Remain Alliance

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We are all upset, we are all angry, we are all panicked.

Those of us who voted Remain have lost our country. The Britain I asked citizenship in was a tolerant inclusive place. The place where I lived my entire adult life was a place I was proud of, where I felt free and safe. This all changed.

I live in Barnes, on the other side of Hammersmith. The same Hammersmith that has become a target for racist attacks. The Polish Centre where my kid’s school had their end of year show last week has been vandalised. People had swastikas painted on their cars.

This is not the country I swore allegiance to. This is the country Mr Farage and his fascists have been dreaming of.

Those on the Leave side have a lot to be angry for too. They voted Leave, yet Britain does not seem to be leaving. The conservative party and labour seem to be changing leadership, but not much more is evidently happening politically. A lot of things are happening economically. They are all bad. The self-imposed recession, augmented by spending contraction and tax increases to keep to the Conservative agenda,  will hit the poorest (and their regions who voted Leave) the worst. This is something to be angry about.

As a dual European national I am also offended. I am offended that I do not know whether I can stay together with my family. Yes, Leave seems to have been motivated by hatred of ‘foreigners’ in this case Europeans, but the campaign always assumed the rights of current residents will be protected. Today in Parliament Mr Cameron refused to ensure this. Is this to spark a revolt in London against Leave, or is it to use our families as hostages in the negotiation with Europe?

To go back to the Remain side, we have reason to revolt. We have something to defend, the Britain of modernity, not the racist hovel of the 1970s frustrated leavers wish to recreate.

This is my country as well, you hear?

You may be native born, living in an estate for generations in the North in poverty, viewing me as an alien metropolitan elite, but I will not abandon this fight and leave. You will have to fight me and all like me for this, and it will take more than a 1.9% majority in a referendum.

I have explained in an earlier post that the best way to fight this fascist coup is to hold an immediate general election. Leavers have to gain from this too. If a Leave majority emerges it will be able to form a proper government able and willing to carry Brexit through. You want an added sweetener? If this happens I will pack my bags and leave too. I gift you the country if we have one last fight – a general election.

I call for a ‘Remain Alliance’ of everyone wishing this country to remain the Great nation that it is.

This Alliance can fight the election with the single goal of preventing Brexit and saving the Union with Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Liberal Democrats are asking for an election, but not yet for a grand alliance. This is what we need. Labour can defect, or break up, or die, I do not much care so long as its people, MPs and the Unions support the Alliance. Once the Remain Alliance is victorious it can stabilise our relationship with Europe and the regions, restore the economy to normality and then it can resign so elections can take place on traditional party platforms, if this is required.

Brexit is an existential threat for the nation. We cannot lie down while the country disintegrates because Mr Farage and Mr Johnson lied and tricked enough people to vote for their self-destruction. We will not.

There is a practical step for this, something you can do to help. There is a way you can resist.

I have submitted a petition to Parliament to debate a motion for an early general election. This is required by law. The petition did not make it onto the Parliament website as another one had just been accepted on the same issue. I urge you to support this petition. 

Support a Remain Alliance to save our country!

My petition had the following wording:

Parliament to debate a motion for an early general election in 2016

The advisory EU Referendum has returned a result that is at odds with the composition of Parliament that emerged from the May 2015 General Election. The majority of MPs cannot be obligated to legislate the steps to leave the EU against their expressed beliefs as to the interests of the country.

The advisory nature of the EU Referendum means that there is no legal compulsion for Parliament to legislate activation of Art. 50 TEU which begins the process of UK exit from the EU. The current Parliament was elected on a mandate not containing a promise to leave the EU. The conflict between the democratic will of the people as expressed in May 2015 and June 2016 can only be resolved via an early general election, for which the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011 requires Parliamentary approval.

Thank you

@iGlinavos

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How to avoid Brexit in a few uneasy steps

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We have a problem. The conservative party has for decades been rotting inside due to the cancer of Euroscepticism. Cameron, seeing how Labour was disintegrating post-financial crisis, saw the opportunity to settle the matter and consolidate his position (and that of Osborne as the heir presumptive), by pulling the rug from under the Eurosceptics via holding a referendum.

