The ‘Brexit divide’ cannot be healed until we have ALL crossed over it and returned home

October 9, 2019 Leave a comment
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We cannot serve two masters.

Attempting to do so will inevitably leave us devoted to one and despising the other.

Yet this is precisely what we the British People AND our MPs have been expected to increasingly do as the foothold of the EU has grown and reached progressively further into our lives over the past thirty years – all without any democratic review.

It is the one defining experience of Brexit and all that has led to it that Leavers and Remainers share and have in common – the difference being only the point of view.

In June 2016 the British People were given the opportunity to speak out on the state of the unhealthy and outwardly dysfunctional dichotomy that is the UK’s relationship with the EU.

Whilst the outcome of the 2016 European Referendum was never sold as such by either side of the debate, the choice Voters had that day was always a defining one.

That choice was not just binary in the terms of Leave or Remain – as the question on the Ballot Paper clearly was put to us. But whether we wanted a future defined by our own democratically elected leadership, or one imposed by unelected bureaucrats that come from an overwhelming majority of foreign Countries that are not our own.

The UK and the EU are now, have always been and always will be mutually exclusive entities.

The unspoken strategic aims and priorities of the EU have ensured and enshrined this. And the silent process of changing and transforming the governance structure of the UK from within, simply to adhere to the systems and procedures of an alien country with which we do not naturally identify, has led progressively and for many of us unconsciously to what we now experience as the Leave vs Remain division between us, or rather, the ‘Brexit divide’.

The instruction to Leave the EU given to British Politicians was clear.

The biggest mistake on the part of those who lead us was therefore the failure to recognise the differentiations of loyalties involved. How translated at lawmaking level, the inability of MPs to step back or rather step away from personal loyalty and emotional entrenchment over Brexit to the position of acting appropriately and with integrity, was going to be for most of them what feels like an impossible thing.

All that defines the UK as a Nation State, our culture, our history, our language, our way of doing things, ‘our Britishness’ and more, is completely incompatible with continued Membership of the EU.

The EU and the people that lead it have known this all along – as was made only too clear by Angela Merkel yesterday in her conversation with No10.

The hard truth for everyone and not just for those of us loyal to the EU ideal to swallow, is that we must completely cross the divide that now exists and extricate ourselves fully from the grip of the EU and with it every purpose that it’s policies serve, before we can all begin to heal.

As a culture, race and community, the British People will not be one and united again until we recognise that the strongest and most defining thing that we have in common is our National identity. And that the independence and sovereignty that necessarily comes with it, are the tools that we will use to repair everything that is broken in this Country.

We simply must reclaim control of our own destiny if oneness across the UK is to be the aim with which a shared unity of purpose can be restored.

Being out of the EU doesn’t mean the UK will not have a good relationship with it. As Europeans we have the capacity to rediscover and reestablish a healthy working relationship with our continental neighbours and get along perfectly well.

But there is no halfway house. No inbetween. No middle ground.

And it is only fair to expect our politicians to be bigger than everyone. To put their own ideas to one side and embrace the responsibility of taking the steps and doing everything that is necessary to make Brexit and our departure from the EU work for the UK and everyone within it.

This is the practical reality and requirement. Not some idealistic cause.

The Brexit divide cannot be healed until we have all crossed over it and returned home.

It is only by doing so that we will we be able to put the divisive feelings and language of Leave and Remain aside.

 

image thanks to unknown/Loctite

Beating the Backstop: How to make a hard Border in Ireland and with any of our EU Neighbours irrelevant when Brexit is delivered

August 1, 2019 1 comment

Beating the Backstop

A few days ago, I visited Gloucester Quays with my son. Not noticing the technology surrounding us as we drove into the multi-storey car park that sits above the shops, the speed of our exit – with the barrier lifting before we even had the chance to stop – reminded me of just how simple the solutions to the Irish Backstop issue should really now be.

Like Brexit itself, the Backstop is a complicated issue that should actually be very simple to resolve.

The problem is that there are so many different viewpoints in the mix that look upon the practicalities of a technical solution to the hard border problem from only their own perspective.

Whether they are a politician, a computer coder or a haulier – they are not open to the reality that there isn’t just one solution that they themselves will recognise or understand as immediately workable for the Border.

They do not appreciate that the whole issue is about weaving together a series of very different solutions in order to get the whole job done.

Regrettably, many of the decision makers – many of them in Government right now – do themselves share this particular view and understanding.

Whether this tunnel vision is borne of simple ignorance, lack of beyond-their-own-sector-understanding, or just the fact that they haven’t got the wherewithal or real-world savviness to recognise how different this opportunity for progress really is, they treat the whole thing like it is just another government project.

This is not the way that the battle for an Open Border Solution is going to be won – no matter what the final terms of Brexit will be.

It has been said that the wheels of government move incredibly slow. But in a time of national crisis, time is not something that is within a government’s gift.

Urgency must open up to agility. The government must not only set the new agenda, it must also keep the momentum of it going too.

In terms of tangible delivery, this means that delivering a practical and real-life solution like the Backstop cannot be left to rely on standing procedures, processes and the mentality in government that ‘this is the way that things have always been done’ – particularly when many of the processes that could hinder or delay the timely delivery of a working Open Border Solution have been created by the EU – the very entity that solving this problem will allow the UK to Leave.

There are a range of specialists from very different technical and service industries who can bring significant knowledge, expertise and yes – the very services and products that all Borders will need to keep everything flowing like it does now and then make the new UK-EU working relationship better than it has already been.

Yet the development and the implementation of the border solution cannot and must not be allowed to be allocated to any one government department to control or lead, other than DEXEU.

Otherwise, the right solution will not be found for everyone. Because whatever comes from the process will only be framed in terms of the wants and needs of the ideas and motives of the people at the top of those particular organisational trees, rather than being fully inclusive and considerate of everyone involved.

Equally, the Government cannot rely on the monolithic public sector contractors to offer up the right solution.

They are too big. Too self-focused. Too profit orientated. And above all, they are simply not agile enough to deliver the right solution on the right timeline to ensure that the Backstop job is properly done.

