OLD DIPLOMATS' JOKE
Most countries will enter a negotiation with three positions - what they want, what they'll accept, what they won't accept.
The French enter negotiations with one position - what they want.
And this vintage tale is why I advised the German senior diplomats that I know that on no account to let the French do the Brexit talks for them and that included the EC Commission. They will make no deal a certainty and even risk a trade war.
Bien venue Michel!
LOOK WHO'S TWEETING
Which Donald presides over the White House? All three? Lots more?
The Manchurian candidate?
For about forty years British diplomats including two recent ambassadors to Washington have preached that the special relationship is a myth.
Since writing the piece below we have seen further evidence that many members of the House of Commons spend too much of their time drinking and pinching female bottoms - and some male ones as well.
Meanwhile Mutti Merkel tries to blackmail Britain's taxpayers into paying a modern version of Danegeld to Germany's export markets ( the EC countries ) but at the same time wants to bar British services from the EC after Brexit. One, we shouldn't pay a rapen as the Swiss say, and two, we should pull out of the present negotiations and opt for WTO rules.
You will find plenty about all this on the websites of Veterans for Britain, the Red Cell and Brexit Central including articles by Adrian.
FLORENCE DEBUT OF BRUSSELS NIGHTINGALE
Ignore all the briefings against Boris Johnson in the weekend papers. Concentrate your mind on who would have the most to gain from Mrs May's foolish offer in a church in Florence. At least she spoke in the church where Galileo was denounced for believing the Earth was a ball that went round and round the Sun.
Thank goodness we have Boris on watch for slippery moves by Mrs May and her EC lovers in the Cabinet, Number Ten, Treasury, Cabinet Office and FCO. Nick Timothy, former adviser and master mind of the summer election disaster, should be added to this list after his article in the Daily Telegraph. He's yet another of Mrs May's advisers - still lurking behind the Number Ten dust bins - who wants to lash us to the EC just as we at last start swimming away from the suction of a sinking ship. Their latest negotiating triumph is to allow the EC to dictate how much food we can buy from our Commonwealth and American allies once we have left the EC. A significant reason leaving is to drop household bills by about 20% because we can buy from whom we please.
Yes, a wise person listens to those who disagree with them, not just those who do. Furthermore a sound leader prepares for all eventualities. Cameron and Osborne were advised by the same Cabinet Secretary as Mrs May. What I find baffling is that an intelligent woman always picks the wrong advisers and listens to their worst possible ideas.
Maybe it's obvious.
One must look back at the history of our global diplomacy. There were four great offices of state until 1947 - the Foreign Office, the Dominions Office, the India Office and the Colonial Office - the latter taking the cream of Cambridge and Oxford. The Secret Service worked in Foreign countries and the Security Service worked throughout the Commonwealth and Empire. Nine years earlier the Foreign Office had thought their policy of appeasing the dictators had worked with the Munich agreement in 1938. Within two years most of Europe had been occupied by the armies of Adolf Hitler. We had no embassies from the Pyrenees to the gates of Moscow apart from Bern and Stockholm. The Foreign Office next lost its posts throughout Asia to the Japanese. The Secret Service was hamstrung and new weapons were needed, fast. Winston Churchill created SOE to get back into Europe, recruit agents, and support the resistance. Bletchley Park was the other secret weapon in his fight against the dictators. Our diplomats had the Americans as friends but the special relationship was personal between Churchill and Roosevelt.
After victory in 1945 the Secret Service avenged their 1940 humiliation by disbanding SOE almost overnight. We could do with SOE today and I've written novels with this message. As the Empire became a Commonwealth of independent democracies so the Dominions Office, India Office and Colonial Office merged to become the Commonwealth Relations Office with the Overseas Development Agency added, reporting to the Commonwealth Secretary. The Security Service role focussed on liaison with the Commonwealth governments. I joined the Commonwealth Relations Office in summer 1963 when Churchill's son-in-law was Commonwealth Secretary. My boss was George Price, a general and fellow sapper, who had served with General Pug Ismay in Number Ten throughout the war, my ' line manager ' was John Champion a former Desert Rat and lately colonial secretary in Uganda. My old CO, another sapper, ran the chunk of the Ministry of Defence dealing with most of the trouble spots. George knew everyone in Whitehall and they knew him. Louis Mountbatten, first chief of the combined defence staff, always enjoyed our department cocktail parties. The Foreign Office found itself excluded from this Commonwealth focussed team with all the aid millions under its control and they had become obsessed with abandoning the Commonwealth for a more comfortable role in Europe where their support for appeasement was less resented.
After SOE the next target was us - supposedly because while the CRO existed Britain had two foreign policies. We didn't, we just felt that our share was the continuation of five hundred years of history. Sadly, the diplomats won; Harold Macmillan who was still reeling from the Christine Keeler affair decided to merge the two offices. Had he not done so, of course, I would never have gone to Vietnam, married a Swiss girl, or played a part in an Olympic Games in Seoul! Nor served with so many civilised people, some of whom became life long friends.