On the morning of 24 June we discovered what a horrible idea that was. The country has voted by a narrow margin (52%) to leave the EU. As every single expert and institution worldwide has already pointed out this is a very bad idea. I have made my position clear on the issue aplenty. The purpose of this post is not to convince you that Brexit is a bad idea, it is to see how it can be avoided with the least minimal disruption.

A few things we need to be cleared up first. The current parliament was elected in May 2015 (it is at the beginning of its 5 year term). Out of the 650 MPs, about 160 have declared their support to leave the EU. The EU Referendum Act of 2015 makes the referendum advisory to parliament (it is advisory as opposed to binary as it is said). A core UK constitutional principle is Parliamentary supremacy. Actually this was one of the main slogans of the Leave campaign, to give Parliament control. Well, Parliament does and always did have control, and is hugely in favour of Remain.

The question is how to ignore the referendum result without creating a popular revolt and constitutional crisis. Here we can learn a lot from the ultimate political volte-face of recent years, the transformation of Mr Tsipras of Greece from EU basher to EU poodle. Greece held its referendum on a deal with its creditors in the summer of 2015 (summer seems to be the time for referenda all around). This was a defining political moment in Greece where the forces of independence and dignity and self-determination were pitted against the purveyors of a discredited status quo (this was the spin anyway). Does this ring a bell? The Greek people, in their naivety, bought this load of codswallop and obliged Mr Tsipras by handing him a decisive victory (it wasn’t even close, 61% voted to reject European ‘demands’).

What happened next is where this gets interesting. Mr Tsipras armed with a renewed mandate went to Brussels where he quickly, completely and utterly capitulated, accepting a much worse set of terms than the ones previously on offer. He is still in power. This tells us two things about the Brexit situation. First, the Europeans do not negotiate under duress. One can yell and blackmail, but this gets no reward from Brussels. In the same way that Tsipras was threatening Europe holding a gun to his own head, Leave is threatening national implosion to cajole Europe into something. This has not and cannot work. Second, it is possible to run a massively damaging fiesta (banks closed and capital controls were introduced due to Tsipra’s fun referendum idea), divide the nation, stir up age old hatreds, and then at the drop of a hat change your mind. People will go for it.

You must be thinking now the Brits are not as stupid as the Greeks. To that I am telling you not to worry. People who heard demonstrably false claims and chose to believe them are equally stupid to everyone else who goes through the same nationalistic, jingoistic, prideful experience. But things are not going the same way as Greece surely you may say, Cameron has already resigned, while Tsipras stayed on. Ok, I’ll give you that Cameron has more shame than Tsipras (or perhaps is less in control). But there is nothing to say that Parliament cannot ignore the EU referendum result the same way that the Greek government immediately forgot about its ‘victory’.

The issue as we said is how to back away from the referendum without this appearing like disregarding the popular will and solidifying the division in the country by introducing allegations of a coup. The answer is to exploit the disconnect between the ‘supposed’ will of the people as expressed in the referendum and the will of the people as expressed in May 2015. In other words, we can get out of this mess via a general election. People have pointed this out already, but here is how it could work without undermining democracy in the country. Parliament is being asked to respect the referendum, while having been elected on a different basis. Also, leaving the EU is not the same thing as nuking the economy by losing access to the single market. One could legitimate argue a series of things therefore: 1) You cannot expect the vast majority of Remain supporting MPs to vote for Brexit 2) You cannot expect a Remain supporting government (PM aside) to negotiate Brexit 3) You cannot assume that the people who voted for Brexit indeed support the hard core, hard landing that appears now to be the only option. This creates a legitimate demand for a new general election where parties reconfigure themselves along Brexit/Remain lines and a Leave government proposal is put to the people. They would never win enough MPs to actually form a Leave government and if they did, well good riddance to them.

Sounds plausible? Well, you could always drag things on, let people forget what happened this June and as they are suffering a recession caused by uncertainty say that you won’t go for Brexit anyway due to adverse economic impacts. But, a general election would be a better way of dealing with things and keeping discontent on track. Will people buy it? Yes, because it happens to be correct. Is disregarding the Referendum result offensive to the democratic process? Maybe, but it is more offensive to me that people voted for Brexit on the basis of lies, racism, bigotry and fantasy. The duty of Parliament is to preserve the nation, not to pander to the idiotic fantasies of people like Farage. I was hoping that the British were better than the Greeks. They are not.

