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Follow Share Share Email. With such technologies increasingly available it is no longer restricted to big players. SMEs have no real trouble utilising trade preferences through such software.

As much as the Brexiteers became dinosaurs over the course of their twenty year long campaign, the trade wonkocracy, resistant to any ideas they didn't invent, will similarly find themselves clinging on to obsolete mantras as the world of commerce bypasses them completely.

Formal trade accords between nations will be playing catch up with technologies light years ahead of the game, which they don't understand and don't anticipate for another decade - when much of it is already here and beyond the experimental stage.

In respect of that, the EU is the laggard, only just coming round to the potential of integrated supply chain technologies which could very will render customs unions and certain aspects of trade deals obsolete.

To a large extent, with the emergence of global standards, some nearly half a century old, trade in goods can look after itself.

The focus should now be looking toward digital barriers to trade which is a far more complex and difficult nut to crack where in some regards we are going backwards.

We started out with a world wide web, but with regional and national regulators now imposing their own agendas on to internet governance, mindful of intellectual property concerns and security threats, we are increasingly seeing the regionalisation of the internet - where combined with the re-emergence of near shoring , globalisation, as we have known it, is going into reverse.

The next battles around protectionism will be rules on data transfers and consumer data protection. Being that the media can't cope with anything more sophisticated than party political talking points in respect of trade, and with a Tory party in the grip of archaic IEA dogma, believing we can do a quick and dirty trade deal with the EU, we are suffering from bicycle shed syndrome on a massive scale.

Ten years from now we'll still be bickering about "hormone beef", no closer to a comprehensive US trade deal, while the major advances bypass us entirely.

As detailed elsewhere on this blog, there is no reason why the UK should be a down and out after Brexit.

We may lose clout but we gain agility, and by way of coordinating ad hoc alliances in global regulatory forums we can be ahead of the game, and if we gang up on the EU we have more chance of reforming onerous GDPR rules than we ever did as a member.

Tackling that on an international level should be a trade priority for the UK but that requires us to wake up to the games in play and recognise there is more going on than the same old tired arguments about food standards - many of which are decades old and no closer to a resolution.

This is where the debate has been boxed in by way of our obsession with FTAs, believing them to be the only instrument by which we advance our agendas and exert our influence.

In this game, first mover advantage and ownership of IP puts you in pole position, and there is no reason why, if the UK overhauls its obese and lethargic academic research sector, the UK cannot be a leader and a player.

Instead of sucking on the EU teat, Brexit presents an opportunity for UK research to think globally in the national interest rather than advancing EU political agendas.

We can get our heads back in the game. As it looks right now, though, with only a shallow collective understanding of trade, the UK is in for a serious shock to the system.

It won't take very long to realise that a quick and dirty deal with the EU doesn't cut it and that tariffs are only a bit part of the issue.

Only then do I see the UK getting its skates on. I have often remarked how the UK would have to re-learn the art of statecraft but we're going to have to learn the hard way.

Our ignorance will make Brexit cost more than it ever needed to. Friday, 29 November The big switch off.

This isn't the first manifestation either. Last week we had two announcements; the abolition of hospital parking charges and an Australian points based immigration system - both intellectually barren ideas stolen directly from Ukip.

This has to be viewed in the context of the next stages of Brexit in respect of the future relationship where it seems that Johnson will seek a quick and dirty deal in order to meet the deadline which will see us unceremoniously ripped out of the single market with economic impacts comparable with no deal at all.

We will then spend the next decade trying to rebuild a comprehensive relationship from the ground up from a far weaker position.

Let's call this what it is. This is a crap Brexit. It is without vision, without ambition and lacking any serious purpose. We're doing Brexit for its own sake - to say that we've left - not to actually do anything.

This is not a stepping stone. It's an administrative chore. There is no thought to our place in the world, how we will usefully exercise sovereignty or how we will make our democracy mean something.

What could and should have been a transformative event in our history will end up an electoral exercise carried out by the uninterested for short term political gain resulting in a recession and decade of stagnation.

We're going to be a sad, broken little country with asinine politics incapable of delivering for the people it serves. But then I don't see this going any other way.

If Johnson doesn't win then we'll have our kangarendum, we'll sweep Brexit under the carpet and our politicians will continue to toil in the Westminster ideas desert, oblivious as ever to anything outside of it, only they're let off the hook from having to engage in any serious undertakings like trade and constitutional reform.

We'll still end up a sad, broken, inward looking little country - only one that couldn't even leave the EU. I don't know which is worse.

Or rather I do. Remaining is worse because it will be a resignation to the fact that we can't be a self-governing country because we don't have a politics capable of rising to the occasion.

The baked-in mediocrity of centrist managerialism is the best we can ever hope for while social climbers and narcissists collect the spoils.