Another favourite line was that the Commonwealth had turned their backs on us - as though the old dominions were expected not to trade with other countries and ignoring that the Labour Party with the unions were responsible for the appalling state of industrial relations in British manufacturing, coal mining, transport.
There is an eighty years long thread running through this obsession with Europe driven by defeatist gloom and fear of the future. The officials writing papers and speeches for the Prime Minister, Philip Hammond, Boris, David Davis, Liam Fox et al are either in the FCO or on loan from the FCO. Most of the Conservative MPs were selected by the same Central Office doctrinaires who did their utmost to block any candidate with doubts about the EC from selection. I remember well that the Party Chairman and the MPs on the selection board wanted me to stand but the man from the Central Office warned me that they would stop any constituency from adopting me as their candidate. These souls are still in charge all over Whitehall and as Europhile brain washed as a Jesuit monk is Catholic. Playing off the Brexit politicians against the Remoaners and each other is because the ends justify the means when done for the counter reformation. The longer the transition period, the more chance of a Labour Government and the less risk that Brexit will have gone too far for turning around. A five year transition period with nothing changing would safely deliver a return to the EC because the voters by this time will be worn down enough to agree to anything.
The bill - so far - is put at £ 40 billions. It is more. Add another £ 400 billions for a continuing huge trade deficit with the EC. The City and CBI have secured their transition period from the voters' pockets. Will the government spend this time bonus wisely? Will the customs install a super fast clearance system in time for 2019 or 2020 when we free ourselves from the slimy tentacles of the Brussels octopus? Indeed, will the government have the courage to institute a completely open economy and make our island the trading hub, the Hong Kong of this side of the Atlantic Ocean. Because there will be no deal with the EC now that Mrs May has offered them the money over which they have been sweating blood.
All this talk from Barnier and Tusk about clarification is simply an attempt to blame the British for the next hold up while Mutti sorts out a new coalition government. My impression is that Mutti can only tackle one big haggle at a time.
Theresa May appears to be protecting herself rather than the country. She is on the ropes and sinking towards the canvass. We won't pull off a clean Brexit with a weak prime minister backed by a Cabinet that mostly doesn't want to quit the EC either but fears the public back lash. They must want Parliament burnt down rather than repaired.
Had she wanted to shake up the EC she would have asked the Cabinet first to make sure everyone was on board with the plan. There’s nothing wrong with clearing a speech with your opposition – when you’ve already reached agreement in principle over the final deal.
And this is where I find the Prime Minister just plain daft. Had she offered nothing until we know the trade deal on offer, the EC wall would soon fall, it's already cracking. Just look at the German election result. No wonder Barnier and chums are so relieved. They know we voted leave to give ourselves the competitive advantage that will allow us to zoom towards an economy more the size of Japan's. Barnier and Merkel can only deploy insults and obstruction to stall the talks. They can't turn the ship onto a new course with twenty-five passengers also clutching the wheel. We only need EC brain washed officials in London for a deal with Brussels. We would make rings around the lot of them if we went for a clean Brexit. Mrs May clearly doesn't understand what's going on within a two-hundred yard circle around her own office.
LATEST PAPER ON FOREIGN POLICY AND DEFENCE AFTER BREXIT
Here are the first impressions of somebody who served in HM Diplomatic Service for nearly thirty years.
This is the kind of material one bashes out for the media, all the usual MOD and FCO propaganda clichés about what wonderful jobs they're both doing. There’s a lot of stuff simply cut and pasted from previous offerings so it all reads like one of Mrs May’s dreadful wooden speeches. All these unforced errors result in the intellectual level of this stuff becoming pretty dismal. Much more effort was deserved for such an important choice.
The irony is that this stuff was churned out by the same people who advised Cameron that it was ok to re-invent the ten year rule because wars between states were the past. Right now there are about four wars going on between states that started long before Dave’s ten years was over. In this paper they are worrying about wars between states long after the horse bolted and I see the finger prints of well-educated young people who never learned any common sense and who don't want to leave the EC, moreover are convinced that by working behind the scenes they can thwart the peoples' vote last year.
These are people who don't yet realise the planet is a ball, that Seoul is nearer to London than Wellington in New Zealand. They genuinely believe that trade over the oceans is much harder than across the Channel, whereas the reverse is the reality, otherwise the Chinese, Japanese and Koreans wouldn't export a single porcelain tea cup.
Nor does it cost more. I once flew our car back from Korea because it was cheaper than hiring one when on leave. The only big charge was the clearing racket at London Airport but HM Customs stepped in immediately and stopped any charges for ' delays ' in Customs. Shipping a pair of jeans from Hong Kong to Felixstowe costs roughly fifty pence.
