There is now less than one year to go before Great Britain joyously breaks free from the clammy embrace of the evil European Union. How are the departure negotiations shaping up, and what will Anglo-European relations look like after Brexit?
The answers to those questions are very much tied up with how long Theresa May will last. Aided by useful idiots in the House of Commons and the MSM the Prime Minister has got away with her outrageous anti-Russian smear over Salisbury, so far.
The fact remains that whether she was taken in by her security officials or not, she misled the House. Lacking any MPs with high intelligence, the House was unable to see through the con at first. Lacking high intelligence is not the same thing as being dumb, however. The smarter MPs are beginning to ask sensible questions about Salisbury.
Unfortunately, there is no prospect of the MSM asking sensible questions – there are only two really intelligent journalists in Britain (those nice men Peter Hitchens and Christopher Booker), but sadly neither is particularly well-disposed towards Russia. The MSM are so intelligence-illiterate that the overwhelming majority of journalists probably still think that Lenin and Stalin worked for the USSR and that the Cambridge Spy Ring was a Soviet, not a German, ring. I mean it – they really are that uninformed.
Many people, particularly the young, no longer rely on the MSM for information, however. Like the weekly audience on BBC’s Question Time current affairs show, they sense how desperately ignorant journalists and politicians are, and look for answers elsewhere.
Theresa May’s untenable position over Salisbury is gradually beginning to unravel, but it will take time. You cannot hide the truth forever, even from MPs. There is almost no chance of the May government complying with its international obligation to make samples of the nerve agent (almost certainly the A-234 variant of Novichok) available to Russia, but they are in deep trouble over Yulia Skripal. Thankfully, almost certainly due to an error at Porton Down when mixing the A-234, Yulia has survived and is now talking.
The Russian Embassy has very properly insisted on exercising their right of consular access to her. This will be difficult to deny for much longer. Yulia Skripal is a Russian citizen. So is her father, for that matter – so far as I know, he’s a dual national. He too is likely to come round.
I take Senior Editor Gordon Duff’s point that nerve agents either kill you or they don’t (I’ve never been whacked with a nerve agent, only a chemical weapon, but I once represented a CIA officer who had been.) However, with respect, the point applies with much less force to binary agents. That’s because they have to be mixed in precisely the right proportion. (No wonder Porton Down’s only getting an extra £48 million in their budget – goodness knows what the Cabinet Office would have given them had the Skripals actually been murdered!)
BTW I am not buying into the theory that Col Skripal agreed to take some Novichok in a Litvinenko/Berezovsky style plot to embarrass President Putin. Apart from anything else, unlike with Polonium, I’m not sure that there’s an antidote. What’s more, nerve agents are tricky to dose correctly. Novichok, if correctly mixed, is very quick-acting. Put shortly, you might not live long enough to benefit from the antidote!
Novichok, being a military-grade nerve agent, also requires state support, in other words Porton Down, or the Ukrainian SBU, or another German-penetrated agency, would have needed to go along with the plot. I can’t see any German agency going along with a plan which involved Col Skripal ingesting A-124 knowingly. As told here, days before the MSM got the news, it is far more likely that the A-124 was simply left on the colonel’s door. No doubt some of the GO2 boys were in the vicinity, keeping an eye out for wandering Hermes couriers or Jehovah’s Witnesses!
No offense to Hermes or the JWs, but it would be difficult to engineer an international incident by whacking one of them! People would be asking when they’re going to get Novichok kits into Boots the Chemist. (At least Boots would provide proper instructions!)
I can just imagine the response of the GO2 director when the boys got back to Vauxhall Cross from Salisbury. ‘So, did you whack the Skripals?’ ‘No boss, but we bagged a couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses.’ ‘How about some Co-proxamol, boys?’
The negotiations in Brussels
These continue to go badly. I had however underestimated Theresa the Appeaser’s desperation to get a deal. She’s caving in left, right and center to the EU. As Jacob Rees-Mogg observed this week, the government has rolled over for the EU but hasn’t even had its tummy tickled.
The latest surrender is over fishing. The EU wants unlimited access to Britain’s rich fishing grounds during the absurd and unnecessary transitional period, which could last until December 2020. They also want a huge chunk of change and unlimited labor dumping during the transitional period. With unemployment in the eurozone as high as it is, why wouldn’t they?
If May stays there probably will be a transitional deal along the lines of what the EU are proposing, although I doubt the surrender over fishing rights will stand. Tory backbenchers won’t wear it. She’ll probably run into trouble over labor dumping as well.
That’s only if May stays, however. The chances are that she’ll be gone by the party conference in the fall. She’s bought herself some time with her hysterical accusation against Russia over Salisbury, but that’s all. The truth usually comes out in the end.
What if May goes?
All bets are off if She Who Must Be Obeyed is finally forced out by her MPs. As I suggested last week, it looks increasingly likely as though her successor will be that nice man Jacob Rees-Mogg MP. After the fiasco over GO2’s failed attempt to murder the Skripals and the farcical blaming of Russia the party will want to turn to a man of substance. (After Theresa May they’re unlikely to go for a woman leader for a while, indeed women politicians might just want to settle for the time being for women retaining the right to vote.)
With a sensible leader in place it’s unlikely there would be a deal with the EU. With the trade deficit in goods likely to approach £100 billion this year, once exports to China and South Korea, etc., via Antwerp and Rotterdam are stripped out, we neither need nor want a free trade deal with the EU.
Leaving without a deal means a clean break. This would mean trading with the EU on WTO terms. Not the least advantage of that would be checks on trucks coming in from Europe. Since that is how most cocaine and heroin comes into the country, not to mention illegal immigrants, this would be a huge gain for Britain.
Since the two main narcotics distribution cartels in the UK are controled by Germany’s GO2, and GO2 have heavily penetrated the Cabinet Office, Britain is in effect a quasi narco-state. The MPs backing “frictionless trade” with Europe have no idea what they’re doing, of course (not for the first time!). They’re not trying to get young people hooked on drugs or killed. They’re not even being paid off with bags of white powder. They’re so ill-informed and for the most part so desperately lacking in intelligence that they don’t need to be bought off. No narcotics trafficker could possibly wish for a more egotistical or complacent legislative chamber than the House of Commons.
Britain is a drug trafficker’s dream. If they’re in the cartels they can even rely on the police and the CPS to prosecute the competition. Only independent narcotics traffickers get locked up in Britain. If an honest rozzer finds a cartel member in possession of a few hundred kees of Colombian pure the case can always be put in the list of one of the Cabinet Office’s tame judges, in other words one who’s been round to see Miss Whiplash and hasn’t told the wife.
The Customs Union
There has been a lot of talk in Westminster of staying in the Customs Union, which would be a disaster, except for the cartels of course. There will probably be a vote, but it’s unclear which way Labour will go. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is unlikely to have been too impressed with recent attempts to force him out, not least as some of his pro-EU opponents have sought to portray him as anti-semitic, which I regard as unfair.
If Labour does not support the rebel amendment then it has no chance and might not even be put to the vote. If Labour decides to rat on Britain and go with the EU it will still probably fail. There are unlikely to be many Tory rebels and they will probably find themselves outnumbered by patriotic Labour rebels like Frank Field and Kate Hoey.
If the Irish government do not want a hard border between the Republic and the UK they need to pull out of the EU with us. The deeper thinkers in Dublin, like Anthony Coughlan, have already called for Irish withdrawal from the EU.
If there’s a transitional deal then the hard border will be deferred, but only for 20 months. The problem is not just tariffs, but immigration. If Ireland stays within the EU she will have a different visa regime for third country nationals. That will mean passport controls at the Anglo-Irish frontier.
