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There’s nothing wrong with Boris doing everything necessary to stop undemocratic MPs wrecking our Brexit – so long as he’s not going to do the same thing

August 28, 2019 Leave a comment

Should we be unhappy about Boris doing everything he can to stop Remainer MPs halting Brexit or even rescinding Article 50?

Absolutely not.

After 3 years of obstruction and false narratives based on a convenient form of democracy that only applies when they get the result they want, the Remain majority in Parliament are now reaping what they themselves have sewn.

So if Boris is about to see through the result of the binary choice that was Leave or Remain, he is justified in doing so and can legitimately call upon the support of the Country to see it through.

But if he is about to see through a deal with the EU which in any way ties or obligates the UK to decisions made by it, he will have no legitimacy in doing so and can expect anything but.

What Boris is doing is audacious and for the right reasons is certainly something to be admired.

However, if there is a sell out at any level involved, the behaviour of the new PM will be no better than the MPs who he is now doing everything to preclude.

Categories: Brexit

The EU will have to be faced with implementing their hard border before they will compromise in the way that a reasonable organisation would

August 24, 2019 Leave a comment

To say that Brexit and negotiation with the EU has been mishandled since the Referendum in 2016 would be a considerable understatement indeed.

What Margaret Thatcher called being Frit, has been the overwhelming modus operandi of the Government up until this Summer. It is behaviour that has, is and until we have a General Election, will continue to set us up for fall after fall.

Whilst Boris’ impact in the past month has really started to make the UK think, it has also began to filter out a lot of the noise that continually comes from the EU and now suggests the pathway for Brexit this Autumn that is most likely to come.

During the past week, it has become openly clear that the EU is working on the basis that only two very defined options for the basis of Brexit after the UKs departure exist. That’s a relationship which our politicians are free to call whatever they want, but will always include the unrescindable elements and characteristics of Remain, or to accept that the only alternative is a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

The EU has always banked on the premise that a hard border would never be acceptable to the UK and that as such, we would never do it. Ergo, the UK would have no choice but to accept arrangements with the EU that retain most if not ultimately all of those that our relationship does with the EU now.

What they have overlooked is the fundamental reality that the standards and regulations which the EU holds so dear – and deems either of these binary options as being essential to guaranteeing the integrity of what they are supposed to do, are one of the key – if not overwhelming reasons that a majority of British people voted to Leave.

To Remainers – that’s those who are really committed to the EU cause, rather than most people who simply want to avoid anything dressed up as change – that free-flowing border on the EUs terms is the only way they believe that it can operate and that a relationship with the EU is not available to the UK in any form.

But a hard border isn’t necessary in the minds and eyes of Leavers either. And whilst the Frit or rather the Frightened Remainers who cannot see any other way forward for the UK than being under ru control look set to impale themselves on their own ideas as the fight for something that is not theirs to own, we know that free flowing trade is not a problem for us, that we continue to hold our relationship with the Irish dear, and that a so-called hard border and the imposing infrastructure that goes with it, is not something the UK is set to impose.

The EU has counted on those Amongst us who are committed to their sins and ideals to see their own version of Brexit through. And with the Brexiteer Prime Minister now in situ that we really should have had in the incumbency before, the stark reality that both he, We and the EU faces is it is only through their actions in the coming weeks that it could ever still be argued that there is any need to Remain.

Boris’ ‘negotiations ‘ with the EU in the coming weeks is not going to work. Any concessions from Brussels will be aesthetic at best. And it is only when they can accept that a) the UKs departure is inevitable and b) it is only they that will implement a hard border, that the EU will accept that their relationship with the UK is not ever going to be the same again.

Ditching the Backstop is the priority. Without it we have the exit clause that means everything else is actually up for negotiation

August 20, 2019 Leave a comment

I can’t decide if it’s Boris’ Letter or opening shot to the EU, or the reaction to it which is really the news today.

It’s not like we didn’t know it was coming. But the reaction from across the political spectrum is at best laced with self interest, if not in some cases completely bizarre.

