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In Huawei Battle, China Threatens Germany ‘Where it Hurts’: Automakers

Westlake Legal Group germany-china1-promo-facebookJumbo-v2 In Huawei Battle, China Threatens Germany ‘Where it Hurts’: Automakers Volkswagen AG United States International Relations Politics and Government Huawei Technologies Co Ltd Germany Espionage and Intelligence Services Automobiles Audi Division of Volkswagen AG 5G (Wireless Communications)

BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel and Premier Li Keqiang of China settled into the back seat of a driverless Volkswagen van, fastened their seatbelts and went for a spin around a disused airport landing strip in central Berlin.

“There is nothing like seeing in practice what’s possible,” Ms. Merkel beamed when they returned.

That was July 2018, when economic cooperation between the two countries looked limitless — combining Germany’s powerful auto industry and China’s technology giant, Huawei.

Eighteen months later, Germany is embroiled in a tortured debate over whether to allow Huawei to help build its 5G next generation mobile network. But with German automakers, including Audi and Daimler, already working closely with Huawei, it may be China who sits in the driver’s seat.

Whatever Germany decides will shape its relations with China for years and reverberate across the Continent. It will send a powerful political signal on how united, or fractured, Europe will be in the digital age of rivalry between Washington and Beijing.

Germany, like all of Europe, is under tremendous pressure to ostracize Huawei by the American government, which fears that it is a Trojan horse that would allow the Chinese to spy on or control European and American communication networks. The pressure remains even after President Trump signed an initial trade deal with China on Wednesday.

But for Germany that decision is especially fraught. Relations with the Trump administration are infused with threats of tariffs against German automakers and mounting distrust that Europeans have come to believe may permanently reshape, if not rupture, a once ironclad trans-Atlantic alliance.

China, on the other hand, is elbowing its way onto the European stage as a new strategic player and an increasingly indispensable economic partner. By far the largest market in the world, it has become the biggest source of growth for Germany’s main carmakers and the key to their dominance of the luxury car market.

It is a position that China has not been shy to weaponize.

“If Germany were to make a decision that led to Huawei’s exclusion from the German market, there will be consequences,” Wu Ken, China’s ambassador to Germany warned last month. “The Chinese government will not stand idly by.”

Konstantin von Notz, a lawmaker and member of the digital affairs committee in the German Parliament, put it this way: “The Chinese have made clear that they will retaliate where it hurts: The car industry.”

For months, German lawmakers have danced around the issue of whether effectively to exclude Huawei from the bidding process. The issue is expected to be debated in Parliament again in the coming weeks. As a decision approaches, Chancellor Merkel has found herself caught between worried German automakers, who accompanied her on a dozen junkets to Beijing, and her own wary intelligence community.

Ms. Merkel, steward of the pro-business Christian Democratic Party, is opposed to banning the Chinese company.

“It is not about individual companies, but rather security standards,” the chancellor said in November. “It is about the certification we will carry out. That should be our guiding benchmark.”

But a rebellion is brewing in Germany’s foreign policy and intelligence community — scared of American threats to limit intelligence sharing — and even among some of the chancellor’s own lawmakers, who want to submit a proposal to Parliament with tougher security criteria that would, in effect, keep Huawei out.

Ms. Merkel’s critics say the current certification process, which merely demands that companies sign a pledge not to spy, is inherently flawed because it relies on trust.

At her party’s annual conference in November, the chancellor’s Christian Democrats disinvited Huawei as a corporate sponsor and passed a motion demanding that only companies “which demonstrably fulfill a clearly defined catalog of safety requirements” should be allowed to bid. One key requirement would be to rule out state interference.

The motion did not name Huawei or China but the implication was clear.

“Under Chinese law companies are obliged to cooperate with the Chinese Secret Service,” said Norbert Röttgen, a conservative lawmaker who co-authored the motion against Ms. Merkel’s Huawei policy. “When you deal with Huawei you also have to accept that you might be dealing with the Chinese Communist Party.”

Cars that can steer themselves may make driving safer but they also open up opportunities for government surveillance and control.

Beyond fears of spying and sabotage, lawmakers warned that if Germany allowed Huawei to bid it would not just alienate Washington but risk undermining a badly needed united European front.

“Our only hope is to stick together as Europeans,” Mr. Röttgen said. That, he said, was also an argument for giving the 5G contract to European companies like Nokia or Ericsson.

Analysts say Nokia and Ericsson, which have won 5G contracts in Denmark and elsewhere, have the competence to build the 5G network, but it would take longer and cost more — not least because Huawei is already a huge part of the existing networks in Germany. Switching will be messy and costly.

Still, Mr. Röttgen said, given the scale of the new bid, if it went to Huawei, Europe risked permanently falling behind.

“If you let Huawei build a big chunk of the 5G network after a while you won’t understand your own system,” he said. “It would be a maximal loss of control and sovereignty.”

“Strategically it is a crystal clear case,” Mr. Röttgen said.

Others, however, say that giving the bid to Huawei may not be such a bad idea.

‘‘If we ban Huawei, the German car industry will be pushed out of the Chinese market — and this in a situation where the American president is also threatening to punish German carmakers,’’ said Sigmar Gabriel, a former German foreign minister and vice chancellor.

‘‘Just because we have an American president who doesn’t like alliances, we give all that up?’’ he said. ‘‘Why would we? Especially since he does exactly what the Chinese do and threatens the German car industry.’’

German automakers like Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW continued to record sales gains in China and to take share from rivals like Ford, even as the overall market has slumped.

“See, last year, 28 million cars were sold in China, 7 million of those were German,” Mr. Wu, China’s ambassador to Germany, added in his remarks in December, making what many in Germany interpreted as a veiled threat.

“Can we just declare German cars unsafe, because we make our own cars?’’ he said. ‘‘No, that would be protectionism.”

As Germany’s automakers have become more deeply dependent on China, they also have become more beholden to the Chinese government.

Chinese consumer preferences, and Chinese government policies, increasingly determine what models the carmakers build and what kind of technology they develop.

China also has become the stage where German carmakers develop and test new technology, often with Huawei.

Audi, the luxury car unit of Volkswagen, announced a “strategic cooperation” with Huawei on developing autonomous driving technology during Mr. Li’s visit to Berlin last year. Daimler, which is 9.9 percent owned by Chinese investor Li Shufu, uses Huawei high-performance computing. BMW and others partner with Huawei on research and development.

No car company is more closely entwined with China than Volkswagen. The company has been operating in China since the early 1980s, when the Communist government first began opening to the West.