There is then no hope at all and we may as well give up on politics completely. For a long time I've felt like we're just marking time before something big hits that brings it all crashing down on us.

It might as well be Brexit. Had there been a plan and an intellectual foundation, this could have been a turning point, arresting the decline, injecting new energy into our politics.

Instead we'll carry on being self-absorbed and inward looking, with politics as an entertainment indulgence while all else crumbles.

Here I'm done blaming the politicians and media, as crap as they are. The real problem is us. We're so easily bought off.

Plenty of Brexiters seem happy with an "Australian based points system" and whatever other ideas plucked from the Ukip tombola.

We're the ones lacking in ambition and guile. We seem entirely happy to completely upturn the post-war settlement just so we can subsidise failing steel factories in the regions.

We get the crap we deserve. It's going to take more than Brexit before we get serious as a nation. Thursday, 28 November Damned either way.

This has got to be the first general election where I've gone out of my way to avoid knowing anything about it. That is not to say there are no important issues to concern ourselves with.

Rather our media can only cope with subjects on a superficial level, confining themselves to a handful of half-understood issues while feeding into a national media narrative that has very little bearing on the real world.

The latest detailed polling hits home how futile it is. Only a fraction of seats are expected to change hands and that will depend on the mood of just a few thousand swing voters.

The decider in this election will not be whether the nation prefers one manifesto over the other, rather everything will depend on whether those swing voters can be bothered to go out and vote on a rainy December day.

With it now looking like a stonking Conservative majority win, there may be a great deal of complacency which could still deliver another hung parliament.

But between now and election day there is nothing much to take seriously. This, though, is a tawdry fiction.

Modern trade treaties touch on everything from fishing through to intellectual property, labour standards, data protection and species protection.

They include measures to facilitate trade in services such as mutual recognition of qualifications and work visas. The Tories seem to think there's a shortcut that means we can put it all behind us.

Supposing we bought into the Conservative fiction that a quick free trade deal will do, the absence of a comprehensive trade relationship means the UK will be excluded from several lucrative markets — not least airline services.

A recession then looks unavoidable. By then it will be glaringly apparent that we need more than just a "free trade deal". Whether we spend the next five to seven years negotiating a comprehensive trade and cooperation treaty with the EU within the framework of the transition, or whether we cobble together a wafer thin deal on tariffs and customs, the ramifications are sure to be massive and a central concern of government for the next decade to come.

Whatever spending plans promised by politicians on all sides, they are simply not credible when factoring in the enormous ramifications of Brexit. For all that pundits warn of the dangers of a borrow and spend Labour party, leaving the single market is going to have unpredictable and incalculable effects.

Of itself that is a major worry, but of equal concern is the complete absence of a realistic mitigation strategy. The Conservative Party have invested their hopes in a deal with the USA but this comes nowhere close to addressing the gaping policy gap.

This is the central issue that's been shunted to the fringes, not least by the Labour party who would prefer not to talk about Brexit at all in order to avoid having a conversation about their own credibility deficit.

The issue is an open goal for Labour to exploit but their intellectual lethargy matches that of the Tories. This election should be a full and frank debate on the options before us, but instead, bored rigid by Brexit, neither the public nor the politicians are engaging, instead choosing to treat the election as light entertainment.

A matter of pivotal national importance has been kicked into the long grass. This leads me to conclude that our politics and our media is not actually capable of engaging on a grown-up level.

They will coast into the next major crisis having failed to anticipate the ambushes awaiting us. Prior to Brexit, elections followed a familiar pattern without much to choose from between the respective parties, with policy announcements safely confined within parameters defined by Brussels with no real major undertakings on the horizon.

It suited the kind of retail politics we are used to. Now, though, we have a mammoth political engineering task ahead of us with politicians manifestly ill-prepared and ill-equipped.

Further down the drain. As before they are split into sectors from air travel to medicinal products. If acknowledged they would likely dispel a great many of the misapprehension of Tory Brexiteers.

Every notice carries the same health warning:. Were that anybody were actually interested in the details there's enough set out in these notices to do a detailed impact analysis just on the basis of what happens in law, but with Corona absorbing the entire runtime of the media and the public, the only people still with their heads in the game are the headbangers and the policy wonks who have nothing at all new to say - and in many instances have regressed.

The upshot of that particular health warning is that the mish mash of misunderstood concepts the Tories believe are possible inside an FTA are, in fact, not possible.

This is nothing at all new to anyone who was paying attention but it's good to have it spelled out in black and white. The functioning of the EU system is not up for negotiation - and certainly not to accommodate the UK.

Corona has no bearing on it. In more practical terms, so far as supply chains go, there is not a lot of functional difference between an FTA and no deal at all, and thus, if we are resigned to leaving the single market the "no deal" debate loses some of its urgency.