For anyone other than the most ardent remainders, it is s fact that Theresa May’s so-called Withdrawal Agreement is completely dead. Yet it is also playing with politics to suggest that it remains completely unworkable if the Backstop should be removed and left out.

This is because whilst there are many elements contained within the existing Withdrawal Agreement that are unfavourable to the UK in many unacceptable ways, it is our ability to negotiate a way through these which makes it workable when the Backstop is removed. it is our ability to walk away that means we are committed to nothing until an agreement is formulated that works for us and ensures that we will not be perpetually trapped in transition arrangements dictated by the EU until we accept an agreement which is dictated by the EU.

The reality is that Boris may well have produced this letter to flush Nigel Farage and the Brexit Party out. Because the argument against the rest of the agreement – based on the fact that it can ultimately be changed – basically removes the validity of the Brexit Party if we have left on these terms and have not remained.

But like most things political at the moment, to think that they could all turn out so simple would suggest it unlikely that you are living in the real world.

Whilst Boris approach will look strong and strategic to many Leavers, it still makes no account of the current Parliamentary dynamic which is substantially biased towards Remain.

As such, it doesn’t matter how clever Boris is at attempting to destroy the electoral challenge he faces from Nigel Farage, without his help going into a General Election, the only things that Boris May succeed at will be opening the door to a Marxist Government or ensuring that having left the EU by default on the 31st of October, the MPs around him then take is straight back and permanently in.

Conservative MPs will never be held responsible for most of the wrongs they have done. Make no mistake – helping a Marxist into No10 will be very different

August 15, 2019 Leave a comment

The ability of MPs and politicians to do and get away with almost anything simply because so many of us have fallen in to the trap of believing that it is simply the way that things are done should be legendary.

Through no fault of their own and no more than misplaced trust on an industrial scale, most members of the Public give an almost unspeakable level of respect to MPs simply because we culturally are conditioned to believe that becoming an MP – by default – means that each of them should be respected for what it is they do. It’s as simple as involuntarily giving complete truth to the suggestion that MPs must be respectable people because of what they do.

SPOILER ALERT: They aren’t. We shouldn’t. The fact that we do just gives them a cloud of cover and the ridiculous idea that there is legitimacy to all it is that they do.

There’s no need to labour the pros and cons of Brexit right here. Theres enough of that going on elsewhere. But to suggest that it arrived from nowhere, or to blame the 3 year deal on the People for making ‘the wrong decision’ in itself illustrates that the problems we are now facing are institutional to the point of being beyond acceptance, that they are ingrained in the way that we have been conditioned to think, and that fundamentally the problems that this Country is facing – politically – is about so much more.

Politicians of all and at all levels of British Politics have been on their own agendas for a very long time.

Decisions are not made with the People in mind. Only with whats good for them, their Party and what will keep them in office, win elections or both.

This means that choices are not made for the right reasons. And the consequences of this are that the problems are being continually created and those additional consequences are all too often unseen.

The tragedy is that Politicians have been making these kinds of choices – based on whats easy and good for them – for so long, that the system itself has become attuned to this way of working and operates and delivers like some self fluffing prophesy given to us in the days of old.

The Political Party system exists to gain and retain power, and everything that feeds into it is based upon people and representation that focuses on those very same aims. Not the needs of people and not in any way doing whats right for everyone – no matter what we are continually told.

However, the oddity in all this, is that because we dont know, or rather dont understand how things really work, its the perception that rules (perception is everything), and pretty much all that these so-called representatives of the People do wrong is as such simply overlooked and just as quickly forgotten.

Because we have very self-serving people masquerading as public representatives in Parliament today, we do not have enough MPs looking at the situation that is unfolding in front of them – and us – as critically, or in fact in any way as they should.

There is no care bing given for what the consequences of their actions could now be. And in many ways, it is a fitting indictment of everything that has been and is wrong with politics that they are carrying on in this way, because to them it is how politics has always been.

The problem for us all is that with the Brexit Vote, everything changed.

The stone that had been covering all that is wrong with politics is now slowly being lifted. And things – and by things I mean politics – are never going to be the same.

There is an institutional failure in Parliament for MPs to see the risks and threats from what is going on around them as what they could really now be.

