Category Archives: European Union

Boris Johnson: A Brief Assessment


Boris Johnson: A Brief Evaluation
Sean Gabb
28th July 2019

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I have been asked to comment on Boris Johnson’s appointment as Leader of the Conservative Party and therefore as Prime Minister. Since I recently called him “a bag of living offal,” my view is unlikely to be positive. However, I will try to be fair. More to the point, I will try to relate this latest turn of events to my general analysis of British politics.

Last month, I wrote that membership of the European Union was a peripheral issue for our ruling class. The main agenda for this class is to carry through a neo-Puritan remodelling of our institutions, and indeed our minds. The details of a customs and regulatory union are less important than control of education, the media and the criminal law. This being said, membership is useful so far as it blurs the lines of accountability. It is also an article of belief among some elements of the Ruling Class. For this reason, the verdict of the 2016 Referendum was unwelcome. It meant a diversion of effort from the main purpose. It upset various important people. The obvious solution was to give us a minimal departure that would satisfy us, but would keep in place those elements of the European Project that really are important to the Ruling Class. Read more

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The backstory behind the war on cars in the UK


On May 20th, 2019, I gave a talk to the Libertarian Alliance about the damaging political policies being imposed on car drivers in the UK, and the history behind them. Normally, these talks are recorded on video. But on this occasion, an unfortunate combination of circumstances prevented a recording. As this subject is a topical one – and becoming more so by the day – I thought it appropriate to create a “transcript” of the talk, re-constructed from my notes.

Introduction

On April 8th, 2019, London mayor Sadiq Khan’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) went live in the Congestion Charge area in central London. It now costs the driver £12.50 a day, on top of the congestion charge, to drive in this zone a diesel car built before September 2015, or a petrol car built before 2006. This is an outrageous amount; and it also has to be paid at week-ends! This scheme is planned to be extended to all of the area inside North and South Circular Roads in October 2021. And after that, who knows?

Beyond this, there is talk of charging drivers of diesel cars to enter any of 35 or so cities around the UK. Some cities, like Southampton, have decided not to do this. Others, like Birmingham, are pressing on. Meanwhile, on May 9th the Times began a campaign claiming that “air pollution on the streets is poisoning 2.6 million schoolchildren,” and that this is due to “clogged roads”.

And yet, a recent (May 2nd) Sky News poll showed that more than 50 per cent of a random sample of people in the UK were “unwilling to significantly reduce the amount they drive, fly and eat meat,” either to combat climate change or to protect the environment in a more general sense. This is evidence of a huge disconnect between the political classes and the people!

There is a long backstory behind all this, which not many people seem to be aware of. In the last two years, I’ve managed to pull a lot of this backstory together. So, tonight I’ll bring it out into the open for you. In the process, I’ll identify what I call the Ten Deadly Dishonesties. These are attitudes and ploys that anti-car and other green campaigners have used, many of them more than once, in the course of their political machinations. Read more

Britain: A World Power Again, if by Accident?


Britain: A World Power Again, if by Accident?
Sean Gabb
(22nd December 2018)

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In London, and it seems elsewhere, the political and media consensus is that Britain is in its weakest international position since the late summer of 1940. Because we have a government of fools, we are at the mercy of the French, the Germans, the Spanish, and even the Irish. If we accept Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement, we become a colony of the European Union. If we withdraw our notice to quit, we suffer a different though probably equal humiliation. If we leave without any deal, we face some degree of economic disruption. Which of these options is worst may have some bearing on the lack of agreement within our political class – though which brings more or less advantage to any of the individual groups in Parliament also has much bearing.

I disagree with this consensus. I still regard Theresa May as our most incompetent and possibly treasonous Prime Minister in at least living memory. At the same time, we find ourselves with the greatest power to shape our destiny since 1938. It needs only minimal work from our diplomatic establishment, and minimal cooperation among our leading politicians. Let me explain. Read more

Which if not Victory is Yet Revenge


“Which if not Victory is Yet Revenge”
Thoughts on the Tory Apocalypse

by Sean Gabb
1st December 2018

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As I write, those who demand a second referendum on the European Union seem ever more likely to have their way. Their argument is: that it is now two years since we were asked to vote on leaving; that no one expected the process of leaving to end in the present shambles; that we should be asked what we now think of leaving. These calls are an obvious fraud on the electorate. Since the Danes rejected the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, the custom in Europe has been for any unfavourable referendum result to be followed by another vote, in which the preferred result is given. This was done to the French, the Dutch and the Irish. It is now being done to us. Read more

Mrs May’s Disastrous Deal


Mrs May’s Disastrous Deal

By Duncan Whitmore

Albeit for the wrong reasons, Theresa May never ceases to amaze. In spite of having first tabled an almost universally unpopular proposal for withdrawal from the EU at Chequers in July of this year, and then having done the equivalent of inject that proposal with steroids through the draft “Withdrawal Agreement” with the EU, she soldiers on in the face of all resistance.

Sean Gabb has summarised the contents of the draft agreement unveiled last week in an earlier post on this blog so there is no need to repeat that here. What we will do instead is to outline the combination of circumstances that have led to this situation and conclude with some thoughts as to what libertarians can make of this whole this debacle. Read more

Theresa May: A Study in Bare-Faced Wickedness


Theresa May: A Study in Bare-Faced Wickedness
by Sean Gabb
21st November 2018

Because I am writing about the European Union, I shall be neither surprised nor upset if the majority of my British readers go straight for the delete button. I write near the end of a week of fierce and increasingly unanimous denunciation of the Draft Agreement the British Government has “negotiated” for our withdrawal. However, more than half the people on my mailing list live outside the United Kingdom, and some of these have asked me to explain to the best of my ability what is happening. Here is the briefest summary I can manage that still makes sense. Read more

Theresa May: A Qualified Defence (2018), by Sean Gabb


Theresa May: A Qualified Defence
Sean Gabb
15th September 2018

One of my books
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I am presently sat in a Turkish hotel, brooding over the e-mails I keep receiving from my Conservative friends. If some of them want Boris Johnson to replace her, and others Jacob Rees-Mogg, they all agree that Theresa May must go, and that this will somehow improve our departure from the European Union. I have no doubt she would make a better pole dancer than Prime Minister. But I am astonished that anyone with half a brain could want change from our existing state of affairs. It is not, I grant, the best possible state of affairs. It is, even so, the best available. Read more

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