Today Volkswagen earns almost half its sales revenue in China and has 14 percent of the Chinese car market.

“If we were to pull out” of China, Herbert Diess, the chief executive of Volkswagen, told the Wolfsburger Nachrichten newspaper in December, “a day later 10,000 of our 20,000 development engineers in Germany would be out of work.”

German carmakers deny that their dependence on Chinese sales has turned them into advocates for Chinese interests.

“We don’t want political developments to spill over into product development,” Bernhard Mattes, president of the German Association of the Automotive Industry, said in an interview in Berlin.

But Mr. Mattes conceded, “We are not operating in a politics-free space, that is clear.”

Huawei has understood as much. Its German headquarters are in Bavaria, alongside BMW and Audi and many other companies deeply embedded in China. The company has been a generous sponsor of all mainstream parties, including Bavaria’s governing conservatives.

Markus Söder, Bavaria’s conservative leader, has publicly defended Huawei’s right to bid, while also lashing out at the United States.

“To say up front that I rule it out because another partner in the world doesn’t like it,” he said, is “a bit of a problem.”

Stephan Weil, premier of Volkswagen’s home state of Lower Saxony and a member of the company’s supervisory board, took a similar line, urging Germany to protect its 5G network from all sides. “I wouldn’t necessarily put my hand into the fire for anyone else,” he said, without naming the United States.

When Peter Altmaier, Germany’s economy minister, recently pointed out that Germany had “not imposed a boycott” on American technology companies after it was revealed that the National Security Agency had tapped Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone, he earned a sharp rebuke from the United States ambassador, Richard Grenell.

“There is no moral equivalency between China and the United States and anyone suggesting it ignores history — and is bound to repeat it,” Mr. Grenell said.

In July 2018, when Ms. Merkel and Mr. Li stepped out of the driverless van at Berlin Tempelhof, once the site of the Berlin airlift and a powerful symbol of Germany’s alliance with the United States, the symbolism was not lost on some.

“The truth is that, if the American security guarantee was what it used to be, we wouldn’t be having this debate,” said Mr. von Notz, the lawmaker. “But it isn’t. And now we need to find a way to defend our freedom and rule of law in this digital world.”

Christopher F. Schuetze contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

France, Germany and U.K. Serve Notice on Iran Under Nuclear Deal

Westlake Legal Group 14eu-iran-facebookJumbo France, Germany and U.K. Serve Notice on Iran Under Nuclear Deal United States International Relations United Nations Nuclear Weapons Iran Great Britain Germany France Embargoes and Sanctions

BRUSSELS — Britain, France and Germany triggered the dispute resolution mechanism in the 2015 Iran nuclear deal on Tuesday, a tough warning to Tehran and the first step toward reimposing further United Nations sanctions on Iran.

The move, which had been expected for more than a week, was delayed when the United States killed a top Iranian commander, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, with repercussions that are still playing out in Iran and across the region.

Triggering the dispute resolution mechanism will set the clock running on what could be some 60 days of negotiations with Iran about coming back into full compliance with the deal, and could end up with a “snapback” of United Nations sanctions on Iran, including an arms embargo.

President Trump withdrew from the deal in 2018 and has imposed several rounds of American sanctions on Iran. In response, Tehran has repeatedly moved beyond the limits that the agreement had placed on its nuclear program, raising fears that it could be close to building an atomic bomb.

The Europeans want to save the deal and persuade both Washington and Tehran to begin a new set of negotiations about missile development and Iran’s regional activities, a senior European official said.

But the three European countries, all signatories to the deal, clearly felt that they had to respond to Iran’s progressive movement away from compliance with the deal’s limits on centrifuges and uranium enrichment.

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Electric Cars Threaten the Heart of Germany’s Economy

ÖHRINGEN, Germany — Öhringen lies deep in automaking country, homeland of Germany’s biggest industry and a source of national pride. And by most appearances, life is pretty good.

The unemployment rate in Öhringen is a mere 2.3 percent. Restaurants, nursing homes and kindergartens are begging for workers. The city government is using bulging tax receipts to build a new secondary school and a hospital.

But just outside Öhringen’s tidy old quarter, dominated by the steeple of a 15th-century stone church, there are signs that the economic upswing that has nourished this idyll is beginning to falter.

A factory that makes air filters is closing, putting 240 people out of work. The plant, owned by Mahle, an auto parts manufacturer based in nearby Stuttgart, is a victim of forces that are reshaping the auto industry and threatening the foundation of the German economy.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_166082250_8e671913-edb9-490d-8597-b441a48c80cb-articleLarge Electric Cars Threaten the Heart of Germany’s Economy Ohringen, Germany Labor and Jobs International Trade and World Market Germany Factories and Manufacturing Electric and Hybrid Vehicles Economic Conditions and Trends Batteries

A Mahle factory in Öhringen, Germany, that makes air filters for the auto industry is closing. Credit…Felix Schmitt for The New York Times

Global car sales are declining at the same time that companies are pouring billions of dollars into new technologies like autonomous driving and electric cars, which are easier to assemble and require fewer workers and fewer parts.

Carmakers, including Daimler and Volkswagen’s Audi division, as well as suppliers like Continental and Bosch, have announced tens of thousands of job cuts in recent weeks. German auto production will be at a 22-year low in 2019 and 2020, according to calculations by Ferdinand Dudenhöffer, a professor at the University of Duisburg-Essen.

Workers are feeling the brunt, and not just in Germany. The upheaval in auto technology was an undercurrent in the United Automobile Workers’ recent strike against General Motors, with G.M. aiming for flexibility in staffing levels as it devotes more resources to electric vehicles.

“For Mahle — and for the industry as a whole — the technological transformation is a monumental task,” said Jörg Stratmann, the company’s chief executive. It means, he said in a statement, “cutting our costs and making tough decisions.”

There is a gnawing feeling that something more fundamental is going on in Germany’s powerful auto industry, which employs 835,000 people, than just another economic cycle.

The growing popularity of electric vehicles could force a shift in the balance of power in the global car business that would have long-term consequences for Germany.

So far, sales of electric cars make up a small share of the overall auto market, but they are growing fast. In October, battery-powered cars and hybrids accounted for almost 10 percent of new car registrations in Europe, according to JATO, a market research firm; figures from another firm, LMC Automotive, put the share at less than 4 percent in the United States. Sales of those cars in Europe were up 40 percent from a year earlier in an otherwise stagnant market.

If the trend continues, it spells trouble for the hundreds of suppliers that make parts for internal combustion engines. The Mahle factory in Öhringen makes equipment that controls the flow of air in diesel and gasoline motors.

