20 October 2019
Last year, Boris Johnson said the government would never accept a border in the Irish Sea. Yesterday, Boris Johnson asked parliament to support a Brexit deal that included a border in the Irish Sea.
Some cynics seem concerned that, instead of freeing the entire UK from the EU bureaucracy, his deal will introduce a whole new layer of British bureaucracy to ‘control’ the movement of goods and services between the mainland and Northern Ireland and thence to the Republic.
Chief executives in the aerospace, automotive, food and drink, chemicals, and pharmaceutical sectors have said that being excluded from EU regulatory institutions will reduce their influence and increase their costs. Information gathered from the Treasury, the Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority estimates that Johnson’s deal would cost the economy 6.7% of GDP over the next 15 years (compared with about 2.5% under Theresa May’s deal).
At least parliament’s faith in Johnson’s reliability is so limited that they demanded the right to read it before being asked to vote on it, forcing him to write to the EU requesting a further extension.
Unbelievably, Johnson’s reaction was petulant and childish: he sent an unsigned copy of his letter so he could later say “Well I didn’t sign it and it was only a copy so I didn’t break my promise not to request an extension so nyah nyah”. At the same time, he sent a side letter saying he personally didn’t want an extension (which, curiously, was addressed “Dear Donald” but signed “Boris Johnson” – didn’t anybody ever tell him that simple courtesy requires that a first name form of address demands he just sign it “Boris”?)
Over the years, I’ve become accustomed to the peccadilloes of certain politicians but I’m now both ashamed and embarrassed by the outrageous behaviour of an unelected prime minister; nothing to do with Brexit, just that we have previously had prime ministers who have, regardless of the party they led, generally exhibited some level of professionalism and commitment to our democratic system. Perhaps all of us who feel strongly about this should write to the EU apologising for our prime minister’s behaviour and saying that most of us would or wouldn’t (depending on our individual feelings about Brexit) be grateful for another extension.
But justice is sometimes done: my favourite fund manager, Neil Woodford, has been fired. However, investors in his funds have probably lost a lot of their money and he hasn’t yet offered to compensate them from the £63m he’s taken out of the business in the last four years. Nor has he yet been quoted as saying “In your dreams. I worked hard to lose that much of your money and deserve to be overpaid for my efforts.”
Having written last week about dreams, I started to wonder if there was any special significance in colours. Awareness of colour appears, at least in my dreams, to be random and I’m not aware of it but there are dreams in which colour appears to quite striking, and often very beautiful effect.
Sadly, I’m not a lucid dreamer so I can’t go to sleep and pick up where I’ve left off or shape a dream as I want to (and, believe me, I’ve tried with some of my lovelier dreams) but, during the week, I dreamt that the sky was alight with patches of bright shining colours, rather like multi-coloured aurora borealis. I turned to the person next to me and said “Wow, look at that” but, when I looked back, the colours had gone.
Perhaps the message is to enjoy what we can, and share our enjoyment with others, while we can because it could all disappear overnight. As Bob Dylan said – yes, I know, another Dylan quote – “Everything passes, everything changes, just do what you think you should do”.
Including, perhaps, criticising greasy piglets (as David Cameron has described our current prime minister).
Apart from our inalienable right, when they do something stupid, to criticise the dimmer politicians we pay to run the country for us, let’s be nice to other people, not because we want anything from them but because, if we’re nice to them, they may be nice to somebody else. It’s like when you make way for a car on the road, it’s surprising how often the other car will then make way for someone else, thereby passing the kindness on to someone else. Wouldn’t it be nice if the whole world could be like that?
Imagine a pyramid of kindness scheme: every time somebody is nice to you, you should be nice to two other people, then they should each be nice to two other people, and so on.