On a side note, the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act prevents early elections unless a motion for an early general election is agreed either by at least two-thirds of the whole Parliament or without division; or  a motion of no confidence is passed and no alternative government is confirmed by the Commons within 14 days. Because of this we need the help of the Labour party. The Parliamentary Labour Party should remove Corbyn and work together with Remain MPs from other parties to trigger an election. Is this a God awful mess? Yes it is, but the alternative is years long economic mayhem and eventual Brexit. Time to stop pussyfooting around and come up with a viable solution. Time to instigate a ‘coup’.

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@iGlinavos

 

 

An Open Letter to Leave Voters

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Dear Leave voter, whatever is wrong with your life is not Europe’s fault. It is YOUR fault.

I am upset that immigration has become the central theme of this referendum. Of course this was predictable and indeed predicted. Very few politicians have made with conviction a case in favour of immigration for a long time, and certainly not the Labour party. The LibDems are in favour but with caveats. The Greens are the ones strongly and principally in favour, and this is why I have voted for them since the early 2000s.

Let me ask you this. Do you have a problem with immigration?

Do you see a lot of foreigners about? Does that bother you? In case you do, I am going to try to explain this without branding you a racist. Yes, it bothers me too that there are communities here that seem to disrespect key British values, but what are those values?

Ask a French person what France stands for and they will have no problem telling you. They will probably say things like secularism, equality of citizens, freedom and solidarity. Whether this works out in practice is something else, but the above are core to their identity.

What are considered key British values? I should know, I passed my life-in-the-uk test recently. These re listed as Democracy, the Rule of Law, Liberty, Tolerance, Participation in community life. Let me add a couple more: Meritocracy and Entrepreneurship. These don’t always work well, but they are defining to the character of the country.

While I may dislike certain people at certain times and disapprove of their choices, I am letting them be, because this is the British thing to do. This country does not ram its version of Britishness down people’s throats.

Yet this referendum is changing all that, by this sordid focus on migration. Do you dislike foreigners? Do you mind your Greek dentist? No, of course not. Do you mind your French lecturer? Not really (depending on marks). Do you mind your Polish plumber? No. the Bulgarian girl at the café? No. Who do you mind?

Do foreigners come here to steal your jobs? Do you need someone to blame your failings on? Is it the fault of the Poles you cannot get a council house? Is it the fault of the Greeks you cannot get a job and have your benefits cut? It is YOUR fault. Not because you are poor, or ill-educated, or unlucky. It is YOUR fault for voting in the Tories TWICE. It is your fault for empowering the people that screw you over and over and over again, because you are so gullible you have been made to believe it is the fault of ‘migrants’.

All this is YOUR fault.

Do not compound your problems by voting for the people that have, do and will screw you by giving THEM back control.

Voting LEAVE disrespects British values.

Vote Remain

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BVerfG and the ECB’s OMT programme

Today 21 June 2016 the BVerfG has affirmed the legality of Mario Draghi’s OMT programme. In doing so, it followed the lead of the CJEU. Nothing remarkable here, but two important issues arise:

  1. the BVerfG had initially insisted on a ban on debt restructures (no pari passu treatment of ECB held bonds in case of a sovereign default). This is absent from the final decision.
  2. the exclusion of Greece (or any other non-conforming/non-rescue programme participating Euro member state) is a prerequisite for the legality (no direct financing Treaty provisions) of ECB actions.

We learn this therefore: The ECB can do ‘whatever it takes’ so long as the Eurozone remains under strict supervision and conditionality. Otherwise the ECB is exposed to risk of loss that would be considered illegal.

This is not necessarily good news for Greece, or anyone planning ‘alternate’ paths (think Spanish election).

Read my background article on the BVerfG and the ECB’s OMT programme on the EU Law Analysis blog.