“There is a transition toward more electric vehicles that have far fewer components and are easier to manufacture,” Bernhard Mattes, the president of the German Association of the Automotive Industry, said in an interview in Berlin. “Therefore, we can expect less employment.”

Mr. Mattes, former head of Ford’s operations in Germany, quoted studies estimating that a shift to electric cars could cost 70,000 jobs in Germany by 2030. Some estimates are higher.

The effect of those cuts may be felt most acutely in communities like Öhringen, where the local economy revolves around small and midsize manufacturers, often serving the auto industry. Audi, Porsche and Daimler all have factories within a 40-mile radius.

Faced with flat or declining sales in their major markets, the big automakers are expected to pass much of the pain on to suppliers. The carmakers will demand lower prices and begin taking over work that they would have previously delegated to contractors.

Thilo Michler, the mayor of Öhringen, said the local economy was diverse enough to survive the closing of the Mahle plant. The city, with about 25,000 residents, is also the home of other midsize companies such as Huber Packaging, the world’s largest manufacturer of five-liter beer kegs.

“Mahle is painful, but it’s manageable,” Mr. Michler said.

Unemployment is so low that most Mahle workers will probably find new jobs by the time the plant ceases operations by the end of 2020. But they will have trouble finding work that pays as well, and may have to accept temporary contracts that offer little job security, said Rüdiger Bresien, an official of the IG Metall union who represents workers in the area.

Mr. Bresien said job losses from upheaval in the car industry were bigger than they seemed, with companies quietly letting go of workers on temporary contracts.

“In a lot of firms, we see that temp work is going down a lot,” Mr. Bresien said. “But you don’t hear so much about that.”

He said he worried that frustrated workers would be drawn to the far-right, anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany party. In elections for the European Parliament in May, the populist party scored 10 percent of the vote in the state of Baden-Württemberg, which includes Öhringen.

“There is always a risk that people ask, ‘Who’s at fault?’ and ‘Who’s going to help me?’” Mr. Bresien said.

The gently rolling countryside around Öhringen is dotted with factories carrying the logos of companies that may not be household names but often dominate their niche markets. Such companies are a big reason for Germany’s economic success.

Just down the autobahn, for example, is Ziehl-Abegg, a maker of industrial fans that has more than 4,000 employees worldwide.

Owned by a grandson of the inventor who founded the company in 1910, Ziehl-Abegg has achieved soaring sales over the last decade. But this year, sales were flat, reflecting a broader decline in German industrial production.

Germany narrowly avoided recession this year, but German factory output has been declining since the beginning of 2018. The trade war has hit even companies like Ziehl-Abegg that are not dependent solely on the auto industry. More than three-quarters of Ziehl-Abegg’s products are exported.

Ziehl-Abegg is among companies trying to adjust to the shift in automotive technology by using its expertise in electric motors. The company sells a propulsion unit for buses that embeds the electric drive inside the wheel. Ziehl-Abegg says the so-called axle-drive module saves energy because there is no need for a gearbox, which reduces friction.

But the axle drive also illustrates the danger that electric technology presents to the German auto industry. More than a century of expertise in internal combustion engines and transmissions could become irrelevant. German car companies typically build their own motors, but almost all of Europe’s battery cells, which account for a large share of an electric car’s cost, are imported from Asia.

The risk for the established German carmakers is that they will cling too long to old technologies and be overrun by new companies that focus exclusively on electric vehicles. Those include Tesla, which has announced plans to build a factory in Berlin, and Eurabus, a company in Berlin that makes battery-powered buses.

Ziehl-Abegg’s axle-drive module is being used by companies that make sightseeing buses, airport shuttles and other specialized vehicles. But Ralf Arnold, managing director of Ziehl-Abegg’s automotive division, said it had been difficult to win over major bus makers like Daimler or MAN, a unit of Volkswagen.

“What’s still missing is one of the big players,” Mr. Arnold said at Ziehl-Abegg’s headquarters in Kupferzell, about 12 miles east of Öhringen. “They are very cautious. They live in their own world.”

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Ryan Shorthouse and Anvar Sarygulov: We need more migrants to become citizens

Ryan Shorthouse is Director of Bright Blue and Anvar Sarygulov is a Researcher at Bright Blue.

The public debate on immigration is dominated by the number of people entering and leaving Britain. However, very little attention is paid to the final step of a journey for many who decide to make UK their home: obtaining British citizenship. Boosting citizenship rates, which have fallen this decade, could be part of an agenda by Boris Johnson to bolster an inclusive post-Brexit Britishness.

Substantively, the only difference between migrants with Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), which grants migrants a right to reside in the UK permanently after five years, and British citizens is the right to vote. However, there are several positive effects that derive from citizenship that have been underdiscussed and underutilised.

Research from both Britain and overseas shows that citizenship benefits immigrants themselves in a variety of ways. It is associated with improving employment prospects, with a greater feeling of belonging and security, and with higher rates of political participation. Furthermore, adopting citizenship is a significant symbolic commitment, reaffirming the place of that individual in Britain and making them more invested in our past, present and future.

Eighty-four per cent of the British public say it is important for migrants to be committed to the way of life in Britain to be able to come and live here. As research by British Future has shown, native Britons prefer it when migrants settle in the country for the long term and integrate. There is no better way to achieve it than by ensuring that more migrants obtain citizenship. By ensuring that more migrants become British citizens, it might even be possible to alleviate some public concerns around migration.

That does not mean that we should give out citizenship to anyone. Considering its significance, it is understandable to expect that those wishing to adopt it must meet specific criteria. Those wishing to become citizens of the UK already must prove that they have sufficient knowledge of English and of life in the UK and that they are of good character. These long-standing criteria should not be significantly relaxed.

The number of non-EU migrants who were granted citizenship decreased significantly from 189,000 in 2013 to 105,000 in 2018. Though some of this decrease is accounted by the decline in net migration that occurred in early 2010s, the data suggests that an increasing number of non-EU migrants do not obtain citizenship.

However, the number of EU migrants who are becoming citizens is now increasing due to Brexit. And with 930,000 EU nationals already being granted Settled Status, which allows them to apply for naturalisation within a year, there will be a much greater number of migrants eligible for citizenship in the near future.

