Tag Archives: Boris Johnson

‘Finally British Again’, a Brexit Comedy!

Script: Finally British Again

Gerard Geerlings april 1st 2017 – Inspired by ‘Dad’s Army’ and ‘Fawlty Towers” and ‘House of Cards’.

Summary: In Brussels a team of the EU and one of the UK is negotiating the terms and conditions around the Brexit, they are already busy for more than a year without much progress. ‘Finally British Again (FBA)’ reports weekly on what’s going on on the main negotiations table and give insight in the political intriques which go on in Brussels, London,  Dublin, Paris, Berlin, Edinburg, etc… Main characters: chair of the negotiation team, the chairs of the EU en UK team, Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Angela Merkel, Jean-Claude Juncker, Federica Mogherini, Donald Task, Donald Trump…

Baseline: It’s should be a comedy in the best British tradition and close to reality so if possible recorded on a weekly schedule! For this reason the order and content of all episodes can change when this are evolving.

Background: The key negotiations take place in a luxurious Hotel in the center of Brussels under the responsibility of a central transition team called the Brexit Oversight Committee (BOC) but mostly named ‘Oversight’ which consists of 3 persons of the UK, 3 from Europe and an ‘independent’ chair Federica Mogherini, this was agreed after months of negotiation. The team is supported by a lot of working groups with delegations of all EU countries: a complex bureaucratic organisation where hundreds of people working 24/7, nobody knows exactly who is responsible for what and this mess is becoming bigger day by day because the favourite method for solving  a problem is introducing a new commission to solve this so actually no decision are made at all…

Suggestion for actors: Chair Brexit Oversight Committee (BOC):  John Cleese, Theresa May: Anne Robinson, chair EU delegation: Federica Mogherini: Sidse Babett Knudsen, Boris Johnson: Daffyd Thomas, Dutch journalist Joris Luyendijk: Joris Luyendijk…

Locations: the main negotiation room with a oval table called The Mess, the big EU Brexit Office where nobody knows who is doing what and everybody speaks a different language (that’s why it’s called Babylon), The British Embassy from where the UK delegation works, The Pub where the delegations meet after work, nr10 Downing Street, the train from Brussels to Straatsburg..

The objective of the main negotiation team is to:

  1. Take care the transition goes as planned  as agreed in the Transition Plan
  2. Decide on issues which could not be agreed on in the working groups and
  3. Make proposals to adjust the transition plan when needed for the EU and UK government.

Draft content first 10 episodes:

Episode 1: The Table: on who to chair the meetings, where to negotiate, in which language and how to decide on the agenda. Because of IT security problems they decide no to use the internet but typewriters…

Episode 2: The Press: the EU wants to negotiate in the open while the UK wants to keep meeting private and only report monthly on the progress. Finally they decide on a weekly press conference by both parties on a common agreed message to be prepared by a new press committee.

Episode 3: The Irish Boarder; the negotiation team decides to start with this issue and cannot come up with a solution everybody agrees on so they decide to implement a new workgroup and after some discussions 3 workgroups are installed : a legal, economic and a boarder protection workgroup which soon becomes known as ‘The Wall Committee’.

Episode 4: The Boris Complot: although Boris Johnson has no formal role in the negotiations he has a lot of influence on the EU negotiations team and aligns informal with both the chair of the negotiations team as with Donald Trump… A journalist makes this public.

Episode 5: Fish & Whisky: The UK wants ‘Whiskey’ to be a brand which only can be used by the UK and and abandon EU fishing ships from their territory, no Whiskey deal is made but on fish they agree on a five year transition plan which gets a lot of media attention.

Episode 6: The UK EU pensions: The EU has decided that the UK should pay for the pensions for the EU staff who worked for the EU in the past. When the budget needed for this and the salaries become public two members of the negotiation team are involved, they need to resign..

Episode 7: Budget Problems: The budget if the Brexit transition itself is already overspend on the side of the EU while the UK is doing fine and for some teams even uses sponsors who advertise with this in the media. The European parlement want this is stopped but they can’t find a legal basis for this.

Episode 8: Gibraltar: Since the start of the negotiations there have been issues regarding Gibraltar which the UK does not want to leave. To put pressure on the negotiations the UK decided to close the borders with Spain and use  military planes to deliver goods to Gibraltar. After some time the citizens of Gibraltar start protesting wanting to leave the UK and join Spain.

