Opinion | Boris Johnson Is How Britain Ends – By James Butler – The New York Times

By James Butler

Mr. Butler is a British journalist.

“LONDON — Boris Johnson, to whom lying comes as easily as breathing, is on the verge of becoming prime minister. He faces the most complex and intractable political crisis to affect Britain since 1945.

That should be concerning enough. But given Britain’s political system — which relies for its maintenance on the character and disposition of the prime minister — it carries even graver import. Mr. Johnson, whose laziness is proverbial and opportunism legendary, is a man well-practiced in deceit, a pander willing to tickle the prejudices of his audience for easy gain. His personal life is incontinent, his public record inconsequential.

And his premiership could bring about the end of Britain itself.

The state of the United Kingdom, a constitutional compact founded in 1922 and stretching back, in one form or another, for centuries, is severely strained. Though Brexit is primarily driven by English passions, two of the four territories in the Union — Northern Ireland and Scotland — voted to remain. Both present immediate problems for Mr. Johnson — and for the future of Britain.

In Scotland, rancor at the sense that the country’s vote counted for little and subsequent repeated bouts of parliamentary chaos have led to renewed calls for a second independence ballot. Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister, insists Scotland will hold one if Brexit takes place. One of the most adroit politicians in Britain, Ms. Sturgeon knows that despite widespread misgivings about Brexit, the majority needed for independence does not currently exist. But recent polling suggests a Johnson government might tilt the scales in her favor. An independent Scotland may be conjured out of the chicanery of Mr. Johnson’s rule.”

Opinion | If Politicians Can’t Face Climate Change, Extinction Rebellion Will – The New York Times

A new movement is demanding solutions. They may just be in time to save the planet.

By David Graeber

Mr. Graeber is an anthropologist and activist.

 Extinction Rebellion members during climate protests in London last week.CreditFrank Augstein/Associated Press

“On April 15, thousands of activists from a movement called Extinction Rebellion started occupying several sites in central London, shutting down major roads and demanding the country’s politicians take immediate, drastic action in the face of climate change.

For more than a week, the streets were awash with an infectious sort of hope. Beyond the potent symbol of popular power represented by their presence in the heart of the city, activists and passers-by had the chance to experiment with collective politics. Yes, there were camera-worthy stunts and impossible-to-ignore disruptions of business as usual. But people also assembled, broke into discussion groups and returned with proposals. If the government wasn’t talking about the climate, Extinction Rebellion would lead by example.

The action was the crest of a wave that arguably began with the high school walkouts over the climate that had been sweeping Europe since late last year, and it was remarkable for including thousands of citizens — many from small towns with no experience of radical politics — who were willing, sometimes even eager, to risk arrest.

Their demands were, and are, simple. First, that the government declare a state of emergency and “tell the truth” about the global situation — that thousands of species are in danger of extinction, that there is a very real possibility that human life itself may eventually follow. Second, that Britain set a goal to eliminate all carbon emissions by 2025, and third, that the specifics of this emergency program be worked out not from above, but through the creation of citizens’ assemblies.”

Opinion | The United Kingdom Has Gone Mad – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

Quote

By Thomas L. Friedman
Opinion Columnist

April 2, 2019

964

Image
A protester shouting from a lamppost on Friday outside the Houses of Parliament in London.CreditCreditHannah Mckay/Reuters
LONDON — Politico reported the other day that the French European affairs minister, Nathalie Loiseau, had named her cat “Brexit.” Loiseau told the Journal du Dimanche that she chose the name because “he wakes me up every morning meowing to death because he wants to go out, and then when I open the door he stays in the middle, undecided, and then gives me evil looks when I put him out.”

If you can’t take a joke you shouldn’t have come to London right now, because there is political farce everywhere. In truth, though, it’s not very funny. It’s actually tragic. What we’re seeing is a country that’s determined to commit economic suicide but can’t even agree on how to kill itself. It is an epic failure of political leadership.

