Still a lot of ice around…time for some more ink drawings me thinks
The first snow of the season ( I hope it is the last but I suspect it is far too early for such wishes). Bit of a head cold so the last thing I needed was to go wading out into the bitterly cold wind and 6 inches of snow but I did it anyway. Once I got back I felt like I had walked to the north pole but a warm house and a box set to binge on soon revived my spirits. Along the way I made this ink drawing of next week’s world star Daisey Ridley.
Tis the season…for Brexit to start to become real. Over the past few days we have seen just how complicated Brexit is going to be with the DUP vetoing the first phase of the negotiations because they object to the Unionist cause being sidelined for a broader advantage. Now it is a legitimate question to ask whether the DUP represent Unionist views in Northern Ireland but that is somewhat missing the point. They have the votes in the House of Commons to defeat any deal should it come to a vote (assuming Labour refuse to vote with the Conservatives to defeat them which given the current Labour leadership seems reasonable). Of course it is a different question whether they will bring the current government down (again given the current Labour leadership). This is just a little taster for the mayhem to come should we get to some form of trade deal with the EU commision whereby we have at least 27 other states who have their own axes to grind over any such deal. What it does show in my view just how unworkable it would be for Britain to stay in the single market and customs union whilst at the same time being outside the European Union.
Over the past few weeks a number of solutions to this conundrum have been suggested. They seem to fall into three categories: The Norway model; the Switzerland model and the Canadian model. Each assumes that that the sort of trading relationship/membership of the the customs union/single market for each of these three countries with the EU may well be applicable as a model for the future EU/GB relationship. Each has so called advantages/disadvantages with some including membership of customs union/single market others less so (this is a gross over simplification but will do for this blog). All assume that there is some economic similarity between each of the countries and Britain. This is far from the truth:
GDP Figures for 2016
Source: Google – Date Accessed: 5th December 2017
Or to put it another way – the combined GDP of the three countries is only 97% of the UK so what might be ok for the much smaller economies of the three countries is going to be a much more complicated with that of UK given its relative size.
GDP as a Percent of EU after UK leaves EU
|EU GDP minus Britain||15.381tr USD|
|Percent of EU GDP|
Source: Google – Date Accessed: 5th December 2017
The UK’s economy is just too big to have an off the shelf relationship with the EU. The same goes for leaving the EU and still being part of the single market/customs union as the UK would have no say as to how each of these entities would work yet would have to comply with whatever arrangements are seen fit by the EU 27 – whether they are in the UK’s interest or not. It may well work for a short time but very quickly the whole thing would fall apart because of the built in contradictions. One example might be the members of the EU would decide that all members of the single market and customs union would have to move over the next 5 years to the Euro as their currency. This is perhaps a bit far fetched given the current uptake of the Euro in the EU but in the future – who knows? How would this work for the UK? I just don’t understand how any of this is going to work out in real time.
Another thing I don’t understand is why people voted to leave the EU. I voted to remain for all the reasons I have recorded in this blog. However, the remain side lost that vote and pretending it didn’t happen gets us know where. Philip Hammond, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, claims that those who voted for leave didn’t vote to be poorer. Neither he nor I can say that with any certainty. Nor can remain spokespeople claim that people voted to leave the EU but not the customs union et al. There is no evidence to support this either. Even those on the leave side, such as Daniel Hannan, don’t really know what the vote meant beyond leaving the EU. (Hannan claims that the most important thing was sovereignty rather than immigration control – a claim I doubt for most Leave voters – but what do I know?. ) Given this lack of clarity and the built in destructive contradictions I believe will exists should we try and stay in the customs union/single market we are best to make a clean break and start all over again. At least this way it would give companies at least 12 months to decide what is in their own long term interest and we as a country will have to pick up the pieces afterwards. This, to me, seems the only logical position given the illogical , my view, of voting to leave the EU. Nobody knows how this will work out but this is what we voted for – I think.
One final thought. The photograph is of a new building being built in Leicester. Now if I was an ardent Leave person I would say that this is clear evidence of the British economy’s strength because if the developers feared the worst then they wouldn’t go ahead with the building. However, the site of the new building is also a symbol of the complex relationship of our very long term interaction with the European mainland. During the Roman period a large villa stood on the site whilst during the Anglo Norman period it was the centre of the county/shire administration of Leicestershire. Leicester itself was a centre of proto protestant rebellion during the Lollards/Wycliffe heresy. It seems that Brexit is just the latest in along line of love/hate interactions between England and the major power on the continent of Europe. Continuity and change?
I’m reading a fascinating book at the moment – Brexit and Ireland: The Dangers, the Opportunities, and the Inside Story of the Irish Response by Tony Connolly and it provides a wonderful antidote to the endless upbeat nonsense put out by some of the Brexiteers. By this I mean Brexit isn’t going to be a walk in the park there are many many complex questions that need to be answered. This doesn’t mean that Britain can’t make a success of Brexit, despite the best efforts that our current political class of whatever hue, but it is just not fit for purpose to keep saying WTO rules every time someone points out a complexity that will need to be addressed. To give just one example from the book the question of when is a fish a British Fish and when is it an Irish Fish?
I accept the Brexit argument that we should not believe every last word that comes out of the EU negotiators mouths because, well this is a negotiation and they would say anything to gain an advantage. Equally, I have yet to hear any Brexiteer provide any meaningful explanation as to just how we get to the bright uplands they are convinced we will inhabit from where we are at the moment and please don’t say WTO.
So the painting. Well I have been getting a little bit carried away with all things Brexit over the past few days so what better way of purging such matters than spending some time painting. The result is Ms Jones.
One final thought on the Irish question. I have always thought that the one country that will get well and truly screwed by Brexit is Ireland. They are caught in an impossible position between wanting to be good members of the EU whilst at the same time being situated on one of the British Isles (This is a geographical term to describe the group of islands of off the north west coast of Europe and in no way suggests any British ownership or rule of the Republic of Ireland). Britain has a huge influence on Ireland given the scale and proximity and it is very true to say that if Britain catches a cold then Ireland gets something far worse. This is why the Northern Ireland border question is so important – not because of the Good Friday agreement (although this is very very important) but rather because of the huge amount of trade that goes on between the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain. It is interesting that at the moment that Ireland has a lot of power however when the talks move to phase 2 then they will have virtually nothing. However, as with all things Brexit nothing is quite as it seems. Ireland could veto the phase one talks and so the whole negotiations but the one country that would be really really badly affected by all that would be the Republic of Ireland. The worst outcome for Ireland would be a hard Brexit and the rest of the EU blaming them such an outcome. They would be doubly screwed and that is in no one’s interest.
Yesterday I learned the hard way why Apple’s old HQ had the address 1 Infinite Loop as I struggled to update a new iPad to iOS 11. After an awful lot of swearing and searching the internet for fixes I finally found the answer and my zen like calm (oh how I wish!) has been restored. Suddenly making a drawing or painting is childs play.
Sheffield City Library claims this quote is from the most quoted person of all time Anonymous. However, the internet suggest it might have been Cicero. Whatever the case empty shelves, even when display shelves, make the quote look very hollow indeed.
This is shame because today I visited a rather excellent exhibition of Eric Ravilious and friends at the Millennium Gallery in Sheffield. It claims to have 400 items in the exhibition, a claim I was dubious about until I visited – now I have no doubt at all.
Over the past few days and weeks I have been consumed by photography – and it has been very rewarding. I do keep my hand in with pencil and paper.