Episode 9: Leaving London: Banks and headquarters of multinationals with a headquarter in London are leaving London on a massive scale. By lowering taxes and giving working visa for staff the UK wants to stop this, in the transition plan it was agreed they would not do this while the UK was still negotiating…

Episode 10: The Scottish: Have closed a trade deal with Trump without knowledge of the UK and EU and lets Theresa May know they are negotiating with Ireland and the Netherlands on a trade deal.

Every episode ends with to delegates talking and joking in the train from Brussels to Straatsburg (or London or Berlin), the UK delegate drinking gin tonic and the EU one drinking German beer while the Dutch journalist Joris Luyendijk is listening secretly to them in the back of the train…

Let me know if you have any suggestions for improvement or want to become part of the writers team. Netflix, HBO and the BBC are invited to tender for the production rights.

(c) Gerard Geerlings 2017 – www.gerardgeerlings.nl

Surfend leiderschap

Het lijkt wel of onze politieke leiders niet meer voor de troepen uit lopen waarbij het volk volgt maar dat het nu eerder andersom is: het volk heeft massaal een mening en soms mag een politicus daar dan even het boegbeeld van zijn.

Surfer

Deze week hebben we, in de persoon van Boris Johnson, een mooi voorbeeld gezien van wat ik ‘surfend leiderschap’ noem: het even mogen meeliften op het succes van een politieke beweging die niet aanstuurbaar is en zijn eigen dynamiek heeft.

Boris Johnson herhaalde tijdens de Brexit campagne steeds de slogan “We take back controle again” zonder hier een verdere uitwerking aan te geven. Dat viel blijkbaar goed bij de kiezers die vooral vanuit hun emotie stemden en bezorgde de voorstanders van de Brexit een nipte meerderheid. Rond half vijf de volgende ochtend claimde Nigel Farage van UKIP de overwinning. Tot mijn verbazing bleef Boris Johnson daarna stil, de grootste fout in zijn carrière. Hij had natuurlijk meteen na het bekend worden van de uitslag de overwinning moeten claimen en David Cameron moeten oproepen zich bij de uitkomst neer te leggen en de wil van het volk uit te voeren. En tegelijk zich kandidaat moeten stellen voor het leiderschap. Niks daarvan. David Cameron kon hierdoor zijn eigen lijn uitzetten op zijn persconferentie iets na negen uur. Boris kwam pas in de loop van de middag met een verklaring en daarna ging alles mis en zal het waarschijnlijk nooit meer goed komen rond Boris: hij kan nu beter weer een boeken gaan schrijven..

Churchill

Achteraf blijkt dat Boris Johnson geen plan had hoe te handelen na de overwinning van het Brexit kamp. De keuze zich achter de Brexit campagne op te stellen was ingegeven door opportunisme en eigenbelang. Door de overwinning te claimen zou hij de woordvoerder worden van alle voorstanders van de Brexit, een brede coalitie die door alle partijen heen loopt: bij zowel de Tories als bij Labour zijn voor en tegenstanders aan te treffen. Een bijna onmogelijke opgave de uitkomst van het referendum te vertalen in een plan waar ieder zich in kan vinden: het echte probleem bij referenda waar de kern van het probleem wordt verdicht tot één vraag waarbij de oplossing buiten beschouwing blijft. Andrew Marr trok later in zijn zondagochtend show de juiste conclusie “Nobody is in charge”, vrij vertaald: het ontbreekt in alle partijen aan leiderschap. Sterker nog: niemand wil het leiderschap op zich nemen! Ook bij de Tories is er nu een leiderschapscrisis waar de positie van Jeremy Corbyn eveneens ter discussie staat.

Ook hier in Nederland hebben we last van surfend leiderschap. Van Wilders weten we al dat hij geen plan heeft en regeringsdeelname niet het doel van deze partij is maar disruptie. De verkiezingen volgend jaar staan natuurlijk in het teken van het Europa debat en migratie dus dat is koren op de molen voor PVV en DENK die beide het sentiment onder de bevolking goed aanvoelen. En omdat Rutte tegen de tijd van de verkiezingen de uitslag van het Oekraïne debat waarschijnlijk niet goed heeft kunnen vertalen in winst zal dit ongetwijfeld het belangrijkste verkiezingsthema worden. En welke leiders schuiven de andere politieke partijen dan naar voren om tegengas te geven aan het sentiment?

