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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 Leave a 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 ServiceThe 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 foxed 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 upheld. 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.

Download this Blog in PDF: Beating the Backstop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everything wrong with our Political Parties has gifted them with the inability to change and what follows a win by the Brexit Party is what we should now be fearing most

BP WTF

Whilst some of us have been arguing that the Political Parties need to embrace change, we also know that the very reasons that they have gone so wrong are those most likely to ensure that they will not do so. Not until time has run out and it’s all too late.

We needn’t look far for examples that make this clear.

The Conservatives have and even now are missing repeated opportunities to change approach and go a different way.

They are happy to indulge an out of control and wholly inept Prime Minister for purposes that are all and only ever have been about themselves, whilst the Country draws near to a precipice that could otherwise have been avoided.

Our political class has become detached from reality and insulated by a Political Party System that excludes anything from it that gives the whole Electorate an effective and fully inclusive voice.

After many years within a process of insular ascendancy, our MPs no longer understand or identify any need to listen to any voice, other than their own.

Politics today is not in any way intuitive. For if it was, we would not be in the position that we are and Brexit would have been completed. We would already be well and truly out of the EU and talk of a dividing line down the middle of the Country would have never gained traction. The whole thing would be over and done.

Instead we have a political class that cannot understand nor accept even now, that it has done anything in any way wrong.

For years and in all likelihood decades, this approach has been innocently overlooked by the Public. There has been an unwritten acceptance that this was the way Government works. Simply the way that things get done.

But when David Cameron tossed over responsibility to us for a decision on leaving the EU, that status quo was broken.

It instantly became unacceptable for MPs to continue behaving as if they have the right to manipulate and dictate everything that we do and what for us as a Country is yet to come.

When we the People made our decision to Leave the EU, just like after any normal election where we would also have done the same, we expected and trusted that the result would be respected in the same way by politicians as we have had to accept, sometimes grudgingly too.

By choosing not to respect this formula, MPs have brought into question the whole meaning of democracy.

Their obfuscation and malevolent behaviour during the Brexit Process has underlined that MPs consider the Decision of the People to be wrong.

Their action has released the genie from the bottle and now Farage is back. Bigger, better and hitting home with words people relate to more than ever before. People are beginning to feel like he has already won.

But the reach and apparent accuracy of the Brexit Party via a captivating campaign that is tapping into public feeling that crosses the entire political spectrum is limited. It is only a campaign after all.

The connection with the Brexit Party and its message that we see, feel and find ourselves relating to has been created by good dynamic communication. Communication based on effective analysis, intuition, interpretation, translation and the clear unbiased elucidation of the common thread of feeling we share about how we have been sold out by an out of touch and self-serving political class that without immediate change, will only continue to do wrong.

But the Brexit Party is not the change that we need either.

It ultimately represents a collective response to dealing with just one thing.

And once the result of delivering Brexit has been achieved, the commonality that binds everyone with the aims and actions of the Brexit Party will immediately be gone.

We should really now be asking ‘what happens then?’

The Brexit Party has no political philosophy that underpins it, other than to deliver Brexit. There simply is nothing more.

There is no direction underpinning a domestic policy. And with a raft of highly enthusiastic and yes opportunistic candidates too, the clear lack of experience of politics, government and the machinations of the wider public sector present, should be telling us all that we really need to know.

The reality is that a Brexit Party immediately thrust into majority government or as a key influence within a cooaltion would almost certainly be no better, if not even less effective than the very poor excuse for democracy and responsive government that we have already got.

Very few of the Brexit Party Candidates would be equipped with the experience and understanding to hit the ground running in government, no matter what they might sincerely believe. The Civil Service would simply seize the opportunity to go on the rampage, when the malign influences at work within Whitehall are themselves not an insignificant part of all that is already wrong.

Whilst an open assessment that says there is no substance behind what Nigel Farage and the Brexit Party are doing might well sound like an argument to stick with what we already have, I can most assuredly make clear that it certainly is not.

Change is now inevitable.

The rot in politics has simply gone too far.

But none of this is or ever has been as simple as being solely about Brexit alone.

The open secret for a growing number of us is that this has always been about so much more.

