brexit

Hungary to be stripped of its EU voting rights?

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The EU is voting to strip Hungary of its EU voting rights for consistent failure to heed their values, including migrant quotas. Last year an apathetic turnout to a referendum held on the subject said 98.4% of Hungarians were against forced migrant quotas. Putting to one side the altruism of the EU, trying to force a member state to tow the line is absurd, not so much for the country but the migrants.

Let’s not forget this is the EU making up for Merkel’s single-handed poorly executed thought bubble in the first place. She put forward a come one come all rhetoric on her own.

In a sense the EU can rant on all it likes about humanitarism (although 80% are economic refugees (i.e. not fleeing war zones) according to figures by Eurostat) but forcing asylum seekers into a country that doesn’t want them doesn’t seem optimal. We can snigger at Hungary and call them bigoted, racist or worse but the fact of the  matter is migrants on the whole won’t be welcome.

The EU forcing unwanted guests to a Hungarian dinner table has obvious consequences. The embittered host is likely to ruin the goulash and spoil the palatschinke in an attempt to get the visitors to leave.  Many are unaware the third largest political party in Hungary is Jobbik (won 21% of seats in the 2014 election) which has all the hallmarks of Roehm’s SA, right down to the uniforms. Jobbik has a record of roughing up Jews, Gypsies and Roma so before Brussels tells Budapest it must accept migrant quotas perhaps an assessment of the reality would be wise. Jobbik is left to do its ruffian business and Hungarian authorities turn a blind eye. That is the bigger issue at sort before imposing quotas.

Surely if refugees were asked Hungary is the last place they want to go after leaving their homeland. Refugees aren’t cattle but the EU is treating them so. Aren’t they surprised when the majority seek Germany as the end destination because of the relative generosity? Do the EU authorities think these migrants don’t have excellent internal information networks? Of course they do.

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To rachet this down a notch what are EU values anyway? The Brits are leaving because they don’t agree with EU values. The Greeks are being trodden on for refusing to accept EU austerity values. The Austrians were threatened with sanctions and punishment if they democratically voted in a right wing president. Are these worthy values? The Swiss handed back a 30 year free pass to join the EU presumably because they didn’t believe in EU values. The list goes on.

Sometimes it is had not to think of the EU as the Gallactic Senate from Star Wars trying to get aliens from different galaxies to agree on everything.

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We all know how unwelcome visitors are treated in the Star Wars Bar when different backgrounds and cultures literally don’t see eye to eye. The EU would do well to respect the diversity of its members, which includes diversity of thought and culture. It is not to say the EU doesn’t have a point from time to time they are dreadful executors of it.

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Norwegians want a referendum on leaving the EEA & warn Brits not to become like them

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It seems more in Norway are wanting to have a referendum on the European Economic Area Access (EEA). The claims is that their costs have risen 10-fold since signing the EEA 25-years ago. Norway, while not a member of the EU, still pays around £650 million to Brussels to fund the EEA administration and other EU research projects. Two recent opinion polls conducted by Sentio reveals there is a strong majority wanting to have a say on the EEA agreement: 47% are in favour of a referendum on Norway leaving the EEA, with only 20% rejecting such a referendum. 70% of Norwegians do not want to enter the EU and the Labour Party has recently removed it as a policy platform.

Norwegian businesses had duty free access on all exports to the EU before the EEA was signed and this FTA would still apply if the EEA agreement were terminated. Ironically Norway used to export more to the EU as a percentage of total before the EEA than after it meaning that the supposed benefits of the club have not led to bigger trading opportunities within the block.

So to Brexit – Norwegian Prime Minister, Erna Solberg of the Conservative Party, sounded a warning before the UK referendum about following a Norway style deal, stating that “you’ll hate it…that type of connection is going to be difficult for Britain, because then Brussels will decide without the Brits being able to participate in the decision-making.”

The French voted for their interests, not yours!

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One of the persistent memes, posts and social media commentaries I’ve read in the last few days on Macron’s win feature ‘thank you France’,  ‘you’ve spared another Trump’ or similar prose. The fact that some feel compelled to write in such ways speaks volumes to their self-assessed sense of shared intellectual superiority despite not being citizens. The French democratically elected Macron. Not the foreigner. The end. It is not our moral duty to tell the French or any other country’s citizens how to vote. You can be assured those that voted for him had their own interests in mind, not yours when they cast their ballot. Do you think the Brits thought for a second they might upset the Americans if they didn’t follow Obama’s wise words of ‘Remain‘ leading into Brexit? Not a chance in hell. In fact his comments saw ‘Leave’ polling surge. Do you think the 10.6mn French that voted for Le Pen were thinking of those in Athens, Madrid or Brussels as the ticked her name? Even those French that voted for Macron would roll their eyes in frustration if you butchered their language in your polite attempt to communicate in pidgin-French. So thanking them would be viewed as a VTFF moment.

