Tag Archives: UK

Announcing the new ‘BRITOSTAR’ service

I am delighted to be here today to announce the launch of ‘BRITOSTAR’, an entirely new rail link between Great Britain and the rest of the world.

union jack train

This new, post-Brexit transport service will be the first time that Global Britain is able to directly connect with our international dominions, through a bespoke, and uniquely British deal.

Today I can reveal that BRITOSTAR will introduce a new service, departing from London Saint Pancras for a range of global cities, including Paris, Lille, and Brussels. From there, British businesses will find it easy to connect with the entire world, opening up totally new opportunities for travel, trade, and tourism that were previously restricted by our membership of the European Union.

The all-new BRITOSTAR service features our patriotic liveried train carriage, entirely decorated in the Union flag. Yes, this rail service is the true reflection of this government’s red, white and blue Brexit!

I would like to take this opportunity to correct some fake news that has been published about the BRITOSTAR service.

Contrary to some reports, BRITOSTAR will be entirely and gloriously independent of European rail services. It is true that we have concluded a partnership agreement with an existing service, whereby our BRITOSTAR carriage will be coupled to Eurostar trains in order to be towed to the continent.

But the lack of our own engine does not mean that we are dependent upon Eurostar for our service. As part of our bespoke agreement we have guaranteed that BRITOSTAR can decouple itself from the Eurostar train at any time it chooses. Simply by removing the connecting coupling, the BRITOSTAR carriage can transform itself into a splendid static embassy, able to represent British interests from a practical, stationary position on the tracks.

We have also successfully negotiated an agreement that our carriage will be the last one coupled to the Eurostar train, a premium position which will allow BRITOSTAR travellers to lead from behind as they set forth on the path to global domination.

Some have claimed that BRITOSTAR will simply mirror the existing Eurostar timetable, offering the same service, but in a different colour. This is a complete misunderstanding. After due consideration, the British government has evaluated different timetable options, and concluded that an itinerary which happens to match the existing Eurostar service suits our needs at present. However, in contrast to the pre-Brexit situation, we retain complete freedom to vary both the destination and timing of our service, according to British needs, and British aspirations. (Subject to future Eurostar decisions on timetabling and destinations, terms and conditions apply.)

Certain malicious reporting has even suggested that this entire exercise is a costly and pointless rebranding through which UK travellers receive an inferior, more expensive service, a pretence of independence, but no control over direction or destination.

To this I say… Behold, Our Union Jack Carriage, Behold The Sunlit Uplands, Behold Global Britain!

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Taking the Brexit Bus Seriously

As Theresa May announces her plan to notify Article 50 by next March, the UK is drawing up its ‘red lines’ on its exit from the EU. Although there is little detail as to what the UK government will seek, one thing is clear: an end to free movement of people is being considered as the major implication of the British people’s vote to leave. Everything else – including single market membership – must come second to this goal. Even the Labour Party has stepped in line with this new political orthodoxy. The interpretation is that the referendum result was a vote against free movement for EU citizens to the UK.

The problem with this approach is that Theresa May is not just abiding by the result of the referendum, but she is trying to infer a single reason for the vote.  And the choice she has made has huge implications for the Brexit negotiations. So what if there was another basis for the negotiations, a different ‘red line’ to limiting immigration?

We send the EU £350 million a week. Let’s fund our NHS instead

brexit-bus

There were many arguments used in favour of leaving the EU, but the most prominent was written on the side of the Leave campaign’s bus and driven around the country.  It dominated large parts of the referendum campaign, formed the backdrop to hundreds of photo opportunities and interviews, shaped the news agenda for weeks, was hotly contested, but was never erased, and never withdrawn. After years of austerity, the official Leave  campaign zeroed in on the EU membership fee as one of the major solutions for over-stretched public services. Opinion polls in the run-up to the vote showed that many people shared the sense that the UK paid too much into the EU, and as a net contributor was somehow being ‘taken for a ride’.

So let’s imagine basing our Brexit negotiations on repatriating the £350 million per week that is handed over to the EU. How does that change our approach to the EU27?

The first result is that the focus shifts hugely towards discussing the Article 50 separation deal, rather than ignoring that in favour of discussions on a future relationship. The terms of the separation are crucial to getting the UK a good Brexit deal, one where we can save money and reinvest that for the public good. Instead of an army of trade negotiators, the UK government recruits hundreds of accountants, to go through the EU’s books and find ways to limit the UK’s future liabilities. So what are the Brexit bus red lines?

1) Brexit means a clean financial break: Once the UK is out of the EU it will not accept making any transfers to the EU27. This will include payments for future EU liabilities, such as pensions for EU officials, EU institutions and agencies (including the cost of their relocation). A settlement may have to be made with regard to the current budgetary period.

2) The costs of immigration should be limited: the access of EU migrants to U.K. social security was a major feature of the referendum campaign, so the question of who pays for the social benefits of EU citizens in the U.K., and UK citizens living in EU Member States will be a major factor in the negotiations. Expect the UK to try to drive a hard bargain about social security payments and liability for health and social costs incurred by U.K. retirees in Spain, and liabilities for EU nationals in the UK.

Of course, the benefits of Brexit can only be truly realised if the new UK-EU relationship is also based on financial neutrality. So the negotiations about the future relationship should be driven by this key principle. The next principle is therefore:
3) Solidarity is a national issue: EU Member States can fund solidarity and social cohesion from their own budget; the UK’s relationship will be based solely on trade, not the redistribution of wealth via social programmes.

Finally, the UK will argue for a single market, but with no fees:
4)  No pay for play: no contributions from the UK to the EU’s budget in exchange for single market access. The UK will have no political say in the making of the single market’s laws, so should not have to pay a fee to access them. If the EU wants to continue to trade smoothly with the UK, then the UK will accept adopting the single market’s rules, but will not subsidise its operation. The financial benefit that the EU27 will receive through the UK’s large balance of payment deficit should be sufficient without further contributions.

Together, these key red lines will ensure that Brexit can respect the clearly expressed will of the British people, and make Brexit a success for the NHS, and for Britain.

Of course, most, if not all of these red lines might prove impossible to realise. And at some stage, the fact that the £350 million per week claim was a lie would also have to be addressed. However, it is certainly not unrealistic to imagine that a UK negotiation in Europe might be based entirely upon money.  Margaret Thatcher’s ‘handbagging’ of Brussels to secure the UK  budget rebate should remind us that the UK is often happy to take a transactional approach to Europe.

The point of this post is not to suggest that this would be a better Brexit strategy, but merely to point out that there is more than one type of Brexit possible. Brexit does not mean Brexit – there are many different versions. The one that is chosen over the coming months will have huge ramifications for both the UK and the EU.

Why Brexit Britain should still be interested in the circular economy action plan

Another piece on the Green Alliance blog:

Why Brexit Britain should still be interested in the EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan