Lifestyle & Culture

Brexit buzz (updated): The latest developments as the UK counts down to 31 October

(Editor’s note: Liam Fox infamously said Brexit would be “the easiest negotiation in human history.” With a new prime minister, literally anything could happen. See below for details.)

When the Brexit vote came up on 23 June 2016, we went to bed that night thinking this wasn’t a big deal. Who in their right mind would vote to leave the European Union, the largest, richest and most frictionless single economy in the world?

We awoke to the answer on 24 June 2016: A majority – 51.9 percent – of the voters in the United Kingdom, or more than 17 million people.

In the run up to the election, then-United Kingdom Independent Party leader Nigel Farage (who has a German wife and several French mistresses), Boris Johnson – now prime minister – and others on the Far Right had convinced a lot of British people the EU was the bête noire, responsible for all the UK’s troubles.

Leaving the EU would mean an extra 350 million pounds each week for the National Health Service; the UK would get a Brexit dividend and would soon be able to cut taxes with the windfall from brilliant new trade treaties around the globe.

None of which  has turned out to be actually true.

After more than three years, what was billed as “the easiest negotiations in human history” has gone nowhere as former Prime Minister Theresa May’s government discovered what those Remoaners suspected – divorces are bitter to the end.

After more than three years, Brexit remains at Square One.

So we have a running update of Brexit developments:

• We long ago quit saying, “There’s no way Brexit could be any bigger of a mess.” Eight days till 31 October, Parliament has voted against Boris Johnson’s accelerated three-day plan to pass his withdrawal agreement with the European Union. The headlines all include words such as “limbo” and “purgatory.”

So, Boris has “paused” Brexit, waiting to see if the EU will grant another extension. If they do, he’ll call a general election. And that’s as far into the future as our minds will let us project these days. Yes, Brexit has broken our brains in the sense that we can no longer comprehend all the possible outcomes.

An anonymous wag inside Boris’ cabinet put it this way to Politico:

This parliament is broken. The public will have to choose whether they want to get Brexit done with Boris or whether they want to spend 2020 having two referendums on Brexit and Scotland with [Labour leader Jeremy] Corbyn.

• Another day, another smack down for Boris Johnson as John Bercow rules on Monday that Johnson can’t resubmit his Brexit deal after Sir Oliver Letwin’s motion to block a no-deal Brexit carried the day on Saturday.

Pouring over everything that’s come before, we believe the only Brexit predictor is the Irish border. The unionists in Northern Ireland simply will not support any legislation that smacks of sacrificing their connection to the UK, leaving them under the brutal jackboots of the EU.

Trouble is, they see a glaring hole in Johnson’s plan – because the Irish border becomes the UK’s border with the EU, Northern Irish businesses will have to complete exit declarations when sending goods to Great Britain. That’s basically filling out a meaningless form that says goods are leaving the EU’s customs territory, but a regular customs declaration isn’t needed.

Except symbolism is everything in Ireland, and this one tiny glitch is seen as a total betrayal to the Democratic Unionist Party. And without DUP votes, Boris can’t get anything done. What was that line Liam Fox used? “The easiest negotiations in history”?

• From the Juliet Samuel at The Telegraph to Gary Younge at the Guardian, Brexit has breathed new life into the careers of political analysts as they try to figure out how this mess ends.

Scanning the Sunday opinion posts, here are some of the possible outcomes:

  1. An extension into 2020.
  2. Labour wants a second Brexit referendum, but do they have the votes to get their proposal through? Shadow Secretary Keir Starmer says Labour could vote for Johnson’s deal if a second referendum is added to the withdrawal agreement. Which should really confuse things.
  3. A no-deal Brexit if Boris Johnson can just run down the clock … though there’s still the Benn Act to contend with, requiring Boris to ask for yet another extension.
  4. Parliament could pass Johnson’s current deal. And there’s a fair amount of sentiment on both sides to just get Brexit done. But with the DUP standing hard on any Irish border concessions, that seems unlikely
  5. A no-confidence vote followed by a general election and – one assumes – an extension with the EU.
  6. The Second Coming makes it all irrelevant. Just sayin’. But that presents its own problems as what would we all talk about if didn’t have Brexit?