There are existing barriers to citizenship that are unreasonable and unnecessary. Chief among them is the exorbitant cost. Obtaining ILR for one person costs £2,389. Meanwhile, the subsequent naturalisation fee for adults is £1,330, following a sustained rise in fees, with the cost now being 49 per cent higher in real terms than in 2010. In comparison, the average naturalisation fee across Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, the US, Norway and Sweden is around £225. Furthermore, the actual cost of processing a naturalisation application to the Home Office is only £372, highlighting that the Government is now excessively profiteering from applicants.

Citizenship should be encouraged, not discouraged. The high costs prevent many hard-working individuals and families, who have contributed to our economy and communities for years, from fully putting down roots and becoming citizens of the UK. The Government should rectify this by mean-testing citizenship fees to enable everyone who wants to, and are eligible to, become a British citizen. Considering the prohibitive prices and the large profit margin, the mean-testing system should be generous and provide relief to the majority of applicants.

Particular attention should be brought to the naturalisation fee for children, which at £1,012 does not lag far behind the adult one. Considering the importance of citizenship, it is absurd to discourage citizenship amongst those who have been here from birth, who have been educated in British schools and who have been brought up in Britain by subjecting them and their families to an obscene cost. Indeed, the High Court recently ruled this fee for children to be unlawful. The Government should abolish naturalisation fees for children who were born in the UK.

Considering the benefits of citizenship, we should not only remove undue financial barriers to it, but financially incentivise it – through nudging long-term migrants towards it. Currently, thousands of migrants in the UK continue to stay here on an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) for years, even though most of them can apply for citizenship 12 months after receiving permanent residency.

A simple measure would be to ask ILR applicants to signal their intention to apply for full British citizenship in their application in return for a future significant discount on citizenship fees. A year later, they should receive a reminder they are eligible for this discounted citizenship, and be charged the discounted price in their application.

There is also room in the process to reward migrants who are doing what we expect good citizens to do: contributing to the economy through working and contributing to society through volunteering.

The Government should grant such civic-minded migrants a fast-track route to obtaining citizenship. For most visa routes, it takes five years before a migrant is eligible for ILR and an additional year before they are eligible for citizenship, but the ILR period should be decreased to three years for civically engaged migrants who promise to become a citizen 12 months later. Such migrants should have consistently paid National Insurance for three years, and have proof that they have volunteered with a school, community organisation or registered charity on a regular basis for a substantial number of hours over the past three years. A discount should also apply to the citizenship fee for those on this fast-track route.

Citizenship should play a much more significant role in the Conservative Government’s reforms to the immigration system. Doing so would improve social integration, enhance the contribution that migrants make, and allay public discontent over immigration. It will be a way of strengthening the image of an inclusive Britain after Brexit, which Boris is so eager to cultivate.

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Tom Tugendhat: The three foreign policy actions that Johnson should take now that he has this huge majority

Tom Tugendhat is MP for Tonbridge and Malling and is one of the leaders of the One Nation Group.

The moment a revolution happens is often only clear with hindsight. Last week’s landslide needs no time for review. It was a lightning bolt releasing an energy that has jolted Parliament and our country into action – and could kickstart new partnerships around the world.

For the first time in a political generation, the UK has a leader able to make a mark on the world. With a five-year term looking certain, a voice tested on the G7, the EU and NATO, and with the ability to legislate others can only dream of, Boris Johnson is positioned to achieve what he has previously only spoken about: Global Britain.

He now has the mandate to act to make this more than a slogan.

 Over the coming months many will focus – rightly – on the EU trade talks. They are going to determine much of the change that is coming to our economy and the relationships our businesses build with the world.

But despite its proximity and economic weight, it won’t be in Brussels that our future is written, but here in London. How we decide to act will shape our future.  

To harness the storm, there are three things we should do now.

The first is to build a new partnership of democratic powers. The creation of a new alliance of those orbiting between the might of the US or China would see mid-sized democratic nations – the Mid-Dems – defend the rule law and economic system that has made us largely prosperous and peaceful since the Second World War. As newly freed-spirits, we can lead a new way of working together. On defence, there is no doubt that our American alliance is the underpinning of our sovereignty, but on trade? That’s where China’s importance grows.

China poses its own challenges. We want closer trade relationships, but the absence of the rule of law, the undermining of civil liberties, the lack of respect for intellectual property and more, leaves little chance to freely exchange ideas and deepen relationships.

That’s why a networked alliance is what we should be looking for. Together with other Mid-Dem countries, such as  Australia, Chile, Germany, France, South Korea and Japan, we can build a partnership to defend the rules that have made us all stronger, working together on climate change, and protecting us all against the whims of powers more inclined to use leverage than law.

Working together would help reawaken many of the existing institutions. In the United Nations, for example, where the US has played less of a role than many of her allies would like, China has become dominant. Buying votes on UN bodies like the Food and Agriculture Organisation may not sound a good investment until you factor in the influence it has on UN members dependent on aid who will be voting in the upcoming ballot to lead the World Intellectual Property Organisation.

As companies like Vodafone know well, WIPO controls international use of frequencies that modern technology relies on, and sets the norms to prevent the IP thefts now normal in China. Beijing is slowly taking control of the existing international order as America steps away. We need to work with like-minded states to protect what matters and contain what doesn’t.

As well as new partnerships, we should join existing bodies, like the TPP.  Opening talks with the members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, as the new club of 11 states was recently renamed, would expand our horizons. Setting a new trade agenda without aiming for the harmonisation of the European Union will give us reach. Though the geography sounds distant, shipping costs are near historic lows, and our alliance with countries from Mexico to Japan, who have already invited us to join, would build on existing trading relationships and demonstrate to suitors that Britain has options.

That’s the only way we’ll get the deals we need. If we look like beggars, we’ll get crumbs and would be selling ourselves short. We have a huge market, a skilled workforce and some of the most innovative technology in the world, matched with the rule of law and the firm expectation of five years of stable government. So we’re in a stronger position than anyone to benefit from the network building TPP.

The third decision we must take is to invest in ourselves. A house divided makes easy prey for other and the fractures in the United Kingdom are clear for all to see. That’s why the One Nation agenda is so important. Uniting our country so that we’re more than a city state of London with a UK hinterland is essential to everything we seek to achieve. Investment in rail, road, communications and education are as essential to our future prosperity as reforming the Foreign Office.

The new strategic policy review could bring all this together. For the first time in decades the levers of British influence – defence, diplomacy, aid and trade – could sit alongside domestic efforts in education and infrastructure to give the Prime Minister the strength to act.

While Emmanuel Macron has pension problems and a looming election, Donald Trump is going through impeachment and a coming poll, and Angela Merkel has already announced her resignation, Johnson can look out with confidence at the coming five years certain his majority and with a more distant horizon than any of his global peers makes.