The question here is who will actually bring the real change that People are now having their hopes built up to, by a Brexit Party that is in reality selling nothing better than the ‘Old Politics’, wallpapered over with messages that sound like the Party is capable of delivering dreams, when it is currently ill-equipped to even attempt to deliver Brexit. There is certainly nothing that suggests the Brexit Party is a credible option to take the UK beyond Brexit and deliver more.

The hard truth is that the Brexit Party can only promise the delivery of Brexit with a considerable risk of disappointment for us all involved.

As far as democracy is concerned thereafter, we can only be confident of an immediate return to the politics of the world before Brexit. Of going back to the system we have rejected. The very one that we so badly want changed.

We are sadly guaranteed this because NO Political Party can demonstrate a difference between them and the ideals of ‘them and us’. What we the People now recognise as the politics of old.

 

 

Announcing that frontline Conservatives who vote for the Brexit Party will be excommunicated smacks of desperation, not leadership

April 29, 2019 Leave a comment

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During the 16th Century Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire, explorer Hernando Cortez is fabled for the act of burning his ships so that his men would realise and understand that they had the simple choice of success or death.

It’s an interesting story that has found its way into use as a metaphor. Reading this mornings news that the current Conservative Party hierarchy is threatening to boot out any Councillors or MPs who fail to support the Party in the May Elections, one can only wonder if yet again, somebody somewhere is failing to read the script in its entirety, reverting instead to using a threatening jack boot in the forlorn hope that fear is all it will take to dam the parting tide.

Cortez was of course successful. Not because he knew how to lead, or because he understood the basic psychology of others and what it would take to encourage and motivate others to go up against what seemed insurmountable odds and go on to succeed.

No, Cortez was successful because he shared a tangible vision. A direction of travel and a clear understanding of what was to be required and what would be involved.

The Conservative Party today is offering none of this. No leadership. No direction. No vision of where it is going to take the Country. No tangible definition of what is to come.

When the Party itself is already crumbling around its MPs, Councillors, Officers and those left of its sick and tired Members, the threat of excommunication for any of them – even the most ambitious amongst them, simply no longer holds the threat or fear that until even very recently it always had done.

The People, with conservatives of all kinds snugly placed amongst them, now want our democracy restored. They want Brexit in its entirety delivered. And they know that the Conservative Party under May’s tenure leadership is not a political vehicle that is synonymous with any such cause.

Yet the Brexit Party is still placed within the realms of being no more than a protest party, and the European Election that it is poised to fight will be for many the opportunity to underline and shout loudly that Leaving the EU was always what the People intended. It’s just the Politicians who have got the whole thing wrong whilst trying endlessly to convince all others that they were always the few who were right.

If the Conservative Party, nearing its death throws from months of holding down its own self-destruct button, cannot see the rhetorical gesture underpinning what its own Membership is now doing for an Election process that should never have been called, and take appropriate action accordingly, it truly deserves that temporary loan of an ultimately meaningless vote to depart permanently and be gifted permanently to those who may be far from best equipped to provide good government, but nonetheless have the resounding attribute of at least being seen to intend to represent the best interests of everyone involved.

As I wrote in my most recent blog a few days ago, for what’s left of the Conservative Party in any physical sense today, there comes approaching a final and two way choice.

The Conservative Party will either utilise whatever comes from the results of the upcoming Elections to remove this destructive Prime Minister and go forward with a new understanding and appreciation of what conservatism in a 21st Century UK can be most effective for, or it will continue to look for a solution from everything it has ever known. That which is completely broken, not representative in any way of what a political party should now exist for and not in anyway near to that which the British People now rightly expect from A Government underpinned by true conservative ideals that are fit for our time.

 

image thanks to unknown

The Conservative Party MUST have a New Leader, New Manifesto AND New Electoral Mandate BEFORE 31 October – AND they ALL have to be just right

April 25, 2019 8 comments

img_3013When Parliament has already voted to overrule the Executive, a Party Grandee who has been a Party Member for longer than the lifetimes of many MPs leaves to stand for a protest party, and Conservative Councillors and even MPs too are telling the media they are about to Vote against their own Party in an upcoming Election, anyone with enough sense and concern for what is going on around them would know that what is happening no longer fits with any rules they know. They would accept that following those rules is not now going to bring the situation to a close.

That our lawmakers have no real appreciation for the responsibility they have been given by the Electorate has now become painfully obvious to the People outside of Westminster.