I say bring back the monarchy. Where have you gone, Queen Elizabeth II, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

Seriously, the United Kingdom, the world’s fifth-largest economy — a country whose elites created modern parliamentary democracy, modern banking and finance, the Industrial Revolution and the whole concept of globalization — seems dead-set on quitting the European Union, the world’s largest market for the free movement of goods, capital, services and labor, without a well-conceived plan, or maybe without any plan at all.

via Opinion | The United Kingdom Has Gone Mad – The New York Times

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment.
Thank you Tom Friedman for a great essay. I like many of the popular comments, but have something to add. Angela Merkel let some 1.5 million mostly Syrian refugees into Germany in one year, and caused a backlash protest against too many foreigners too quickly. Refugees from climate change and civil war are increasing dramatically, as populations around the world have exploded. We were 2 billion people around 1930, and we have grown to 7.6 billion in just 89 years. It is probably not going to work, to just let a billion or two billion refugees into the healthier more stable parts of the planet. The EU could help diffuse the brexit movement, with some reforms to limit immigration. The world powers need to help the poorer countries with a host of services, including family planning.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth Century Vietnam” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNewsWorldwide.wordpress.com. He performs folk music and stories about Climate Change and the Sixth Extinction.

For Many British Businesses- Brexit Has Already Happened – By Peter S. Goodman – The New York Times

Quote

By Peter S. Goodman
April 1, 2019

701
LONDON — In the political realm, no one knows how Brexit’s long-running theater of the absurd will end. But for much of the business world, Britain’s departure from the European Union has effectively happened.

Nearly three years of uncertainty since the June 2016 referendum has forced companies to plan for the worst — the prospect that Britain could crash out of the bloc without a deal governing future relations. The twisting road to Brexit has already slowed economic growth, discouraged investment and damaged the reputation of the nation as a haven for commerce.

Global banks and other financial services companies are steadily shifting thousands of jobs and more than $1 trillion in assets to European cities to ensure that they are able to serve customers across the English Channel regardless of the rules that national regulators impose after Brexit.

Japanese automakers have scrapped plans to expand in Britain, in part because Brexit undermines the country’s virtues as a hub for European trade.

via For Many British Businesses, Brexit Has Already Happened – The New York Times

Opinion | Hold a Second Brexit Referendum – By Roger Cohen – The New York Times

Quote

By Roger Cohen
Opinion Columnist

Jan. 15, 2019,   651
Protesters outside the Houses of Parliament on Tuesday.
Credit
Neil Hall/EPA, via Shutterstock

“A democracy that cannot change its mind is not a democracy. The people may do that when presented with the whole picture after seeing only a partial or distorted one.

It has taken more than 30 months to shift from “Fantasy Brexit” to “Reality Brexit.” The difference, after vitriolic debate that has consumed British politics virtually to the exclusion of all else, is stark.

The first was Britain’s 2016 vote, fueled by lies, to leave the European Union, trumpets blaring. The second, after a crash course in the facts of what membership brings for Britain, came Tuesday in the form of the crushing defeat by a 432-to-202 parliamentary vote of Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan for British withdrawal on March 29.

This, of course, was not a vote to remain in the European Union after all. It reflected anger across ideological lines that united Conservative lawmakers who want a complete British break from Europe and representatives of other parties who want to remain in the 28-nation union. Above all, it reflected complete disarray, the incapacity of May or anyone to come up with an acceptable compromise deal to accomplish something so inherently undesirable as to defy prettification.”

via Opinion | Hold a Second Brexit Referendum – The New York Times

Brexit: A Disunited Kingdom – NYT

I want to remind folks, that investigators have reported that Russian trolls and bots and Cambridge Analytica, owned by the right wing billionaire Robert Mercer, were both part of the campaign to destablize Britain with Brexit. It has worked brilliantly. I understand why it was in Putin’s interest. It is not clear to me what Robert Mercer wanted and why.

 

NYTIMES.COM
Two and a half years after Britain’s referendum on whether to leave the European Union, the country remains divided. We met with voters on both sides of…

Brexit for the Non-Brit: What Is It- and Why Can’t They Get It Done? – by Stephen Castle – The New York Times

Quote

Why Is a Compromise So Elusive?
The Achilles’ heel of a Brexit deal is the border between Ireland, a member of the European Union, and Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom. For years, this border was militarized because of sectarian violence that left more than 3,500 people dead. But with the 1998 Good Friday peace accord, free trade was allowed.

This was possible because Ireland and the United Kingdom were members of the European Union. But when Britain voted to leave, the Irish border again became an issue. Reintroducing customs controls would pose many problems.

Mrs. May’s draft agreement proposes keeping Northern Ireland, and the rest of the United Kingdom, in a European customs union until a trade plan that does not require checks at Ireland’s border is ready — so perhaps indefinitely. But this means Britain would also still be subject to some of the bloc’s trading rules and regulations.