• The Brexit storyline has more plot twists and betrayals than a “Peaky Blinders” episode.So, what just happened?

Boris Johnson and EU officials were all smiles and thumbs-up in Brussels, announcing a deal. Then Johnson ends up getting chewed up by Parliament just like Theresa May. How can that be?

Well, first of all, Sir Oliver Letwin gummed up the works (again) by tabling an amendment requiring Johnson to ask the EU to delay Brexit until ALL legislation underpinning his deal makes it through the House of Commons, assuring there’s no hard Brexit. (Though Letwin is a Tory, he tabled the legislation back in March that gave Parliament control of the Brexit process, again to stop a no-deal Brexit.)

Letwin’s proposal passed only because the ultra-conservative Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland doesn’t like Boris’ deal, called it a “betrayal,” then bailed on Johnson, followed by conservative Scottish MPs.

Now what? Well, the Benn Act passed in September requires the prime minister to write a letter to EU officials requesting a Brexit delay. But Johnson is hinting he’ll do no such thing and revert to what has been his plan all along … a no-deal Brexit on 31 October.

And if you think Brexit can’t get any crazier … well, don’t touch that dial because EU officials are noisily tapping their feet demanding to know exactly what’s going to happen next ….

• Remember when Boris Johnson said he’d die in a ditch before he’d allow the United Kingdom the United Kingdom to stay in the European Union after 31 October? (Please see previous paragraph.) Well, the prime minister had better start  looking for that final resting place because the House of Commons has just voted 322 to 306 to delay a meaningful vote on Johnson’s plan that he just finished negotiating, theoretically forcing him to ask the EU for another delay.

Unsurprisingly, Johnson is not pleased and told the Parliament he might ignore the vote. So, Britain is even deeper into a Brexit crisis as millions of anti-Brexit protesters flood the streets of London.

• Look out world, here’s comes GREAT Britain. Boris Johnson has just reaffirmed the United Kingdom will leave the European Union on 31 October no matter what.

In Boris’s Queen’s Speech intro, he said his mission is “nothing less than making our country the greatest place on earth.” And when the UK is free – FREE! – of those EU shackles, free to do the things “we have not been allowed to for decades …” England will be great, Boris vowed. (All we can think of is those straight banannas, but we’re sure there must be horribly oppressive EU practices we just don’t know about.)

Which does not sound like a Brexit deal will ever happen under his watch.

• European Union officials have rejected Boris Johnson’s proposal for a Brexit deal citing irreconcilable differences over the Irish border. Which include excruciatingly detailed plans down to the shape of transit offices where freight would be scanned on either side of the border. This all gives the lie to the memorable predictions by Brexiteers that this would be “the easiest negotiations in history.” Well, except for all those endless maddening details.

• We’ve all learned lots of new Brexit lingo and arcane terms including “prorogation,” “backstop” and “Article 50.” Here are three more you’ll be hearing a lot in the next few days: Benn ActCivil Contingencies Act and Order of Council.

Parliament passed the Benn Act earlier on 9 September in an attempt to block a no-deal Brexit by Boris Johnson. It stipulates that should the UK and the EU reach 31 October without a deal, Brexit negotiations would be extended three more months. (A judge ruled 7 October that we just have to trust Boris Johnson’s word that he intends to obey British law.)

Brexiteers say they have a way around the Benn Act in the form of the Civil Contingencies Act and maybe an Order of Council.

The Civil Contingencies Act allows the government to declare a national emergency and rule by decree. And no, it’s not clear who gets to decide whether reaching 31 October without a deal qualifies as a national emergency.