There is also that small matter of the global pandemic. With Airbus facing a grave and possibly existential crisis, and Ford reporting slumping revenues, Brexit is looking like a sideshow.

Corona's disruptive impact on supply chains is a global concern. As regards to extending the transition, I have argued that it makes more sense to defer, but to a point, Michael Gove is quite correct.

It is entirely possible to conclude a threadbare FTA in a short time, and if this government doesn't see the need for a comprehensive deal, and is determined to inflict the maximum possible disruption, then it scarcely matters.

Politically it is easier to mask the effects while Corona is running hot. This to me is an absolutely foolish move that actually makes this Brexit worse than the original no deal in that we have a dog's dinner of a withdrawal agreement to contend with where Johnson has practically handed Northern Ireland to the EU.

If there was a point in a withdrawal agreement it was to buy time to develop a working relationship with the EU but since we're rushing it through and the government has no intention of working toward a viable outcome, we might as well not have bothered at all.

What follows will be a torrent of propaganda, probably from the IEA shop on how Corona underscored the need for absolute regulatory sovereignty, glossing over the derogations the EU has already made, largely using Corona as a smokescreen to deregulate the way they have always wanted to - still misunderstanding the utility and value of regulation.

They're still caught up in their decades old "red tape" narrative. With so much else going on I don't see there being much in the way of political resistance.

The Brexit saga was already exhausted with new twists providing only morsels of entertainment for the media whose audiences are bored stiff of it all after four years of intense and ill-natured bickering.

The continuity remain campaign have even pivoted to become an anti-Boris movement, more concerned with the mismanagement of Corona - but as usual getting distracted by the trivia and having no sense of proportion.

Beyond Corona, it is difficult to imagine what the trade landscape then looks like. The price of oil provides some easement, but trade is sure to be more political than it has been in recent years with food and biosecurity taking centre stage and economic nationalism surging back.

Corona will have brought about a number of changes in consumer behaviour, some of which will be here to stay. Buying locally produced goods may just become a necessity since shipping lines are on the brink of collapse.

Meanwhile, we are going to miss a lucrative export market place in our own backyard. As it happens, there is every reason to believe we won't strike a deal with the EU.

They UK red lines are too out of kilter with the EU's trade methodology. The UK is resistant to level playing field instruments, failing to comprehend that as far as the EU is concerned, a level playing field is a the whole point of FTAs which are their principal instrument of regulatory hegemony and soft power.

Between that and the gulf that exists on fishing, the Tories have the pretext for a walkout that will be hugely popular.

The European question, therefore, will remain unresolved. No deal cannot stay no deal. I would like to think that sooner or later the criminal negligence in their handling of Corona, and the botched exit from the EU will cost them later down the line.

For the moment, the unpopularity of the media is giving the Tories a free ride, which they have skilfully weaponised by picking fights with A-list lobby hacks.

It works for Trump and it will work here. The media is not doing itself any favours. As regards to anything like coherent opposition, Keir Starmer brings no remedy to Labour's woes.

Aside from being wooden and having all the charisma of septic tank, Labour still has an irreconcilable identity crisis to fathom while its factional infighting prevents Starmer from doing anything useful.

He's no Blair and he's not even a Kinnock. But then, there is a deeper crisis in that they've forgotten how to effectively oppose. They take their agenda from the media and have no idea how to usefully exploit the mistakes made by Johnson.

For the time being government is just something that is done to us where public consent doesn't really come into it.

There is a public debate of a sort but it doesn't influence anything. We simply have to endure a feral government with no means of correction until the next general election, where, as ever, the options will be unpalatable, unedifying and fatally uninspiring.

Meanwhile the media gets worse so the government remains more popular than it has any right to be. I've been writing solidly about politics for five years now.

I got into it with the hope that we could change things, arrest the decline and give government the overhaul it desperately needs.

I'm starting to think it may not be possible. We are ebbing further away from democracy all the time. It;s nothing to do with Corona either. Public debate focuses on the leader and all power gravitates to the centre.

The media reinforces it by making the Prime Minister the central focus - the prism through which all events must be viewed.

Politics has died a death and not even Brexit managed to resurrect it while Corona just makes it more tribal than ever. Since Margaret Thatcher, each government has been more banal than the last as they choose to engage the public via the media.

Politicians become bland sloganeers - evasive, dishonest and incurious. We have become so accustomed to manufactured scandal that real scandal no longer rates so conduct in politics declines.

There is no price to pay for failure and no consequence for malfeasance. Since the public have been politically castrated they no longer care.

Politics is now entertainment and they wouldn't have it any other way. I've long felt that the public would have to feel tangible consequences for political indifference before they got angry.

We were at least close to that with Brexit but with Corona being a cover all smokescreen we are even robbed of that. Government can continue to evade responsibility and people are all to happy to make excuses for it.