In short, while paying a $50 billion divorce bill, Britain would remain bound by many European Union rules without any say in the making of them. This infuriates the hard-line Brexit crowd, who say it would leave Britain as a “vassal state.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval

 

via Brexit for the Non-Brit: What Is It, and Why Can’t They Get It Done? – The New York Times

In a Cozy Setting at Wimbledon- the Women’s Game Suffers an Indignity – The New York Times

“WIMBLEDON, England — The No. 2 Court at Wimbledon is a fine little stadium: well proportioned and intimate, with a capacity of 4,000.On Monday, it was also the site of a slight to women’s tennis.

Top-seeded Angelique Kerber, a 2016 Wimbledon finalist, and No. 14 seed Garbiñe Muguruza, a 2015 Wimbledon finalist, shrugged it off, took the court for their fourth-round encounter and played one of the best matches of the tournament.”

It goes on and on. Here is an excellent, top comment I fully support:

RAB

CO 9 hours ago

I am so tired of this relentless accusation of sexism. The male players are far superior in their abilities. It is good to honor men for their skill. We all honor women for their unique biological abilities. Let us honor and appreciate men as well. This is a professional sport. If the men are more skilled, work longer hours (match-time) and produce more revenue based on demand, which they do, it is a favor, in purely financial terms, that the women are paid equally. It is typical of this type of journalism to take this favor as the rule, and say ‘if there is equal pay, there should be equal scheduling. This is why it is never a good idea to make any accommodation to people who want to force reality to fit their moral stance. By the way, I am a progressive person, which is why this bothers me so much. How can we have a truly strong progressive culture when so many people on the left have abandoned common sense for moral judgement and self-flagellation? This type of article only strengthens reactionary movements on the right. How about some radical common sense?

Yes, and, the depth of the benches of the men and women are very different. The early matches on the women’s side are usually terribly lopsided.

Here is a good comment making the same point with some data:

Dana

Tucson 9 hours ago

Would be great if the woman’s draw had the depth that the men’s draw has. As reported by the NYTimes ( https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/10/sports/tennis/venus-williams-advances… ) , Kerber, the #1 women’s seed for this year’s tournament, had an 0-8 record this year versus Top-20 opponents (With her loss in the 4th Round to Garbiñe Muguruza, she drops to 0-9). Serious fans of the sport are aware of these kinds of differences.

You Break It, You Own It, by Tom Friedman – The New York Times

“The British vote by a narrow majority to leave the European Union is not the end of the world — but it does show us how we can get there.A major European power, a longtime defender of liberal democracy, pluralism and free markets, falls under the sway of a few cynical politicians who see a chance to exploit public fears of immigration to advance their careers. They create a stark binary choice on an incredibly complex issue, of which few people understand the full scope — stay in or quit the E.U.

These politicians assume that the dog will never catch the car and they will have the best of all worlds — opposing something unpopular but not having to deal with the implications of the public actually voting to get rid of it. But they so dumb down the debate with lies, fear-mongering and misdirection, and with only a simple majority required to win, that the leave-the-E.U. crowd carries the day by a small margin. Presto: the dog catches the car. And, of course, it has no idea now what to do with this car. There is no plan. There is just barking.’

Source: You Break It, You Own It – The New York Times

This Is Just the Start of the Brexit’s Economic Disaster, by Philippe Legrain – The New York Times

LONDON — A few weeks before Britons voted on whether to remain part of the European Union, Michael Gove, one of the leaders of the Leave campaign, was asked why he should be trusted over the overwhelming number of economists and international authorities who opposed Brexit. “People in this country have had enough of experts,” he replied.Experts are, of course, known to make mistakes. But in this case, the people who voted for Brexit will pay a big price for ignoring economic expertise. The harmful effects of this vote are both immediate and lasting.Britons are already worse off. The pound has — so far — plunged by nearly 9 percent against the dollar, slashing the value of British assets, with higher import prices likely to follow. The stock market has also taken a hit. The prices of property, most British people’s main asset, are almost certain to fall, too. While Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, has already pledged 250 billion pounds (about $345 billion) to support the financial system and has said he could offer more if necessary, central bankers cannot protect against an enduring economic shock.

Source: This Is Just the Start of the Brexit’s Economic Disaster – The New York Times