London calling: An Alphabet of Sights from #Brexit-infused England 2020-G is for Getting Brexit done

One of the annoying features about Brexit, from referendum decision, through campaign, through initial failed negotiations, through May’s resignation, through Johnson’s ascent, through general election, through Brexit Day, has been the numbing dishonesty and ignorance lay behind simplistic phrases like “Get Brexit done!” Only fools thought it would be a simple case of walking out the door, closing it and never looking back. Sadly, a lot of simpletons are around and bought that notion. They are now beginning to see that many complexities lay ahead.


Less than a month after Brexit Day on January 31, the UK is already in trouble with EU rules: A levy that the U.K. introduced for heavy goods vehicles in 2014 discriminates against foreign truck drivers because British ones can get refunded for the tax they pay, the European Commission stated in mid-February. That goes against the EU’s philosophy of treating citizens from all of its countries equally.

Most EU member governments think the 11-month transition period is too short, but PM Johnson has said he will not seek an extension. We’ll see if that line holds.

So, keep on trucking!

London calling: An Alphabet of Sights from #Brexit-infused England 2020-H is for hostile Home Office

If you’ve followed discussions about British policy about defining itself the term ‘hostile’ has cropped up more over recent decades than words like ‘caring’, ‘compassionate’ or ‘inclusive’. So, we see a policy-making attitude that is divisive and punitive regarding people whom the government feels should not be part of the national ‘melting pot’.

The latest incarnation of the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has had a torrid few days as far as her public image goes.

Home Secretary, Priti (not a typo) Patel

The Guardian’s Marina Hype wrote a scathing and funny piece last Friday, entitled ‘Perma-smirking Priti Patel brings the hostile environment in-house’, which contained such zingers as:

  • ‘repeatedly confused “counter-terrorism” with “terrorism”’
  • ‘One of the more eye-catching Home Office briefings against her this week declared that Patel was “not committed to the rule of law”. Given she’s home secretary, that feels akin to a doctor not being committed to the idea of medicine.’
  • ‘this week she was accused of bullying staff, trying to oust her most senior official, and creating an “atmosphere of fear” within the department. As opposed to outside of it, which is the norm.’
  • ‘Patel insisted those jobs previously filled by immigrant workers would be stepped up to by Britons currently classed as “economically inactive” – a rationale that means so much more coming from someone always classed as intellectually inactive. One theory is that last Thursday’s cabinet reshuffle brought bad news from Priti’s magic mirror, which no longer gave the desired answer when she inquired of it: “Who is the dimmest of them all?”’

She’s had a rough few years after being forced to resign as Secretary for International Development and apologize publicly for holding meetings in Israel in August 2017 without telling the Foreign Office, while on a “private holiday”.

She’s an odd fish in Tory Party waters: the 2nd generation child born in 1972 of Gujarati immigrants who’d left Uganda in the 1960s, before President Amin expelled many such. She’s been painted as a firm pillar of the so-called ‘new right’ while having said allegedly that “racist attitudes” persisted in the Conservative Party, and that “there’s a lot of bigotry around”.

Since being selected as a Tory candidate, winning a seat, rising to Cabinet positions, resigning and then re-emerging as a Cabinet minister is not a shabby resume. However, her hostile stance towards immigrants and those who call the UK ‘home’ is strange. It’s an odd way to square the circles, but that’s politics, I guess.

London calling: An Alphabet of Sights from #Brexit-infused England 2020-I is for impasse

If Brexit has been a great political football match, it stands to draw a distinct line through what has ironically been called ‘English’ football, especially as the Premier League looks more like the United Nations with every passing (no pun) match.

The ink has barely dried from ‘Brexit Day’ on January 31, but it’s not much clearer what the effect on the great game will be. The touch line is new immigration rules for ‘overseas footballers’ playing in England after December 2020, which will come into force when freedom of movement between the UK and the 27-nation bloc ends.

The issues to tackle come from how immigration rules should affect football once the UK has a new trade deal with the EU. But, there’s a lot of tussling for the ball by two premium players in the English game (I wont talk about the football associations for the other parts of the British Isles and whether they will be bound by any agreement). For the Football Association, English football’s governing body, the UK’s departure offers a rare chance to curbs the number of foreign players at top clubs. That will force clubs to develop more local talent which should boost the England national team. The Premier League, the top tier of English club football, is fighting the proposals, fearing they will harm one of the UK’s great international exports.

EU footballers would be expected to meet the same criteria as non-EU nationals to gain a work permit, such as regularly playing for their national team. It will revolve around money, inevitably, as the major clubs are likely to use their financial muscle to corner the smaller market for so-called ‘home grown’ talented and likely see transfer prices for such players rise, with some clear implications throughout the structure of British football.

For now, those two governing bodies are at an impasse.

The chart below shows that starting positions are skewed, so clubs like Burnley, which have developed on the back of few non-home-grown talent, would have less need to adjust than say Wolves—heavily dependent on imported EU talent through a controversial ‘Portuguese connection’.

(Credit: Financial Times)