I don't know how bad it has to get but it seems the answer is "worse than this". As if it wasn't depressing enough already.

Monday, 27 April Corona: behind the learning curve. Obviously the UK and NZ are massively different countries with different topography, demographics and climate, and NZ is not host to a global city like London.

The chances of containing it outright were slim. But had we gone back to first principles we might well have contained it outside of the capital and lockdown measures outside of cities may not have been necessary.

This government has made every avoidable mistake in the book. We now prepare for the second act when the first was treated as a dress rehearsal.

There's no question about it. This government is incompetent. As explored previously this is the culmination of decades of maladministration, but cucually there is a talent drought at the top of government and no institutional knowledge of how to meet a biosecurity threat of this magnitude.

It is now playing catch up, weeks behind the learning curve, and needlessly killing people as it goes. This government has enjoyed a certain immunity in the polls thanks to the self-immolation of the opposition, and with the public largely not informed about the mechanics of trade, Johnson's Brexit bloviation has gone largely unpunished.

The rap sheet on Corona, though, is growing longer by the day. The right has it that the media has misread the mood of the nation, and perhaps it did initially, but this is like driving through plague of locusts.

Eventually the windscreen is covered, the wipers jammed, and the radiator gets gummed up. Tory drones can deflect and defuse, but the sheer ineptitude of Johnson's administration will soon overwhelm even their capacity for self-deception.

There has to be a political price - and I suspect we shall not have to wait long to see it. A model for the future?

Sunday, 26 April A milestone on the long road of British political decline. I know how I would go about it being that I have taken the time to explore trade and trade treaties in depth, but these questions are not for me to answer.

I can't speak for Brexiteers because they would vehemently disagree with anything I proposed. They need to answer these questions and be judged on their answers or the absence thereof.

At no point are we going to get coherent answers. It might be good to know from Richard Tice how we are to become "self-sufficient" in agriculture while unilaterally trashing our trade defences.

How does the "buy British" shtick live side by side with being a "global free trade champion"? And on that subject, how do they square calling for the abolition of the World Health Organisation when it is integral to the functioning of the four main WTO agreements?

Course we know the answer to all this. There is no consistency or coherence to be gleaned from their issue illiterate ranting, and the way in which they have so effortlessly turned from no-dealers to Coronavirus "it's just the flu" truthers tells you all you need to know.

This is pure populism at work that pays no regard to facts. It's a malcontent movement of wreckers all too happy to destroy but offer nothing n terms of vision or what comes after.

The great pity of all this is that Brexit could have been a pivot point for British politics; an opportunity to convert the Brexit momentum into real and lasting democratic change.

But in the end, they weren't interested in that. They are entirely happy with the elected dictatorship system just so long as it's their dictator and Boris Johnson is enough to placate them.

That's the height of their limited ambition. They don't care what this government actually does just so long as it keeps grunting the right noises.

The only outcome it will be measured by is if Brexit is Brexity enough for them. And, of course, no Brexit short of no deal will ever be enough.

There's no getting round it. Brexiteers are pretty shitty people and the leaders they have chosen to speak for them are thick as they come.

They not even aware of their own inconsistencies let alone capable of intellectually addressing them. They've turned it into a giant popularity contest something they can win with ease and by way of having influence over the agenda, but no actual power, they never have to take responsibility for what happens, so they feel no real obligation to supply credible answers.

Ultimately the Tories will have to carry the can. But with Brexit now eclipsed by Corona, there is no day of vindication for anyone, least of all me.

Any layoffs at Airbus or Rolls Royce will be put squarely at the feet of Corona. The industry will gradually rebuild but not with the UK in the picture.

Brits will become poorer than before without ever realising what was done to them. Brexiteers will argue that Corona has weakened the EU's trade clout, which to a point is true.

The same cohesive bloc will not reassert itself for some time, if ever, but for as long as the EU does exist and in my view it will survive it calls the shots for the continent and is a power with which we must contend.

Looking at it in the wider context, we are sure to see a pivot away from China, accelerating the near-shoring trend, meaning that our regional markets become all the more important.

But then, as this blog has long argued, it won't be the Tories who define the longer term relationship with the EU. Any FTA is just an empty bucket to be filled at a later date.

With Tories may get their empty bucket but it is for others to fill it, and fill it they will full of obligations and commitments. This government will be judged on its performance during the Corona crisis and public opinion gradually is turning against them , and it will be for others to decide how we climb out of the Corona slump and the shape of our relationship with the EU.

The grunters will have had their day and squandered their opportunities. With the Tories presiding over a Corona shambles, having infected care homes directly from hospitals, and with questions still to answer over their inaction in the early days, if the opposition gets their act together, there is no end of material to smack the government with at a time when events have surpassed the minuscule abilities of the prime minister.