Worse for all conservatives, whether members of the Party, tribal voters or simply lapsed, is the realisation that a horrible reality is now becoming manifest in Westminster. One where there are simply not enough Conservative MPs in the Parliamentary Party that have the understanding, stamina, wherewithal and everything that it takes to deal with a serious crisis – not one created by any external threat, but by something made manifest from within its own walls.

Those who observe and consider the steps of the journey that Brexit has taken will eventually realise that the decisions made by Theresa May and her enablers since June 2016 – right up to the 1922 Committee’s decision last evening not to put the flames out engulfing the Party that are now in open sight for all to see, have and are continuing to fuel a fire that has not only taken the Conservative Party to the edge of the precipice, but is on the verge of condemning the whole of the UK to political, if not civil chaos too.

We have reached a point where the true chronology of events that led to the Vote to Leave the European Union, the mess of the Brexit Process and the now the critical condition of our democracy too, is in imminent danger of being forgotten and responibility for all ills being laid squarely at the feet of the only Political Party genuinely capable of getting the UK through Brexit and to the promise of the opportunities that lie ahead for us all on the other side.

It is painful for many to admit that the disease within the Conservative Party may have already been allowed to spread too far. That if the majority of the MPs that are still obstructing change from within the Conservative Parliamentary Party do not put their self-interest, fear and obsession with maintaining a system that now, thanks in no small part to them no longer exists, that not only will the Party that gifted them their time in the public eye be gone, but the Country itself could be thrown into chaos and darkness of a kind that those amongst us still alive to remember the consequences of such times had long since hoped had been left behind.

People who I and many have time for and respect from right across the political spectrum, are now falling in behind Nigel Farage to support the Brexit Party.

Any serious conservative with an eye on the future and what happens next would be foolish not to read the electoral runes right at this moment in time and see what is about to happen to British Politics during the Month of May.

But whilst one of the key straplines of this very serious and credible protest party is changing politics for good, the Brexit Party only has the cohesiveness between its Membership and support provided by just one issue.

This commonality between Brexit Party supporters will evaporate the moment that the promise made to respect our democracy and Leave the EU has been made good.

In days and certainly no more than weeks, the Conservative Party has a final and defining choice to make about the part that it wants to play and can offer the British People as a choice for the future.

If the Conservative Party does not choose to take it, the Brexit Party could well become the overwhelming force in domestic British Politics that UKIP never could.

The anger, palpable amongst the British People today that could so quickly be addressed with reason and delivery, could instead be completely unleashed.

Make no mistake. A Political Party without professional governance, systems and procedures is not going to deliver the overnight change it is now promising us – even if it currently benefits from having many well known and well meaning names up front which gives it an even more credible feel.

The choice that the Conservative Party has to make is whether to do nothing and allow May to continue in a way that only she seems to know how. Or to commit to a hard-decision-laden and timely process that will require unbending commitment, coolness of character and dedication to a cause much bigger than themselves and their Party, all boiled down to the willingness to do whatever it will take to get things done.

Step 1. A NEW Leader

May MUST go.

May MUST go now.

May MUST be replaced quickly.

This is not the time for an incumbent PM to be allowed to run down the clock in an attempt to let history look more kindly upon her tenure than anyone actually does right now. It won’t.

The ridiculous infighting, self-interest and ambition that have created so much of the Brexit impasse and constipated version of Parliamentary Politics we have witnessed over the past year has to stop and be consigned to the bin.

There MUST be a practical acceptance of the reality that right now, in this climate and with our Country facing the issues that it is, that there is no such thing as the ‘best’ or ‘Perfect’ candidate to be Prime Minister. It is now all about putting the person into the role who will be best placed to get results and yes, get the job done.

Under such circumstances, there is little doubt that whilst far from a perfect situation, the Party Membership would support an immediate ‘crowning’ of a new Party Leader and de facto Prime Minister, AS LONG AS THE PARLIAMENTARY PARTY APPOINTS THE RIGHT PERSON IT HAS AVAILABLE.

As recent polling work undertaken by the Conservative Home Website has shown, which is reliable for gauging the mood of the grassroots Party, the Membership wants a Brexiteer PM in Downing Street.

By far, the PM that the Membership wants is Boris Johnson.

The lack of understanding and appreciation of what really gets results, instead replaced with private ambition and the idea that each and every Member of the Cabinet is the only one who really knows best and can be the next Prime Minister, is precisely why so much of this has gone wrong already.