This is a chance Britain can grasp to shape not just our home but our world. I’m confident that the Prime Minister can bring his words to life and make Britain global again.

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Stephen Booth: An inconvenient truth for Remainers and Leavers alike. This was the result that the EU wanted.

Stephen Booth is Acting Director of Open Europe.

What will Brussels, Berlin and Paris make of Thursday’s momentous UK election result? There may be mixed feelings induced by the realisation that Brexit is definitely going to happen. But the overriding emotion is likely to be one of relief that the UK has finally reached a settled decision to leave. Leo Varadkar summed it up by saying, “I think it’s a positive thing that we have a decisive outcome in Britain.”

The clarity of the result and the breathing space offered by a sizeable majority may have increased the chances of the UK and the EU reaching a new trade deal, but neither side’s red lines are likely to change substantially. Therefore, in my view, a looser UK-EU economic relationship, rather than a pivot towards a “softer” Brexit, remains the most probable outcome.

It has been popular among many commentators to deride the campaign slogan “Get Brexit Done!” by noting that key UK-EU negotiations are yet to come and that, given the EU is unlikely to disappear anytime soon, Brexit will be never-ending.

Of course, there is still much left to do, and our relationship with Europe could never be “settled” in a one-shot deal. However, we should not underestimate the consequences of bringing the first phase of Brexit to a conclusion.

Over the past three and half years, without a solid parliamentary majority for any course of action, the UK spent more time negotiating with itself than with the EU. The size of Boris Johnson’s majority undoubtedly gives him much more flexibility, although the election results in Scotland and Northern Ireland illustrate that simmering tensions within the Union may yet play an important role over the course of this parliament.

To the relief of many, including in the EU, parliamentary process will no longer be at the centre of the Brexit action in anything like the same way. Once the formalities of passing the Withdrawal Agreement Bill are out of the way in the coming weeks, the future UK-EU relationship will become primarily a matter for negotiation between the UK government and the EU.

The Government will also have greater capacity to act in other areas directly or indirectly linked to Brexit, such as trade negotiations with non-EU countries and crafting a new UK immigration policy. Equally, having now secured the means to implement the 2016 Brexit vote, the Conservative Party will now need to craft a compelling narrative of what Brexit is actually for, which was conspicuously absent from this election campaign.

Some are suggesting Johnson’s new-found room for manoeuvre will enable Johnson to “ditch the ERG” in favour of an extension to the transition period, and a “softer”, “deeper” UK-EU relationship. This assumption is likely to be mistaken. Firstly, asking for an extension in June 2020 would not only mean breaking a campaign promise, but once again entering into arduous negotiations with the EU about money, and fish, without a guarantee of a trade agreement in return.

Secondly, a softer Brexit, and the degree of alignment with EU rules that would require, is at odds with what we know about Johnson’s own strong preference for divergence. Just as importantly, the EU has framed Brexit as a binary choice between a high alignment, high market access relationship (like Norway) and a low alignment, low access relationship (like Canada).

The EU shows no signs of fundamentally altering its offer to the UK, whether the negotiations take place over 11 months or two years. In addition, even if it was tempted by the prospect, Brussels will not be able to count on a “reverse Brexit”, or even “soft Brexit”, faction in Parliament to put pressure on the government to soften its negotiating position.  It is easy to see where the path of least resistance lies.

This is not to say it will all be plain sailing. Within the broad parameters of a “Canada-style” deal, detailed technical negotiations will be important in determining the eventual balance of market access versus obligations on the so-called level playing field. But the details of UK-EU rules of origin for goods, however important, are unlikely to grip the media and the country in the same way as whether Brexit will actually happen or not.

Brussels may be relieved that it now has a stable negotiating partner in London. However, the EU has yet to fully wrestle with the implications of Brexit and what its ideal long-term outcome is. When things get difficult within the EU, the lowest common denominator often prevails and flexibility can be in short supply.

Foreign policy and geopolitics could also play a greater role in the UK-EU negotiations in the next phase, representing the second pillar of a new “grand bargain”. Emmanuel Macron’s mooted new, intergovernmental “European Security Council” is not only borne of his frustration with the EU’s impotence on foreign policy; it appears specifically designed as a means of enabling the UK to remain within the “European orbit” on major international issues. The UK might well ask that it gets something in return if it is to ensure the success of such a venture.

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The truth about the NHS

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-12-10-at-09.03.01 The truth about the NHS ToryDiary The Economist Labour Jeremy Corbyn MP Jeremy Cliffe Highlights Germany Conservatives Boris Johnson MP   Jeremy Cliffe was in charge of the Economist‘s Brussels bureau, where he wrote its Charlemagne column, before recently becoming International Editor of the New Statesman.

It is an article of faith of the pro-EU Ascendancy, as we call it here, that nothing in Britain is done as well as it can be abroad.

The logic of Cliffe’s tweet above is that Britain’s health service would be better were it to be exchanged for Germany’s.

So ConservativeHome looks forward to him explaining to voters why they must swap Our NHS, as we all now call it, for Germany’s healthcare system.

We’re confident that they will leap at the chance to exchange a service free at the point of use for one based on compulsory insurance.  Why on earth haven’t our useless politicians tried this one before?

If for some reason the British people are unwilling to make the exchange, then we must keep our system, which relies on queues. For these are what you get when an essential service is offered without payment upfront.

And if you have queues then, however much taxpayers’ money you pour into the service, you will inevitably have horror stories like the tale of the treatment of poor Jack Williment-Barr at Leeds General Infirmary.

In order to try to ensure that they don’t happen, you will need not only good management (which helps to explain why such incidents happen in some places but not others), but more public money, too.

Which is why you shouldn’t put a Marxist Government in charge that will starve the NHS after first feeding it – the former being the cuts that would come when Jeremy Corbyn ran out of other people’s money.

(Like Labour’s cuts in hospital capital spending during the late 1970s, which the first-time voters queueing up to vote for Corbyn won’t remember.)

For clarity: we plead guilty to Cliffe’s charge.  For on balance, we believe that all European health systems have their strengths and weaknesses, but that Britain should stick with the NHS.

But ConservativeHome would say so, wouldn’t we?  After all, it was a Conservative, Henry Willink, who proposed a National Health Service when serving in Churchill’s wartime coalition.

And, if he wins this election, Boris Johnson will carry on doing what Tory Governments always do – i.e: raising spending above inflation, and seeking to reconcile what the NHS can provide with what taxpayers are willing to pay.