An Order of Council is even more arcane. See, the Queen has this Privy Council of advisors … senior politicians who were/are members of the House of Commons or the House of Lords. And they serve for life. The Privy Council advises the Queen on Royal Prerogatives. (Wow, overlooked that one.) But Brexiteers believe the Privy Council can override the Benn Act without getting the permission of Queen Elizabeth II or even the various women who play her on “The Crown” series.

You have all this memorized, right?

• We never quite understood how Boris Johnson could legally suspend Parliament days away from the Brexit deadline, interrupting the natural flow of debate about this momentous withdrawal from the European Union. Turns out he couldn’t. 

The United Kingdom’s Supreme Court just ruled unanimously that Johnson’s prorogation advice to Queen Elizabeth II was “unlawful, void and to no effect.”

So what’s next? There’s already a long line of political leaders and parliamentarians calling for Boris to resign. The most colorful language came from Shami Chakrabarti, Labour’s Shadow attorney general, who called Johnson a “tin-pot dictator.”

• It was one year ago on 6 September 2018 that several British media outlets including Sky News revealed the existence of Operation Yellowhammer, the May government’s planning for a worst-case, no-deal Brexit scenario. That plan includes messaging to reassure financial markets to keep them from collapsing, budget austerity and emergency measures such as stockpiling pharmaceuticals and other essentials.

A year later, the actual documents are public and a no-deal Brexit looks worse than originally predicted, with “disruptions” (also known as riots) as food supplies dwindle along with the availability of medicines and fuel as lorries get hung up in the new customs regimes.

• With daily crises and reversals, is Boris Johnson asking himself why he ever backed Brexit? Not a zealot like Moggsy or Nigel, Johnson originally opposed leaving the EU, the decided he was for anything that could put him into No. 10 Downing Street.

If you apply a simple risk/reward test, the United Kingdom’s Brexit reward is scant.

On the reward side, both left and right Brexiteers believe the EU has too much regulatory power especially when it comes to free movement. There’s also a payment imbalance, with Britain paying 13.1 billion pounds to the EU in 2016, then getting back 4.5 billion, with a net contribution of about 8.5 billion pounds. But no one knows how UK would fare outside of the largest free-trade bloc in the world.

On the loss side, the risks include:

  • the breakup of the UK, with Scotland already moving to leave the union.
  • the breakup of the Conservative Party, which is on-going.
  • the likelihood that England will end up with less favorable trade agreements with European countries, not better because let’s face it – it has no real leverage. Of course, we’ll never know in our lifetimes because negotiating treaties can take decades.
  • the departure of its financial sector, which is already happening.
  • Britain’s auto industry disappearing.
  • the terrorism risk rises since the UK no longer has intel-sharing rights with the EU.
  • declining workforce skills as migration blocks out highly skilled internationals.

The Week has the most balanced look at the pros and cons of Brexit.

• Once again, the foreign press is doing a better job of explaining the ripple effect of the Brexit mess than the (mostly far-right and parochial) British media.

MarketWatch, a partnership between the Wall Street Journal and CBS, has a post by Senior Writer Pierre Briançon outlining why EU presidents and prime ministers are sitting smugly in their capitals watching Brexit – how can we phrase this delicately? – turn to shit.

Briançon makes the point that those EU leaders including France’s Emmanuel Macron believe they’ve done as good a job as they can preparing and frankly, they’re just over it.

Moreover, Brexit has distracted EU leaders from more important crises such as Putin and Russia, Donald Trump and the global economy.

Finally, he says, whatever happens with Brexit, leaders across the EU know Brexit isn’t going to blow up in their faces because their constituents basically don’t care anymore.

Can there be a square before Square One? If so, that’s where we are. Again, the British Parliament doesn’t want a no-deal Brexit. They don’t want any transition plan that’s been submitted and they don’t want elections.

Which pretty much leaves the UK right where it started on 23 June 2016.