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@iGlinavos

The return of violence

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On 16 June 2016 Labour MP Jo Cox was brutally murdered outside her constituency surgery. A week before her birthday this well-loved woman with a young family was killed by a man in broad daylight.

I am shocked as well as the rest of the nation, and the world.

While the police has not made official announcements, there is a lot of speculation in the media that the attacker shouted “Britain First” during the attack. It seems that the attack was premeditated and sustained. It appears the attacker had far-right sympathies, if not actual connections.

Everyone is writing about this at the moment, so why am I joining in? I am writing this because I have a simple point to make.

Brexiteers are morally responsible for this crime.

They may not have ordered the attack. The attacker may not be one of them. They will certainly not benefit from it. Yet I blame them.

Should the Cox atrocity become a stick to beat Leavers with? Yes it should. Isn’t that unfair? No it isn’t.

A healthy political climate is a dynamic thing. Polarisation and anger, hatred and tension breed monsters. Monsters commit violence on the innocent. The murderer of Jo Cox is such a monster.

The EU referendum started as an intra-Tory battle and has turned out to be a fight for the moral heart of the nation. Let us remember of few things about the leadership of Leave.

  • They are enemies of human rights

Hard core Tories and the fascists of UKIP have been campaigning against human rights, your rights, for years. Human rights are not about evil Muslim hate clerics who cannot be deported. They are about YOUR life, your rights. Sadly one realises that they are threatened always too late. You do not want to be the hapless crab that cooks as the temperature increases slowly. The erosion of human rights will take away those of migrants and foreigners first. Then it will take yours.

  • They are enemies of the working class

The Tories who support Leave are the hard right elements of the party who care about their business buddies and personal interests. If you are an average Joe, they don’t care about you, never have never will. Nigel Farage is a posh fascist who plays funny to win over working class people he would not spit on, never mind share a beer with. Boris is even worse.

  • They are enemies of democracy

Hard core policies have failed at the ballot box time and time again. Yet they now achieve the aura of a movement, of momentum, of a majority through the trick of the referendum. This is not democracy, this is a coup.

I apologise to my friends and neighbours who support Leave. I know they are not racists and bigots. If they were, I would not be able (or allowed) to live amongst them. Yet the leadership of Leave are racists and bigots. The Labour elements in them are just deluded fantasists, the few that have joined Leave.

Let us return to the Cox atrocity and why I think it can be attributed to the poisoned political climate emanating from Leave.

If a Muslim man, in a bout of moronic fanaticism kills a couple of defenseless commuters shouting Allahu Akbar, would we think that he is a psychopath acting on his own? While he may well be a psychopath acting on his own, we will call him a jihadist and go bomb ISIS in retaliation (and we should).

If an English white man in a bout of moronic fanaticism kills a woman on the street shouting Britain First, would we think that he is a psychopath acting on his own? Yes, and he will be. Yet we do not want to blame the neo-nazi, fascist, rotten hatred-peddling ideology that informed his thinking. We will avoid at all costs to make the connection between such hatred and the angry anti-everything nationalism of Leave.

Is this the right thing to do?

Should you base your decision on the 23rd on the murder of Jo Cox?

I think you should.

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@iGlinavos

#ThisIsACoup UK Edition

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The British Right are staging a coup, under the cover of the EU Referendum.

Yes, you heard it here first. Those who failed at the ballot box in 2015 are now leading an organised insurrection against Parliament.

The only all-UK Brexit supporting party with Parliamentary representation is UKIP, with 1 MP and 12.6% of the national vote. Yes, not all Convervative MPs (the Tories won 36.9% of the vote and 131 of their MPs favour Leave, while 171 support Remain) are pro-European, but only one party ran on a completely anti-Europe, anti-immigration platform and was rewarded with 12.6% of the vote in May 2015. Nigel Farage the leader of this band of unpleasant bigots and racists is now a leading figure in #Leave, the campaign for Brexit. He is assisted by the ultimate political opportunist Boris Johnson, who sees a chance to steal the leadership of the governing party from hapless Cameron, who was shortsighted enough to call this referendum.