Talk of e-borders is simply silly. Ministers like David Davis, with respect, simply have not thought this through.
A second referendum?
You can forget a second referendum. Labour have rejected the idea, indeed the obnoxious (no offense intended) pro-European Labour front-bencher Owen ‘von’ Smith has very properly been sacked by Jeremy Corbyn for even suggesting it.
With Labour firmly opposed, and the recent coup attempt against Jeremy Corbyn having failed, the Parliamentary numbers for a second referendum simply do not stack up. It would be an outrageous caving in to the EU and a complete negation of democracy, not least since supporters of the idea would no more accept a leave result second time around than they did the first. They are simply opposed to democracy and self-government.
There’s also the complication that a no-deal scenario would have to be catered for. In other words voters would need to be presented with three options, not a simple binary ‘stay/leave’ choice, as in 2016. Do we stay, go with the interim deal or go on a clean break basis?
Is there a Steele/Skripal connection?
I’ve not commented on this to date. The suggestion is that Christopher Steele (he of the dodgy Trump dossier) when in MI6 had a hand in recruiting Col Skripal and has maintained close contact with him since. Unlike the idiot Irish senator, if that is not a tautology, with every respect to the Irish Senate, who this week tweeted that a just-acquitted Irish rugby player might in fact have been guilty of the very crime (rape) of which he had just been cleared, I have some regard for the libel laws!
So far as I know, Chris Steele has never met Col Skripal and wasn’t involved in persuading him to betray his country. In any event, again so far as I know, Chris is not GO2. The attempt to murder the Skripals was nothing to do with MI6, indeed Col Skripal was an MI6 asset. They had even less motive to assassinate him than the SVR or GRU.
If new facts emerge I may have to change my opinion. As presently advised, I see no connection between Steele and Col Skripal. I don’t think that President Trump’s perfectly proper hesitation before supporting Theresa May’s silly allegation against President Putin had anything to do with a possible connection with the dodgy dossier. I suspect it was more to do with the President not buying the nonsense coming out of London.
This week’s movie review: The Black Tent (1956, dir. Brian Hurst)
This little-known war movie has recently been given an airing on cable. Since a number of Jerries get shot it’s not difficult to see why.
It’s actually rather good. A precursor to Lawrence of Arabia, it was mostly shot on location in Libya. The lead role, of wounded British officer Captain David Holland, is played by that fine actor Major Anthony Steel, who himself saw action in the war.
Major Steel’s character is rescued by the daughter of a Bedouin sheikh, played by Anna Maria Sandri. They of course fall in love. There’s a snag, however. She’s been promised to a rotter called Sheikh Faris, played by Michael Craig. An absolute stinker (who these days would be a Remainer) Faris turns out to have thrown in his lot with Jerry. Happily he gets shot, along with some of our community partners from the Afrika Korps. (You can see why it’s being rerun after so many years!)
Anton Diffring, BTW, plays one of the community partners, with his usual aplomb. (He played a very good Reinhard Heydrich in Operation Daybreak, an early example of a war movie where a gay actor played a gay character.) Diffring, who sadly died in 1989, was a Jerry himself, but a nice one.
The movie doesn’t have a happy ending, sadly. Captain Holland marries the girl but dies in heroic circumstances, saving his father-in-law’s life. The story comes out in his diary, retrieved years after the war by his brother, played by that great actor Donald Sinden, who inherited his older brother’s estates.
It’s a cracking yarn, shot in color, with a good plot, dead Jerries and fine acting. You can’t ask much more of a war movie than that. I recommend renting the DVD, or downloading it.
Happy Easter everyone!
Michael Shrimpton was a barrister from his call to the Bar in London in 1983 until being disbarred in 2019 over a fraudulently obtained conviction. He is a specialist in National Security and Constitutional Law, Strategic Intelligence and Counter-terrorism. He is a former Adjunct Professor of Intelligence Studies at the American Military University.
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