This is how the solution to returning to a hard Border in Ireland and keeping goods moving across all our EU Borders can be found:

Open Border Service

The Open Border Solution (abridged)

  • There will be no hard Border.
  • There will be no physical barriers or stops at the Border.
  • Vehicle movements will be monitored using ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) using cameras located at all Border road entry points.
  • Using existing vehicle Number Plate Recognition Software of the kind that we experience in most of the car parks that we now drive into, Hauliers and Companies that Export to and Import from the EU will be able to join a Trusted Trader & Transit Scheme – which we will call the Open Border Service.
  • As Members they will be able to access their own portal to a database/e-commerce/transaction system – that we will call the Open Border System.
  • Within the Open Border System, Members will be able to store the identity data – including registrations – of their Vehicles and Trailers.
  • Vehicles and Trailers entered on the Open Border System will have to correspond with the DVLA Database and Databases of any Vehicle Licensing Body in the EU or beyond that manages Vehicles and Trailers that will transit into or via the UK.
  • When Members have a load of goods to carry into or via a UK/EU Border (EU-UK, UK-EU or EU-EU), they will be able to register or notify the Open Border System of the manifests of their load, identifying correlation with the Taxation Groups provided by HMRC.
  • To secure the registered load for monitoring during transit, Members will be able to purchase ratchet-tie-tags that will affix to the rear doors of Vehicles and Trailers that carry a bar code, chip or data strip that can be read by any Government Officer, at pinch points such as the Ports, on Cross Channel Ferries, at the Channel Tunnel and by any other authorized representative equipped with mobile scanning equipment.
  • Tags will be available in different colours to immediately identify the nature of the journey from a distance (such as a following police car) and tags removed for inspection will be replaced with a unique colour that shows the vehicle has been stopped, with the data being updated in live time, so that the code of the new tag will correspond with the same load once the journey is complete or is being inspected again.
  • Scanning equipment or apps will automatically communicate with the central database and confirm the legitimacy of the load.
  • Taxes owed will be payable on terms and at rates to be confirmed by HMRC following negotiation with trading partner Countries.
  • Countries that do not sign up to the scheme will not be authorized to transit and any vehicle without a valid tag will be stopped and impounded.
  • Payment will be taken by Members at point of Registration via the Open Border System via Merchant Services integrated into the system, or via Invoice to Companies authorized by HMRC to pay by Invoice later.

Getting the Open Border Solution done…

So here is what the Government should do if it really wants to get a speedy and workable Backstop solution in place:

  • Forget what the EU wants
  • Forget all the political arguments
  • Put the right people in charge & remove all the barriers to progress
  • Hold a conference with all the companies who might be interested and would be able to provide one or more of the technical elements of the Backstop Solution, or would be prepared to work collaboratively with others to get the job done.
  • Set out the terms of a Tender for Development
  • Allow suppliers to qualify themselves
  • Commission no less than 3 separate solutions to be developed by a fixed date
  • Select the Solution
  • Implement
  • Brexit
  • Develop the service further allowing any inter-departmental integration to take place that was not possible before

1. Forget what the EU wants

The most simple thing the government needs to do in identifying, delivering and then implementing an open-border solution between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, is get on with it and do it without letting the EU or any of their Representatives becoming involved.

The EU is on a mission to stop Brexit at any cost, as it is aware and very fearful that anything that can be interpreted as a successful departure from the EU – and that includes the development of a post-departure working relationship that works – will encourage other Member Countries (what they call States) to Leave.

On past form alone, it appears very likely that the EU would deliberately and willingly expose itself and therefore the Irish Republic too, to difficulties over Brexit, just to ensure that they can present a picture of chaos and problems that could only be avoided by Remaining – to all other Parties involved.

2.Forget all the Political arguments

Left, Right, Leave or Remain; Conservative, Brexit Party, DUP, Green, Labour, Liberal Democrat or whoever else they might be, the time for allowing anyone with any vested interests to reframe the Brexit and therefore the Backstop debate has already been and gone.

This is now about the doing. About delivering. About returning the UK to its sovereign, independent, self-governing status once more.

Nobody can add any value to the backstop by turning it into a political debate.

Nobody in the UK wants a hard border in Ireland. It’s time to get practical and get the job done.

3.Put the right people in charge and remove all the barriers to progress

Sounds simple I know. But it can be and it needs to be. Brexit simply will not happen meaningfully if those with responsibility for delivering it continue to try using tried and tested formulas and methods of working to get a completely new and significant task done.

It is unlikely that even the most senior civil servants have the wherewithal to get the Backstop Project working as it should. Equally, the Politicians appear to be no better and the solution is not to appoint expensive consultants or even worse, get friends and people within networks on board, just because you think they would be good at it or have a CV or work history that suggests they might be able to get something done.

The Project needs to be led by people who understand, have working experience or fluency of all the kinds of services and technologies that will be involved – or most importantly, have the skills and attributes necessary to step outside of what they do know whilst being credible to everyone they are dealing with, so that a culture of trust can be the first thing that is created.

To support them, all of the rules and regulations on buying or commissioning government services simply must be reduced to the bare essentials.

Lets face it, this is all about Leaving the EU, so none of the rules that just about every part of government has already become used to will be required because its all about Leaving!

4.Hold a conference with all the companies who might be interested and would be able to provide one or more of the technical elements of the Backstop Solution, or would be prepared to work collaboratively with others to get the job done.

Although this one sits at No.4 in the list, it’s actually as important as 1, 2 and 3 and they should all be happening simultaneously.

There’s a very big opportunity for the companies and providers that get involved with delivering the Backstop Solution.

One of the keys to managing the benefit of their input is not to allow them to take over and dictate the process.

Believe me when I say that it is the companies who are willing to play by the rules of the process who will actually deliver on time, on target and in a way that opens the right doorways to future working.

There should be a conference called within a couple of weeks with an open invite to all companies that can provide the services and technologies involved and can qualify themselves appropriately and immediately. They must also be prepared to sign up to an NDA that has financial penalties involved if they should leak information.

Within that there should be care to ensure that those who speak and input are bringing genuine, experiential thought and views, rather than opinion which has now too often become the case. It is easy to overlook the reality that people we culturally recognise as business leaders are often no such thing. They are managers without comprehensive understanding of their own businesses at a practical level. It is equally vital to value academic input in the same way.

Worst of any of the organisations that it would seem natural to involve those who sell themselves as being representative of an industry because they suggest that they are representing members.