Trying to control or obstruct a workable solution to these problems for personal reasons, rather than doing what’s best for everyone, no matter how challenging or distasteful or unpalatable the alternative might be, is likely to replace one bad Prime Minister with another. Not because the alternatives aren’t capable or any good at what they do. But because they cannot be the person to bring together the formula that this Country needs right now and effectively become the necessary catalyst for change and for good.

Boris is very electable, as has been demonstrated by his highly effective campaigns to become and to be re-lected London Mayor.

Yes, Boris has a propensity to look silly at inappropriate times. But he also identifies his own destiny as being closely aligned with the success of the people and the policies that he leads. And as Prime Minister he will know that he MUST surround himself with the full range of best talents and voices. To be inclusive, but to make sure that the results achieved are good for all parts of our society and not just those who are directly involved.

This is where the opportunity lies for all who can see, accept and facilitate what now needs to be done to align themselves, contribute and for their genuine ambition to do good for others to be recognised fully for the part they play in delivering for the much bigger Public cause.

2. A NEW Manifesto

No. Oddly the next step IS NOT to worry about Brexit and the EU.

For right or for wrong, we now have until Thursday 31st October 2019 to sort out the Brexit mess and to get things done.

That’s 6 Months. And with a week being a long time in politics, as long as the Conservatives get moving quickly AND do all that needs to be done, 6 Months will be plenty of time enough.

The first priority is to create, promote and engage the public with a NEW Manifesto.

A Manifesto that demonstrates:

  • That the kind of working relationship that WE ALL want with Europe can only be created and developed once we are a fully Independent and Sovereign State once again and that to do this WE MUST FULLY AND CATEGORICALLY LEAVE.
  • That the Conservative Party is NOT only the Party of the rich, but the Party of all those with aspiration. The protector and safe-guarder of all those in genuine need and all those who want to succeed as a result of genuine effort and not riding off the backs and exploitation of others. A Party which really is for ALL of us too.
  • That Politics is in fact the means and not the ends to get things done. That it is a calling, not a job and that those who gain the very special and privileged elevation to Public Office must be able, prepared and committed to engaging fully foremost and as a priority with the People that they represent.
  • That good governance of this Country can no longer be something regurgitated from history, read from a book, accepted as an established rule or contrived on the basis simply of how it will look.
  • That decisions will be taken no matter how hard, to ensure that Government delivers fully for everyone, without bias, favour and with fairness as we are all right and justified in expecting that it should.

It will not take months or years to formulate.

The Conservatives only have to look beyond themselves and begin to engage everyone in a natural conversation, without the hard sell and without falling back on statistics and analysis to confirm what being out there will soon tell them should then be a quickly changing mood.

3. A New Mandate

With a New Leader and New Manifesto, the Conservative Party then MUST go back to the People.

It MUST have the faith, confidence and guts to know that if the Party has done Steps 1 & 2 right, the People will come back and provide the Party with a New Mandate.

A New Mandate that is required not only to break the Brexit impasse that can only come from our clean-break Leaving the EU. But to deliver the change that the People now require of our politicians. So that the UK can find its place and ensure that we are all secure in an ever changing World, where the agility and flexibility that our status as an Independent and Sovereign State is the only way that we can effectively adapt as a Country to ensure that we can continually work together towards the prize of something better for all.

 

 

 

 

 

Whatever the Brexit deal, our inability to leave at will makes it a prison cell and arbitration will not be a key to unlock the door

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Whilst the whole exercise has been played up as a cause for hope that May’s tragedy of a ‘deal’ will pass in the next two weeks, the reality of Geoffrey Cox being sent off to Brussels to negotiate a by-pass to the Backstop, has been nothing more than an elaborate play on time.

The fact that the goalposts have now moved to a discussion with the EU which has already again ruled out a time clause or unilateral exit mechanism, and moved on to a one-sided debate about arbitration instead should be telling everyone, everything once again that they should already know.

May’s deal is not a deal. It is a deliberate, intentional and malevolent trap which will be the equivalent of a prison cell for the UK, unless we retain the ability to walk away from it unilaterally and without the consent of any other party, at any time.

That the EU are currently insisting that an arbitration mechanism would have to involve the ECJ again demonstrates just how essential it is to them that the deck is not only stacked in their favour, but in respect of Brexit, is well and truly rigged.