The EU wants our money. That’s what this whole negotiation is about. They also want the Swiss franc and any Swiss in the street will tell you as much without a second’s hesitation. They’re not interested in our armed forces. They want our money to keep their new empire loyal and growing. They’re not going to war with Putin, they’re convinced they can buy him off - Erdogan is the test tube experiment.
We should keep ourselves at arm’s length from the EC on foreign policy and defence. Their sanctions on Russia for invading Ukraine and Crimea do not reduce German imports of Russian gas, indeed they’re busy building a special pipeline to make sure that the gas is piped direct. It’s to stop NATO from interfering with the gas supply and EC relations with Putin. Once the EU has its own rival to NATO they will do a deal with Putin rather like the 1939 pact with Stalin. The EC will recognise Putin's grab of the Crimea and in return Putin will accept that Ukraine comes into the EC. Sanctions on Russia will be lifted as the sweetener. Peace in our time......for now.
If our diplomats want to focus on anywhere in Europe they should start with Scandinavia, Poland and the Baltics to establish a safe zone of NATO members that provides secure communications for logistics should we need to scare Putin back into his cage by threatening his flanks from the rear. The same logic applies for Greece and the Black Sea countries.
A global island should look instead towards the fast growth countries for new alliances, not to mention reviving some old ones. We have the five eyes alliance for intelligence. Why not convert this into the core of a global version of NATO? Before the 1921 Washington Naval Treaty we were allies with Japan. We know to our cost that ending our alliance through this treaty was a huge mistake and war with Japan came twenty years later. The Japanese were ghastly towards prisoners but their courage, discipline and technical prowess were never in doubt. Another tough potential ally is a neighbour of China - Vietnam - with the toughest and wiliest soldiers I've ever come across. If we’re going to make defence part of the package for trade deals let’s start with India, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and Vietnam. We need our own ring of pearls around China, allies who will stick with us – balls to wall as an American diplomat pal used to say in Vietnam. The next place to look is South America, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile and yes, Argentina.
Africa is the future wealthy continent. The first diplomatic task is to clean up the southern end by clearing out all the Chinese and North Koreans from Zimbabwe. That will have a sobering effect on a large number of crooked people. The populations will be grateful. There will be a ripple effect and then we can talk seriously about trade.
But to do all this our country needs to spend much more on plentiful diplomatic posts with smart local staff .........
..........much more on the Army and Royal Air Force, and far, far more on the Royal Navy.
I watched parts of the Article 50 debates in the House of Commons and House of Lords. My view was that it would go through the Commons but face obstruction and attempts to delay particularly from the Liberals in the House of Lords. It did.
For once the Commons debate was better than the Lords - usually it's the reverse - and despite an attempt to amend the simple bill allowing the Government to trigger Article 50, the votes in favour were overwhelming. The Commons had the common sense to know that defying the peoples' vote to leave the EC would create a serious political crisis.
The Government has the power to over-rule the Lords - the latter may amend legislation but cannot reject legislation. There is a group of former senior diplomats from the Foreign Office who really believe that our country is in permanent decline and needs Auntie EC to nurse us along. Some of the claims of dear old John Kerr ( whom I find delightful company) which he presented as FACTS in a high pitched voice, were absolute nonsense. To quote only one - trade halves with distance. After hearing this pearl I looked up his career and discovered that he had never had a commercial posting, economic yes but that's not the same as the coal face.
With the help of the BBC and ITN we persuaded so many British companies to get on a plane and fly 10,000 miles to South Korea that over three years from 1986 to 1989 British exports doubled. We were helped by a visit from Margaret Thatcher in 1985 and an Olympic Games in 1988 but we didn't waste the moments.
And the reason has not changed in three thousand years. Mile for mile Germany and France have no advantage over us in distant markets. That's why the Dutch and the English built their empires around sea trade as did Venice and before them the Greeks in the known world of their times. China can sell a pair of jeans to Europe or the USA because sending them on a container ship adds 50 pence to the wholesale price. You can apply this principle to cheese, cars, chemicals, you name it. When I looked at the trade figures on arrival in South Korea I was horrified to see that apart from the Seoul Subway our biggest exports were fur skins and leather hides. We were trading with Korea as though we were the developing country. I soon discovered that the Koreans as well thought this was crazy. If you look elsewhere on this website you will find how we turned this around and how we could do the same with China.
But I have to warn businessmen all over the UK that our teamwork towards doubling the exports made me very unpopular with the high priests of the FCO. We made a mockery of the EC nonsense still preached by dear old John Kerr and his chums. If we could do it, surely other diplomatic posts in other distant markets could do the same?
THE SCOTTISH QUESTION
The Prime Minister says that her priority is ' keeping our precious, precious union together ' although the English are so fed up with the Scottish Nationalists that a comfortable majority regard Brexit as more important for their future. The problem with a separate Scotland is that it would threaten a repeat of a thousand years of history - a third world state prone to offer a base for our enemies. Most people in Scotland don't want another referendum only two years after the last one and most Scots prefer union with England and Wales and Northern Ireland. So why the rush?