Yes, many organisations and businesses join member networks and when it comes to bodies such as the FSB, small businesses gain access to many things which bring immediate value to what they do. Yet when it comes to lobbying or influencing decision makers upon policy that will affect whatever it is that their industry does, it is rare once again to find people in charge with the in-depth knowledge of the industry their represent from the bottom up and more often the case that the words they speak come from their own view of the world, rather than being anything even remotely akin to what it is that the businesses at the cutting edge of that industry does.

It is necessary to labour this point, because it is essential that good, productive representation from all the industries that have a stake in the success of the Irish Border Solution are involved in this process and given the opportunity to contribute and collaborate positively and proactively to ensure that from their own vantage point, they have genuine but nonetheless joint ownership of whatever it actually does.

Some will argue that such a meeting cannot be convened in such short a time as a couple of weeks and particularly so during the summer. Yet the opposite is true, because if Brexit is as important to these organisations and they either want influence or the opportunity to gain further business, being there, being agile and being ready to make it work under pressure is just something that they will be ready and equipped to do.

Set out the Terms of a Tender for Development

Sounds like that will take time – I hear you think. But it won’t.

The Border Solution requires a wholly different approach. One that encourages every business and organisation involved to step beyond their comfort zone and to see the Brexit opportunity for exactly what it is.

Leaving the EU cannot be held up by regulations that are only relevant if we are members.

So the solution will come by conducting a three stage process:

  • Tender for development
  • Date-critical development
  • Implementation, servicing and further development

5.1. Tender for development

The most critical and quickest part of the process is qualifying and selection the provider(s) who will develop Border Solution Options.

Options, because to ensure that the UK is ready to Leave the EU and keep the Border fully open at the same time, it is critical that this responsibility is left at the whim of a single private contractor or collaboration thereof, that can create delays and raise prices just to ensure that greater levels of additional profit will automatically be involved.

What needs to be recognised across the board is that the Border Solution already exists. The solution itself is therefore not one that needs to be invented. The solution itself is just a question of identifying the right elements or pieces of the jigsaw that will fit together to make that solution, and to then manage the contributions of all the different parties that will inevitably become involved.

The Suppliers will include:

  • Number Recognition Cameras & Software
  • Access & Integration with the DVLA Database and Databases of all International Vehicle Licensing Bodies likely to have vehicles transiting to or via the UK from the EU
  • Database Software (The Core of the Open Border System)
  • Merchant Services Solutions
  • Scanning Hardware & Software
  • App Development
  • Vehicle Tags
  • Access & Integration with the HMRC Database
  • Others that will inevitably become apparent

The Organisations will include:

  • HMRC
  • DVLA
  • Representatives of the Haulage Industry
  • Representatives from Businesses conducting UK-EU exports and imports
  • Representatives of the Farming Industry
  • Others that will inevitably become apparent

All of these organisations should be present, but a framework agreed and presented for what the Border Solution will look like, the functionality required and above all, what it should actually do. The adversary organisations will be present just to answer questions on practicalities such as what the volume or weight and the number of crates would be on a standard Euro-Pallet on a vehicle trailer and how many Euro-Pallets that vehicle might hold. They will not be there to influence anything other than the accuracy of the data input for the tender process.

Contrary to what the fearful tell us, a Border Solution is not rocket science or anything like it. A Border solution already exists. The Border Solution is simply about joining up the dots. The dot joiners and the creators of those dots are only there to execute the task.

5.1.1. Number Recognition Cameras & Software

The key to removing the need for a physical or hard border, border checks and the presence of a full time contingent of the UK Border Force is simply to monitor all the traffic that crosses the Irish Border – no matter how many times, and whatever the direction.

ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) technology has been in use by the Police for many years and helps them to identify vehicles and drivers, along with any red flags that might be associated with those vehicles in live time, so that they can literally or rather automatically pull over vehicles in live time, as and when they see them.

Today ANPR technology is everywhere and nowhere less prominent than in car parks, where Companies such as NCP or the private overseers of car parks in places like out-of-town retail parks have cameras set up which record your number plate when you arrive and then when you leave. There is no need for attendants and limited requirement for staffing on site as administration can all be done remotely, often the other side of the Country – making the whole exercise very profitable.

The software in use commercially already links to the DVLA Database, and if you have any qualms about the speed that a camera can recognise a number plate or vehicle, why not try entering your car on the We Buy Any Car site to get a value and see how quick it comes. A current advertising campaign on Radio featuring Phillip Schofield as good as promises that the whole exercise takes less than a minute. A time that at its worst should reassure about how quickly a well-thought out and designed software system could manage seamless border crossings along the Irish Border.

I refer back to my own experience recently that I began with above and the reality that the system at Gloucester Quays was so good, it didn’t even need to read my paid-up ticket as the system identified the number plate with the ticket that had been paid a few minutes before as soon as it saw the plate.

Fundamentally this is off-the-shelf technology, which is only going to get better. Its use will be an essential part of the Border Solution and it’s the link with the Open Border Service that is the real task.

5.1.2. Access & Integration with the DVLA Database and Databases of all International Vehicle Licensing Bodies likely to have vehicles transiting to or via the UK from the EU

Essential to creating a fully collaborative UK/EU/International System is access to the Registration Data for all of the vehicles (tractors & powered chassis) that will be crossing UK/EU Borders – irrespective of the exact location.

All of the Countries and EU Member States will have these and the UK already has access to this information for the purposes of policing and enforcement of international traffic on the UK Roads.

Yes, it is possible that the EU will attempt to restrict access to this data in order to frustrate the development of what will otherwise be a very simple system. To restrict such data sharing post-Brexit would be bloody mindedness on the part of of the EU.

The way to address any potential problem with Vehicle Database access is to simply bar entry to UK roads for any Vehicle and the Owner that cannot be identified. Bearing in mind that the Open Border Solution is all as much about the EU and its Members and probably more so than UK Hauliers and Companies that Export, it is in their interests to cooperate fully. Especially as this whole system can and arguably should be mirrored, and potentially managed by a joint UK/EU Organisation.

5.1.3. Database Software (The core of the Open Border System)

Whilst IT specialists or ‘experts’ will happily and passionately tell you otherwise (I have already seen a Tweet on my own feed which says there’s no way a solution can be coded), the reality of the Open Border Solution is that it is nothing more than a database solution, integrated with scanning and e-commerce technology which has multiple administration points in addition to customer portals.

The companies that you want working on this project are not those that immediately tell you that this will take years; can’t be done; would have to be designed from scratch or that it is simply too complicated to be done.