We shouldn’t forget that 25% of French voters didn’t bother showing up, probably because neither choice fitted their bill.  So Macron’s 66% could actually be less than 50% of total voters. Maybe Le Pen’s 34% was much higher if those non-voters were held at gunpoint? Perhaps lower? We won’t know but only the French get to decide. Our pontifications mean little to the French. If I decide to vote for One Nation or cast a donkey vote in the next Aussie federal election I would not care a jot what anyone else thought. I wouldn’t care for threats of defriending which was a common occurrence during the lead up to the US election. My vote is for me, not you. Your vote is yours not mine. I have no obligation to give you my vote. You have no obligation to vote for my choice.

Listen to the recent protests about rescinding the voting rights of the elderly because they supposedly sold out their grandkids. Name one time your grandparents deliberately acted against your well being? Ice cream and chocolates are excluded. Although that is evidence of blind love so intentionally in your favour. We can take it to the bank that the elderly were acting and will always act, using their multiple decades of experience, in the best interests of their family’s economic and financial future. They haven’t suffered a bout of Alzheimer’s and sought to elect someone that will punish them.

To suggest the French result is a defeat for populism and the far-right couldn’t be more wishful thinking if it tried.  As written several days back I argued it was a massive win for Le Pen, in fact so much so that if Macron is just Hollande-lite that 2022 could be a Le Pen victory. Doubling her father’s achievement is no mean feat. 10.6mn rejecting the EU should be a massive red flag. However in 2022 the French will line up at the ballot box and vote with the party or candidate that will best represent them. They’ll care not for your posturing and posts telling them how to vote.

For a man that plays the EU anthem over La Marseillaise should tell us something about the next 5 years. The 34% will likely be ignored. Potentially a slug of the 25% that didn’t vote may be neglected as well. I won’t be surprised when you write ‘WTF France?’, ‘how could you be so stupid France?‘ If Macron doesn’t look after enough of his citizens they’ll eventually gang up and fire him. Perhaps there is the folly in your tidings of praise – sitting in your comfortable study tapping away salutations missing the plight of the have nots continuing unabated. Thanks for nothing!

Macron has boarded a modern day Titanic but Le Pen has stolen over a third of the life boats

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The Titanic was most infamous for being an unsinkable ship. We all know the tragedy of its maiden voyage. Folklore tells us that to calm the passengers, the band played as the ship went down. The cautionary tale is one that fits the EU almost too perfectly. Macron’s win is akin to the EU playing the band (well Macron did play the EU anthem for his victory speech rather than La Marseillaise) all the while the Hard Brexit iceberg has ripped a huge hole below the waterline of SS Titanic II. The problem is the EU continues to behave as if the SS Titanic II is indeed unsinkable. Le Pen’s loss is much like believing the water tight compartments will keep the ship afloat. They couldn’t be more wrong as chief designer Thomas Andrews told White Star Line boss J. Bruce Ismay – who protested she was unsinkable- “She’s made of iron, sir! I assure you, she can… and she will. It is a mathematical certainty.”

The SS Titanic II’s crew treats its customers with varying levels of service. It entertains Lady Merkel and Lord Macron in proper first class fashion but for steerage passengers like the Greeks, Spanish and Portuguese they are kept locked below deck. The Greeks were willingly given passage on the SS Titanic II in full knowledge they possessed forged promissory notes as they boarded. The belief was that when they landed on the other side of the Atlantic they’d be able to work it off. Sadly the crew has finally realized it is futile and are now demanding they hand over whatever they have left before handing out life jackets. Moreover they must promise if they’re let out of steerage they must stay chained to the Master at Arms.

In all seriousness the treatment of the Greeks is despicable beyond words. 36% of Greeks live below the poverty line. 58% youth unemployment. That means many can’t access affordable healthcare because it is generally provided by corporates and when you lose a job you lose the healthcare. This means many are forced to use A&E of major hospitals which are now overcrowded and understaffed as more doctors are leaving to seek better fortune for their services elsewhere.