Even if Cox should succeed in an agreement for a third-party system of arbitration without the ECJ being involved which could be argued as being impartial and therefore fair, it’s use overlooks the fact that arbitration, mediation, dispute resolution or any other system of negotiation that you could ever wish to involve in circumstances in any way similar to these, only determines the terms under which an agreement is or can be reached, and how things go forward from that point thereafter.

Arbitration is not a system that is there to make the decision to do something for anyone. It is about method and nothing more.

To use arbitration as a method of making a choice would in effect be the surrender of decision making responsibility to a third and non-involved party to make that choice for and on behalf of one and/or both parties.

It takes the decision at the very heart of the problem away from the two constituent parties that are involved.

That is why the EU will not even consider the option unless it’s own Court system, the ECJ is the elected arbitrator and therefore the decision would always be beneficial to them rather than the UK.

It is both sad and highly regrettable that so many opportunities have been missed to stop Theresa May and for the whole Brexit process to have been taken a different and fundamentally beneficial-to-the-UK way.

Now, the excuse we have for a Parliament is on the verge of selling out everything to nothing more than Foreign Rule, because the EU have placed a very good bet that Remainers and those other Politicians in the majority who cannot see beyond their own fears and self interest, would cave in at the last minute and back this travesty of a so-called agreement which is the bastard child and legacy of Theresa May.

Whilst Malthouse offered a sensible compromise for anyone who genuinely wanted to find a collective way forward, such plans are and never were in the favour of Prime Minister May.

The only option available to any MP who wants to see Brexit delivered and democracy in this Country existing after the time of May is to vote down May’s deal yet again and then vote for a no-deal exit on the 29th of March the following day.

Yes, the maths in Parliament now means that a delay is more likely than not. But the certainty that would have been available to this Parliament if May had been removed earlier is no longer available as a choice.

So without the control which is simply not present within any of the current choices, riding the wave and making the right decision each and every time there is one to be made is the only way that the right result for the People will be reached and a real Brexit delivered in the end.

Deal or No Deal, the technology already exists for a seamless Irish Border after Brexit and as many of us already know, it works just bloody fine…

January 30, 2019 Leave a comment
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A number plate recognition and recording camera being installed in a supermarket car park in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. January 2019.

The Brothers Grimm would have been busy indeed, had they been alive and based in London during the times of Brexit.

With myth after myth entering the lexicon of public understanding, most often created by those who by the rule of fear intend for the UK to Remain, the range of stories and prophecies that have been created up to now from the very beginning of the Referendum Campaign would be priceless, were it not for the impact that foolish interference with very serious and far reaching matters of state can have.

Whilst many of the latest entrants to the pop chart of Brexit fantasies are being debunked just as quickly as they have been produced, one of the most ridiculous but nonetheless effective tales to have been told is the one about the need for a backstop to prevent a hard-border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, because a technological solution doesn’t exist which would keep goods moving as they would do if the UK were to Remain.

The claim is particularly laughable, given that we live in a surveillance society where estimates back in 2013 placed the number of cameras observing us already then at one camera for every 11-14 people within the population.

Even if monitoring equipment on the Irish Borders did not already exist, the installation of equipment and software of a like which has been in use by the Police forces for years in the form of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) would not be an arduous task. It is already being put to many uses in civilian form too, and if you have fallen foul of Car Parking Rules where one of these offshoot systems has been installed, you will know only too well how effective they are when a Penalty Notice with accompanying photographic evidence lands at your door.

The real problem and reason why too many of the people at a level of influence will tell us that no such technological solution exists is because of the sclerotic system for purchasing products like these for ‘government use’ and the way that companies who could deliver a working and effective solution in what would be a comparatively ‘overnight’ timeframe, are excluded from a supplier system which would benefit us all if they were to be included.

Government purchase is based on a system which favours the monoliths in public supply. Companies that overcharge by gargantuan levels o justify their huge structures, are avoidably slow to deliver – pushing up prices even further, and are the favorites of a coterie of consultants and advisors who themselves are pre-programmed with everything they do to simply be on the make.

If the political will, foresight and vision existed to implement a transparent border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, stepping outside the purchasing rules – YES, those required by Membership of the EU itself, is pretty much all it would take. We simply need agility in thinking, doing and making sure that everyone involved is doing the same.