A lot has happened … Boris Johnson lost six votes in six days. There was a riot as MPs protesting the prorogue tried to block Speaker John Bercow in his chair. Parliament has been suspended until just before the Brexit date. And a no-deal Brexit has been forestalled with the Benn Act, though hardliners warn Boris might ignore that law.

• Brexit has come down to a showdown. And it’s hard to imagine anything could still be this screwed up after three years of negotiations and votes.

In the most telling moment of the past three days, Prime Minister Boris Johnson responded to yet another defeat in the House of Commons by proposing a general election, then asking Brits who they want to represent them at a crucial European Union summit on 17 October – him or the dastardly Jeremy Corbyn?

This latest round of chaos started on 3 September when Parliament took control of the legislative agenda, giving MPs the right to propose legislation. Which they did, proposing a bill to block a no-deal Brexit. That bill passed the House of Lords and will come back to Commons for yet another vote.

If the bill becomes law, Johnson said, it would take off the table his only real bargaining chip with the EU, which is true. Now he wants a general election to settle that whole “me or Corbyn” issue.

However, MPs trying to stop a hard Brexit quoted EU officials as saying Johnson has never even sent them his negotiating points because his only plan is a no-deal Brexit.

However, MPs want their legislation blocking a no-deal Brexit codified into law before any election.

However, Corbyn winning a hypothetical election wouldn’t necessarily guarantee a no-deal Brexit because his Labor faction wants to leave the EU, which they view as a capitalist tool.

So, the British Parliament doesn’t want a no-deal Brexit. They don’t want any transition plan that’s been submitted and they don’t want elections.

Which pretty much leaves the UK right where it started on 23 June 2016.

• So much madness, so little time.

With every passing day, hope fades that there will ever be any real clarity about what’s coming next with Brexit. Will the suspension of the Parliament assure a no-deal Brexit? Will Boris Johnson’s threat to kick rebel MPs out of the Conservative Party trigger a general election as the Tories lose their majority? Will those Tory rebels defy Johnson and join Labour and Liberal Democrats in blocking a hard Brexit? Will Nigel Farage be the first Brexit Party prime minister?

As predicted, BoJo lost the 3 September vote, which means Parliament can now introduce a bill for yet another Brexit delay.

This all comes after Tory rebels revealed their plan to delay Brexit until January 2020 if a no-deal is still an option come mid-October. Now, a number of the most prominent Conservatives will be ejected from the party including former Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, former Justice Secretary David Gauke, Winston Churchill’s grandson Sir Nicholas Soames, and Rory Stewart.

Buckle your seatbelts … it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

• Was this the political move that ensures a no-deal Brexit? 

The word “prorogue” is yet another arcane parliamentary term from some bygone century that’s only resurfaced with Brexit. But it’s a word Brits likely will remember for a long, long time. It means to suspend a parliamentary session without actually doing away with parliament itself.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has gotten Queen Elizabeth II’s permission to prorogue parliament for five weeks, with PMs only returning two weeks before the 31 October deadline to leave the European Union.

The suspension could begin as early as 9 September and last until 14 October.

Johnson has said the suspension is only to refine his “very exciting” agenda, but it was telling that MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, the most avid Brexiteer, accompanied Johnson to Balmoral to meet with the 93-year-old monarch.

It remains to be seen what sort of backlash Johnson’s maneuver will provoke.

It seems that after three years, Brexit is just getting interesting.

Operation Yellowhammer is not exactly news. The Guardian was reporting about the emergency post-Brexit preparation plans one year ago.

What is news is that the red-meat, nationalistic Brexit-supporting Times of London got hold of the full secret report and it ain’t pretty.

The quick-and-dirty summary is:

Britain faces shortages of fuel, food and medicine, a three-month meltdown at its ports, a hard border with Ireland and rising costs in social care in the event of a no-deal Brexit, according to an unprecedented leak of government documents that lay bare the gaps in contingency planning.

Again, it’s not so much the news … we knew all this long ago. It’s the fact it’s dawning on the Times that Operation Yellowhammer isn’t “Operation Fear” or a worst-case scenario. This is what is going to happen in the event of a no-deal Brexit and Boris Johnson & Co. have done f*ck all to prepare.

