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Scrapbook for January 2019

Posted on  UTC 2019-01-01 02:01

30.01.2019 – Brexit: Are we there, yet?

We were premature, a few days ago, in giving up on our prophecy that the UK Parliament would 'accept the Withdrawal Agreement comfortably'. For last night it did just that, even 'comfortably'.

True, there was some conditional flim-flam about the 'Irish backstop', but, in essence, Parliament has taken control of the Brexit process (as we said it always would) and made the Withdrawal Agreement the only document on the table.

Let us remind ourselves that the Withdrawal Agreement will keep the UK in the EU in all but name for the foreseeable future. The conspiracy-minded might see all the fuss about the Irish backstop – important though that is – as being merely a distraction tactic. As John Redwood MP put it this morning:

As someone who objects to more than just the backstop in the draft Agreement I was unable to support a motion which said I would support the Withdrawal Agreement after changes to the backstop.

After last night there are now only three options left over out of the preceding chaos: One, the UK government and the EU finesse the backstop legally in such a way that it becomes acceptable to both parties; two, the EU remains firm and Britain leaves the EU at the end of March with no deal; or three, no deal for whatever reason, but the UK and the EU agree to put off the date of leaving to allow more time for smoothing the passage.

The key question behind these three options is: when the crunch comes, has the backstop proposal been sufficiently finessed? And that will be for Parliament to decide, because the Government, having got thus far, has now said 'over to you'.

When accepting the award for political commentator of the year we shall show due modesty, but inside we shall be exultant: yes – got a forecast right at last!

06.01.2019 – Why was this website taken offline? Why has it now returned?

In the last weeks of last year it became clear for a number of reasons that future postings to Figures of Speech would be rare or non-existent. The hosting contract for the website was also due to run out shortly.

These two facts led to the conclusion that, after nearly four years, the website had run its course and the best thing would be to shut it down as elegantly as possible.

That conclusion was an extremely foolish one. A selfish one, too, as quite a few visitors (more than we knew we had) pointed out with some force that we had just disconnected our content from a number of external links (most of which we didn't know existed). This is what happens when you don't track visitors. A few people even tried flattery, always effective when dealing with fools and incompetents.

Time to grovel. We are very sorry for our ill-thought-out action in taking the website offline so peremptorily. All existing content has been reinstated and will remain online for the foreseeable future. There will be little or no posting of new material for some time to come, though.

We still won't track visitors: you can come and go, but the door hinges will never squeak and the floorboards never creak.