The opportunity to deliver the trouble-free Brexit that the British People Voted for has been squandered by Politicians afraid to look outside of their own Westminster box. We should be under no illusion that in terms of upholding the realities of the responsibility that they have been given by us, they are well and truly afraid of their own shadow.

The best thing that those who lead us could do right now is to forget going cap in hand to the EU as Theresa May now surely will. Direct the installation of the infrastructure on the Irish Border, commission the necessary software from the very bright and agile small businesses that the UK has, and then make a very public statement that as far as the UK is concerned the Border will be open from 11.00pm onwards on the 29th March 2019, will be functioning like just one of the many other administrative hoops that logistics & supply chain operators, public transport companies and international travelers have to jump through when they are going anywhere, and that the UK is more than capable of taking a lead on anything and everything, come what and despite of whatever May says.

If MPs are so sure of the integrity of their position over Brexit, they should go to the People, remove Party Politics from the question and either stand categorically for Leave (‘no deal’) or Remain (‘things stay the same’)

January 21, 2019 Leave a comment

Ballot-box_1861302cBefore I kick off on making a suggestion that simply should never have to be made, I think it’s important to recognise that as a Country, the UK has now entered extraordinary times.

Extraordinary times require extraordinary solutions, changes, modifications and sometimes even directions too, in order to begin a process of repair, development or evolution which will get things to where they really should go.

Parliament has reached an impasse. One that shows no sign of going anywhere anytime soon. And the consequences for everyone have the potential to be very far reaching in practical terms, as well as the significant damage that the malign influences which are now at work at Westminster are going to do to democracy in this Country too.

We have no option but to look outside normal rules, behaviour, procedures and much more, if we are to resolve this considerable mess, made up of a list of problems of which I will only focus on those that are key, whilst acknowledging that there are more.

The problems

The congestion holding up any way forward is not the result of just a disagreement between two ideas. It is a rich mixture of many colliding ideas and questionable principles. What we really would be correct in calling in political terms, a perfect storm.

The decision to Leave which was taken by the British People was simple until the moment when it was taken. That was the very moment when the people in power took over control of the journey, but refused to see Leaving in anything other than in terms of what it would look like to Remain.

Today we are faced with a strange but nonetheless genuine reality that the Electorate is for Leave, whilst the people or rather the Politicians Elected to represent us are themselves in the majority for Remain.

It is this combination of anomalies at the base of everything now happening which is the root cause of the congestion which we face. And because we have a Parliament made up of MPs who cannot distinguish their own ideologies from the Will of the People, no matter what solution which they come up with under this Parliamentary make-up, or concoct for ‘leaving’, it will to some lesser or greater degree almost certainly be a form of Remain.

It doesn’t matter what MPs call it, or what this Parliament now does to try and legitimise whatever they do. If they do anything other than allow the UK to exit without a deal, on WTO Terms on Friday 29th March 2019, they will collectively be betraying the Will of the People, compromising Democracy, but above all bringing into question the very purpose of their roles and the reasoning behind what they were elected for too.

The solutions ‘on the table’ right now and likely to be tabled very soon, won’t solve the fundamental problems we are experiencing and are themselves poised to create many more problems than in these circumstances they could ever come to solve.

Another Referendum

A second referendum is flawed in principle before it could begin.

It is in effect a plan to overturn the legitimacy of a democratic plebiscite at National level before the original decision has even been implemented.

It brings into question the value of all Elections and as such questions whether even past General Election results are valid.

If we cannot have faith in those, how can any government look the result from the ballot box in the eye and know that they have legitimacy from a ‘win’?

Whilst there are groups throwing considerable amounts of money at this idea, they have not said what the questions on the Ballot Paper would be.

Nobody actually knows what ‘Remain’ would look like, whether it would be based on the pre-June 2016 model, whether it would result in increased integration with the EU, or what democratic influence the People would then be allowed to have upon it. For instance, would we be surrendering further opportunities to Leave?

The question of what Leave already looks like is continually being glossed over to mislead too.

Our Referendum choice in June 2016 was simply to Leave the EU.

Yet the influence of Remainers has blurred this into many different shades and forms, whilst doing everything to paint the choice we actually made as optional because it is something to be feared.