Thanks to the Green Party in the Scottish Parliament the Scottish Nationalists have a majority of one with the Labour, Conservative and Liberals forming their opposition. Most Scots don't think much of this government. The budget deficit is growing while the quality of healthcare and the standards in schools are falling. Scotland may not vote for a nationalist government next time. The SNP leader, Ms Sturgeon knows this. So does Mrs May.
There is a further risk for the nationalists. There has been no disaster after the referendum. Cameron and Osborne have been proved propagandists, at worst liars. There could be no disaster after Brexit. The pressure from the EC to break up its member nations into provinces of the new Roman empire will have been removed. My hunch is that the British Isles will take off fast, astonish the planet. The Scots will soon have far more global influence and trade, providing they stick with the rest of us.
The referendum this summer was a gamble, the dice thrown by two professional politicians. Both seemed to have only a vague clue how ordinary people in this country live and even less how we think. They expected a fairly comfortable win although just to make sure deployed the government’s resources and the tax payers’ money, enrolled umpteen foreign big wigs from President Obama to Madame Lagarde, orchestrated threats from the governments of most EC member states and from the EC Commission, all playing their parts in a campaign against the British voters. Well guess what, the heirs of Blair – their label, not mine - lost. Voters don’t take kindly to such obviously absurd bully tactics. Close by the 1066 battlefield of Hastings down in East Sussex on the day before the vote it was hard to find even a handful of people who wanted to remain in the EC. On referendum night a remain poster bravely displayed by a friend on her front lawn was demolished towards midnight by the Westfield village lads on their merry way home from the pubs in Battle and Sedlescombe. Cameron and Osborne left their whole flock of fellow souls cast adrift on life’s ocean, sustained only by their staunch belief that ordinary peoples’ votes do not really count.
Dismissing the possibility they could lose, they didn’t bother to make any plan for the eventual result. When they lost, the Prime Minister resigned in a huff, leaving the rump of his government and our capable civil servants to run the country. What about the economy? George Osborne behaved as though he had won, threatening an emergency budget although fewer and fewer people took any notice of him as the hours passed. To his great credit Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, effectively took charge of the economy for about three weeks while the Government sorted itself out and elected a new leader. Conservative MPs – with very few exceptions – deserve a pat on the back for the speed at which they opted for their new leader.
Mark Carney’s quick reaction was essential to maintain financial stability during several days while many sulked and more panicked. Mrs May settled into the job remarkably swiftly and sacked Osborne, replacing him with ‘ Spreadsheet Phil ’ who at least has run a business. I feel confident that if the previous woman Prime Minister is anything to go by – also a grammar school girl - Theresa May will prove a lot more effective than the last four men who lived at 10 Downing Street. She can’t do everything at once, nor should she try. All manner of decisions have been put off, from airport runways to frigates for the navy. She seems to be working through her list quite briskly.
She also understands the value of our un-written constitution better than our high court judges. If our votes in a referendum can be cast aside because ‘ we are not capable of understanding the question and its implications ’ then does not the same principle apply to general elections? The court itself is an ambush laid by Tony Blair who perhaps still has day dreams about becoming President of Europe. Certainly the Supreme Court judges are straying deeper into a political swamp and already others propose challenges that look borderline and possibly vexatious. Ultimately this foray may bring about radical changes in the way senior judges are chosen. I don’t want a lawyers’ written and therefore rigid constitution by stealth which is what this Supreme Court hearing is all about. We have no legacy from Napoleon other than victories remembered with Trafalgar Square and Waterloo Station.
Americans have elected their judges for almost a century after the American Bar Association voted to adopt the voting method introduced in California in 1934. Should our voters pick their judges? Personally, I prefer the time proven system where our judiciary elect their peers, though also where we have no supreme court but the Law Lords. The old system was less prone to political bias in one direction or another. Leaving aside the question of whether the Government needs bother with Article 50 at all, when the Vice President of the ‘ Supreme Court ’ has so little common sense that she speculates over the World Wide Web about a unique and highly political dispute she is about to judge, I begin to wonder who are these people and how on earth were they chosen. Lady Neuberger, wife of the Lord Chief Justice who will preside over the ‘ Supreme Court ’ when the appeal is heard, bombards the social media with slogans against Brexit. Should an ambassador’s wife allow herself similar liberties over foreign policy the couple would find themselves posted to the back of beyond. Lord Neuberger must fear that the court is fulfilling his own warnings before it was set up – there was a risk of the judges taking powers unto themselves.