It isn’t any of those things. And any company or so-called expert that suggests otherwise will not be one that you want at this conference when facing a piece of significant work which can only be delivered by people who have the mentality to do what is necessary to deliver on time.

Primarily, this is not a project and will not be a contract for one of the large Public Sector Contractors that will always place its own priorities first and is used to working with Officers and Civil Servants who will believe anything that they say.

No. This is not about precluding existing Contractors. But it is about making clear that this Brexit is an opportunity for all and not just those in a position to exploit it.

The companies that offer database development will already be able to demonstrate off-the-shelf or open-source-type technology that can work with the type of systems that the Government already uses.

Just bear in mind that there are already a series of commercially available accountancy packages that already integrate with HMRC – and it is on the basis of working with, adapting and integrating systems that are already known, that the Border Solution can be quickly and efficiently achieved – not by pretending that there must be a reinvention of the wheel in order to get all this done.

This process must be open to companies of all sizes, start-ups included. As it is only through experiencing the reality of the offering that is out there that would not necessarily qualify under EU Tender Rules, that it will become clear that there are much more effective ways to get jobs for the public sector legitimately done.

The key to getting the required result is presenting the companies with a detailed process map for the system. Coders are rarely unable to come up with all manner of effective ways to get software to work and complete a task as long as it is clear what you want it to do. This isn’t a task that you can expect a coder to complete cold.

5.1.4. Merchant Services Solutions

One of the simplest aspects of the software side of the solution. Many companies are already leading the way with multiple-medium payment entry. Some of them will be amongst the list of those interested in providing the database solution immediately above.

Either way, payment portals, whether online, by app or otherwise will be comparatively simple to introduce as the technology is already very successfully in use.

5.1.5. Scanning Hardware & Software

Effective enforcement of an Open Border Solution will be the key element to ensuring that a hard or physical border is not required again – irrespective of whatever the trade or tariff arrangement between the UK and the EU becomes.

Scanning software is now developed enough that it can work as an app on a Smartphone. Likewise, there is a complete range of specialist hand-held, mounted, 3G, Wi-Fi, networked and other scanning devices. And making them available at key pinch points such as at ports, on ferries, motorway services and for the Police and any Government Officer carrying out enforcement work will be essential.

Representatives of companies providing hardware and software solutions for the scanning requirement should all be invited, subject to appropriate qualification.

5.1.6. App Development

Many of the big Hauliers that transit the EU Border have specialist employees who will take care of the administration of loads and correct data entry. Some may even have direct portals involved.

However, many others will be smaller or even self-employed owner drivers. And where it is the case that the Company they are carrying for has not made direct submission of their own, it is essential that a low-cost, effective version of the portal be available as an app, simple enough that with the corresponding data that exporting or importing customers will be required to provide, a driver or small business operator can load the data themselves before mounting the corresponding tag on the vehicle or trailer.

Again, this is not an original task and integrating it with its own scanning function – as exists with many apps such as the National Lottery App – means that the process can be made very simple and as such, a very efficient task to get done.

5.1.7. Vehicle Tags

Yes, this sounds too good to be true. But companies such as the big supermarkets have been monitoring their loads and keeping them secure against theft and driver infidelity for decades.

The basic solution is a tie-ratchet-tag that fits to the back doors of rigid body vehicles and trailers and to a secure cable that runs through the length of the whole body on either side of a curtain side vehicle or trailer.

These would carry a barcode and/or chip that would provide a unique journey number that corresponds with the load that has been registered for transit on the system.

Any vehicle crossing the Border or transiting a recognised pinch point such as a port or registered ferry, would by law be required to have a tag fitted, protecting the exact load that has been notified to the Open Border Service.

Different Colour Tags would be used to identify types of journey. For example UK-UK = Blue, EU-EU = Red, UK-EU = Green, EU-UK = Orange, Load Checked and Passed = Silver etc.

There are a number of manufacturers of these tags and their input would be required simply to ensure the simplicity, durability and integration of the tags with the Open Border System.

The Tags themselves would only be available to Companies registered with the Service and either sold centrally or through registered sale points with the reseller themselves registered by the Scheme.

5.1.8. Access & Integration with the HMRC Database

As outlined above, there already exist a number of accountancy packages that interact with HMRC already such as Sage, QuickBooks and Xero.

HMRC have already had to undertake considerable work on integration with other systems to do this and this work would inform the development of the Open Border System – if only for an immediate way to ensure that the correct Taxation Codes are available, if a fully integrated system is not available in the first instance.

HMRC must be involved at the outset to ensure that the system is conversant with their taxation rules. However, like all suppliers, participants and stakeholders, they cannot be allowed to dictate anything other than the Taxation Rules – e.g. they must not be allowed to dictate the operational platform itself – so long as it is clear that the Open Border System will administer the taxation of transferring goods to their rules.

5.1.9. Others that will inevitably become apparent

Like any project, there are always unknowns and these must be allowed for.

It could be as simple as another way of monitoring vehicle movements across the border without the need for cameras – such as GPRS tracking.

Whatever might present itself as an option, there has to be an open door approach to anything that could make the Open Border Solution even more Open than this Solution suggests that it could be.

The Organisations will include:

5.1.10. HMRC

As discussed in 5.1.8. above, HMRC must be a key stakeholder/respondent in the Solution Development,

5.1.11. DVLA

Unhindered access to the DVLA Database is a must. DVLA will also have a clear understanding of the issues regarding access to all other relevant Vehicle Databases in the EU and beyond.

Like HMRC, it is essential that they are treated as a key stakeholder/respondent in the Development stages.

5.1.12. Representatives of the Haulage Industry

The default setting when it comes to speaking to industry, is for the Government to give priority to Member and Lobby Organisations that portray themselves as being the voice of the Industry. They should not.

Yes. In this case, organisations such as the RHA (Road Haulage Association) have a part to play. But not when it comes to opinion.

Getting the right views and feedback does include member organisations. But the best people to get involved are those actually doing the jobs, not the managers of or more often than not the mangers of the managers of the mangers of the people who do the jobs, who have never actually done the jobs themselves.

By making clear that the Industry needs to inform practically, but not try to influence the Brexit process itself, large companies that are responsible for significant numbers of journeys into the EU are much more likely to support the Government by making the right people available to inform the process, rather than those with a name or profile who are eager to push their own view.

