do not mention the war

Posts Tagged ‘Brexit’

The EU tells UK: it’s not enough

In Brexit on June 28, 2017 at 13:30

The UK’s government has presented a policy paper outlining how the rights of EU citizens will be handled during and after the Brexit negotiations. It seems each move by the UK is met with more demands by the EU to amend the British policies to fit them with the EU’s positions. May has almost no options to navigate.

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Rule, Britannia

In Britain on June 19, 2017 at 06:00

Britannia rule the waves…

Most people are familiar with this song and the lyrics. It is a poem written by James Thomson in 1740 and set to music by Thomas Arne. Even though the British Empire was not yet as large and Britain was not yet ruling the waves, the song nonetheless stands for the British Empire like few other songs and depicts the idea of Britain as a nation of seaman and traders.

With the Brexit negotiations scheduled to begin on June 19, Britain will find itself at sea, mastering waves it has no experience of sailing. Instead the country will find itself lost at sea.

The ship is captained by a woman who doesn’t want to be there in the first place, her crew is waiting for a chance to get rid of her and the passengers have a gut feeling that this journey might end with their ship running aground.

The Wobbly Lady: what the German papers think about the Election 2017

In Britain on June 10, 2017 at 16:12

The people have voted and have given the outgoing and continuing British government a vote of no confidence. That much is clear. Theresa May has gambled on extending her majority in parliament in order to strengthen her hand in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations. That gamble has backfired spectacularly. The Tories lost their majority and Labour came within a couple of yards of getting into Downing Street. Why the campaign of May went off the rails and whether Corbyn would be a better Prime Minister, should not be the aim of this piece. Rather, a press review of the German press is aimed to be presented here. After Brexit Germany is most likely the most powerful country in the EU27. Therefore it is of particular importance how the political commentators regard the general election of 2017.

In a video comment in Der Spiegel, Kevin Hagen has analysed the campaign of the Conservative Party and Theresa May and concluded that she lost her focus during the weeks leading up to the polls. Her main topic, Brexit, played no role ever since the manifesto was published. That was due to the ‘dementia tax’ and her performance in the public. May did not exist outside a carefully preserved and caressed bubble.

Die Welt sees the result as problematic for the Brexit negotiations. A weak British government could lead the EU to soften their position which in return could be beneficial for the UK. However, the report states that the planned schedule is at risk. There is just under a year and a half left for the talks to be finished. With an unstable government that cannot rely on a majority this is likely to fail from the writers point of view.

Der Tagesspiegel puts the result in line with the previous election of 2015 and the referendum 2016. There is no clear idea how the Conservative Party wants to proceed from here. Nor has it been clearer after the shock result from last year. David Cameron is partly to blame for this message as he promised this referendum only to walk away whistling once he saw he would not get away with his lax attitude towards Europe. Like Cameron, May gambled and lost. Now her and her party look like a besotted poodle.

The headline ‘Mayday’ as it was used in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung probably best described the situation. Going from a position of strength to one where May relies upon a small and ultra conservative party is a sign that Britain has gone from strong and stable to weak and wobbly over the course of two years. The writer concludes that it is possibly better with May at the helm for the time being simply in order to provide some stability.

There is no Schadenfreude to be found in the papers looked at. Rather, there are questions as to how the British have come to this point. The slogan of a ‘strong and stable’ government wasn’t even valid going into this election, therefore May’s logic was proven wrong. That she continues as Prime Minister is possibly the only sign of stability the papers reviewed here largely agree. That her situation nonetheless resembles a shambles, most papers agree upon.

A Selfish Act of Cowardice

In Britain on June 24, 2016 at 16:00

With the result of the referendum now unchangeable, one cannot but describe David Cameron as a coward, a selfish coward. It was him who pledged to hold this referendum in the first place in order to win back voters who would have gone to UKIP or elsewhere. After the General Election he had the chance to say eff off to those hoping for a referendum; it is usual policy not to remember any promises made before an election once the votes are counted and the result has gone the direction it was expected to go. He did not, thus starting a nasty campaign that tore Britain apart.

