Hurrah. The European Union wants to make it up with Britain, according to the Guardian.
According to the bloc’s ambassadors: “Rediscovery of common interests and concerns have thus led to the Windsor framework and to a much welcome and necessary regain in trust in EU–UK relations.”
Unfortunate that common interests were lost sight of in the first place.
And also unfortunate to make an issue of trust. When differences are at issue, clarity and understanding are more important.
Continue reading “A new era in UK-EU relations -again” →
A cabinet sacking is hardly big news these days. But that of Dominic Raab, Britain’s deputy prime minister, is a little more important.
The charge was bullying (reduced on closer examination to intimidation).
But Raab scores a palpable hit in his riposte (well worth the reading), where he summarises the affair:
Continue reading “The establishment strikes back” →
An insightful mini-essay from Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen on how his “own preferred slant of classical liberalism is being replaced” by what – for want of an agreed term – he categorises as the “New Right”.
At his level of intellectual discourse, this means “the smart young people I meet who in the 1980s might have become libertarians”.
Presumably they didn’t. But nonetheless “the New Right doesn’t entirely reject the basic principles of free market economics”. (Is ‘entirely’ redundant here?)
Continue reading “Excellent writing on the New Right. The Old might read “ →
Another sharp take on the resignation of Lord Frost – Boris Johnson’s chief European sherpa – from the folk at Eurointelligence.
Wonk-in-chief Wolfgang Munchau argues Lord Frost was one of the few (perhaps the only one?) of Boris’s close advisers that really understood the needs of a post-Brexit strategy:
“What Brexit requires, first and foremost, is a post-Brexit economic model.”
Continue reading “Late Frost in Brexit Britain” →
We said a few days ago that British PM, Boris Johnson, still looked to be the indispensable man.
It’s hard to tell if subsequent events are qualifying or confirming that.
First, Lord Frost, Minister of State and the government’s EU strategist resigned citing the general drift of policy, most recently towards Covid authoritarianism.
Continue reading “Boris: holding out till Christmas” →
The second leg of the post-Brexit stakes is taking place on the tank-friendly North German plain.
Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal has overruled some aspects of EU law that it deems incompatible with the country’s constitution. This has brought down the execration of the EU establishment on the grounds that EU law has primacy over all national law.
Continue reading “Poland and Germany agreeing is always a good thing, isn’t it?” →
For pundits, Brexit is the gift that keeps on giving. For the countries of Europe, a measure of how relationships are evolving.
The latest quinella is running on both flanks of the European Union, with the first leg on the green turf of Northern Ireland.
Continue reading “Brexit – going viral but not pandemic” →
The flaws of Boris Johnson, Britain’s jokey PM, have been highlighted through the Brexit saga, and he has many haters. Fine material you might think for Tom Bower, the UK’s pre-eminent investigative muckraker, notorious for coruscating biographies of Richard Branson, Robert Maxwell and Jeremy Corbyn.
But funnily enough he hasn’t made that much of a splash with Boris Johnson The Gambler published in the midst of the UK’s Covid epidemic at the end of last year.
It’s not that Bower shuns the negative. He scrupulously documents the driving ambition, rhetorical evasion, monumental self-centeredness, serial infidelity and inability to buy a round.
But these traits are not entirely absent from many leading politicians. And Johnson managed to emerge through the pages as a ferociously intelligent and curiously likeable character, who pulls off these stunts more colourfully and successfully than most.
Indeed, Boris’s enemies tend to suffer in the comparison. Former PM, Theresa May is portrayed as an over-promoted machiavel; while the head of the Foreign Office, Simon Macdonald, comes across as unctuous and incompetent. The next-door neighbours who snitched to the press on Boris’s domestic rows appear as uptight ideologues, determined to expose “the ugly edifice of capitalist heteropatriachy’”.
Continue reading “Many Alexanders but only one Boris” →
It’s not unusual for governments to decide the solution to their frustrations is to tweak the machinery of government. Nor for senior public servants to channel those ambitions to safety.
But things look more serious in the UK. A sequence of reports from high-powered ‘independent’ commissions and well-connected think tanks are floating proposals which bear more than a resemblance to the state sector reforms implemented in New Zealand at the end of last century.
For one of the key players, the seeds of change were planted back in 2010. Back then, Michael Gove (now the Minister for the Cabinet Office) was put in charge of education. He coined the term ‘the Blob’ to describe the coalition of resistant civil servants and external ideologists who opposed his proposals to change the school system. And helping him on the Blob job was Dominic Cummings – PM Boris Johnson’s erstwhile chief strategist.
Continue reading “NZ public service reform for the UK?” →
Britain’s new health minister, Sajid Javid, says he will keep wearing a mask after formal restrictions are removed in the next fortnight. It’s a more political than public health gesture. Unless perhaps he’s meeting unvaccinated ministerial visitors from Australia or New Zealand.
Britain’s Covid debate is morphing faster than the virus. Thanks to the fast spreading Delta variant and a super-charged vaccination programme it’s plausible that pretty much everyone bar Scottish lighthouse keepers will have had Covid antibodies delivered to them by the end of the year via neighbours or needle.
Continue reading “Has ‘Johnsonism’ arrived?” →