Drivers are often the very best to give practical viewpoints about how an operation involving lorries will actually work, and like everyone, they will be more than happy to help by answering questions if they understand that we will appreciate their view.

5.1.13. Representatives from Businesses conducting UK-EU exports and imports

Again, for the purposes of designing a system that works operationally, businesses that import from and export to the EU must be involved and asked to inform on the development of the Open Border Solution, with reliance not being placed on Member Organisations like the CBI and FSB to inform accurately alone.

Whilst journalists are adept at soliciting the angry or negative side of business owners when it comes to Brexit, the priority of business people is for the Open Border Solution to be developed in the best way possible so that it helps them to get along.

From this point of view, handled appropriately, most businesses that will be affected by Brexit will be happy to discuss what they experience now, and what they believe to be necessary post-Brexit, in order to get a successful Open Border Solution done.

The important thing is recognising what the important and common goals between exporters/importers is, and how this rolls out in to the functionality of the Open Border System.

5.1.14. Representatives of the Farming Industry

Last but by no means least, farmers. Because of the nature and scope of moving animals and foodstuffs and the very different approach that will be required to monitor the movement of animals, it is vital that organisations like the NFU are again actively involved, but not allow to dominate the process with a wish to make it a political debate.

Like the involvement of any organisation and industry representative, this process is no longer about their opinion. It’s about facts, figures and the practicalities of getting the job done.

From this point of view, it remains essential that Member Organisations only form part of the pool of Farming and food producer representatives that are invited to consult and that producers and farmers and involved in this process in real time.

5.1.15. Others that will inevitably become apparent

5.2. Date-critical development

Taking a considerably more commercial, time, cost and value approach to the tendering process, Developers (or Teams thereof) will be asked to present a tender for the development of the Border Solution (or Parts thereof) rather than the delivery of the complete thing.

As the hardware required for the ‘Service’ already exists, this element of the bids will be comparatively easy for contractors to cost, even where installation is required.

It is the development time and steps proposed to be taken to adapt the software solution that connects hardware and what might be a multiple number of different, potentially government-run databases that will both need to be projected realistically for both time and cost, but also to ensure that any potential contractor is fully aware of the cross-organisational working that will be involved.

Nonetheless it is the assurance from all bodies involved that they will not hinder or hold up progress that will be a key element of the process. For this reason, the development of the Border Solution might need to be in 2 steps. The first only to develop a stand-alone solution which is only dependent upon reference data from Government Agencies (such as the DVLA Database or HRMC Tax Codes). The second, over time once running, to integrate fully with all departments involved.

To ensure that the development of the Border Solution is kept within schedule, a minimum of three bids will be accepted, with the most appropriate chosen for implementation once delivery has been assured, the product tested and it is clear that nothing will hinder delivery on time.

5.3. Implementation, servicing and further development

The reward for the successful contractor(s) would be a 5 or perhaps 10 year maintenance and development contract to support the early years of the Open Border Service

Overview

The reality is that the success of the Open Border Solution – and Brexit itself, is all about the people doing the jobs.

The Open Border Solution can be delivered quickly, economically and to the standards necessary to meet the needs and expectations of all stakeholders. As long as the focus is on and only on the job in hand.

The moment that opinion on the part of anyone within the process is allowed to overshadow fact and practicality, the Open Border Solution will be one step further away from being delivered.

It’s all about the people. And all of the people involved have got to put their own views, priorities and aims to one side, and commit to doing everything necessary to get the Open Border Solution delivered, working and done.

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The political landscape in this Country must now be wiped clean

October 15, 2019 Leave a comment

Many of our MPs talk about Brexit as if it is the cause of all the problems that we are experiencing today.

They should know better.

Self interest has been the driving force in British Politics for many years and probably decades too.

The Political Party system has developed around it and to all intents and purposes the three main Political Parties hold a virtual monopoly on access to Parliamentary seats, holding the keys to what has become a closed shop.

The Political Parties are set up and have been developed to propagate and maintain their own existence. They are there for nothing more.

They do this by religiously recruiting candidates in their own image. People who conform to their ideologies and ideals. People who are ruthlessly ambitious but do not possess independence of thought or the obvious ability to rock the boat. The system removes them as soon as they do.

The products of this enclosed political ecosystem have now began to reach the top. With the tenure of Theresa May and David Cameron already gone before, we are now witnessing in real time what happens when careerist politicians take over the reigns of government, when they have no knowledge or understanding of anything meaningful in the world beyond Westminster and what it takes to ‘get on’.

Brexit was the symptom of this broken political system.

It was not the cause.

Brexit was the act of lifting the stone which had been covering up everything that is wrong with British Politics. It exposed all of the crap and brought the creepy crawlies to sunlight. Brexit has opened up and shown the rot and disease that infests Westminster and Government to us all.

What has become clear after 3 years of this dreadful malaise is that we have never needed change in politics more than we do right now.

But with this broken, self-perpetuating system still in place, even if we have a General Election and have new MPs elected to Parliament, they will simply turn out to be worse than the representation we have now or at best exactly the same.

Just because we cannot see a way for politics and the way we are governed to change, it doesn’t mean that the system can’t change or that it wont.

Yet because change doesn’t seem possible, the MPs who have seemingly barricaded themselves in Parliament and refuse a General Election that would only be a first step the process of removing them feel indestructible, immovable and in all likelihood invincible too. All because of what they see to be a lack of other options or a choice in the way we are a governed when they believe only those who govern can control reform.

There is no doubt that the only way this Country can move forward now to embrace our future will be for the whole of the political system to be cleansed and completely wiped clean.

The existing Political Parties – whether Conservative, Brexit Party, DUP, Green, Labour, Liberal Democrat, Plaid or SNP – are not capable of driving and delivering the necessary reform of the British Political System and giving us the change that we need.

Indeed, rather than improving their behaviour and actions in response to what has been happening since the Brexit Vote began to bring all of this hideousness to light, the behaviour of MPs and politicians is simply getting worse.

These MPs are creating the perfect ground and fertile environment for a revolution or coup.

Yet there is nobody behind the wheel of the change that we cannot yet see, but is nonetheless crossing the horizon. Change that could as easily lead to a dictatorship in this country, as it could to government in a different form.

Dictatorships seldom turn out well for everyone. Few if any dictators can stay on message once the power they have suddenly found themselves with has gone to their head.

The best thing would be for us to create a new movement for change whilst we still have time to use the opportunity to do so.