Add to that a bungled Brexit that sees us cut off from our most important export market, and a serious talent drought at the top of government, Johnson will fall in disgrace.

For all that, I still see nothing in the EU that persuades me we should wish to be members, Its lacklustre response to Corona reveals it to be the creaking and dysfunctional mess we always said it was, but Brexit is no longer a turning point.

It's just another milestone on the long road of British political decline. Statecraft is dead - and having squandered the opportunities Brexit afforded us, we are likely looking at a slow plod toward associate membership with little opposition in the country thanks to the populists.

They are not as popular as they think. Much in the future now depends on the grim daily increment of Corona fatalities.

There is an emerging public mood that we have seen the end of the beginning and can look forward to resuming a mode of normality in the not too distant future.

At that point, the "it's just the flu" Brexit brigade will have to account for themselves. They can perhaps hide from the trade impacts but the body count is one statistic they can't walk away from.

Thursday, 23 April The rule of groupthink. The populist grunters on Twitter are trotting out the line that lockdowns don't work, should be lifted as soon as possible and herd immunity is the only way to get through this.

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Report this obituary. Every notice carries the same health warning:. Were that anybody were actually interested in the details there's enough set out in these notices to do a detailed impact analysis just on the basis of what happens in law, but with Corona absorbing the entire runtime of the media and the public, the only people still with their heads in the game are the headbangers and the policy wonks who have nothing at all new to say - and in many instances have regressed.

The upshot of that particular health warning is that the mish mash of misunderstood concepts the Tories believe are possible inside an FTA are, in fact, not possible.

This is nothing at all new to anyone who was paying attention but it's good to have it spelled out in black and white. The functioning of the EU system is not up for negotiation - and certainly not to accommodate the UK.

Corona has no bearing on it. In more practical terms, so far as supply chains go, there is not a lot of functional difference between an FTA and no deal at all, and thus, if we are resigned to leaving the single market the "no deal" debate loses some of its urgency.

There is also that small matter of the global pandemic. With Airbus facing a grave and possibly existential crisis, and Ford reporting slumping revenues, Brexit is looking like a sideshow.

Corona's disruptive impact on supply chains is a global concern. As regards to extending the transition, I have argued that it makes more sense to defer, but to a point, Michael Gove is quite correct.

It is entirely possible to conclude a threadbare FTA in a short time, and if this government doesn't see the need for a comprehensive deal, and is determined to inflict the maximum possible disruption, then it scarcely matters.

Politically it is easier to mask the effects while Corona is running hot. This to me is an absolutely foolish move that actually makes this Brexit worse than the original no deal in that we have a dog's dinner of a withdrawal agreement to contend with where Johnson has practically handed Northern Ireland to the EU.

If there was a point in a withdrawal agreement it was to buy time to develop a working relationship with the EU but since we're rushing it through and the government has no intention of working toward a viable outcome, we might as well not have bothered at all.

What follows will be a torrent of propaganda, probably from the IEA shop on how Corona underscored the need for absolute regulatory sovereignty, glossing over the derogations the EU has already made, largely using Corona as a smokescreen to deregulate the way they have always wanted to - still misunderstanding the utility and value of regulation.

They're still caught up in their decades old "red tape" narrative. With so much else going on I don't see there being much in the way of political resistance.

The Brexit saga was already exhausted with new twists providing only morsels of entertainment for the media whose audiences are bored stiff of it all after four years of intense and ill-natured bickering.

The continuity remain campaign have even pivoted to become an anti-Boris movement, more concerned with the mismanagement of Corona - but as usual getting distracted by the trivia and having no sense of proportion.

Beyond Corona, it is difficult to imagine what the trade landscape then looks like. The price of oil provides some easement, but trade is sure to be more political than it has been in recent years with food and biosecurity taking centre stage and economic nationalism surging back.

Corona will have brought about a number of changes in consumer behaviour, some of which will be here to stay. Buying locally produced goods may just become a necessity since shipping lines are on the brink of collapse.

Meanwhile, we are going to miss a lucrative export market place in our own backyard. As it happens, there is every reason to believe we won't strike a deal with the EU.

They UK red lines are too out of kilter with the EU's trade methodology. The UK is resistant to level playing field instruments, failing to comprehend that as far as the EU is concerned, a level playing field is a the whole point of FTAs which are their principal instrument of regulatory hegemony and soft power.

Between that and the gulf that exists on fishing, the Tories have the pretext for a walkout that will be hugely popular. The European question, therefore, will remain unresolved.

No deal cannot stay no deal. I would like to think that sooner or later the criminal negligence in their handling of Corona, and the botched exit from the EU will cost them later down the line.

For the moment, the unpopularity of the media is giving the Tories a free ride, which they have skilfully weaponised by picking fights with A-list lobby hacks.