There simply are no deals in place of any kind to replace existing trade, customs, residency and transportation rules under the European Union.

• At mid-August, a flurry of developments … and none of them good if you’re Remainer.

A new study projects that half of the United Kingdom’s farms could fail in the event of a no-deal Brexit, according to the Guardian.

Jeremy Corbin humbly promoted himself as caretaker PM in order to get rid of Boris Johnson, a move immediately blocked by the Liberal Democrats.

In the United States, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said she’s block any trade agreements with the UK if they were predicated on a no-deal Brexit that would lead to a hard border between Northern Ireland and the republic … and a violation of the Good Friday Agreement.

Finally, CNN’s Hala Gorani did the math and figured out the first possible date the UK could call a snap election is … wait for it … 31 October.

• Boris Johnson is signaling to EU officials he’s only interested in a no-deal Brexit. Which will be a very bad thing, for everyone, according to the University of Leuven in Belgium. Leuven researchers released a recent study done for the Belgian province of Flanders.

The study, “Sector-Level Analysis of the Impact of Brexit on the EU-28,” quantifies what a hard Brexit will mean in terms of job losses and economic pain across the European Union and the whole of Europe.

According to the report, the UK is projected to take the biggest hit, 527,000 positions, or about 1.75 percent of all jobs. Ireland could lose about 500,000 jobs, or 2.6 percent of the total. Germany is projected to lose about 292,000.

In short, every country that does business with the United Kingdom will take a serious hit and every industry sector would be affected from textiles to food, according to the report.

• Sky News reporters were able to able to get their hands on a sensitive, official internal British government document projecting in real-life terms what a no-deal Brexit will be like.

The briefing, titled “What this could look like on the ground,” predicts “law and order challenges” in Northern Ireland, which would immediately be cut off from the Republic of Ireland. Consumer shortages and panic. British expats could lose their rights to services and residency. Oh, and the pound would plummet. (Even more.)

All and all, a no-deal Brexit would be just the thing to toughen up a British populace gone soft from decades of the good life as citizens of the European Union. Right, Moggsy?

• If business, not politicians, were deciding Britain’s fate, Brexit would have been dead a long time ago. It tells you a lot when one of the U.K.’s richest men, inventor James Dyson, supports Brexit, then promptly flees Britain for Singapore, where he just spent 70 million pounds on two luxury homes.

Dyson, Britain’s 12th richest person, assured everyone his decision to leave Britain and take his company with him had absolutely nothing to do with Brexit.

Most of Britain’s auto industry is leaving or threatening to leave including French giant PSA, which announced it will close a plant in northwest England should a no-deal Brexit occur.

Investment in Britain’s car industry has stopped, according to the Guardian, with a “pitiful” 90 million pounds pledged for new capacity in the first six months of this year. Before Brexit, the automotive industry was investing more than 2.5 billion pounds per  year in British R&D.

• The conditions are aligning quickly for a no-deal Brexit. Immediately upon taking office, Prime Minister Boris Johnson reiterated he’ll never agree to keep open the border between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. EU officials immediately responded they’ll never agree to closing the border.

The question is, are there enough Tory, Labour and Liberal Democrat parliamentarians ready to vote to block a no-deal before 31 October?

• The Conservative Party has elected Boris Johnson its leader and by extension, prime minister of the United Kingdom, the fifth-largest economy in the world. Let that sink in for a moment.

If Brexit is about anything, it’s about a leadership deficit. No one will ever describe the Brexit instigators– Nigel Farage, Arron Banks and Dominic Cummings – as men of substance. Ditto for Johnson.

By Johnson’s age, Winston Churchill had been an army officer, fighting in Cuba and India. He’d written several books before becoming a journalist, then switching back to soldier during the Boer War in South Africa, surviving a stint as a prisoner of war, then becoming the conquering hero.

