Bogged Down

BBC Newsnight staffer Mark Urban is tweeting some terrifying stuff on the prospect of a Brexit Britain striking a trade deal with the EU:

@MalmstromEU tells me EU/UK trade talks won’t start until Art50 exit complete then UK will trade on WTO terms until a deal is done

That’s Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner in charge of trade policy.

Read More · 30 June 2016 · Politics

Sunset at Gullane Bents, 27 June 2016.
Sunset at Gullane Bents, June 2016. Mouseover for more sea.

I’m in Gullane for the week on a writing retreat with colleagues. This was the view a few minutes’ walk from the house we’re staying in.

29 June 2016 · Journal

The Omnishambles

Four working days into life in Thethickofitstan, I can’t shake off the fear that all parties need to proceed extremely cautiously or risk Britain becoming a quasi-fascist state; not the full Third Reich, perhaps, but potentially Pinochet’s Chile. The fact that polls are suggesting that Regrexit is a statistical blip suggests that a large population in England and Wales would be perfectly happy if a strongman (or woman) emerged from the political chaos to enact Brexit in Full come hell or high water. And not any soft Brexit that keeps freedom of movement intact: something that closes the borders and sets the timer ticking on when EU citizens who are already here must leave.

Read More · 29 June 2016 · Politics

Three Working Days

If I read the phrase “pour encourager les autres” one more time, I’ll... I’ll... briser mon ordinateur in impotent rage.

The only hope now is that Parliament votes immediately to reject the referendum result as having been secured under false pretenses and ban any PM from triggering Article 50, to take us back to the status quo ante-February. Yes, the UK would never be seen the same way in Europe again, which is true either way. Yes, the UK would have drastically weaker influence over the development of future EU regulations, as opposed to none if we’re in the EEA. Yes, we would lose some businesses to Europe, which is already happening. None of that is worse than what we face if we stay on this path. We’re three working days into this mess, and look at where we are already. Britain’s latent racism has already been unleashed. At least we’ll be fighting it out in the open.

Read More · 28 June 2016 · 1 Comment · Politics

From The Independent site yesterday: ‘I Bregrexit’: I voted for Brexit—and now I realise what a terrible mistake I made.

A crucial part of what tripped up such voters is that they’re used to General Elections fought under first past the post, where again and again their vote makes no difference, and in safe seats they can muck about with protest votes and what have you. They totally misunderstood the nature of a national referendum where every vote towards either side counts.

Read More · 27 June 2016 · Politics

Voted Off the Island

Brexit has now completely displaced all of the other important stuff that’s supposed to be filling my head right now, and promises to do so for months if not years. The same must be true for countless others in the UK and elsewhere. The opportunity cost will be enormous, and is only going to get worse; other crises don’t stop happening simply because Britain’s voters have self-inflicted the biggest crisis of them all—they compound one another.

Read More · 27 June 2016 · 1 Comment · Politics

A Mefi comment of mine from Saturday.

Read More · 27 June 2016 · Politics


A few reflections, now that I’ve gathered my thoughts.

Read More · 25 June 2016 · Politics



23 June 2016 · 1 Comment · Politics

A Nightmare Before Brexit

Say Brexit breaks it.
Boris’ll fix it?
Will he, bollox.

Read More · 22 June 2016 · Politics

Seven Days

Owen Jones: On Sky News last night, I realised how far some will go to ignore homophobia.

A time capsule of the unpresidential things Trump says. Republican leaders cower as Trump burns down their party.

Our refugee system is failing. Here’s how we can fix it.

Brexit voters are almost twice as likely to disbelieve in manmade climate change.

The pitfalls of Brexit negotiations with the EU.

If you inject enough poison into the political bloodstream, somebody will get sick.

Calls not to “politicise” the assassination of an MP are weasel words by the architects of hate.

17 June 2016 · Politics

Without knowing it, I posted yesterday’s entry around the same time MP Jo Cox was being shot and stabbed in Yorkshire by a right-wing extremist. I first heard the news later in the afternoon, and hoped against hope that she would pull through; it was awful to hear the police announcement of her death on Radio 4, and her colleagues being asked for their reactions moments after they heard that news themselves (they were in the studio to talk about the attack). The presenter sounded just as upset.

Read More · 17 June 2016 · Politics

One Week in Europe

A week or so before a referendum seems to be when I finally steel myself to post about it here. As my comments over the years have made clear, I’m as pro-EU as they come, which none of the pro-Brexit arguments I’ve read has changed; most are driven by native-born British or English feelings I don’t share, by stereotypes of the EU that misunderstand or misrepresent how it works, by arguments for democracy that dismiss any evidence of EU democracy and ignore any evidence of problems with British democracy, by notions that saving a few pounds a week per household on EU contributions will give us untold riches to spend elsewhere without making any allowance for what those few pounds buy us, by a misguided sense that the struggles of austerity are the fault of EU immigrants or bureaucrats, or by, in some ugly cases, outright racism. I’ve appended some links that rebut these points better than I have time to do here today.

Read More · 16 June 2016 · Politics

Overdoing the Fake Tan

Family chooses different dog than reincarnated grandfather.

Trump’s conflict-of-interest problem. Who he?

Bionic leaf surpasses efficiency of photosynthesis.

How Silicon Valley nails Silicon Valley. Its real-life models.

The Great Barrier Reef: a catastrophe laid bare.

Seagull turns orange after falling into vat of tikka masala.

Paris floods, 1910 and 2016.

Frontiers of peace.

Britons demand to live in medieval village surrounded by a wall.

12 June 2016 · Weblog


It’s too long since I’ve had a new photo gallery here, so here’s an easy one to (re-)start with: some photos of spring blossoms and cow parsley, taken in and around the Meadows in Edinburgh over the past few weeks.

7 June 2016 · Journal

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