Once the result of this vote was clear he had nothing better to do than to resign. He has caused this result to happen and now he is not ready to clean up the mess. He is avoiding responsibility. However, a referendum is NOT an election but only an opinion of the electorate. Therefore, Cameron has had another chance to give a flying to the opinion of the electorate. He chose not to. Since he decided to step down, he opened the door to worse things to happen in Britain, much much worse. Figures like Farage, who has no manners, Johnson who has no brains and Gove who thinks he always knows best, will come to govern the UK for the immediate future. And make the country a different place to the one i have come to know in five years of living there.

The question for the EU now is: what will happen if others follow suit and decide to leave? Will this construct implode like a house of cards? Now more than ever is there an urgent need to look carefully and scrutinize everything that constitutes this union and reform it, reshape it to the benefit of the common people, not shareholders, politicians, technocrats.

An Unmoral Offer

In Anglo-German Relations on June 24, 2016 at 08:00

Germany’s biggest selling tabloid BILD came up with a superb front page this week about Brexit. The main article is a series of admissions to Britain to convince them to stay in the EU. Should Bremain win, the Germans are said to

– accept that the third goal in the 1966 World Cup final was actually a goal
– they won’t make jokes about Prince Charles’ ears
– won’t use sun cream at the beach out of sheer sympathy
– won’t use a goalkeeper in the next penalty shoot out to make it more even
– they’ll introduce tea time in Mallorca
– they’ll supply the baddie for James Bond movies, voluntarily
– they’ll set the clock back an hour to Greenwich time
– they’ll outlaw froth on top of beer
– they’ll reserve the sun beds at the hotels pools for the British with their own towels
– Jogi Löw will guard the Crown Jewels
– they’ll all visit Britain for the Queen’s 100th birthday

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This is quite an offer from the Germans and the British would be foolish not to accept it. It is not without historical precedence, though. Twenty years ago, the Daily Mirror and Bild engaged in a similar discourse during Euro 1996 in England. It all began with a list of 11 questions posed by Bild to the English:

Why do you drive on the wrong side of the road?
Why can’t you pull a decent pint of beer?
Why, as the birth place of modern football, were you never European champions?
Why do you wear bathing trunks in the sauna?
Why do your electric locomitves still carry a fireman?
Why do you eat your pork chops with peppermint sauce?
Why can’t you beat your former colonies at Cricket?
Why do look like freshly-boled lobsters after a sunny day?
Who won the 1990 World Cup semi-final, anyway?
When did an Englishman last win Wimbledon?
Why are you the only people who still think the Wembley goal went in?

It was an attempt to connect humour with steretypes but ended up not being funy at all. The answer by the Daily Mirror was insightful:

‘We drive on the wrong side of the road to make it more difficult for our soldiers to invade other countries. We were never European champions because we are an outward-looking nation that doesn’t think Europe is the centre of the universe; we were quite happy with the World Cup. We are sorry that you do not understand that proper beer is served warm: why don’t you wear proper trouasers? We wear bathing trunks in the sauna, because we’re not a boastful people … At least our former colonies still want to play our national sport with us. Do any of your ex-colonies want to play yours with you? Come to think of it, what is your national sport? We won the 1990 semi-final in spirit. You just scored more penalties, that’s all … As for THAT GOAL, we simply abided by the referee’s decision.’

This can be best described as ‘blokey nationalism’ or ‘the jokey jingoism of the press.’ Thankfully, 20 years later not a lot has changed: football is still seen as a vehicle to portray nationalism of the worst kind as we have in recent days in France. Nonetheless, Bild have come up with a witty reminder of the Anglo-German football rivalry in particular and the Anglo-German relations in general. A lot what this paper contains is utter garbage and not worth reading but they have always been pro-Europe; in fact journalists had to accept a code of conduct before being allowed to work there. One was a pro-Europe paragraph another was German unity and finally the fight against Communism. The last point earned Springer, the publishing house behind Bild, the label ‘idelogical arsonist’ during the 1960s.

Whatever the outcome of the referendum, Bild made it clear that the EU with Britain is simply funnier.

Divide et Impere

In Anglo-German Relations on June 21, 2016 at 08:00

Divide and Rule has been the motto for the British regarding the European Union. Something they won’t be able to do should they decide to go. Let’s hope this won’t be the case.

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