Churchill went on to parliament, became Home Secretary, then First Lord of the Admiralty before becoming prime minister and pretty much single-handedly saving the UK during World War II.

By comparison, Johnson spent his early career making up stories as a “journalist” in Brussels before becoming mayor of London, where his most notable moment was getting stuck on a zip line during a publicity stunt.

In fact, Johnson’s entire life has pretty much been one big publicity stunt.

We’re sure Brexit will be different.

• Who’ll suffer the folly of Brexit for decades to come? Young Brits, of course. The Wall Street Journal, which is a conservative Murdoch outlet, has a post about the widening gap between generations, with young Brits generally opposing Brexit because it limits their career options.

Their parents’ attitude is basically, “You’ll be fine. We’ll get you a nice job at the Sainsbury in Swindon.”

Sam Mejias, a research fellow at the London School of Economics, conducted a 2017 study for lawmakers. Mejias found younger people resented what they saw as “a decision made by an entitled older generation (who) grew up when college was free and housing was affordable,” according to the WSJ post.

“The thing I was most likely to hear in almost every single focus group was something along the lines of, ‘No offense to the older generation, but they are going to be dead soon.’ ”

•  BBC Panorama has conducted exhaustive interviews with many of the top officials on both sides of Brexit and the depiction of chaos they’ve assembled is amazing. For one, May’s government never actually had a plan. Nothing.

The EU, by comparison, entered the Brexit negotiations with one clear goal – to punish the UK and make sure EU countries with populist governments didn’t try to follow Britain out of the union.

In a long summary, BBC Panorama documents all the missteps including May’s unwillingness to be honest with herself about her ability to win over parliament; the unsolvable issue of walling off Northern Ireland from the Irish Republic and violating the Good Friday Agreement and the inability of the May government to appreciate how EU officials idealize the European Union as the mechanism to prevent another European war.

• The original pitch for Brexit way back in 2016 was that it would be an instant return to greatness. Freed from the tyrannical shackles of the European Union, the United Kingdom’s economy would soar like an eagle into new markets, prosperity would rise and taxes would fall. That was then.

Then, one of the two candidates for Tory leadership, Jeremy Hunt, admitted that a no-deal Brexit would basically crush Britain’s small businesses with tariffs, but it will be well worth their sacrifices.

On 30 June, the BBC’s Andrew Marr asked Hunt – who constantly reminds everyone he is an entrepreneur – if he is really prepared to look business owners and employees in the eye and say, ” ‘ you’ve got to lose your job because I’m going for no-deal?’ ”

“I would do so, but I would do it with a heavy heart,” Hunt replied.

An incredulous Marr responds, “Really?! How would you feel if your company was in that position, you’d built up your company and a politician came along and said, ‘Sorry, I’m going to destroy your company for ideological reasons …?’ ”

Marr gave a verbal shrug, basically saying the people have spoken, sorry about your luck. One of them most amazing – and depressing – revelations of the past three years of this never-ending disaster.

• Seeking to be “great again,” one of the world’s most advanced democracies elects to the highest executive office a man with abysmal history of erratic behavior including narcissism, serial philandering, mistreating women and chronic lying pretty much about everything. Though those who know him best warn he is unfit to be elected dog catcher, everyone is entranced by The Show … the loopy rhetoric, the flashy lifestyle and above all, the hair.

Sound familiar?

The parallels between Donald Trump and Boris Johnson are uncanny. And as with Trump, whose own ghost writer of his best-seller “The Art of the Deal” exposed him as a fraud, people are coming out of the woodwork to warn Tory voters about Boris.

Max Hastings, Johnson’s former editor at The Telegraph (where Johnson is still paid 275,000 pounds per year, or about 2,291 pounds per hour, for his words of wisdom) has written a long post about Johnson’s many failings.

Though they are too numerous for this forum, they include lack of capacity for abstract thought, much less character; bullying and, well, unrelenting lying.