Lets set some things straight for the record. Brexit is 100% economically damaging. The only reason why people are seriously considering it is because they are concerned about immigration, and Leave offers an avenue to express these (largely unfounded and irrational) concerns. The price to pay for restricting European immigration however is losing access to the Single Market, as has been made perfectly clear by everyone in Europe. Brexit means significant, long term financial harm. People may be hopeful and look fondly upon pleasant sounding fairy-tales, but the result is the same. Brexit will mean a poorer Britain for a very long time.

Nonetheless, Brexiteers seem to have bamboozled enough voters, if you believe the polls, to stand a chance of winning. Their win may not take the country outside the EU necessarily (recent statements by the Leave camp try to explain how long-winded the process of leaving will be, casting doubt on their desire to actually achieve it). What it will manage however is to undo the democratically expressed wishes of the British people in the May 2015 election. A Leave win will precipitate a takeover of the leadership of the Conservatives by Brexiteers and opportunists like Boris who never enjoyed any significant support in the ballot box. A Leave win will allow the UKIP fanatics of Farage to dictate policy with 1 MP to the other 649. My argument here is that most of the 150 MPs who support Brexit post-election would have struggled to get elected on such a platform in 2015.
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This is not a democratic outcome, this is a coup. Do not let it happen.

Vote #Remain

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Brexit and the garden fairies of Leave

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People do like a bit of a fairy-tale. Hope sells well. We all drink diet coke thinking it won’t make us fat, we buy creams that will make us younger, toothpastes that will turn us American. It’s all pie in the sky, but we feel better doing it and why not?

When in the summer of 2015 Greek PM Tsipras and his merry band of bandits announced a referendum on the supposed acceptance of a non-available foreign language “offer” that was not even on the table, we all thought that the people would vote against him due to the sheer stupidity of the exercise. Yet more than 60% supported this debasing of democratic consultation. Why?

The reason Greeks voted OXI is that they wanted to believe a fairy-tale of resistance, hope, empowerment. On the night of the referendum they danced in the streets while the world thought they had just signed their death warrant. The NAI side had failed to project a positive message.

While I watched the snake oil peddlers of Leave yesterday on the ITV debate I became convinced they will prevail for the same reasons Tsipras prevailed in the Greferendum: they sell hope.

“Take back control” sounds appealing to a population bombarded with decades of EU demonising. The last person to successfully maintain a pro-Europe stance was Tony Blair, and we all know what people think of him. People don’t care about data or facts and would not believe the real ones anyway. People want to react to self-imposed austerity by blaming someone other than themselves (for voting-in the Tories, twice). They want to let off steam about immigration (rightly or wrongly). They want to stick it to the establishment which happens to support Remain.

And what about Remain? Why are they doing such a terrible job demolishing the Leave fantasy? I predicted this in September already. Most Remain supporters (yours truly included) don’t much like the EU. Remain cannot articulate a positive message because one is difficult to find. Yes, Europe has kept us from killing each other (within the EU boundaries) for a long time. Yes, even the “neoliberal” EU is less neoliberal than the Tories. But Europe has betrayed its values in the migration crisis, botched its response to the Eurozone crisis and is committed to both enlargement AND deepening that no one wants. The Eurozone can only survive via greater union and this has consequences on the wider EU.

I am voting Remain because I believe Brexit is bad for the nation, not because the EU is great. The economic argument is 100% against Leave. Restricting migration is the only possible benefit (for those who consider EU migration a problem – and I am not one of them), but at a great cost in terms of growth, wealth and jobs.

The “take back control” mantra is false. Britain will not get more power to do anything outside the EU. If anything, everything will become more challenging. Even Obama says so. The additional problem is who will be getting control. Do Leave supporters realise that they are handing the keys to the most reactionary parts of the British right? Hard core Tories seeking to privatize everything. The racist bigots of UKIP. Take control means the hard right taking over the Conservative Party.

Do Leave supporters really believe the Tories care about the NHS or that £350 trillion per minute (or whatever) is sent to the EU? No, but it does not matter. They are buying hope of something new, for the first time after the end of the Blair era. I was here in 1997 when Labour won. There was a sense of excitement about the land, Leave is offering people this. Pie in the sky it may be, but it will win.

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@iGlinavos