The referendum vote signals a sea change for Britain’s establishment. They are not enjoying the experience but let us ‘ ordinary ’ voters persevere. We might yet catch up with the Swiss. For in Europe’s oldest democracy all important matters have long ago been taken away from the politicians and instead decided by the people through popular votes. While our voting system has been reformed several times over three centuries, the last significant reform of Parliament itself was in 1912 when life peers were introduced by Asquith’s reforming Liberal government. Although the recent higher profile of Select Committees is welcome, the House of Commons has barely changed its role and procedures in three hundred years. Nor have its members changed their attitude towards the people who voted for them. Dozens of members were caught cheating the tax payers when claiming expenses. Over the last decades several times I’ve suffered MPs who’ve told me that the voters are too stupid to take decisions. One rather rashly did so at a fund raiser for himself! Several of us present decided that evening that instead of cash we would pay him out a bit more rope. Some months later the MP was caught in a seedy scandal and resigned.
We live in an electronic age of real time sound and pictures. We no longer need reporters to give us their version of politics. We can watch Parliament and its Select Committees live on the Internet, the White House press conferences, the Bank of England Governor giving his quarterly inflation reports. We don’t need a John Major or a Tony Blair to explain the tricky bits for us simpleton voters. Far from it - British voters inevitably will acquire an appetite for more raw information, inevitably demand a greater say through popular votes. And they should. For a start we ought to have one to decide whether the money for the Armed Forces, HM Diplomatic Service and the Intelligence Services together with the Overseas Aid budget is allocated in a common sense way. I have a hunch that the voters would prefer their navy to have enough warships armed with the latest weapons rather than politicians sending aid to China behind our backs.
Watch this space....
THE PEOPLE VERSUS OUR POLITICIANS
Written during April 2016
A LITTLE HISTORY GIVES SHARPER PERSPECTIVE
In late August 1963 the Beetles were topping the record charts. I joined the Commonwealth Relations Office, on a Monday. On Wednesday I was rewarded with a pay rise for my birthday. ( We did that sort of thing in those days.) By Friday I had become part of the new Her Majesty's Diplomatic Service also known as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Our PUS became the Permanent Under Secretary of the new Service but everyone concluded we were victims of a hostile take over by the Foreign Office.
Eight months earlier General de Gaulle had pronounced his ' Non ' regarding Britain's joining the original EC. This was another major blow for a strategic plan designed by the Foreign Office. Their record was pretty awful. Almost until the last moment, the FO had pursued a policy of appeasement with Hitler and the other dictators, a policy which led to the occupation of most of Europe and the loss of allies, markets, money, not to mention huge diplomatic and intelligence networks built up over five-hundred years. Churchill himself took over strategic foreign policy and nurtured the special relationship until Pearl Harbour enabled Roosevelt to cast aside isolation and lead the allied war effort. Next came the Suez Crisis where Eisenhower demanded that Britain and France cease their military action against Egypt. Caught like startled rabbits against a background of industrial strife and aging industrial plant the FO concluded that only membership of the new Common Market of European countries would force Britain's industry and unions to join the modern world. Never mind the belief in our country and the brains of its youth that led Winston Churchill to found a new college bearing his name at Cambridge and devoted to the sciences. The FO preached a strategy of tail between the legs retreat from our history as a world power. They believed their duty was to manage inevitable decline.
The CRO as it was known for short, steered our diplomatic relations with the Commonwealth, not only the great dominions of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and finally India and Pakistan, many other newly independent nations but also all those countries which had not yet become independent. Our job was to keep our relationships close with the all the countries which had recently belonged to the British Empire. Since the war Britain's foreign policy had been dominated by three main themes - economic recovery from the cost of the war, massive rearmament including nuclear weapons since the Korean War, bringing our former colonies to independence with parliamentary democracies and independent judiciaries backed by a targeted aid budget. The Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, set the tone with his famous ' wind of change ' speech to the Parliament in Cape Town about Africa as nation after nation peacefully became self-governing. Our task was far from easy but the potentially spectacular rewards were worth the struggle. Our opponents were defeatist British politicians and diplomats, Soviet Russia and Communist China, the worst of British banking and industry, corrupt politicians and officials in the newly independent countries - and in that order. On the other hand, we were led by people who knew well the people and leaders of the countries where they served and our own leaders were uniquely experienced men and women. Straight from the Army and placed in the defence and intelligence department, my own boss was George Price, a retired Royal Engineers general who as a colonel had been the assistant to General Pug Ismay, Winston Churchill's Military Assistant throughout World War Two. George and Louis Mountbatten, Chief of the Defence Staff, had been friends for nearly twenty-five years. We young people had a sense of mission, that what we did counted, there was no doubt that we were changing the world for the better for the peoples of our former colonies and by doing so, helping nearly fifty new UN members to belong among the democracies.
The FO take over was justified by accusing the CRO of running a separate foreign policy. The lexicon soon became that the Commonwealth had turned its back on Britain and were importing manufactured goods from our rivals in America, Japan and Europe - no mention was made that perhaps the unreliability of British industry at that time had something to do with seeking alternative suppliers. During the 1950s we ran a surplus on manufactured goods worth 10% of GNP. That advantage was lost to the recovering industries of Europe and Japan through poor management coupled with poor labour relations and poor road infrastructure. The railways were extensive and reliable for freight - until Dr Beeching closed down all the small branch lines that allowed parcels to arrive within hours by train. Britain's first motorway was only completed in 1968.