This is itself an act of betrayal on the part of those who should know better, because the whole pretence of having to have a deal to Leave is a phoney premise.

Building or developing a working relationship with the EU can only be constructive for the UK if we are looking forward in negotiations rather than backwards towards Europe. Legitimacy would only ever exist when negotiated from the point where Brexit really would be Brexit (Not as interpreted by Theresa May), Out is Out and Leave means Leave.

But the only questions that this Parliament would agree to because of the inherent biases which exist would be May’s Deal or Remain.

Nobody should be under any illusion that May’s deal may not be presented and sold as Remain, but the two options are fundamentally the same.

If we were to reach the point where this Parliament would agree to the only legitimate choice in a referendum – that of two questions – as any more questions presented would just result in more of the same – the delivery of a second vote for Leave or indeed whatever form of Remain, would still be under the influence of the very same Politicians we have right now who have now shown that they cannot act impartially in these circumstances.

A Referendum is therefore a practical, democratic and reasoned impossibility. And if you think the impasse is bad now, wait and see what these very same Politicians would do if a 2nd Vote came back even more overwhelming for Leave and not even near the same.

Calling an early General Election

The problem with calling an early General Election, is the result could actually be seen to legitimise the impasse.

This could guarantee that we are destined to have years of instability, but this time with unscrupulous politicians able to blame the People for the problem, and again put democracy as we know it completely in the frame.

With the Party system currently holding a monopoly over Parliamentary Elections and our default setting culturally to vote for the same tribe as we usually do (Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem etc), we would end up pretty much electing the same crew as we’ve got behaving like overlords already.

Same-old, same-old, with perhaps a few tweaks here and there, maybe a new prime minister in No.10. But as far as the same logic and reasoning underpinning decision making, things will look well and truly the same.

We also risk ushering in a Marxist government, which would make the chaos surrounding the Brexit process now look comparatively very tame.

The kind of Brexit that a Labour Government under Corbyn would usher in would destroy all semblance of forward thinking, enterprise and opportunity, replacing it with regression, idealist-based detachment and the destruction of any kind of recognisable order that would leave all of us quickly wondering what the hell it is that we have become.

The Conservative Party removes Mrs May, or the PM steps aside (pretty much the same thing)

What would at any other time look like the most simple and most effective solution in a situation which resembles this is the one where the decision looks to have already been made.

If Theresa May were to step aside or be removed as Conservative Party Leader, there would be an opportunity for the Conservative Party to step in and effectively replace the current Administration with one that could change the way that Brexit is being handled and therefore the way that decisions are being made.

Unfortunately, the reasons why this obvious solution has not already been used, is that the Conservative Party is itself demographically representative of all politicians with a majority being focused on what works best for them, rather than for the people they represent – even though they will swear to you that the two things look exactly the same.

They would have to work together selflessly, and in effect crown a new Leader quickly, without going to the Membership, recognising that the priority is the Country, not who gets what job in Government once the decision has been made.

To kick off such a process of change anyway, would require a sufficient number of the Cabinet to act and accept that this pathway is the only way in which a new direction over Brexit can be created and then defined.

None of them will do this. As pretty much without exception, they all covet May’s ‘top job’ and don’t want to be seen as  the hand that wields the knife, as they believe that they will then never then be the one to wear the crown.

In reality, only one person can be our Prime Minister at any one time and it is only convention that says that when a new PM comes from within a sitting Government, it must be someone who has served at Ministerial Level before.

Let’s face it. This Parliament is already defying many conventions, so if our Politicians were minded, this would probably be the right time to recognise that this is what thinking outside the box and grabbing opportunities are really there for.

The other options

The other plans afoot which are of a more sinister nature, such as giving a minority the decision making power over a much larger Parliament, would be the first tangible steps towards creating a dictatorship.

It is a process that might involve a number of politicians. But make no mistake this is what the seeding of a dictatorship looks like. It simply has a different name.

The wider malaise

With the Political Party System broken and skewed to keep out free thinking and therefore the generation and development of the big beasts and political titans that the country now needs, whatever steps we take with this dysfunctional model still at work and able to influence, the names of the politicians may be different, but the end results are destined to be the same.

We are now in a trap of self-interests own making, and unless we do something very different – even if just in the short term, chaos and the problems which we will soon recognise as its bedfellows will be all that the UK is set to know.