Chief amongst them is the chaos that will ensure and the very dark chapter that this Country faces if Jeremy Corbyn should even get a sniff of the keys to No10.

The problem is that when you have people running the country who believe that they are actually leaders, they do not question their own behaviour of only looking outwards for the source of their difficulties and problems, rather than looking for the solutions within. They want to change everything outside of them, rather than modifying or adapting the way that they actually respond. And that is an approach that serves nobody. And if they succeed in placing Jeremy Corbyn in No10 as what they believe will be a mere stepping stone to getting the control back that they believe they are entitled to hold over Brexit, you can be certain that they have not contemplated the reality that we will all face as a result of their ineptitude when this approach goes immediately wrong.

Corbin will not surrender power once he has it. The narrative will change. He will justify everything that he does, no matter how brutal, ruthless or ill-considered, as part of what he will keep framing and justify as a moral ‘socialist’ crusade.

Politics and what is left of democracy as we know it will be over. And the darkness that will cover the UK will have been facilitated not by a septuagenarian Marxist who cannot believe his own luck, but by the mindless MPs who opened the doors at Downing Street for him for nothing better than their own reasons – whilst ultimately leaving the whole Country completely fucked.

Right now we are all watching. And whilst may of the things that MPs on all sides have gone unnoticed. This will not be the same.

Nobody will be under any illusion about the attribution of blame if a handful of named Conservative MPs give the idealistic and impractical left the numbers to put Corbyn without a democratic mandate into No10.

 

Categories: Uncategorized

These are dangerous days for our democracy and freedoms. What our public un-representatives do now will have implications that go way beyond Brexit and could result in life changing for us all

August 15, 2019 Leave a comment

img_3853There’s nothing quite like a double whammy to hit home a point.

In the past 24 hours, both the Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn and Leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson have made public statements of intent for what they plan for the weeks that follow, and nobody watching all of the responses to Brexit by Boris should be under any illusion that there is anything genuinely altruistic in these highly political approaches and what they tell us these left-wing Leaders believe the opportunity it presents to be there for.

Were the consequences for us all not carrying the potential to be so severe, we might all sit back and have a laugh at everything these two, very self-interested politicians have to say.

Brexit has already been decided and the mandate given by the People for the UK to Leave the EU, come what may. There was no requirement given that there must be any kind of deal before we leave. The choice was black and white: Stay or Leave – and the choice was made that the UK must be gone.

Yet to hear Jo Swinson speak this morning, you would be forgiven for thinking – and yes, even believing that events had actually turned out another way. You cannot fault the Lib Dem Leader’s passion for stopping Brexit as her cause. That is if you had been in some parallel universe where the result to the 2016 European Referendum was actually different; a majority of British People voted to Remain, and the side that Swinson and her not-so Liberal Democrats had actually won.

Just to confirm, they didn’t. It didn’t happen. And what we are seeing is a political master class in storytelling and reinventing the narrative. The very same reasons that when it came to Brexit, the People Voted to Leave the EU and on the part of these MPs, the so far shameless excuse for acting upon democratic instruction and dragging it out for over 3 years was begun.

Swinson will clearly be the darling the EU and fill the vacancy in the public spotlight of British Politics that was vacated by Theresa May. On their own, the Liberal Democrats represent everything that the hopes and fears of a political no-mans land can offer, where idealism can bounce around unhindered because practicality never gets in the way. Yet their thirst for power is real, and with the hope that they can break the stranglehold of the only electoral system that works for a democratic majority, they may soon decide that a deal with the devil in the shape of a coalition with Corbyn’s Labour isn’t something that will actually hinder their way.

Although the tabling of a No-Confidence Vote in Boris’ new Administration has been the talk of the Town since he arrived in No10, the publication of Corbyn’s request to all opposition Party Leaders and those MPs opposing Boris to make him Prime Minister temporarily, should be the wake up call and warning bell for everyone that we could now be a matter of days away from having a Marxist Prime Minister.