A year later de Gaulle said ' non ' again. Five years later Prime Minister Ted Heath managed to join the Common Market but Harold Wilson took much of the credit. Heath had lost an election after sheer industrial chaos. None of them expected that within five years a woman would lead the Conservative Party, win the election, go on to win two more and drag the British economy into the modern age. They were all too wet as Margaret Thatcher would occasionally let slip.
LIFE AFTER LIBERATION - LEARN FROM THE SWISS
Forget arrangements on the lines of the one the Swiss negotiated. The original agreement drawn up by Paul Jolles in 1972 was very good but Paul was one of the outstanding diplomats of the 1970s from any country. Paul also negotiated our exit from EFTA. Switzerland went on to negotiate a series of bilateral agreements with the EC member states of that time. Some 64% of Swiss trade is with the modern EC. About one third of Swiss trade is with Germany alone thus some kind of arrangement is important. Today the Swiss are constantly nagged by the EC Commission and threatened with dire consequences if they don't fall into line with EC rules on trade, taxes, refugees, you name it, in force within the Single Market by implementing rulings from the European Court of Justice. Most of the Swiss regard this idea as creeping colonisation by the EC. Today the EC Commission has a fan club among Switzerland's left of centre politicians and some of the senior diplomats and officials while most Swiss want to keep their direct democracy which allows even EC regulations to be questioned.
Swiss friends tell us that they were so worried about direction in which the EC was heading, becoming more rigid by the day, indeed almost totalitarian, that when they heard the news that we had voted for Brexit, they threw parties to celebrate.
Brexit will electrify the British people. Sudden release from the dead weight of the EC albatross around our necks will unleash all sorts of imaginative and inventive forces. We might even rediscover our old sense of community. Once again we can make our own rules. I would like to see a space industry strategy and a rejuvenation of shipping and shipbuilding through lower taxes and ultra modern designs and technology.
There is no point voting to leave the EU only to let Brussels sneak in through the back door. We should make a clean break. Let's stick to WTO rules and treat the EC as a single market from day one. Just as we do the United States. Should the EC seek tariff free trade with us, that's fine so long as there is no question of payments to the EC budget nor accepting EU regulations in our economy. Obviously any tariffs would apply throughout the Single Market and become reciprocal. Most WTO tariffs are low single figures but some products, luxury cars for example, face around 10% duty. Imports of cars alone would earn the Treasury several billions a year.
For a UK global diplomatic and export plan........an island lives and prospers on sea power.........just click the ships
With lower taxes on shipping the Merchant Navy grows - as owners recognise the increasing risks at sea and return to the red duster.
Photo Royal Navy
6 JUNE 1944 REMEMBERED
Flypast over Bayeux Cemetery
Two gatherings took place where the British and Canadians landed on D Day. One was entirely British Commonwealth and involved the Queen and Duke with Prince Charles, starting with a service in Bayeux Cathedral for all the veterans and their familes, this followed after a short walk through the city streets by another shorter service at the British Commonwealth Cemetery. Afterwards the Queen talked to all the veterans - very much a family occasion - apart from the veterans, the Queen and the Duke were the only people present who served in the war. The photo below was taken about three days before the men landed by parachute and glider during the first minutes of the 6 June.
Princess Elizabeth aged 18 with her mother, Queen Elizabeth, talking with soldiers of the 6th Airborne Division a few days before they landed in Normandy. Just behind her mother's hat is General Sir Richard ' Windy ' Gale commanding the 6 Airborne Division. Her father, King George VI is just out of the photo. The Queen with veterans of D Day at this year's ceremony in Bayeux.
That afternoon President Hollande took over the British Sword Beach for Euromania in the form of a rather tasteless TV promotion of the EC super state. Only President Obama went and talked to the veterans present - a handful on display in the hot sun while the Eurocrats sat in the shade - and the Queen chatted with the veterans for several minutes after she arrived from Bayeux.
I'm sure the ceremony at Omaha Beach was very moving, as ever, but let's keep the 6 June for the survivors and their families in future. Thank heavens that's the last official ceremony on the beaches.
A GREAT DAY FOR THE ROYAL NAVY
The Queen with the Duke of Edinburgh, Lord High Admiral, and Admiral Sir George Zambellas, admiring the Royal Navy's latest aircraft carrier - HMS Queen Elizabeth - up in Rosyth on the 4 July.
The previous Queen Elizabeth was also a trail blazer, built as a fast oil-fired battleship armed with eight fifteen inch guns, she set a new benchmark for big gun ships and was to serve in two world wars. During the first with the Grand Fleet as Admiral Beatty's flag ship and during the second in the Mediterranean and Far East.
