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Rob last won the day on December 10

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  1. If Parliament burns down then the country can get on with life. That's a win-win.
  2. Rob

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    If he can have a medieval Saxon Scarborough siege piece, I want his Tardis which would unquestionably be authentic
  3. FWIW, my wife expressed the opinion that we might be better off if she went back to Germany with me in tow. She thinks we would be better off getting out of the EU because the deal as it stands means this country gets screwed indefinitely. She also thinks Merkel could have helped in the past when the immigration issue was raised a few years ago and blames her in part for the mess we find ourselves in. Other musings include the backstop is an unacceptable imposition on this country and the deal must be rejected, May has to go, but anything that puts Corbyn in power would be an unmitigated disaster for the country.
  4. Opinions must be freely voiced whether you agree with them or not. Suppression of free speech is not a good route to go down as it hardens views within the ranks of the constrained and creates a bunker mentality. It also pushes grievances into the long grass without resolving any issues and allows them to fester, rarely for the better. Taboo or politically incorrect subjects need to be discussed because there are some with genuinely strong feelings, and simply saying shut up doesn't make for the case against. Minds will never be changed by maintaining silence, only by interactive debate. You will always get ideological clamouring for suppression from extremists on the opposing side, but this rarely commands the support of the middle ground. So, everything's ok then, until it all blows up........
  5. First, I applaud your appreciation of the splendid organ that is 'Private Eye'. That cover was worthy of inclusion in the 'Stuff that makes us laugh' thread. Custom unions are ok as a decision of equals pulling similar weight, but not for a country as an outsider with no say in their formulation. The EU is a mature customs union with policy dictated by the Commission and rubber stamped by the European Parliament. The EU dictates the rules of any participation in that union and is not going to consider doing something which dilutes their position to accommodate the aspirations of potential members. Clearly it is easier to reach an agreement with fewer constituent members, but that is not the situation in this case. We would unambiguously be rule takers. The problem with a customs union in this case is that it requires potential participants to sign up to all the other legislative baggage such as the freedom of movement, social legislation, state aid etc. that accompanies any joint intent to permit free trade. The EU would not change its own rules on a single point in the interest of a trade agreement. Now I'm not saying that all the baggage is necessarily wrong in principle, but as a country outside the decision making process, it is not in our interest to sign up to an agreement that requires religiously following rules set up by a body which (rightly) has no interest in satisfying the needs of a country over which it has no direct control.
  6. The problem with the backstop is that it requires both sides to satisfy the criteria of no border whilst at the same time the EU insists that the UK is in a temporary customs union in order to protect its borders from unfair third state competition until it is possible to provide an alternative. This is likely to prove extremely difficult in its execution as it would require electronic scanning of lorries moving in either direction for the passage of conforming items, but any item that does not conform to agreed standards or is otherwise unregulated would need some method of customs inspection. i.e. Those two provisions are essentially mutually exclusive, so a prolonged and potentially open-ended customs union is not a fanciful distortion.
  7. All politicians have a trough from which they feed and Brussels is no exception. Whether we are talking about duckponds in the UK or the ludicrously generous expenses of the European Parliament claimed for travel, not to mention the farce that is the monthly relocation from Brussels to Strasbourg, all are taking the taxpayer for a ride. Be a failed politician in your own country and Brussels will ride to the rescue with cozy package worth multiples of what they we earning at home. Snouts in troughs isn't restricted to politicians as industry and finance has proven time and again, but politicians are effectively employed by the taxpayer, who deserves better. As long as the terms of the backstop require the EU's permission to leave, they can extract as much as they want from us. As it stands we have no bargaining power. If we say we want to leave then they will wave their copy of the agreement and say it needs our agreement. All this bodes ill for the future negotiations. With 27 nations each looking for their Brexit bonus, and this country having no guaranteed exit, it is well nigh impossible to argue that we won't be subservient to whatever they demand. They might give way on one or two things such as Gibraltar because that is covered by an existing treaty and nobody in Europe wants to unwind what is essentially a stable stalemate at the risk of opening other wounds, but it would still leave us exposed to the demands of the other 25 who will be looking to gain maximum access to our markets. Not good. The only outcome will be taking directions from Brussels as they so decide.