A new approach to politics in this Country that reaches from the Left of politics to the Right. Carries those who supported Leave and Remain. But above all appreciates that quality of life and opportunity for the poorest is the benchmark upon which we should measure our success, not simply the generation of material and financial wealth.

The Brexit Catch 22 illustrates the point Of how bad things really have become only too well.

We won’t have a real Government until we have Brexit and Brexit won’t be delivered until we have a real Government.

We cannot continue with MPs who have such poor moral standards and questionable motives running this Country, whilst preventing politicians coming forward who have the ability and will to actually do something good.

To move forward, the political landscape in this Country must be reformed and all those damaging it must be removed.

The only question now is where the reform will begin?

We MUST solve our political crisis before we have any hope of reaching a Brexit situation that works for the UK as well as the EU

October 14, 2019 Leave a comment

img_4352Whilst many of us still cling to the hope that Boris is about to deliver a solution to the Brexit problem that will work for everyone involved, the noises thickening around everything happening between the UK and the EU is beginning to make it feel like there may have been a little too much wishful thinking involved.

We wont know exactly what it is that Boris has offered, conceded or thrown on to the table for discussion with the EU until the final version falls into the public realm – probably sometime at the very end of this week.

But what we should be increasingly wary of right now is the appearance of anything that is overly complicated – especially with the already tight deadline until Parliament sits on Saturday when anything that could run on that timeline is likely to be too detailed to be readily understood before any vote takes place.

Regrettably, the way that Boris is approaching his way of managing Brexit is falling completely into the Remain-collective-Opposition hands. And the delay beyond Leaving the EU on the 31st of October now feels inevitable – irrespective of which side in Parliament appears to be getting its way.

Boris could and really should have played his game a lot differently, giving the appropriate level of respect for the political terrain, the way the EU does things, but in the biggest part, because of the Parliamentary numbers and the previous behaviour of the MPs who are currently involved.

That he hasn’t and that we find ourselves in a situation where anything new that Boris brought to the negotiating table is being given away as compromises to achieve a deal that the UK can Leave the EU with at the end of this Month suggests perhaps too strongly now that what finally comes out of this will be talked up differently, but in the cold hard reality of daylight will equate to little more than a reconvoluted version of the Withdrawal Agreement that was championed by Mrs May.

The truth that Brexiteers are now likely to have to face is that it is only if we Leave the EU on Halloween with no deal or on WTO terms, that we can be absolutely certain that Boris hasn’t agreed unfavorable terms with the EU.

Whilst it is only fair that we wait these next few days to see for sure, it is becoming increasingly likely if not indeed certain that there are no MPs in this Parliament who are capable, have the necessary will or possess what it will take otherwise to achieve the meaningful and genuine Brexit that we Voted for in 2016 – without the reality being one that is simply far too compromised to be anything of the sort.

Yes, the difficulty that Boris is experiencing is in the main part because our Parliament has been hijacked by self-serving idiots who do not have the decency to do the right thing in any circumstances.

But we also got here because Boris was clearly thinking just about Boris when he took Office in the Summer, and also because most of the Conservative MPs who are backing him now are still the same ones who facilitated Mrs May’s disastrous tenure and all that that involved.

Whilst this Parliament is hell bent on doing everything that it can to weld the UK into a permanent subjugated relationship with the EU, they will have no legitimate mandate to do so if they succeed, even if they have engineered a second referendum to do so, after ignoring the result of the first.

Brexit or rather the Brexit that the British People Voted for will not be delivered by the MPs and the Parliament that we have got.

The Brexit that the British People Voted for will not be delivered by the next or any future Parliament if the majority of the MPs remain the same as they are today.

No matter how long it takes or whatever we have to do to get there, we will have the Brexit that we Voted for.

We will have a Brexit without strings or obligations.

We will achieve the Brexit that we need.

The British People will all experience the Brexit that will open doors to real opportunity for this Country, along with a whole lot more.

But we have to change our MPs and the way that British Politics works before we can get there and there’s going to be a lot more than just a General Election involved.

The behaviour of ALL of our MPs has been dreadful to put it politely. But not just since Brexit. It has also been severely wanting for years and decades before.

The manifestation of all that has been and is wrong with politics in this Country is the mess and chaos that is manifesting in parliament and destroying democracy – all taking place in front of our eyes.

Brexit itself – whilst being the doorway to this Country’s whole future, is actually being sidelined by the main event.

Until we solve the crisis in British Politics that we now have, successfully remove all these self-serving, incompetent and treacherous MPs from office and clean up the whole Political Party system to ensure that they or their kind can never return, the relationship problem that we have now and will have with the EU including and after Brexit will never be solved.

The Brexit Catch 22 is that we won’t have a real Government until we have Brexit and Brexit won’t be delivered until we have a real Government.

By failing to protect Veterans, you fail to protect us all

October 13, 2019 Leave a comment
images (17)

In what seems to be a prolonged period of peace and at a time when this is the only picture of the military that people regularly see, it is all too easy to forget just how important a role the military play on our behalf and what they must be able to expect from us in return. Image thanks to bbc.co.uk

During times when so many of our politicians have been attempting to rewrite our constitution just to suit their own dubious purposes, we might have hoped that the government itself would have had a lucid moment or two and remembered that culturally we are a Country and a People that have historically held and adhered to a complete set of unwritten rules.

One of those rules: We love the military and all those who serve within it.

Not just the soldiers, sailors and airman/women serving now, but also those who have served previously too.

Our safety and security is a cause that usually unites us all.

And those who have not been misled or indoctrinated by foolish and idealistic ideas remain proud of all that they do or have done on our behalf.

Regrettably it has become a thing of fashion and political correctness to try and disown or even rewrite any of our history that doesn’t correlate with or support the narrative that we currently have in vogue.

Whilst renaming buildings and removing statues might convince some that they may have removed a source of offence which never actually wronged them personally, the more sinister side of this corrective misrepresentation is that real people and real lives are now being affected by what is arguably ignorant or deliberate means. There are real implications now manifesting not just for the scapegoats of the wilfully misleading proponents of this travesty – but for all of us too.

Those who have never served in the armed forces or been close enough to someone who has may not understand this, but the military – for very good reason – operates under its own system of rules and morality. The rules are different for anyone and everyone during the period that they are ‘signed up’ to serve and whether they are a recruit, NCO or Officer, they become a part of or rather a tool of the system that serves and protects all of us.