It works for Trump and it will work here. The media is not doing itself any favours. As regards to anything like coherent opposition, Keir Starmer brings no remedy to Labour's woes.

Aside from being wooden and having all the charisma of septic tank, Labour still has an irreconcilable identity crisis to fathom while its factional infighting prevents Starmer from doing anything useful.

He's no Blair and he's not even a Kinnock. But then, there is a deeper crisis in that they've forgotten how to effectively oppose. They take their agenda from the media and have no idea how to usefully exploit the mistakes made by Johnson.

For the time being government is just something that is done to us where public consent doesn't really come into it.

There is a public debate of a sort but it doesn't influence anything. We simply have to endure a feral government with no means of correction until the next general election, where, as ever, the options will be unpalatable, unedifying and fatally uninspiring.

Meanwhile the media gets worse so the government remains more popular than it has any right to be.

I've been writing solidly about politics for five years now. I got into it with the hope that we could change things, arrest the decline and give government the overhaul it desperately needs.

I'm starting to think it may not be possible. We are ebbing further away from democracy all the time. It;s nothing to do with Corona either. Public debate focuses on the leader and all power gravitates to the centre.

The media reinforces it by making the Prime Minister the central focus - the prism through which all events must be viewed. Politics has died a death and not even Brexit managed to resurrect it while Corona just makes it more tribal than ever.

Since Margaret Thatcher, each government has been more banal than the last as they choose to engage the public via the media.

Politicians become bland sloganeers - evasive, dishonest and incurious. We have become so accustomed to manufactured scandal that real scandal no longer rates so conduct in politics declines.

There is no price to pay for failure and no consequence for malfeasance. Since the public have been politically castrated they no longer care.

Politics is now entertainment and they wouldn't have it any other way. I've long felt that the public would have to feel tangible consequences for political indifference before they got angry.

We were at least close to that with Brexit but with Corona being a cover all smokescreen we are even robbed of that.

Government can continue to evade responsibility and people are all to happy to make excuses for it. I don't know how bad it has to get but it seems the answer is "worse than this".

As if it wasn't depressing enough already. Monday, 27 April Corona: behind the learning curve. Obviously the UK and NZ are massively different countries with different topography, demographics and climate, and NZ is not host to a global city like London.

The chances of containing it outright were slim. But had we gone back to first principles we might well have contained it outside of the capital and lockdown measures outside of cities may not have been necessary.

This government has made every avoidable mistake in the book. We now prepare for the second act when the first was treated as a dress rehearsal. There's no question about it.

This government is incompetent. As explored previously this is the culmination of decades of maladministration, but cucually there is a talent drought at the top of government and no institutional knowledge of how to meet a biosecurity threat of this magnitude.

It is now playing catch up, weeks behind the learning curve, and needlessly killing people as it goes.

This government has enjoyed a certain immunity in the polls thanks to the self-immolation of the opposition, and with the public largely not informed about the mechanics of trade, Johnson's Brexit bloviation has gone largely unpunished.

The rap sheet on Corona, though, is growing longer by the day. The right has it that the media has misread the mood of the nation, and perhaps it did initially, but this is like driving through plague of locusts.

Eventually the windscreen is covered, the wipers jammed, and the radiator gets gummed up. Tory drones can deflect and defuse, but the sheer ineptitude of Johnson's administration will soon overwhelm even their capacity for self-deception.

There has to be a political price - and I suspect we shall not have to wait long to see it. A model for the future? Sunday, 26 April A milestone on the long road of British political decline.

I know how I would go about it being that I have taken the time to explore trade and trade treaties in depth, but these questions are not for me to answer.

I can't speak for Brexiteers because they would vehemently disagree with anything I proposed. They need to answer these questions and be judged on their answers or the absence thereof.

At no point are we going to get coherent answers. It might be good to know from Richard Tice how we are to become "self-sufficient" in agriculture while unilaterally trashing our trade defences.

How does the "buy British" shtick live side by side with being a "global free trade champion"? And on that subject, how do they square calling for the abolition of the World Health Organisation when it is integral to the functioning of the four main WTO agreements?

Course we know the answer to all this. There is no consistency or coherence to be gleaned from their issue illiterate ranting, and the way in which they have so effortlessly turned from no-dealers to Coronavirus "it's just the flu" truthers tells you all you need to know.

This is pure populism at work that pays no regard to facts. It's a malcontent movement of wreckers all too happy to destroy but offer nothing n terms of vision or what comes after.

The great pity of all this is that Brexit could have been a pivot point for British politics; an opportunity to convert the Brexit momentum into real and lasting democratic change.

But in the end, they weren't interested in that. They are entirely happy with the elected dictatorship system just so long as it's their dictator and Boris Johnson is enough to placate them.

That's the height of their limited ambition. They don't care what this government actually does just so long as it keeps grunting the right noises.