And whilst those MPs that remain hell-bent on overturning the will of the People at any cost may now feel that giving Corbyn the keys to No10 would only be a stepping stone to finally getting their own way, their selfishness would only be outdone by the stupidity of them giving power to someone that once they have it, will never respect the will of the people or our constitution – assumed or otherwise – ever again.

From that point of view alone, for those who have done so much to frustrate and overturn the will of the People, the outcome for them might be viewed as being very sweet.

But these MPs and the Corbyns and the Swinsons and all the other objectors to democratic reasoning amongst them are only a matter of a few hundred in number, whilst their actions will impact upon 60 Million People or more.

The problem is that Boris is doing nothing to counter the problem that the Remain-led Parliament presents. And he is instead doing everything that he possibly can to bait them. That’s people who on this side of power have egos that are aflame as the result of such intransigence and on the other side, are likely to be ultimately responsible for having a gun put to his head.

A General Election has now gone beyond being favourable for the right outcome. It has become a necessity instead.

And within that it is essential that those lined up against those who have become intoxicated by what they see as the promise of power, have their arguments devalued by the promise of a new politics that shows capitalism – whilst essential to any country that wants to get on – can also be caring and considerate, and that there are ethical ways for people and businesses to behave that mean everyone has the opportunities that are right for them. But above all, that there is a much better and inclusive way for politics in this Country to be done.

If none of our politicians now see the risk that all of their behaviour and choices not to be responsible has created, it may now be inevitable that this Country is about to experience a period of significant darkness – all because our political classes think that they are in post by god-given right, and that when you have power, they are the only ones right about anything and there simply is no other way.

 

 

Politicians created the fake news culture and only want to tackle the narratives that are out of their control

August 15, 2019 Leave a comment

Yes, you read that right. Politicians created the fake news culture and they did so, because they made fake news publicly acceptable when they embraced the concept of spin.

There is a vicious circle at work where the problem has become as bad as it has because on one side of the argument the political classes speak out vociferously about the dangers of fake news and the negative impact that it is having on democracy. Yet on the other, the very same politicians continue to create stories and narratives to increase or improve their own electability that does precisely the same thing,

What this all overlooks is the two edge sword that is the failure of education to teach young people critical thinking skills so that adults can discern between what they should trust, what they shouldn’t and where they should attribute value in between, and the other, where the distinct lack of public figures who speak openly, honestly and treat everyone as if they are all adults in the same room leaves the whole population without the leadership role models that demonstrate what right looks like in a world which is telling us so much is now so wrong.

Plans and efforts to force social media outlets and companies to crack down on fake news sound like very laudable goals. But in reality, there is very little out there that should or rather would need to be banned or removed from circulation, if politicians weren’t making it impossible for people to trust what they should be able to trust in the first place.

The debate or issue doesn’t end there, because mainstream news production and output is now so predominantly based on opinion rather than basic news itself.

Whilst it makes uncomfortable reading, the reality is that opinion and fake news are pretty much the very same thing.

Regrettably what began as an institutional problem within politics crossed to the mainstream media and then social media too.

It is now a cultural malaise and the attempts to wrest the problem at the feet of social media companies does little more than make light of the depth of the problem that now exists and what steps really need to be taken if the so-called war on fake news is actually to be won.

What is sure is that tackling the fake news problem wont be achieved by simply shutting down narratives which make politicians uncomfortable – usually because they simply put their own roles and situations at risk.

It would simply be hypocrisy to do so.

It basically says that fake news is fine as a propaganda tool to influence the electorate – so long as the fake news in question is based on a narrative that we and only we actually own.

This isn’t to say that nothing should be done about fake news being spread about and treated with the same value as truth.

It most definitely should. But the real question is about how this is actually done.

The best place to start would be for Politicians to simply start being open and telling the truth and for the media in general to start reporting news as news rather than what is little more than the personal opinion of reporters and journalists as fact.

 

The establishment is crowing about the ComRes poll – but this is the tip of how people really feel and we want our democracy back

August 13, 2019 Leave a comment

It makes interesting reading to compare views on the ComRes poll that has been published through the media channels today.

It tells us that Boris is riding the crest of the public opinion wave which would at other times be called a honeymoon period or perhaps the Boris Bubble.