Breaking the impasse

For reasons unknown and unidentifiable to many, the current Parliament and the procedure it is working with are not going to deliver Brexit in a collectively acceptable form.

I and many others believe this to be a great injustice and a slight to democracy.

But the reasons we are here today have developed over many years and have become manifest in many different forms.

We therefore need a solution which might not be what everyone wants, but is outside of the influence of self-interest or Establishment control. One that can be recognised as fair to all sides, but above all to the People, who if they must be asked for any further input in the Brexit process, should have the guarantee that their decision will not again be questioned. They must be assured that what they have at that point instructed or sanctioned will be delivered – with whatever changes and requirements necessary, by the people who have been entrusted to take control of it.

Neither a second referendum nor a General Election on standard Electoral Terms will deliver Brexit.

Nor will either bring the Country back together.

And bringing the Country together again must be as much a priority as resolving the Brexit question itself, in real tangible terms, collectively and once and for all.

A Binary choice through a 2-‘party’ General Election, where the candidates are not Political Parties or Individuals, but only identifiable as Representatives of Leave or Remain

The way that this could be achieved would be for Parliament to dissolve itself and for a General Election to be called where the normal Terms of the Representation of the People Act are suspended in respect of being open to all qualifying candidates and the only candidates allowed in each and every Parliamentary Constituency would be one representing Leave and one representing Remain.

All Party influence would be withheld, with all sitting MPs being entered as the de facto Candidate for their background choice of Leave or Remain. Their position qualified by their voting history and public activities, rather than being given a choice to go a different way.

To ensure parity between the two choices on the ballot paper, they would not be entered as a representative by name.

The process of defining their ‘party’ could if necessary be concluded by some form of independent judicial review, but would be transparent and fully published so that no reasoning for choices could be hidden from public view.

Of course this raises the question of who would be the candidate to oppose the ‘sitting MP’ if they should choose to fight the election.

How do you select an appropriate candidate to represent Leave or Remain?

Again, there are many suitable people who qualify to fill this void, whether Party Members or not. People who already have a track record of being out there and active in either direction – whether politicians or not, and capable of bringing something good to the table as a public representative and legislator if they should have the opportunity to be so called.

What we would have to ensure we did not do would be to allow anything other than impartial influence on the selection of any candidate. This would rule out any input from the existing Political Parties or any entity or organisation closely affiliated to them or any political cause.

The best thing for the Country would be for the Political Parties to be banned from being involved in Government for the term of this transition Government, and not allowed to exert any kind of influence on policy or procedure until the pathway to normal observance of the Representation of the People Act has been returned and on its way to being fully restored.

In the period before the Binary Choice Election itself, Government would through necessity to ensure impartiality be excluded from any form of involvement in the campaign.

An interim Government would need to be in place simply and only to ensure that Government is working up and only until the day after the Binary Choice Election when a Government of majority, tasked only with Leave (no deal) or Remain (the same) is in place and the necessary positions all appointed.

The Campaign itself could be conducted over a relatively short period once the decision has been made, as the otherwise necessary time windows for multiple candidacies would be kept out of the equation and keeping localised campaigning aligned with national campaigning would mean that localised manifestos would not be required – the importance of getting this whole mess sorted out overriding what the normal election of an MP should be about and used for.

A way forward that would work because it answers the questions for all involved

Yes, this may sound like being far from a workable solution and it is crude in its current and quickly written form.

But in the reality of our Brexit present, doing something which requires stepping outside of our comfort zones and thinking outside of the ‘tried and tested box’ either way is coming, and its result is not that far.

The choice in the coming days will now be whether we respect the principle of democracy and take the necessary steps to address the immediacy of the real problem in a format such as this, or whether a few MPs are allowed to create a de facto dictatorship where nobody can ultimately win and what are already the extremes in our society will be taken much further and way too far.

If our MPs are now so very sure of the integrity of the positions they have and are now taking on Brexit, going back to the people and being elected solely on the basis of what they truly believe and support is not something they should in any way fear.

This might be the only way that we can now find to more things forward legitimately and settle once and for all the question of what really is Leave and what is Remain, without being stuck in an indefinite time loop which is going to destroy everything that we hold dear as a Nation, is destined to erase our identity and everything that we have for centuries stood for, and is likely to guarantee chaos and a whole lot more.

image thanks to unknown

 

 

 

 

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