The new HMS Queen Elizabeth weighs in at 72,100 short tons - 65,000 imperial tons - and will carry an air strike group with stealth fighters able to reach targets hundreds of miles away. Her sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales, will take her place in the huge assembly dock now the Queen Elizabeth has taken to the water for her sea trials.
The ship yard crane is so big and powerful that it lifted one tug from the harbour, lifted it the length of QE and lowered it into the flooded dock, so the tug could nudge the newly floating carrier into the harbour.
The weather was much more cheerful than for her naming by the Queen!
' How big did you say? '
' The one bearing your name is the larger one, Maam.'
The Queen concentrates as the bottle of Islay single malt hits grey steel.
Alongside the new carrier is HMS Illustrious, last of the ' through deck cruisers ' known by the navy as ' see through carriers ' which kept alive carrier jet fighter operations with the Sea Harrier jump jets. Otherwise, John Nott's suicidal naval cuts would have reduced the Royal Navy to a third rate naval power. Harrier carriers made possible liberation of the Falkland Islands.
The jet fighter on the ski ramp of HMS Elizabeth is a mock up but gives a very clear idea of the size of the flight deck. The Royal Navy will fight to ensure that both new aircraft carriers join the fleet. I feel confident the RN and its many staunch fans will win that fight. Everyone who thinks we should have a much stronger navy needs to make their voice heard. This is a job for a single massive public voice. The coming political battle will involve public pressure to double the number of destroyers, frigates and submarines. Ideally the Royal Navy could find plenty of work for a third new carrier and a four-fold increase in surface ships and submarines but let's take things a step at a time. First the British public have to be educated that they live on an island that's becoming as over-crowded as Japan.
Then compare the size of their navy with ours.
All the same, truly, a great day for the Royal Navy ( not to mention Gordon Brown ) and all the ship yard workers, the thousands of skilled people who delivered her on time for the Queen.
COMMONWEALTH'S GRANDMAMA INVITES EUROPE'S MUTTI TO TEA
DAVE AND ANGE
Oh dear, Mutti has bitten another partner but this time the victim survived. Dave has an easy decision but he'll make heavy weather of it - as usual. There is a landslide election victory staring him in the face. The Tories and UKIP have 35% and 10-15% of the vote together. The only negotiation with the EC that makes sense is British exit. That should give the ' conservative vote ' up to 55% of the voters, possibly 60% with the prospect of freedom from the EC shackles around our commercial ankles.
Far from facing ruin, freed from Europe's sheet anchor, Britain's economy will grow much faster. We should become a giant Hong Kong anchored off the Continent.
The price is worth paying - much larger armed forces, particularly the Royal Navy, and restoration of the FCO to its former strength.
Best get started, Dave, or we'll give your job to one of the ladies.
SOME HAPPY NEWS
' Hey - I'm over here! '
Prince George on his mother's lap after Christening at the Chapel Royal in St. James's Palace. Two future kings and one future queen. The secret of the Royal Family has always been to move with the times. I think they'll be around for a while longer.
Her Majesty the Queen with three future kings and Prince George with Princess Charlotte
More than a century has passed since the last time such a photo was taken at the Christening of the future King Edward VIII. He, of course, abdicated to marry Mrs Wallis Simpson in 1937. His brother succeeded him as the much loved and respected King George VI, the Queen's father.
Charlotte takes her name from George the Third's much loved queen who named her eldest daughter Charlotte.
WHILE THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT AND BAE SACK OUR SHIP DESIGNERS AND SKILLED SHIP BUILDERS - AMERICA LAUNCHES A SUPER DESTROYER ARMED WITH A BAE ADVANCED GUN SYSTEM
DGG 1000 - USS Zumwalt takes to the water, stealthily at night. Why is it that despite the recent Congress chaos and threat of a Federal Government shut down, the US Department of Defence manages to organise a naval construction programme that runs so that America's shipyards stay open, whereas inexperienced British politicians combined with mediocre management and no competition for BAE clearly fail to do this every time?
I WONDER IF WE COULD PERSUADE AMANDA TO COME OVER HERE?
Amanda Thatcher reads from Saint Paul's Epistles at her Grandmother's funeral in Saint Paul's Cathedral.
Margaret Thatcher's greatest legacy may prove her captivating and composed granddaughter.
FREEDOM HAS LOST A GREAT FRIEND
Margaret Thatcher died peacefully on the 8 April. The most well educated of all British Prime Ministers, of all her many great achievements, she remained very proud of her days as a young research chemist on the team that created soft-frozen ice cream. That's what made her special. She kept her feet on the ground. She invariably found time for children and young people, no matter what the world was throwing at her.
Eleven years later, after winning three elections, when Margaret Thatcher was stabbed in the back by Heseltine and others, we had such a big budget surplus that we were paying back the National debt. She had it down to 26.7% of annual gnp and had she gone another five years we would have paid off the rest. Strikes fell from 29 million days lost per year to 2 millions during her premiership and last year were 250,000 days. She set the course for the new century. When her successor, John Major, won the next election, he scored 14 million votes, the most ever by a political party in Britain. When he lost to Tony Blair we were closing fast to overtake the gnp of reunited Germany. Look at what Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron have done with her legacy.