Most importantly however, it tells everyone who should now be listening that the British People want real democracy back.

But polls of a little over a thousand people is no story. Even if it is from the polling company that called the result of the 2015 General Election right.

The real story is that these figures may themselves be far from right. That people outside of Westminster and beyond the scope and role of activists or any other organisation that could have some bias or other tainted argument about Brexit, real People aren’t changing their minds about Leaving the EU. In fact many who voted Remain in 2016 are now lined up in support of Brexit – contrary to what we are repeatedly being told.

When it comes to doing what the People feel and believe to be right, it will not come wrapped up in holding up Brexit any longer. In cabinets formed only of those who see themselves as being more equal than all others. Or by Boris himself if he continues to resist the reality that politics cannot continue in the form that it has been and that it is not only time to deal with the effects of problems, but also the real deep down causes if he or anyone who would lead us genuinely wants to succeed in getting things done.

People out here in the real world know and understand practically, logically and at wholly visceral level that Brexit was never about a deal and was only about Leaving the EU.

We see the actions of the majority of the sitting MPs in Parliament for what they really are and that Brexit has not been held up because of the need for a deal.

We know that Brexit has been held up because MPs have no respect for democracy, only think of themselves and have no will to actually do the things that are required of them or what democracy demands of public representatives when challenges have to be overcome.

The eyes of the Public are now on all of our MPs. What they do in the coming weeks – whether they are supposedly intent upon Leave or Remain – will be seen and judged in the sense of exactly what it is they do, how they vote and the actions they take.

The People expect our MPs to deliver an unhindered, non-obligatory Brexit without ties of any kind that will leave us in any way subjugated to the EU.

Above all, we are now looking for leadership that doesn’t just talk, firehose money into policy black holes or try to inflict ideology upon us all and then shout loudly that this is what we actually voted for when the European Referendum was won.

The tide of the old politics is about to go out. And the behaviour and integrity of these MPs will dictate whether they have a place in the new politics that is about to arrive when the tide of democracy finally starts to come back in.

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Gambling companies soon stop betting that puts their profits at risk. They can surely do the same when it comes to the risk to customers

August 12, 2019 Leave a comment

DqLbANEU0AAAE3aJust like there will always be those who drink too much, eat too much or find themselves addicted to just about any number of things in this life that we could all find ourselves hooked to, it is the same with gambling. So before I roll out some thoughts on the problem that the Betting Industry has, it is important to add the caveat that no matter what Companies do voluntarily or as the result of legislation to make them do so, there will always be those who will somehow fall through the net and the perfect solution to any of these problems is not one that will be easy to find.

Like most things we are experiencing within our culture today, gambling and the upsurge of problem betting is a frustrating, but nonetheless horrid illustration of everything wrong with these times. Whether it’s the ease of online betting where temptation is ever present on your phone, or the seeming market saturation of our dying high streets by Bookies appearing on ever corner, we have perhaps never had so many warning flags flying in the face of us all, telling us that something is fundamentally wrong with the way the world around us is working, and that government not only could, but should be doing a hell of a lot more.

We are an unhappy culture. An unhappy society. And much of that unhappiness is based on the idea of want, and that we must always be looking for ways to get more.

People are unhappy with what they have and this situation is one that is relative. It doesn’t matter whether others would class you as being rich, poor or somewhere in the middle. In this material and money-led world, everything going on around us tells us that we must do everything that we can to obtain and yes secure much more.

There are no easy rides, no matter what anyone actually says. The odds of winning the National Lottery are apparently 1 in 45,057,474 and even if you were to find yourself an overnight millionaire, the problems that you once had are just swapped for many more and there are very few of us who can temper such change with realism and practicality once we have been there and looked it in the eye.

Nonetheless the temptation is always there. And once we have that buzz from a win – no matter how small, it is easy for anyone to fall into the trap of thinking that winning is actually easy, and that by simply throwing a few quid (which is never is on this pathway) at it, we are on a sure way to accumulate much more.