To try to stop him, Labour will desperately seek out as many last-ditch healthcare stories as it can, in order to succeed where its ludicrous campaign about an NHS sell-off to Donald Trump has failed.

Our media colleagues want a proper election contest, which Corbyn’s uselessness and extremism have denied them, and will enthusiastically play along.  We can scarcely blame them.

Meanwhile, the British people must decide whether or not, come Thursday, to try a bit of “chippy hubris” and “swaggering bullshit” of their own, as Cliffe puts it.  Or as we and Johnson prefer to say: Get Brexit Done.

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Father’s Nazi Past Overtakes German Business Guru

Westlake Legal Group 00rolandberger-01-facebookJumbo Father’s Nazi Past Overtakes German Business Guru World War II (1939-45) Prisoners of War Holocaust and the Nazi Era Handelsblatt Germany Dachau (Germany) Consultants Bertelsmann AG Berger, Roland Berger, Georg Austria Archives and Records anti-semitism

FRANKFURT — In his heyday, Roland Berger may have been the best-connected man in Germany. He advised chancellors and chief executives, founded one of Europe’s leading management consulting firms and rode Germany’s postwar rebound to become one of the country’s richest self-made men. Business magazines put him on the cover.

But in the twilight of his career, Mr. Berger’s image as ubiquitous boardroom consigliere and icon of the German economy is at risk. An exposé by the newspaper Handelsblatt asserts that he repeatedly misrepresented a key element of his personal history, portraying his father as a Nazi resister when in fact he was a high-ranking official.

The fallout from the Handelsblatt revelations has been devastating for the reputation of Mr. Berger, 82, and the foundation he endowed with 50 million euros, or $55 million, of his own money. The Roland Berger Foundation was forced last month to cancel a ceremony to bestow its annual Human Dignity Awards after two of the three recipients said they would no longer accept. The ceremony was to be held at the Jewish Museum in Berlin.

Mr. Berger had often invoked his father, Georg Berger, as an inspiration for the award.

“We had the Gestapo come to our house every six weeks,” Mr. Berger told an audience in Munich in 2017. “My father was locked up at some point.” That is why, Mr. Berger said, “I award the Human Dignity Award to people who contribute to freedom and tolerance, human rights and values all over the world.”

The prize was a major event, with €1 million, or $1.1 million, divided among the winners. For many years, Kofi Annan, the former secretary general of the United Nations, led the jury that selected recipients.

Historical documents uncovered by Handelsblatt and viewed by The New York Times present a less heroic picture of Georg Berger, who died in 1977. They show that he was an early member of the Nazi party who later served as chief bookkeeper for the Hitler Youth. Rudolf Hess, Adolf Hitler’s deputy, once wrote him a letter of recommendation.

In the early 1940s, when Roland was a small boy, the Berger family lived in an elegant villa in Vienna that had been seized from deported Jews, the documents indicate.

That would not matter so much if Roland Berger had not later made Georg Berger’s biography a part of his personal legend.

In interviews, Mr. Berger said his father had joined the Nazi party in the early 1930s but left in protest after an orgy of anti-Semitic violence in November 1938 revealed the party’s malevolent intentions. Georg Berger then became a target of Nazi prosecution, in the son’s telling.

Mr. Berger told of heartbreaking visits to his father in Gestapo detention, and said his father was later held at Dachau, the notorious concentration camp near Munich.

Handelsblatt’s research indicated that Georg Berger indeed ran afoul of Hitler’s regime, but not until 1942. He was accused of illegally hoarding food, not political resistance. The research cast doubt on whether Georg Berger was incarcerated by the Nazis, and indicated that he remained a member of the party until 1944.

It is unclear whether Mr. Berger was simply repeating stories he had heard from his father or was aware that some elements were untrue. There are ambiguities in the case. After the war, Allied tribunals that scrutinized Georg Berger’s past concluded that he was both Nazi collaborator and victim.

Through a spokeswoman, Mr. Berger declined a request for an interview. He has hired two well-known professors, Michael Wolffsohn, an authority on German-Jewish history, and Sönke Neitzel, an expert on World War II, to examine the records.

“Should this investigation lead to new insights into his father’s role and responsibilities, Roland Berger is, of course, prepared to revise his father’s image,” a statement issued by the foundation said.

Mr. Wolffsohn said in an email that he and Mr. Neitzel did not want to comment until their report is finished early next year.

German companies have often had to apologize for collaborating with the Nazis or for falsely claiming to have resisted Hitler’s regime. Volkswagen, Daimler and Deutsche Bank have hired outside historians to document their use of slave labor or contribution to the German war machine.

The Reimann family, which controls the company that owns brands such as Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Peet’s Coffee, Pret A Manger and Keurig, has recently begun to grapple with the firm’s use of slave labor during World War II and enthusiastic support of the Nazis.

In 2002, Bertelsmann, the German media company that owns the publisher Penguin Random House, was forced to retract assertions, long part of company lore, that the Nazis had shut it down in 1944 for publishing banned books. In fact, Bertelsmann was the largest supplier of books to the German Army, including titles with anti-Semitic themes.

But Mr. Berger’s case is unusual. Born in November 1937, he was only 7 when Germany surrendered.

Mr. Berger appears to have said little about his father until around 2003, when he gave up day-to-day management of the firm he founded in 1967, Roland Berger Strategy Consultants.

The firm is one of the few European consultants able to compete with American giants like McKinsey & Company. In addition to chief executives of blue-chip companies, Mr. Berger advised political leaders including Helmut Kohl, the long-serving German chancellor. After Mr. Kohl’s conservative party was defeated in 1998, Mr. Berger became an adviser to the new socialist chancellor, Gerhard Schröder.

While management consultants usually prefer to operate in the shadows, Mr. Berger cultivated a personal brand. He often gave interviews and commissioned a portrait of himself by Andy Warhol.

Georg Berger, his father, was a veteran of World War I who in 1921 joined a business group close to Hitler. In 1931, two years before Hitler came to power, Georg Berger joined the Nazi Party. At the time, he worked as a freelance bookkeeper.

In 1936, Georg Berger swore allegiance to Hitler in the same Munich beer hall where the Nazis had launched an unsuccessful putsch attempt in 1923. The oath was a prerequisite for becoming chief bookkeeper of the Hitler Youth.

Documents show that Georg Berger resigned his post with the Hitler Youth for unspecified health reasons in September 1939. That was almost a year after so-called Kristallnacht, when Nazi-inspired mobs burned synagogues and destroyed Jewish-owned shops. Contrary to the version presented by Roland Berger, Georg Berger continued to pay Nazi party dues until 1944.