If that wasn’t enough, mothers who had given birth were being restricted from taking their new-borns home if they couldn’t pay the fees. While the government has banned this practice they have introduced new laws to allow the seizure of assets (e.g. homes) if debts are not settled.

Naturally the EU wishes to keep control over the way Greece handles its economic affairs but using the nation’s defiance of autocratic rule from Brussels as a weapon against it shows how little the federal state truly cares for its members. Deeds, not words. It promised to punish steerage countries, Spain and Portugal, for breaching debt covenants. This is the real EU. It is a supranational. A federation through the back door.

The Brexit vote is without a doubt the most damaging iceberg for the EU. The gaping hole it exposes is far more serious than any perceived phyrric victory through Macron’s win.

The issue here is that if Hard Brexit (May is likely to get the majority she needs on June 8th to push for it) is shown to work for the UK (likely) and the idea of extortionate exit penalties are legally unenforceable (confirmed last week) then the risks of jumping ship are sharply lowered. The problem for the EU is that there won’t be enough life boats to save all the crewreaucrats when more member states realize self preservation is the only viable option.

Le Pen’s 1/3rd of the vote, Hofer’s 46% in Austria, Wilders’ 25% increase in seats in The Netherlands, the Sweden Democrats jump to the top of the polls, Italy’s ousting of Renzi, Brexit, the Swiss handing back a 30yr standing free ticket to join…these don’t look like promising trends for an EU which is already badly listing. Despite ample warnings the EU refused (and still refuses) to change its course or exercise due care.

Will Captain Juncker go down with his unsinkable ship or follow Seamen Martin Schulz off before it is too late?

Max Headroom – “Hard Brexit vote is between Coke Classic May, Diet Coke Farron & Coke Zero Corbyn”

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Be honest with yourself. If you were after the best taste (casting diet aside) would you have real Coke over Diet-Coke or Coke Zero? Full fat milk in your latte or soy milk? 34% fat King Island Brie cheese or a block of no-brand low fat supermarket cheddar? Wine from a bottle or a cask? The answers are obvious. The real thing always tastes better. Even in the adverts, Coke used to put girls eating fatty foods, seemingly balancing out their decadent junk food cravings with Diet Coke because it was “just one calorie” conveniently forgetting all the other unhealthy chemicals that went into the can to make it so. We know better and is it any wonder? Who could forget in the 1980s when Coke decided to change the formula of real Coke causing massive hoarding of the original, with a whole secondary market treating the scarce commodity like precious metals. Such was the backlash, Coke had to restore the old faithful. In their hearts people want the real thing. Same for Brexit.

The UK Labour Party has been espousing Coke Zero under Corbyn when constituents are clearly calling out for the real thing. The recent local elections saw a total drubbing. While local elections aren’t always a read across for national elections, the results are so telling that Theresa May, as much as she is inconveniencing the voters for the third time in such a short period, has clearly got the mood of the Brits for hard Brexit. I listened to London Mayor Saddiq Khan rabbit on about why Corbyn is the better option for the UK in the face of being so trashed in the local elections. He went so far as to say how evil Theresa May was to call an election to further her majority. Err, Mayor Khan, perhaps if the opposition were a viable alternative she would never have done so. Even The Guardian is arguing that the Lib Dems are the only hope for a soft Brexit. Tim Farron has no chance. Here are the results of the local elections.

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Labour lost its status as the largest party in Cumbria and its heartlands Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend and Merthyr Tydfil – good blue collar coal mining areas. Labour also lost Glasgow, the first time since 1980.

Here is how England looked:

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Here is how Scotland fared (mostly voted Remain):

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Here is how the Welsh voted (mostly voted for Brexit):

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Despite all of the pre & post-Brexit scaremongering of how the UK would slide into the abyss, the economy has done anything but reflect that. Juncker is now so unleashed in his bullying over Brexit negotiations that Merkel and Tusk have had to rein him in. The plucky Brit is probably the last person to cave into oppression. They love the idea of doing the opposite of what people dictate. We have cautionary tales. Who could forget when Obama told them that Brexit was a bad idea? Now we have Juncker and Verhofstadt hiking the Brexit bill like gangsters demanding a ransom.

The Brits are speaking – “Give us Hard Brexit. We don’t want soft compromises. We voted out so let’s make sure we fight for the best deal.”