Yes, there are those who gamble and are very good at it. But they are actually few and far, or rather fewer and farther between, because Bookies and Gambling Companies don’t wont to take the risk of large bets from people who have been around in the gambling game long enough that they know how to play the games properly or bet strategically so they have covered themselves in everything they actually do.

The cynicism of the Betting Co’s is mind bogging really, as they are more than ready, able and equipped to rid themselves of gamblers who statistically are going to take more money from them than they will actually ever lose. Yet when it comes to those who have lost any realistic form of control or discipline over their own actions, they can speak many different words and tell us stories that suggest that they are stewarding responsible gambling. Yet their level of inaction at actually stopping the risk to others as opposed to building a wall to protect any risk to themselves is simply wrong.

Whilst you will hear mixed opinion on the validity and impact of the 2003 Licensing Act on the Sale of Alcohol and the impact it has had on bars, pubs and clubs, the upshot was that it created a much more responsible approach to bar management and the drink-place management of alcohol addiction that would have perhaps been much more evident had successive governments done more to protect drinkers and in so doing, protect community assets and the pubs that many of us still love.

Requiring staff that manage Bookmakers Retail Premises and online gaming to demonstrate competence in managing gambling and then compelling them to intervene should long ago have been the way that things are done. But it is the self-governance of the betting industry itself where the changes that would make a real difference should surely be made.

All the government needs to do is give them the option of either removing restrictions to any level of gambling down to an individual bet level, or require that the Companies refuse to take bets from anyone whos actions are creating a risk – whether that be to Company Profits or to themselves, their health or indeed anything that they own.

Categories: Uncategorized

Boots Corner: Let Cheltenham decide

August 12, 2019 Leave a comment

img_3811Over 13 months has now passed since the closure of Boots Corner took place in Cheltenham, and the trickle-down impacts on the Town began.

Cheltenham BID recently released the results of a petition that echoed the many comments that have entered the public domain before, telling us that the changes have effectively screwed local businesses and that for business people and entrepreneurs that rely solely on their location and passing trade to keep their offering in customers minds, a retail future in Cheltenham Town Centre is looking rosey no more.

As has now become normal, the arguments against the Borough Councils’ scheme have been rebuffed on the basis of discrediting the data offered, rather than suggesting they accept any questions are justified.

Yet the most interesting development by far was the story circulating on Twitter from ITV News West Reporter Ken Goodwin that in a BBC Radio Gloucestershire interview, a prominent Cheltenham Borough Councillor has admitted that the Boots Corner closure formed part of an agreement between Councillors and Developers to secure the arrival of the Brewery Quarter in the Town.

If accurate, this admission potentially creates a whole new dimension to the Boots Corner story.

It could confirm that the so-called trial of the Boots Corner closure has always been phoney from the very beginning.

It would almost certainly raise questions over the money spent on monitoring traffic flow since the closure and whether it has been allocated only in some dubious hope that evidence could be gathered that could be presented to prove businesses and local people’s experience of the Boots Corner closure and the associated impact on lives and livelihoods is wrong.

It could very well suggest that above all, the Council is not working democratically and believes it has the right to impose whatever it wants on the local area, irrespective of what people and businesses based and around the Town actually want.

If the Town Centre has been sold out on the basis of a developer deal and without direct public consent, the whole project of which it appears the Boots Corner closure might only be a part, could well raise questions over legitimacy of the decisions behind it and point to illegitimate deals – even if no Councillor has personally accumulated any personal financial gain from the process.

Money doesn’t have to change hands for the behaviour of public servants to be ethically or morally corrupt.

There is simply no evidence available that shows it even likely there will ever be a tangible benefit to the community that will outweigh the negative impacts upon the area – whether it be local people, local businesses and even those who just visit or work in Cheltenham Town – simply from bringing a high profile but nonetheless solely commercial venture to the Town

Indeed, If this is how the Boots Corner closure genuinely came about, it is more than likely the case that by conducting all this post-Boots-Corner-closure analysis, this is the real-world reality for the community that those behind this vanity project are hoping they will be able to overturn.

Regrettably, we do not live in times when those with their hands on the levers of power are prepared to back down when they have been found out.