In 1940, Georg Berger became general manager of Ankerbrot, Austria’s largest bakery, with help from Nazi officials. The business in Vienna had been seized from Jewish owners who had been forced to flee.

The first sign that Georg Berger was falling out of favor with the Nazis came in 1942. Acting on tips, the Gestapo twice raided the villa in Vienna where the Berger family lived. The secret police found evidence that Georg Berger was illegally hoarding butter, eggs, soap and other scarce items that were strictly rationed at the time, according to Gestapo documents.

The elder Berger was also accused of diverting workers from the bakery to do renovations at the villa. His file in the German Federal Archives does not indicate what punishment, if any, was imposed.

The Roland Berger Foundation suggested that the accusations against Georg Berger might have been politically motivated, and that the charges of hoarding were merely a pretense.

“Nazi and Gestapo documents often have a denunciatory character and often reflect conflicts over power and influence within Nazi institutions,” the statement said.

After the war, the Allies held Georg Berger in an internment camp. Like thousands of other functionaries and businessmen, he was brought before a tribunal to determine how actively he had supported Hitler’s regime.

The tribunal heard testimony that Georg Berger had been imprisoned by the Gestapo and escaped being sent to Dachau only because a sympathizer inside the secret police intervened. Instead, according to the testimony, the elder Berger was sent as a soldier to the Eastern Front — a marginally better fate — where the Soviet Army captured him.

Testimony presented at these so-called denazification hearings was notoriously unreliable. Many of the accused recruited friends or family to lie on their behalf and to reinvent them as resisters and dissidents.

Georg Berger’s Gestapo file makes no mention of imprisonment, Dachau or the Russian front. Handelsblatt said its team of reporters had scoured archives in Germany and Austria and found no evidence that the Nazis incarcerated him or that he was a prisoner of war.

The denazification tribunal as well as an appeals panel later classified Georg Berger as a low-level Nazi collaborator. He was barred from holding influential positions in business, politics or media for two years.

The more favorable portrait of Georg Berger later presented by Roland Berger may simply have been the work of a son eager to believe his father was a hero. But much of the information, such as the dates of Georg Berger’s Nazi party membership, were readily available in archives. A person with Mr. Berger’s resources could have easily checked.

“Roland Berger did not conceal any information about his father,” the Roland Berger Foundation said. “He just didn’t have all the documents.”

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Ryan Bourne: Thatcher and Cameron made us happier

Ryan Bourne is Chair in Public Understanding of Economics at the Cato Institute.

Perhaps David Cameron had better foresight than he’s given credit for. At a Google conference in 2006, the then leader of the opposition declared “It’s time we admitted that there’s more to life than money, and it’s time we focused not just on GDP, but on GWB – general well-being.” With the financial crash ravaging the public finances through 2010 and conventional economic indicators in the doldrums, he risked opprobrium by tasking the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to measure wellbeing for the first time.

Well, his desire to be judged on such metrics now looks incredibly prescient. Never mind sluggish GDP growth throughout and after his premiership. Forget the polarisation of Brexit. The ONS’s latest wellbeing stats, released last week, show that the British people are significantly happier and more satisfied than back in 2011.

It really is remarkable. Every self-reported measure of wellbeing has improved near continuously in the past eight years. Asked on a 1-10 scale whether they are satisfied with their lives (0 being “not at all” to 10 “completely”), the public’s mean score has risen from 7.11 to 7.42, with the proportion answering 7 or above rising from 76 percent to 82 percent. This isn’t some anomaly either. How worthwhile we perceive our lives and self-reported happiness have been ever rising too, on average. Anxiety, meanwhile, has fallen, albeit having levelled out recently. If Cameron had convinced us of wellbeing’s central importance, we’d now be celebrating his wonderful legacy.

As it happens, of course, this “good news” got about as much coverage last week as a positive Brexit business story. Remainer demands for a new Brexit impact assessment show that pounds and pence are still king in UK politics (at least until there’s an EU regulation the same Remainers want us to follow). We free-marketeers were fearful, when subjective happiness metrics were introduced, that they’d become active targets of policy. We needn’t have worried. Political leftists’ attachment to them proved skin deep, falling away as soon as they suggested Britain was not hell on earth under the Tories.

But was classical liberals’ fear of such metrics misguided? Perhaps. Consider a new paper from researchers at the University of Warwick. Reviewing eight million publications digitized through Google Books, the study aims to construct longer-run indices of wellbeing from 1820 through to 2009. Its findings are even more jarring than the ONS stats.

Here’s how their index is put together. Use of positive words in published books, such as “cheerful,” “happy,” and “joyful,” are considered proxies for better subjective wellbeing. Negative words such as “sad” or “miserable,” are tallied up as measuring worse wellbeing. In short, the academics assume that in a happier world, more “happy words” would be written in published tomes.

Now, I was sceptical of that methodology. But they check their results against life satisfaction data over recent decades from Eurobarometer and the UN, finding strong correlations in the numbers. Emotive positive/negative language does appear to proxy well for self-reported wellbeing since the 1970s, when both sets of data are available. Having satisfied themselves of the methodology, the retrospective application to earlier periods produces fascinating results.

Wellbeing was consistently high in the UK in the 19th century, fell around the time of World War One, before then recovering. Unsurprisingly, it plunged again during World War Two, before rebounding to a lower peak. But the post-war phase is most striking, splitting clear into two obvious periods. From the 1950s to 1980 there was a sustained fall in wellbeing. After 1980, there was a dramatic rebound, fitting with Eurobarometer data showing a sustained improvement in life satisfaction in the UK over the past 40 years. Britain’s life satisfaction index since 1950 is therefore distinctly V-shaped.

What might explain this dramatic inflection circa 1980? Social trends would surely be a slower burner. People had been getting better off between 1950 and 1980 too, so this is about more than rising wealth. No, there’s one rather obvious explanation fitting the time trend: the UK’s abandonment of its quasi-socialist economic model and embrace of Thatcherism.

Such a thesis is supported by the fact the US experienced a near identical V-trend in its index centred around the launch of Reaganism. Germany, in contrast, saw wellbeing completely flatline from the 1950s onwards. Neoliberalism’s birth, it seems, facilitated sustained rises in wellbeing.

These findings dunk all over accepted truths. Claims from the Spirit Levellers that inequality and marketisation made us miserable are dismissed. If anything, the exact opposite appears true: the post-war period saw socialist equality beget misery. Life satisfaction rose with inequality through the 1980s and continued to rise once inequality settled at a higher level.