When we send the military to fight our enemies – whether they are terrorists or whole nations – they do so as part of our State.

So when those enemies then become our friends as they often inevitably do so, we cannot simply toss aside the responsibilities we have to those of our servicemen and women which were forged not now but within that very specific set of circumstances and that precise moment in time that they were engaged against our former foes.

For any Government or Minister to do so at any time is akin to ripping off an arm or a leg. It is simply too high a price for any body to pay, just to placate others who now appear to friends and might be useful in the creation of cheap headlines.

We were led to forget this in the case of Alexander Blackman who at the time we knew as Marine A . Right now we are experiencing a similar process in the prosecution of former Soldiers who served on behalf of us all during the troubles in Northern Ireland. There they engaged in incidents which did indeed have questions hanging over them such as the civilian deaths on Bloody Sunday. But this was all carried out against the troubling backdrop of sectarian terrorism – which seems to have all too conveniently been forgot.

The media and those espousing the siren call for belated justice – who themselves have no meaningful links – are being disengenous as they overlook certain realities in the pursuit of their dubious cause.

The first is that any act which takes place by a member of the military whilst they are on active duty should only ever be dealt with out of public view and by the Military Court. The second, that they were only there in that place and in that situation only because they were on duty on behalf of the State and not there by personal choice, This must always be the mitigating factor which puts them firmly under the jurisdiction of the military courts – no matter what crime they might have been alleged to have perpetrated.

Military personnel should never be placed at the mercy of people who believe that they have been directly wronged in some way by action that has been taken or by the impact of specific events.

No matter how justified their position may seem, people who are emotionally compromised by an event or experience should never be given responsibility for determining responsibility and punishment of those who might be to blame, no matter the situation or circumstances involved.

Anyone looking on objectively will appreciate this.

These cases where ambulance chasing lawyers or activists have become involved are nothing more than a circus which will not benefit anyone in any meaningful way. Their pursuit is based on nothing but self interest and the people driving them do not have the capacity or moral standing to ensure a genuine feeling of justice or of finding peace is delivered for anyone or any party involved.

If Boris Johnson’s Government now walks away from stopping the profiteering march of the unscrupulous against men and women who have served us all with a level of commitment which must always be protected, it will be clear that the politicians leading us today either don’t understand or have no inteeest in the consequences of what it is they do.

Soldiers, Sailors. Airman and Airwomen who are serving today, tomorrow or on any day that has already passed must know that they can and always will be able to execute their duties without any question of the trust that they have in the State being compromised at any time.

They must always be certain that politicians will never sell them out for the sake of that quick headline, for political experience or because the words of a complacent and ignorant crowd appear to be all powerful to the eyes of the fearful masquerading as leaders and only interested in protecting their own cause.

Don’t be tempted to treat the Public as fools over the EU Boris, just like so many of your predecessors have done…

October 12, 2019 Leave a comment

Hands up. I’m hoping – probably against hope – that whatever Boris is and has been working on this week will be the key that unlocks the door to Brexit and opens up the pathway to all of the opportunities that lie behind.

Whilst it might be better for us all if we were to find ourselves with a completely new Withdrawal Agreement written on virgin paper with a brand new pen in about a weeks time, it was and always will be inevitable that at least some of the content of any Withdrawal Agreement with the EU is going to echo that of Theresa May’s.

But echoing and meaning are not necessarily the same things. And it is the hope that the two key differences – being able to walk away From the EU at any point and not selling out Northern Ireland – that would be the defining differences and the clear blue water that distinguishes whatever Boris comes to Parliament with in a weeks time with that cooked up by Mrs May.

My concern today – especially as Boris has been making so many noises about flawed ideologies such as the One Nation Conservatives project – or what I call the old politics – that the corner he has been backed into by the miscreants in Parliament has left him as little more than a frightened rabbit in the headlights, ready to leap backwards and use every trick that defined the rotten politics that created Brexit in the first place, simply to get out and save his own neck.

The more polite amongst the opinionati call what might now be coming In the next few days a fudge.

But the EU are time-served masters at publicly manipulative choreography and we should all be concerned that the way things suddenly seem to be coming together at the 11th hour for Boris might turn out to be more along the lines of the Theresa May in bed with the EU era and what came before it, rather than Boris leading us out to be a fully Independent and Sovereign UK as he has promised.

You can’t polish a turd. But you can roll it in glitter. And if Boris is now telling us that he has a deal cooking with the EU that doesn’t cross our red lines when it actually turns out that it does, the new Prime Minister will have defined himself not by being a leader in his own right, but by simply being no better than the sell-out PMs that have been in office since Thatcher before him.

May’s Withdrawal Agreement was a travesty.

Not because it contained technical proposals that were dubious from the start.

But because it simply tied the UK in to a situation where we could never just walk away whenever we decided. So in terms of our ability to negotiate sensible, fair or indeed favourable terms with the EU, we would in practice never have been equipped with the legal devices necessary to achieve anything other than the same results as if we had overtly Remained as a Member State within.

So whilst the situation of leaving with any deal would feel far from perfect to a great many of us, particularly as it is not the outcome of the binary choice we voted for, any deal that ultimately allows a future UK government to walk away from the EU without any ties or obligations to it and with the UK left fully in tact is not only a sensible compromise but realistically with today’s structure in Parliament, the only realistic choice – provided that is what it genuinely turns out to be.

If Boris offers this option and it is refused, there is little doubt that in the circumstances he will have done all that he can with the responsibility he has been given.

But if it turns out that he really is on the verge of trying to pull yet another political fast one, we should start perhaps start weeping for this Country. Because the point will have been well and truly made that none of our politicians can be trusted and that they are all exactly the same.

If Boris can secure a deal that the UK can walk away from without selling out Northern Ireland too, there will be no legitimate reason for any MP not to support it

October 11, 2019 Leave a comment

Whilst there is some legitimate concern that there could be EU choreography and smoke and mirrors involved, the news that talks over a ‘deal’ following Boris Johnson’s meeting with Leo Varadkar yesterday is at least some cause to feel hopeful that the Brexit saga could come to an end.

Whether you are a Brexit purist like Nigel Farage or an absolutist Remainer like Jo Swinson, the fact is that getting any arrangement in place with the Parliamentary numbers as they currently are will be impossible – irrespective of whether the outcome can be considered to be wrong or right.