This means that the Council would have to be forced to rescind it’s decision in some other way. And if it should be found and proven to exist, responsibility for any back-room agreement that should never have been made should be lain solely at the feet of those who are responsible – rather than directed at the bottom of the pockets of local taxpayers who don’t even realise they are paying for the undemocratic ineptitude of the self-serving in many different ways, every single day.

A legal challenge on the basis of any questionable deal resting on the closure of Boots Corner might well be possible if all information were to be disclosed.

But the cost of such a challenge would need to be fundraised and there is no guarantee that the Council could not simply and yes, legitimately argue that the penalties they would incur and may well have contractually agreed to ultimately guarantee any closure would be too high to pay back to the other parties by doing an about-turn unilaterally at a time when  local government is under considerable financial strain.

No, there must be another way. And it’s not by filling out petitions that are rarely reliable enough to persuade anyone. They simply do not habitually engage enough of the people they should.

Nor is it to rely upon Public Consultations that inevitably always deliver the facts and arguments that those driving the change believe they should.

The only way to resolve the Boots Corner question properly and legitimately from here is to put the decision directly in the hands of Cheltenham People. To have a local referendum and make the question very simple: ‘Should Boots Corner be open or closed?’

If the Council genuinely believes the course it is taking by arguably doing little more than imposing a change to the Town of this size and impact as being justified, it will have nothing to fear from putting the decision Democratically in the hands of local people via a plebiscite. And yes, it really should.

The impact from the clash of egos between Boris, his team and Farage should be a concern for us all

August 12, 2019 Leave a comment
Hope Boris

Anyone who thinks that there isn’t a turbulent sea ahead of us over Brexit needs to stop and think about where we really are right now.

There were many different and arguably much better ways to have delivered the Referendum result rather than the pathway we are now on. Even Boris could have chosen a different route that would have put the weight of responsibility on him rather than us and then delivered a no deal Brexit – albeit a much smoother one – all the same.

What we are facing instead, is a General Election campaign in which the very act of Brexit is only a part or feature. It is the part that Boris intends to use to make the electoral threat to him from the three other Political Parties in the race void.

Opinions do vary about the realities of a four party race in a first past the post system. But after the blockage and leaps backwards from democracy during the May era and the many years of political mishandling that led to The European Referendum Vote before, it is only opinion that suggests the months ahead for this Country can be in any way straightforward.

Whilst Boris clearly believes destiny is now his to control, he – and therefore by default we – are staring down the barrel of a gun which is about to deliver an explosive situation in this country where none of the Political Party leaders are in possession of the gift of control of what now happens.

This rule by ego that he shares with the three other Leaders – as we look Brexit some 80 days away in the eye – is set to brutally prove to this last tranche of old politics politicians that the world has now changed. That they cannot go on within their bubbles thinking and behaving on the basis that despite a Referendum result, everything has actually remained the same.

Boris might have been right about his plan we now see materialising for Brexit if it wasn’t for just one small problem that will always be the same: You cannot judge the mood that results from an event or series of them at a future point based on how you believe people will react nor how they feel about only the possibilities associated with those events now.

This rule extends beyond the realities that will feel very immediate at the point of Boris’ Brexit on Halloween. This is now almost certain to be a snapshot in time where only the most logical will see that any disruption is only temporary and won’t last.

There is also a major problem with the way that Boris is reading the Leave voting constituency. Because within it there are Hearts (left), Heads(right) and even a large number of floating voters populating the middle inside.

These Leave-leaning Voters are not going to all come rushing back to the Conservative banner the instant that the Prime Minister can stand outside No10 and announce that Brexit is no longer ahead of us – but – in his mind – something that is now behind.

The Conservative Party has retained the trust and credibility problems that it has been developing with the wider public over a very long period of time.

Whilst the robust appearance of this seemingly ongoing tranche of policy announcements is all that Boris and his advisors might believe necessary to change that, there is simply no meaningful thought or consideration apparent in any of this. No recognition either for the real reasons and feeling that led to Brexit; how we fee about being robbed of our democracy and what we all now want to see different in the post Brexit UK that is yet to come.