Or perhaps as Max Headroom, the man of the moment of the New Coke once said, “Say, would someone mind checking the ratings? I seem to have an audience of two.”

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Twitter – Macron 66%, Le Pen 34%; Facebook – Macron 53%, Le Pen 47%

IMG_0575.PNGFor once the polls seem to reflect the Twitter stats. Since the first round, Macron has accumulated 66% of the Twitter follower growth vs 34% for Le Pen. Facebook follower growth on the same metric puts Le Pen at 47% of the growth vs Macron at 53%, As we gleaned from the first round, Macron had the third highest number of followers on Twitter but the fastest growth, with Le Pen 2nd. Twitter seemed to forecast better than Facebook.

IMG_0576When her father ran in 2002, Jean Marie Le Pen garnered only 17.9% of the second round. It would seem Marine Le Pen should double that number. That in and of itself is a massive shot across the bows of the establishment. Of course a Macron victory will be viewed by the EU as an endorsement when there could be nothing further from the truth.

We only need to see Tusk & Merkel’s slapdown of Juncker over Brexit in recent days to show the disharmony within the inner sanctum. Have you seen the latest Greek  bail-out negotiations? Talk about surrendering sovereignty to Brussels. Note the Conservatives gained 558 council seats in local elections this weekend by taking voters back from UKIP, which lost all but one of the 115 seats the party contested and Labour surrendering 320 seats, a margin which if replicated on June 8 will hand Theresa May a healthy majority. Brits want a hard Brexit not one built on compromises.

While there is some cachet in voting in the ‘youth’ in France we only need to look at Canada to see what an utter disaster Trudeau has been. His ratings are falling like a stone as Opposition Leader Rona Ambrose makes regular mince meat of him in Parliament. View any of their debates in parliament and Trudeau can’t string two sentences together.

In any event, markets should breathe a sigh of relief at a Macron victory although they’re pricing that already. Note that he is likely to be far more Trudeau than Alexander the Great and for France that will likely mean more of the same which will only give Le Pen far a better chance in 2022.

Brexit Bingo

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If the EU wanted to project cohesion, competence and credibility they would ‘t try to jack up the Brexit bill from €52bn to €100bn. Are EU leaders unaware that they’ve suffered 15 straight losses out of 15 referendums, 100% success record in votes of no confidence yet here they are trumpeting their supposed financial acumen. They’ve had almost 12 months to work out a thoroughly researched punitive sum for the U.K. yet they can’t help playing bureaucratic Brexit bingo. A doubling of a Brexit bill in the space of a month only confirms there is no scienctific basis for the fine. It is now nothing more than a bitter divorce where the estranged wife is going for the hubby’a ‘ jugular. If the EU understood the Brits they’d realize it is one of the few nations whose citizens will tell them directly what they think. Brits hate being told what to do.

However isn’t the UK a shareholder in all of the assets, buildings and infrastructure in the EU having invested over GBP 200bn net during its membership? Shouldn’t the EU have to buy out the UK’s stake in the project?

The EU is now dictating the UK can’t discuss potential trade deals with other countries while the exit process is ongoing. Are they mad? They are now saying that Gibraltar gives Spain the right to veto any trade deal with the UK. The UK is being treated like a hostage with a ransom note being sent to the Queen.

Article 50 must have been written in such a way that they never thought it would be triggered.  Moreover it was probably drafted in crayon. Now that it has been set off the Eurocrats are showing their true colours and likely to hand Theresa May an even bigger mandate. What they don’t realize is the more bullying from Brussels that transpires the more  it accelerates their ultimate demise.

It is the ultimate hubris. Even if Le Pen loses this weekend she is likely to scoop 40% of the vote. Her father achieved a best ever result of 16.9% in the second round. While celebrations might abound with a Macron victory, a strong showing by Le Pen doesn’t remove the underlying shift toward parties which demand change. This is what the EU keeps missing. The Dutch election saw Wilders one of the few parties to gain seats. Right wing parties took most of the gains.

The EU has no choice but to reform but stiff arming the U.K. sends hugely negative messages to member states. While the EU thinks it’s actions will prevent further risk of leavers, the reality is a growing number of citizens are happy to risk it.

Let’s be sure to remind ourselves that the €100bn bar tab won’t be the last number to flash across 10 Downing Street. As it stands Theresa May only needs to tell Juncker, Tusk and Verhofstadt that the cheque is in the mail.