Hastings quotes one Bishop Berkeley as to why Prime Minister Boris Johnson would never rise above his worst instincts: “It is impossible that a man who is false to his friends and neighbours should be true to the public.”

He concludes by writing, “For many of us, his elevation will signal Britain’s abandonment of any claim to be a serious country.”

•  The New Yorker has a less-than-flattering profile of Boris Johnson, who made his bones as mayor of London. “The Empty Promise of Boris Johnson” revisits all his most clownish and boorish moments from his time as a fake-news generator for The Telegraph, taking revenge on Brussels – which he hated from his youth – to his self-described “royal goatfuck” of an announcement endorsing Brexit in 2016.

The comedic episodes do not lessen the impact of Johnson joining Trump and Putin to form an Anti-Europe Triumvirate, dedicated to destroying the EU.

• If your friends think you’re delusional, imagine how happy Brexit must make Putin?

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who describes himself as an anglophile, told his English friends that Brexit in any form, but especially a no-deal Brexit, will leave the United Kingdom “diminished.”

This is from Politco.eu:

It is unavoidable. Because you are not any longer part of the European Union and you are not big enough to have an important position, important enough on the world stage, on your own.

Ouch. Tell us what you really think, prime minister.

Putin’s foreign policy is focused on undermining institutions from the United States to Ukraine in hopes of weakening liberal democracies. He must be thanking his lucky stars every day for Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage.

File this under, “See you; wouldn’t want to be you.”  That’s the message British Tories are sending to their “allies” in Northern Ireland and Scotland. A majority of Tory leaders said they’d be fine with jettisoning Scotland and Northern Ireland if it meant they could realize their dream of leaving the European Union.

• If  Brexit is about anything, it’s about nostalgia for that great Great Britain and United Kingdom that ruled the world. And we’re nostalgic, too.

Remember those halcyon days when London was the world capital of capital? Boy, it seems like only yesterday, doesn’t it?

Wait, it was only yesterday. Today, the financial world has moved on.

New York City has replaced London as the world’s financial center, according to a survey by New York-based consultancy/security firm Duff & Phelps. More than half those queried named New York as the global financial capital, and only 36 named London.
“Last year, Brexit cast a shadow of uncertainty over the United Kingdom’s economy. It has now escalated to a full-blown crisis,” the report states.

• Next ….

Theresa May didn’t support Brexit but took up the crusade after the June 2016 vote to take the United Kingdom out of the European Union to further her political career. Now, she has no political career as she steps down as Tory leader on 7 June.

May will go into the history books with Neville Chamberlain and John Major as among the most ineffectual British prime ministers. In May’s case, she proved unsuited to the task of bridging the gap between no-deal aristocrats and rural and elderly Brexiteers, and the young and ethnic pro-European Union urban Remainers.

So, who is?

• After a Far Right Austrian leader was caught on video pretty much  offering to sell out his country to the Russians, more people (including investigators) suddenly are interested in where the money funding Brexit leaders is coming from.

Apropos to this, Channel 4 News documented how Arron Banks has been bankrolling Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage’s extravagant lifestyle to the tune of 450,000 pounds per year, paying for his 13,000 pound per month Chelsea digs, trips to meet Trump in the U.S. and of course his dry-cleaning bills.

But where does Banks’s money come from? The National Crime Agency is investigating Banks, trying to figure that out. Meanwhile, even the pro-Brexit tabloids are noticing that Brexit Party Chief Richard Tice won’t say whether the new party takes foreign money.

Ever stranger, the Telegraph, which runs regular Farage columns and is rabidly pro-Brexit and anti-EU, has a post about a UK-taught Spanish developer who developed the tech that Russians trolls used to sway the Brexit vote. That post is from The Signals Network, a project to bring together whistleblowers, investigative journalists and major media outlets.

Will the exposure of Vladimir Putin’s tireless efforts to undermine Western democracies turn out to be the catalyst for creating a movement to defeat Russia and the populists it funds?

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