None of this would seem as bad as it is, if the event we know as Brexit were not now being rebranded in the land of Boris and his legacy plans as an insignificant event that just needs to be sandwiched appropriately between everything else and manipulated for any use it has as it sits there snugly in between.

The opportunity that Boris held in his hands on 23rd of July was to take all of this a very different way. To have faith and trust that the people are actually right. That by changing politics for the better and by genuinely becoming more inclusive too, he could have won that outright majority in Parliament that he covets, this Autumn before the 31st of October and at the same time guaranteed that the UK would be unshackled permanently for the EUs orbit too.

That isn’t going to happen. Or at least not with the playing cards for this elaborate and potentially very costly game for us all, laid out along the table as they currently are.

The result that will come in the General Election that Boris now believes is in his control and is already won, will not respect the rules that are now being laid out by anyone.

Indeed it is as likely now that there will be even less definition to Parliament’s make up and therefore even less chance of a political solution once the Election has taken place than there is now.

Instead of the crowning glory that Boris believes will now be his simply by showing that he was the man to get Brexit done, he may well become the door opener to a Marxist Government.

Not one that will not be elected into office legitimately. But one that feasts off the chaos that the control freakery of this outgoing political culture has created over Brexit and what mess this coming Parliament could be with Politicians failing to put the People first. All coupled up with the inherent ineptitude, fear and indifference present amongst these self-serving-servanst that will need to disappear quickly if anyone is going to step in, lead and stop what could then be only a moment of darkness for the UK being one that could last.

Many commentators and politicians dont think it could happen. In fact, they see a stalemate coming from the next General Election at worst. But when thats what we have basically had for three years already, what exactly do they think that all these so-called representatives of the People will want to use the opportunity of chaos for?

The biggest risk of inaction comes from the relationship that the Conservative Party and the Brexit Party has, based on meaning taken from past realities and in the case specifically Dominic Cummings, Nigel Farage and the hatred they share from the way that the Vote Leave Campaign was managed and handled.

Brexit will ultimately be lost for all of us if the key players on the democratically inclined side of the Brexit debate dont put their rivalries to one side and realise that working together is now, then and for the foreseeable future the only way that they are going to deliver Brexit. Make Brexit meaningful and permanent. But above all, make the return to democracy and putting balance, fairness and doing whats right for everyone at the centre of a true political and reenfranchising cause.

Categories: Brexit

Boots Corner: Who was it really closed for and why?

August 3, 2019 Leave a comment

img_3811Some months ago, I published a list of questions that Cheltenham Borough Council could be answering about the Boots Corner closure and what had really motivated them to do what they have done.

From first look, it would appear that one of the prominent Borough Councillors involved has voluntarily began to do just that.

In a BBC Radio Gloucestershire interview this week – flagged by ITV Journalist Ken Goodwin on Twitter, the Councillor has openly referred to the Boots Corner closure being a part of the agreement to secure the Brewery Quarter Development for the Town.

Whilst a public admission of this kind should immediately have alarms and red flags flying all over it, speculation alone won’t help anyone on either side of the Boots Corner debate.

But there is surely now a need for Cheltenham Borough Council to be fully and openly transparent about the meetings that have taken place between Councillors, Officers and Developers leading up to the Boots Corner closure; what has been agreed between them behind closed doors and what the real implications for the local taxpayer and public purse would be if the Council were to listen to the views and experiences of local people and businesses and scrap the Boots Corner closure and the changes to the Roads around the Town Centre as the impact of the ‘trial’ on the community suggests that it now should.

Data can be used to back any argument when people in positions of power and responsibility know how to do it. What is most important to clarify after a statement by a public representative like this has now been made is why and on what basis the commitment was made to close Boots Corner in the first place and to make clear whether or not Cheltenham Borough Council’s hands have in effect been undemocratically tied.

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 2 comments

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 are those who sell themselves as being representative of an industry when they represent a specific membership that makes up only part of that industry.

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 they represent from the bottom up. It is 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 not 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 advisory 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 through. 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 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 successfully integrate with the existing HMRC system – 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.

Download this Blog in PDF: Beating the Backstop [Revised Nov20]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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