The important, indeed vital ingredients of any arrangement with the EU must be that the UK can unilaterally walk away from any arrangement at any time, and that Northern Ireland’s place within the United Kingdom is not in anyway compromised or used as a bargaining chip.

The British People are at best already highly suspicious of everything that this Parliament is doing and has done.

But if a ‘deal’ should be on the table which is acceptable to both the EU and the Irish Republic incorporating all of the above, the Remain-collective-Opposition will be taking their intransigence the extreme if they should then step in and stop that ‘deal’ for what will only then be seen as their own dubious purposes.

Equally as bad however, would be the failure of the purist Brexiteers to discount the possibilities that will come from such s giant leap forward, simply because progress of this kind would remove the liklehood that they themselves would ever gain elected office or power in any way that the Brexit argument is then involved.

We will not know for certain what concessions from Boris, the EU or the Irish Republic have been involved until the documented form of this ‘new deal’ has been exposed to daylight.

But for the sake of trying to rescue what’s left of our democracy before it really is too late, it would be the right thing to do for all sides and everyone involved to accept that moving to the next step can only be achieved by a compromise – as long as it clearly and unequivocally respects those red lines.

Let’s all hope that things can finally be different.

If supporters of democracy and Leaving the EU are ready to donate, let’s skip any protest that will fall on deaf ears and go straight to being the change that the UK needs

October 10, 2019 Leave a comment

img_4318As we look at the days and weeks ahead, no one can be sure what further twists and turns we will experience in the events that surround the Brexit process.

What we can be sure of however, is that nothing in British Politics is ever going to be the same again.

Unbelievable as it might seem to the many millions of us who have become captive spectators of the ridiculous shitshow that our Parliamentarians have been acting out now for some 40 months, the majority of our elected MPs continue to believe that contrary to all the principles of democracy, Brexit can be stopped and forgotten, and that they have some kind of mandate that justifies any action that they take to get this done.

The events that have led to a situation where we have a wilful majority of MPs squatting in Parliament that contradicts the will of the People and the instruction that they have democratically been given is pretty much the perfect political storm. One that has been created by inept self-serving politicians looking to preserve their own power; taken forward to the point of destroying British Democracy whilst they disloyally sell out their own Country to a Foreign Power under the auspices of Remain.

We may never know if David Cameron and Nick Clegg would have dealt with their need to create the Fixed Term Parliaments Act differently, had they known exactly what was to come.

Reality is that with the exquisite mix that is a hung parliament, filled with politicians who have no integrity or responsibility towards the People who elected them, all puffed up like a gargantuan peacock using the FTPA like a life-preserving crutch – we have what we can only hope will be an historically unique situation. One where resolving and clearing up all of this dreadful mess will only be achieved when we have politicians running this Country who can and will always do the right thing.

Sadly and most regrettably, politicians of this calibre and nature do not exist en masse in this Parliament today. If they did, we would never have found ourselves in the circumstances that we are currently in right now.

Whether the MP that you would normally Vote for or aim to see elected in the Constituency where you live would be Conservative, DUP, Labour, Lib Dem, SNP, Plaid or even from the Brexit Party, none of the Parties that they are loyal to are equipped, have the intention or have the policies in place (or the will to create them) to look at everyone and everything across this Country and then behave not as if they are acting out their own fantasies in a parallel universe, but are in touch with what we all need to see, feel and experience. Basically making clear that they are with us all in exactly the same room.

With all of this madness going on since the European Referendum Vote in 2016, it was perhaps inevitable that sooner or later the discussion amongst those who support Leaving the EU – even if just to respect the concept of democracy – would move to suggestions of protest and even civil disorder. All in the hope that action of this kind would change the minds of those who are misusing their power and the responsibilities of their Office to coercively overturn Brexit and bolt us into a permanent form of Remain.

It won’t.

Not because the argument that we have and share isn’t justified, right and legitimate. But because the people who have their hands on the levers of power and are therefore at the controls of this chaos are not.

Events are not under anyones control. Once each and every decision has been made, the consequences and the events that will subsequently follow are always out of the hands of the decision makers – no matter what they might have us believe or what we have already been told.

As such it remains possible something that Boris Johnson is doing already or is about to do will end up having the required result.

However, I like many others cannot say that I feel hopeful.

With this Remain-collective-Opposition running the Country, behaving like some giant snake attached to the tail of a very small dog, there is as much chance if not more that we could have this same zombie Parliament until the early Summer of 2022 as there is that we will have the General Election that we are all waiting for anytime soon.

When the next General Election does come – whether its this Autumn or in around 30 months time – without having change in the kind of politicians that we have and are able to elect, nothing will really change for any of us who are on the receiving end of all that they do.

Whilst the faces might look different, the way that broken politics has failed to represent us properly in this Country for decades, will simply continue onwards just the same.

At the time of a National crisis – which is precisely what we are now in, it is difficult to imagine engaging in any process that does not appear to offer an instant solution and a remedy for all those involved.

Yet if we don not start to think differently about the cause of all these problems we are having and how all these issues would actually be resolved today, as we look forward when we get to that place tomorrow, we will only be regretful when we get there and realise that nothing in our relationship with government will have actually changed.

The change we want and the change we need is not a change that will resemble anything that any of these Political Parties are telling us that they will do.

Yes, we must Leave the EU cleanly. But Brexit – in terms of our future – is just the symbolic act of opening the door.

So if we now back any of these proponents of the old politics, which is all about them and not about us – no matter what it is that they now say, all we will be doing is endorsing candidates and politicians who once elected will still resemble the politicians that we have got already in every meaningful way.

If there is the money, support and the will to do everything that is now necessary in order that the UK can take control of its own future and destiny AND do all that is best for our People whilst bringing democracy back in from the cold, we should together be seeking to create a new movement for change and with it a political party that reaches across all parts of the political divide.

Whether Left or Right, Leave or Remain, it’s what we have in common between all of us that should be dictating the public policies and the choices we make to create our future.

We must do everything necessary to remove bias and any form of manipulative behaviour from politics that prevents equanimity of government. We need leadership and power that values each and every one of us the same.

Together we have the power that can achieve this change if we can discover the collective will to do it.

But it will not happen if we sit back and believe that someone else is going to step in and make the difference.

If we as individuals, together as communities and being one as a Country want things to really be different in the UK now and for the future, each of us must step up and be the change.

 

 

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