Tekenend was deze week het zich terug trekken van Ahmed Aboutaleb als mogelijke kandidaat bij de PvdA tennis  hij de enige kandidaat is. Spekman en Samsom zouden smekend bij hem op de stoep moeten staan om de partij te willen leiden maar dat gaat, vanwege hun persoonlijke ambities, niet gebeuren. Jammer, Ahmed Aboutaleb lijkt me een uitstekend kandidaat om tegengas te geven tegen de PVV en DENK. Waarschijnlijk zal Aboutaleb het Brexit debat in de UK goed gevolgd hebben en beseffen dat het alleen zin heeft zich kandidaat te stellen als de politieke leiding van de partij achter hem staat. Zo’n intern leiderschapsdebat kan ook veel kwaad doen, zie wat er gebeurd is met Groen Links na de strijd tussen Jolande Sap en Tofik Dibi. Overigens heeft Groen Links nu wel een goede kandidaat die meer kan dan alleen surfen…

Jess Klaver

Winston Churchill and the Middle East

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This month I visited Blenheim Palace near Oxford, the place where Winston Churchill was born and grew up.  There is an exhibition on Winston’s life in Blenheim now which Is bery Interesting. Because I wanted to read more about him I bought Boris Johnson’s book on Churchill in the museum shop: ‘The Churchill Factor – How one man made history’ and started reading the book immediately while my chauffeur drove me back to my cottage.

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Boris Johnsons book starts with the War Cabinet of Britain meeting of May 28th 1940: Winston was just Prime Minister and the cabinet needed to make a decision on how to handle the Germans who were invading their neighbours in Europe aggresive at that moment. The question on the table was: beat them or join them? Although some cabinet members wanted to start a dialog with the Germans and Italians, Winston made clear he did not want to compromise and wanted the cabinet to stand for basic democratic and humanitarian principles. Winston Churchill of course wittnessed a simular discussion in the first World War when Eyre Growe and Harold Nickolson wanted to fight Germany and Edward Grey to negotiate, this last option was chosen and was not very succesfull. In a speech to his collegues in the cabinet he convinced them of his point of view and this decision was the beginning of the coalition of forces which beated Hitler after five long years of war and a lot of vitims on both sides.

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What surprised me further reading the book is 1) the timespan Churchill was political active and had influence on world politics from the first until the the second world war 2) the mistakes he made and which did not influence his political carreer 3) the historical context described by Boris Johnsson which gave me a very different view on the fall of the British empire and 4) the influence he still has on world politics.

One interesting example of this is his role in drawing the map of the Middle East after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I. François Georges-Picot and Mark Sykes, representing the old colonial Empires France and the United Kingdom, met to draw the spheres of control and influence of their respective empires, which later would shape the borders of the Middle East as they are known today. The agreement they reached in January 1916 resulted in the division of the Middle East as we still know it today. The story is that Winston Churchill, at that time Minster of the Colonnies, personally draw the lines on the map below.

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In the minds of the Sunnis and Shiits, these borders of the Middle East had been drawn artificially to facilitate their domination of the region by external powers and the relevance of the current borders is still under question seen the problems we are facing today in Iraq and Syria. That’s also why Habbaniya will be an important target for IS after winning Ramani: Churchill initiated a RAF airbase there because he wanted to controle the area from the air and nowadays the coalition against IS is doing the same. We need to be more aware of these sensitivities which are not only IS but shared by many locals – and used for propaganda reasons by IS – and we need to better understand their story.

There will be no solution in Iraq and Syria before this map is redrawn again giving the Kurds, Sunnis and Shiits their own territory. The problems in the Middle East are complex and not easy to solve but you can’t come up with a solution which does not take this history into account. And as a matter of fact at this moment the lines are drawn again without a legal basis and at the costs of much human lives…

Interesting character Winston Churchill: privileged by his background he made the decision to start a long carreer of public service which was onorthodox and becoming a world leader who made a difference. We need more leaders like Winston Churchill who take responsibility, not only for our short term interests, but also who stand up for oppressed people and work on realizing a better future for all. Unfortunally we miss local leadership in the Middle East now which makes it very difficult to come up with a solution.