called it incorrectly.
But the triumphalism and complacency of the Brexiters since then is a testament to how illiterate, politicised and pseudo-intellectual the whole discussion on economic impact has become. If I had a pound for every time a Brexit supporter confidently opined that a weak sterling will bolster UK exporters, despite it also increasing their costs, I would have … well, they would be worth a lot less than this time last year. It’s almost as if the fact that we woke up the day after the referendum to find that there was still money in the cashpoints was proof enough that it was all going to be OK. The experts were wrong!
But that’s not how it works. And the consistent depression of the pound should have been our guide. You see, currencies are the exception to the time-lag rule, because they are more sensitive and dynamic in times of economic uncertainty. The fuse of currency depreciation had been lit, and was quietly making its way towards the tinderbox of rising inflation, higher household debt and increased pressure on spending power.
The average household is now spending an additional £21 a quarter on groceries compared with last year. That may not seem a huge amount, but with inflation on the up that could mean an extra £119 over the course of this year. Airfares, package holidays and energy bills are all rising while wages remain the same.
Last month unions accused the government of ignoring the plight of ordinary workers as life becomes more expensive. The TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, warned of a “living standards crisis”.
The economy question seems to have dropped out of the debate because it has been so debased by Brexit evangelists
And yet these significant and worrying developments have barely registered either in public debate or, indeed, in the election the country is holding that was meant to put to bed any Brexit-related uncertainty. The whole messy economic aspect has been conveniently folded under the deferred resolution of a final agreement – as if these are all merely wrinkles that will be smoothed out during negotiations once a final deal has been secured.
How did we let this happen? The economy question seems to have dropped out of the debate because it has been so debased by Brexit evangelists, backed by their cheerleaders in the press, treating any expressions of concern like sabotage. We have gone from “there will be no impact, don’t talk Britain down” to “if there is, it’s worth it”, making a martyr’s virtue of absorbing economic shocks for some greater ultimate good.
Of course, economies are unpredictable, and a pattern does not make a trend, but today these are the new, inescapable facts: the United Kingdom has not fallen below fourth place in the list of G7 economic growth since the financial crisis of 2007-8 and it is now last; UK house prices have fallen for a third month in a row, also for the first time since the financial crisis; and the pound is at its lowest point for about 30 years.
The past 12 months have undermined our ability to have any rational discussion about the economy because Brexit is now an ideology where there are only comrades and traitors. Populist pandering politicians have rendered any honest appraisal of fact as partisan.
A slowing economic performance is hitting the British people in almost every part of their lives, impacting property values, energy bills, food prices, and the pay packet they take home.
Burying heads in the sand and treating any examination of the possibility that a Brexit effect might already be upon us as treason is nothing short of a dereliction of duty. Those who know what damage our EU exit is still likely to cause have to start speaking up.
|Terrible Brexit status update by FT Remoaner. Very unfair.|
at 11:48 21 Mar 2017
Over-optimistic ministers manipulate the Brexit debate
by: Janan Ganesh
Financial Times, 21st March, 2017
There are medical students who glide through every stage of their training bar the bedside manner. They know the human body and its processes but cannot manage patient expectations or break bad news.
The three men in charge of Brexit, that elective operation on Britain’s body politic, evoke the opposite — and the worst — type of doctor. What they lack in core competence they redress with tongues of purest silver.
Pressed for detail on his work by MPs last week, David Davis, the minister for exit, left them vaguer. It hurts to inform you that diplomats find him well-briefed next to Liam Fox, whose trade portfolio is a phantom thing until Britain leaves the EU, and Boris Johnson, who has not let his rise to foreign secretary disrupt his work as a jester for the kind of Tories who laugh when a bird lands on centre court at Wimbledon.
But then look at what these ministers have achieved as manipulators of public debate. Over the past year, the terms on which Britain will leave have been talked down on such a fine gradient that even vigilant observers of politics are only semi-conscious of how far the country has been led.
As an opening pitch, voters were told that Britain could retain single-market membership without its corollary burdens. Norway and Switzerland have tried for the same Utopia but our superior size would clinch it. When Leavers were disabused of this dream, they spoke of “access” to the market and zero barriers for traded goods. German exporters, blessed with supernatural lobbying powers that somehow failed to soften European sanctions on Russia, would persuade the EU of the mutual interest in such an arrangement.
When even this diminished plan ran into trouble, when it became clear that Britain’s desire for bilateral dealmaking power could not be accommodated inside the customs union, Leavers fell back on a formal trade relationship with the EU instead. Britain would do business with Europe as Canada does, as if geography had been abolished and the access terms enjoyed by a nation 4,000km away would serve for a nation whose physical and economic orientation is to the continent.
That seemed to be the last recourse. But now ministers are trying to normalise the idea of total exit without a trade pact. Mr Johnson says this would not be “by any means as apocalyptic as some people like to pretend” (roll up, roll up for a future that stops short of apocalypse) and Mr Davis describes it as “not harmful”. Economists disagree with him but politicians are allowed to question their record of clairvoyance.
What they are not allowed is a pardon for a solid year’s worth of promissory slippage: from single market membership to a commodious niche in the customs union to a trade deal to absolute severance. Even if they are right that Britain can prosper in its principal market as a World Trade Organization member, this was never their vision.
At every stage, they overpromise. At every stage, reality finds them out. At every stage, they spin the new bottom-line as something they half-expected all along and as nothing to fear. If the sun melted the northern hemisphere, they would hope to finesse these isles out of the generalised inferno with a bespoke deal. This is the kind of confidence that arouses the opposite of confidence in others. It is the confidence of a lost tour guide who cannot be seen to scrutinise a map in front of paying holidaymakers.
If these ministers erred in different ways at different times, they could hope to improve through practice. But they consistently err on the side of optimism. The problem is not technical incompetence so much as a mystical belief that the EU will unpick its fundamental principles to accommodate Britain, that the whole world will make exceptions for the nation of Shakespeare and the spinning jenny. If these men were shocked that the EU turned out to be a tough interlocutor with interests of its own, imagine their first contact with the American industrial lobby or the Indian state.
On March 29, the government will file Article 50 and begin talks that have no precedent in sweep or complexity. If we are now inured to the prospect of the very hardest of exits, that is some feat by Leavers. There is an art to the gradual normalisation of previously extreme ideas. In the hands of a good politician, you cannot tell you are being let down.
It is just that you would rather be in the hands of statesmen. Seeing these ministers talk their way out of old promises leaves you with a sense of sinuous political skill but also smallness — of a trio pulling themselves up to their full height to look at the monumental work of exit straight in the ankles.
|Shocking new evidence of deep state conspiracy targeting Trump|
at 15:40 19 Mar 2017
It was to have been a joyful celebration of St Patrick's Day involving traditional blarney, a presidential speciality.
Instead it turned ugly for the commander in chief, when the Irish proverb he cited claiming deep affection for something he had heard many, many times, tuned out to be a verse from the work of a Nigerian poet Mr Albasheer Alhassan.
The good new is that an investigation has already apportioned blame to stay-behind undercover Obama operatives at the hated State Department.
It's certainly not the fault of the Bungler in chief, and the merry band of imbeciles he employs on his staff.
at 12:47 24 Dec 2016
Late night, was it?
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