  8. Nothing is set in stone. People still get killed because they are on the wrong side of the religious divide, but it has to be born in mind that the world has moved on a long way in the 50 years since the troubles started. Within a few years of the start, both Ireland and this country signed up to membership of an organisation which dictates terms to its members, in theory negating any requirement for a united Ireland. With anyone able to live in any member state, with an outside possibility of political union resulting in a single state, the concept of fighting for a united Ireland rings hollow. Granted the agreement was signed 20 years ago and has lasted, but that also means a generation has grown up not living in a state of perpetual violence. Paramiltary and criminal activities go hand in hand, but the murder rate in London is now higher than Northern Ireland's, such has been the reduction in violence. The right of Irish citizens to travel freely between our two countries and live here predates the EU and is intended to continue, so anyone looking to achieve a united Ireland in the context of EU supremacy really needs to look at what they expect in practical terms. With EU law overriding national laws, the nation state is effectively defunct for members. You only have to look at the shower in Westminster to see that there are no natural leaders, such is the level of dependency on Brussels to do our thinking. The EU says the backstop is their insurance policy, but given the terms, it is most beneficial to them as the one that ensures we will keep the Brussels trough fed for years to come. Anything that means our leaving the EU at their convenience is subservience whichever way you look at it. Rees-Mogg's statement of us as a future vassal state is entirely appropriate.
  9. The newsagent round the corner is quite a nice guy. He'd probably do ok. As for the politicians, forget them. Party politics always trumps consensus. Ultimately May was wrong to allow the inclusion of the backstop. From the minute it was mooted, it was clearly an affront to our sovereignty as I pointed out in a letter to the FT at the time. I applauded the DUP then, and still think they are right to stand their ground. If the backstop wasn't there I think it would have been passed in the Commons on a free vote, whether I agree with the document or not. Meanwhile, the two Corbyns must be having a right old ding-dong. For one side of him the 29th March can't come quickly enough, whilst his other side panders to his party clinging to an illusion that the EU will somehow give him much better terms whilst still leaving the EU. As for the Lib Dems, they only seem to feel confident when closely collaborating with their ideological masters and as always support all things with Euro in the title. Eurotrash could be due for a rerun if they get to be in charge of programming. Hooray.
  10. The budget redistribution payments are one cause of the economic malaise found in the peripheral states. It's all well and good saying we will distribute money to the poorer areas of the EU, but those payments come with strings attached. Economic investment in a deprived area is best invested in projects/industries/products that are currently imported into the recipient state. However, to compete with existing industries will fall foul of EU legislation forbidding state aid to the detriment of other EU enterprises. Hence, you are only allowed to invest handouts in something that doesn't provide lasting prosperity as a result of commercial competitiveness. That is why the handouts are returned to the economic powerhouses in the form of traded goods produced by the main countries of the bloc. It boils down to who makes your buckets and spades. Do you have an independent industrial policy that encourages industry here, or do you rely on a political body that doesn't particularly have any interest in your or any other nation's problems. A nation's prosperity ultimately depends on it having a positive balance of payments in order to fund the luxuries such as social care, health care, education etc. These are long term projects that require long term funding. Given the main source of funds is taxation receipts, it should be incumbent on any political party to ensure economic conditions maximise business profits, because without profitable businesses, the future of all the things people allegedly hold dear is very bleak.
  11. 'I' didn't apply for the referendum either, but if you had asked me at any time in the past few decades 'did I want to leave the EU?' then the answer would have been yes every time. I didn't expect the opportunity to be given a say, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't vote to change the status quo given the chance. It's difficult to equate the referendum result 40+ years ago with the situation today. Then we were joining a trading bloc. today the question is do we want to be part of something that will mutate in the not too distant future into a political union. The common currency will ensure that, as wealth is increasingly concentrated in the best performing economies, of which Germany stands head and shoulders above the rest to the detriment of the periphery which includes this country. The only solution to this polarisation is political union which would permit a central government to unilaterally redistribute wealth and wealth creation across the Union. It means that the constituent nations will no longer be in control of their own economic policies and indeed the end of the nation state. The member nations aren't going to vote for this voluntarily, but may end up in that situation as a last resort. To get out of this federalist situation requires us to leave. Centralisation isn't peculiar to the EU, as every country has it's economic centre which attracts all the money with the parallel in this country being London which sucks investment out of the regions. The EU is simply following this trend but on a supra-national scale. There will be no appetite for a person representing Berlin to say we need to move x% of our industry to Thessaloniki or wherever because we are doing too well, and they are suffering. As for the referendum, I think I would give the population more credit than some for their reasoning to leave. Neither side covered itself in glory, but a lot of people discussed the issue with rational discussion and without resorting to nationalistic/jingoistic rhetoric.
  12. Large numbers of tokens were struck in seemingly small quantities, but given many didn't circulate, relative to the number of collectors they remain only scarce. It's the old supply and demand thing. These days, the only important thing is availability and grade from statistics taken in the past few decades. Anything earlier cannot be corroborated with an alternative contemporary study. Some things will always fight above their weight, whilst others will be unloved irrespective of rarity.
  13. We could have an indefinite number of referendums. The important point is not whether we have one, but rather, what is the question. We had the one that asked if we wanted to stay in the EU and the answer was no. That's been asked. The next, if parliament can't get its act together should surely be do we accept or reject the terms we are offered, not do we want to reverse the original decision.
  14. Something a bit different. 1828 two pounds reverse uniface in copper.