Nor can GDP or the labour market adequately explain the trends. Rising GDP per capita, other things given, would be expected to improve life satisfaction, and Britain’s economy did perform well relative to other countries after 1980. But growth was stronger in previous decades, when life satisfaction was falling. Wellbeing does not appear to have fallen after the financial crash either. Sure, tightening labour markets might explain some of the rise in wellbeing since 2011, but Britain had very high unemployment in the 1980s, just as life satisfaction took off.

No, the absence of clear outcomes-based economic explanations suggests that my friend Terence Kealey may be right. What might explain the reversal from 1980 is simply that we Anglo-Saxons value our economic freedom, above and beyond its GDP or employment impact. Economic liberty makes us happier.

The post-war period saw high tax rates, capital controls, Keynesian demand management, nationalisations, price and income controls, and high inflation. Afterwards we shifted towards freer trade and migration, lower taxes, lighter touch regulation, and free movements of capital. Of course, we’re not near libertopia; if anything the Thatcher and Reagan revolutions proved a brake on a longer-term government juggernaut. But there was a paradigm shift on economic freedom. We Brits, and our American cousins, found it deeply satisfying.

For a libertarian, this isn’t surprising. Our worldview is centred on the belief that individuals know best how to live their lives to improve wellbeing. Thatcher, of course, claimed her economic liberalisation agenda was in tune with the true instincts of the British people. All this suggests she may well have been right.

David Cameron had no such ideological inclinations. In fact, he probably advocated happiness metrics, in part, to distance himself from the supposed economics-obsessed “libertarian” wing of his party. How ironic then that the sorts of wellbeing measures he championed took off when classical liberals turned the tide on socialism, and strengthened through the “age of austerity.”

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Sheila Lawlor: Ultimately, as the EU’s leaders recognise, the momentum is with Johnson.

Sheila Lawlor is the Director of Politeia and the author of Now or Never: Countering the Coup Against Britain’s Democracy, from which the article below draws.

Boris Johnson, no novice to the craft of politics, kept his friends for the most part on side and his enemies guessing. He extracted a new deal from the EU that dropped the backstop and the UK’s subjugation to EU customs union law; sent, but did not sign, Parliament’s delay letter, and dealt with the duplicitous Letwin amendment to stop Brexit by his firm resolution to see the deal through into to law. MPs who refused to back it still don’t know whether that will lead to no deal or delay.

Much depends on the EU and its leaders, who have committed to Johnson’s vision. Fewer than 90 days after assuming office, he convinced enough of them that their way and his lay side by side, on – and even more important – beyond Brexit, turning enemy fortresses across Europe’s capitals into friendly citadels.

Previously, for the EU the Leave vote was a decision to be ignored, a problem to be circumvented by keeping the UK in and under the EU system. It had reasons of realpolitik – to show rebellious member states that  the UK could not really leave, and that it would be punished for trying.

It also had pragmatic economic reasons: the UK economy must be bound and gagged, into and under EU law, its future path aligned to that law made in Brussels, to prevent a rival competitor on its shores. For France, particularly, Britain’s ‘Anglo-Saxon’ or competitive free market system is an upstart and potential rival to the Brussels (and French) model, of  a protected, centrally planned and controlled, system that had gradually evolved in France from the time of Louis XIV and had been adapted for the EU project.

Johnson realised that Brussels, with its Franco-German axis, needed a political ‘win’, accepting such punitive elements in the May deal as: dispute resolution (e.g: citizens’ rights to be under ECJ jurisdiction), the UK divorce payment to the EU, the 13 months of transition under EU law with no UK vote or voice, all as the price of a new deal. But this deal is finite, a tidying-up exercise for exit – one that will, after the transition, leave the UK and  its economy free.

The big prize will be that the UK’s economic and trade freedom will be restored, something May’s backstop would have prevented, potentially indefinitely. Instead, the UK economy will be under laws made by the UK, not EU law – ]Johnson’s ‘must’, set out in his first official letter as Prime Minister to Donald Tusk: when the UK left the EU, it would leave its single market and customs union,but remain committed to “world-class environment, product and labour standards, though UK laws would potentially diverge from the EU: That is the point of our exit and our ability to enable this is central to our future democracy”.

The ball is now in the EU’s court. It can refuse an extension and focus on the future, to draw a line under the problem they have resolved with Johnson, as Emmanuel Macron, Leo Varadkar and others may be minded to do by vetoing delay. Or it may grant a delay, potentially linked to the dissolution of parliament for a general election.  Either way, the ratification process has now been launched on the EU side.

Ultimately, as the EU’s leaders recognise, the momentum is with Johnson. It has been since he led the Vote Leave campaign in 2016, breaking with his Party’s leadership, to seize the opportunity to shape his and his country’s destiny, as the outsider, a leader in waiting.

He recognises that in this country the authority to make laws derives from the people under the UK’s constitution, the unwritten law that obliged monarchs and prime ministers over centuries, to respect people’s wishes or face the consequences and lose their hold on power.  The MPs who have used the power, with which they were entrusted by the people to execute the referendum decision, in order to try to thwart it have broken that constitutional settlement.

Johnson understands, as Lloyd George, was reported to remark, that ‘at the top there are no friends’. That has helped him make his own way, use his own judgement, cautious, reflective, shrewd. Having taken with him some of the EU leaders who call the shots – Macron, Jean Claude Juncker, Michel Barnier and to some extent, Angela Merkel – he has found a Brexit that works for everyone, or almost everyone.

The DUP, unhappy with the à la carte proposals designed to satisfy the different parties on customs, VAT and consent, should take comfort in the  constitutional reality: Northern Ireland is part of the UK and part of its customs union, a fact reflected in the deal. The practical arrangements to facilitate the smooth running of the all-island economy are just that, and will be subject to consent.

The Prime Minister has yet to deploy the armoury of tools in the executive cupboard in this see-saw for power between the executive and a legislature dominated by MPs determined to stop Brexit. He can choose from a plentiful stock of UK precedents, not to mention the provisions of international law. The country waits to see Brexit’s parliamentary opponents despatched. The EU has agreed to a deal that sets Britain free in December 2020. Labour’s leader may want to make a last ditch try to turn the deal’s economic freedom to servitude by championing a customs union at the eleventh hour.

But he may find  less appetite for that in the EU than before, and less than unanimity for the  hurdles a  long delay could bring. Its leaders, like Johnson,  belong to the school of politics in which there are neither eternal enmities nor friendships, only interests.

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