The only outcome it will be measured by is if Brexit is Brexity enough for them. And, of course, no Brexit short of no deal will ever be enough.

There's no getting round it. Brexiteers are pretty shitty people and the leaders they have chosen to speak for them are thick as they come. They not even aware of their own inconsistencies let alone capable of intellectually addressing them.

They've turned it into a giant popularity contest something they can win with ease and by way of having influence over the agenda, but no actual power, they never have to take responsibility for what happens, so they feel no real obligation to supply credible answers.

Ultimately the Tories will have to carry the can. But with Brexit now eclipsed by Corona, there is no day of vindication for anyone, least of all me.

Any layoffs at Airbus or Rolls Royce will be put squarely at the feet of Corona. The industry will gradually rebuild but not with the UK in the picture.

Brits will become poorer than before without ever realising what was done to them. Brexiteers will argue that Corona has weakened the EU's trade clout, which to a point is true.

The same cohesive bloc will not reassert itself for some time, if ever, but for as long as the EU does exist and in my view it will survive it calls the shots for the continent and is a power with which we must contend.

Looking at it in the wider context, we are sure to see a pivot away from China, accelerating the near-shoring trend, meaning that our regional markets become all the more important.

But then, as this blog has long argued, it won't be the Tories who define the longer term relationship with the EU.

Any FTA is just an empty bucket to be filled at a later date. With Tories may get their empty bucket but it is for others to fill it, and fill it they will full of obligations and commitments.

This government will be judged on its performance during the Corona crisis and public opinion gradually is turning against them , and it will be for others to decide how we climb out of the Corona slump and the shape of our relationship with the EU.

The grunters will have had their day and squandered their opportunities. With the Tories presiding over a Corona shambles, having infected care homes directly from hospitals, and with questions still to answer over their inaction in the early days, if the opposition gets their act together, there is no end of material to smack the government with at a time when events have surpassed the minuscule abilities of the prime minister.

Add to that a bungled Brexit that sees us cut off from our most important export market, and a serious talent drought at the top of government, Johnson will fall in disgrace.

For all that, I still see nothing in the EU that persuades me we should wish to be members, Its lacklustre response to Corona reveals it to be the creaking and dysfunctional mess we always said it was, but Brexit is no longer a turning point.

It's just another milestone on the long road of British political decline. Statecraft is dead - and having squandered the opportunities Brexit afforded us, we are likely looking at a slow plod toward associate membership with little opposition in the country thanks to the populists.

They are not as popular as they think. Much in the future now depends on the grim daily increment of Corona fatalities. There is an emerging public mood that we have seen the end of the beginning and can look forward to resuming a mode of normality in the not too distant future.

At that point, the "it's just the flu" Brexit brigade will have to account for themselves. They can perhaps hide from the trade impacts but the body count is one statistic they can't walk away from.

Thursday, 23 April The rule of groupthink. The populist grunters on Twitter are trotting out the line that lockdowns don't work, should be lifted as soon as possible and herd immunity is the only way to get through this.

As ever they are not thinking. Before the government officially announced a series of measures over a number of days, a number of large venues were cancelling events while universities were already taking unilateral decisions to draw down face to face teaching.

At this point we didn't know much about the virus: how deadly or how infectious and had no reliable data and to a large extent we still don't.

Had there not been a lockdown the media would have been screaming while employees would be bombarded with requests for leave as individuals took their own precautions.

Any company choosing to remain open would have major PR problems and possibly even face vigilante attacks. No British government could be seen to be sitting on its hands as the death toll shot up which was always going to be severe in a city like London.

Even the suggestion of herd immunity caused a wave of revulsion as people largely took it to mean what the government meant, ie let everyone catch it.

Within a couple of weeks we'd be seeing mass panic, especially since the government had elected not to do contact tracing.

This mass panic would see a sizable proportion of the public going into voluntary lockdown, which of itself whacks profit margins.

Then you'd have a rapidly overrun NHS adding to that panic where schools would close of their own volition, taking parents out of the workplace, and pretty soon you have half the country in self-isolation.

Anyone still defying the public mood would then be facing accusations of putting profit before safety, which would have the unions up in arms while the opposition has a field day.

Not putting some form of lockdown in place is not politically viable. The government had to do it just to bring a sense of uniformity and coherence, slowing the spread somewhat, buying time to collect data, understand the issues and formulate a longer term strategy.

Without that coherence it becomes as much a public order issue as it is a health issue. As regards to herd immunity without a vaccine, with a virus we still don't fully understand, with all manner of lasting after effects, such a policy is highly reckless.

So what about Sweden? Every country needs its own approach befitting its culture. We have to look at how people behave in each set of circumstances.

In any case, demographics, population density and topography make direct statistical comparisons meaningless and even inside the UK the figures are distorted by way of the huge cultural and economic disparities between London and the regions.

As regards to the more liberal approach in Sweden, the jury is still out, but they are leaving it to chance. Sweden is likely to be the beneficiary of measures taken by its immediate neighbours.

As to lifting the lockdown as soon as possible, that will likely see a second surge requiring further lockdowns, unless we get good at containment by way of contact tracing and selective quarantines.

This lockdown needs to last as long as it takes to deploy and refine a test and trace regime that has never before been attempted.

On the matter of the economy, there seems to be the belief that the do nothing "herd immunity" strategy is consequence free.

It isn't. In any case, trade and movement restrictions stay in place between countries particularly air freight which causes supply chain problems that mean a lot of businesses can't operate normally anyway.

Not particularly helped by panic buying either. In short it's a giant shit sandwich and we all have to take a bite. In my view the lockdown could have been avoided had our planning and timing been up to scratch but since we missed the containment window, we don't have much of a choice until we can ease our way out of it.

The populists argue that this virus is no more deadly than the flu. This is clearly not the case. We can all play cynical games with statistics but ultimately the nature of this virus means it has the potential to kill more than Ebola because it has a larger infection pool.

It's not surprising that the "herd immunity" grunters cross over with hardline no deal Brexiters. The populist mindset, addled with conspiracy and suspicion, spoofed toxic propaganda and fake news, continually believes there is a hidden agenda and that their "common sense" trumps expertise.

For sure there is disagreement on how to proceed between experts, and the strategy is as much political as it is scientific, but right wing populists can always be counted on to dispute virtually anything for any reason if it suits their massive superiority complex.

It's always grunty middle aged men and frumpy Tory women who continually assert that their total ignorance is equal or better than professional judgement.

To some extent our expert class has brought it upon themselves by way of their professional misconduct during Brexit, demanding that a constitutional issue was a purely technical question that ordinary people weren't equipped to consider, and couldn't be trusted to vote the right way.

They themselves have brought expertise into disrepute. As with climate change they will always sing the song of their funders, meaning they are instinctively not trusted.

Like the boy who cried wolf, now there is a wolf, nobody is listening. There is also the malign influence of the media which is a whole other essay.

There is then the politics of it when the progressive left favours the word of international bodies no matter how corrupt or incompetent, while the populist right mistrust all government but especially any entity above the nation state level.

The populist right doesn't just want to leave the EU and UN, they actively seek to destroy them regardless of the consequences.

Consequently they will disregard anything said by the WHO or EU, and the moment they see what their domestic political opponents are saying, they will automatically assume the extreme opposite narrative.

This is not in any way driven by rationality on either side. As with everything else the truth is somewhere in the murky middle, buried under a mountain of partisan propaganda, struggling to get an airing with audiences lacking the time, attention span or background to absorb what they need to know, so will instead look to persons of prestige as recommend by opinion gatekeepers in their own tribe.

We therefore have a debate where nobody can be persuaded of anything because holding the party line always comes first.

To do otherwise is to invite ostracism and since most people are cowards they'll do or say whatever is expected of them - even if it kills them, which in this case, might just do that.

Tuesday, 21 April You have the media you deserve. I haven't been monitoring the UK Corona soap opera very closely. Hypocrisy is running wild and it's too much to bear.

I'm tired of the partisan bickering on Twitter and I want no part of it. I'm not going to get sucked into arguing the toss over manufactured issues and I don't want to know Robert Peston or Piers Morgan think let alone debate their opinions.

The issue is far bigger than our festering tribal politics. Monday, 20 April Corona: the slow march to authoritarianism. Being that Twitter is binary on just about every issue we now have two camps.

Those with the government and those against, where again nuance disappears between the cracks. But of course it is entirely possible, and likely, and indeed demonstrable, that while the media is chucking the kitchen sink at the government to the point of losing public trust, the government is also making a complete hash of our response to Corona.

One thing the Twitter debate doesn't do is separate out the issues. To date I still get people accusing me of being a remainer largely because don't tweet anything in support of the government or any of its decisions pertaining to Brexit.

It seems to support the proposition you also have to fall in line with the current execution. Twitter largely wants to be told what it wants to hear and to have its ego stroked.

As with Brexit, government loyalists can hold the line until it all starts falling part. And fall apart it will. All the foundations are there; poor preparation, inept strategising, weak leadership and a lamentable media.

Though the lockdown appears to be having an impact on the overall death rate so long as you discount the hidden epidemic in care homes , we have only really bought time.

We can't stay locked down forever and unless the government has a credible containment plan then Corona is going to spread like wildfire when the lockdown is eased.

The government appears to have weathered the attack by the Sunday Times but it won't be the last of its kind.

This time it didn't land a punch because it's not exactly news that the PM is lazy, indifferent and feckless.

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