One of the blessings of a profession as a diplomat is that you get about socially. I have known nearly all the main political actors during this era from Arthur Scargill, the miners' leader to a friend in the Cabinet Office who masterminded his defeat. I liked them both although I didn't share Arthur Scargill's politics. I liked Dennis Thatcher. Everyone did who knew him. We often met and chatted when we collected our respective family photographs at the shop that used to occupy the corner of Whitehall and Northumberland Avenue.
I liked Margaret Thatcher. She was honest, straight dealing, very intelligent though very modest in her own funny way. Despite claims to the contrary, she had a sense of humour, very quick. Long after leaving Ottawa, I wrote her speech to the Canadian Parliament and had the remarkable pleasure of watching Maggie tell one of my jokes as her opening line. Somewhere I have a tape sent to me in Sussex by Don Newman of CBC on behalf of the Parliamentary Press Gallery.
I shall remember her honesty, warmth, courage. She never forgot where she started in life, devoting herself to help others climb the ladder.
A great lady. I shall miss her.
Amanda and Michael Thatcher waiting to play their parts in their grandmother's funeral. What a splendid advert they made for America's youth.
' I never read a newspaper.'
Hugh Grant, comic film actor, campaigning for government regulation of the British press for the first time since 1695.
THE STRUGGLE FOR EUROPE
Apologies to Chester Wilmot
SCOTLAND THE SHREWD
All sorts of questions are raised by the Scottish Nationalist Party's ambition to break up the United Kingdom. Few answers are coming from the Scottish Nationalist Party. My hunch is that this obfuscation will backfire as the vote for ' independence ' draws closer - actually separation from England and Wales, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands plus all the United Kingdom's dependent territories.
Scottish history is rarely taught in English schools and - here goes - requires a little cramming.
England and Scotland had shared the same king for more than a century - apart from a dozen years rule by Oliver Cromwell - by the time the 1707 Act of Union came to pass.
The last Tudor monarch of England, Elizabeth I, never married and when she died in 1603 her distant cousin, James VI of Scotland became James I of England as well. Since Wales and Ireland were part of Elizabeth's kingdom, he was the first ruler of the whole British Isles. The two countries remained separate with Parliaments in London and Edinburgh. James ruled through a personal union. His critics named him the wisest fool in Christendom but modern historians now regard him as an intelligent and thoughtful monarch. James became King of Scotland after his mother's execution by Elizabeth I - the grim culmination of nearly a century of civil wars and power struggles in Scotland, often with French interventions, indeed his grandmother, Mary of Guise, led an army and ruled as Queen Consort. Under his mother, Mary, the country was torn apart by squabbling nobles until edging towards what we would call a failed state today. Mary fled to England. Sadly, she became the focus of Catholic ambitions to destroy the Reformation and return England to the Papal flock.
The Scottish Nationalists skip this part of history and look back 600 years to Scotland's struggles to defy conquest by the hated English. Far more relevant to our times are the two hundred years from 1500 - 1707. The first century of chaos was recent memory when James set off for Whitehall and he regarded full union as the best way forward for both countries. And both flourished. Shakespeare wrote some of his finest work during this time. James had his faults - belief in the divine right of kings to rule under God was to lead to his son losing a civil war against Parliament - but the over-riding strategy created a sea trading nation that would become the greatest power on the planet.
The Civil War ended in 1648 with his son, Charles I, held prisoner by Parliament. Charles then made the same move as Mary Queen of Scots - secretly negotiated with France to invade the British Isles and secure his throne. Charles and his descendents were secret Catholics and that implied a double threat to the protestant kingdom that had beaten the Spanish Armada in the days of Elizabeth. Charles was executed in 1649 and his son fled to France. An attempt to regain the throne failed at the Battle of Worcester in 1651 and the young Charles II hid in an oak tree during his escape. Nine years later, fed up with the Parliamentary and puritan rule, Cromwell dead, his son asked the king to return. There were still secret treaties with France - followed by wars - but the great struggle was for control of the narrow seas around our islands. Two powers threatened English trade - France and Holland. The most dangerous were the Dutch.
Now commenced a series of short wars with many naval battles in the Channel and the North Sea. Some with France, most with Holland. The Dutch even burned the English fleet in the River Medway including its flagship, the Royal Charles, named after the king. Despite brilliant leaders such as van Tromp and van Ruyter, the Dutch lost and England became the dominant sea power on the planet.
Charles II known as the Merry Monarch for his dissolute Court, died in 1685 and was succeeded by his brother, James II, who was clever though arrogant and thick-skinned. James was openly Catholic and appointed Catholics to key positions. Within three years the Government with the blessing of Parliament sent for the protestant Prince of Orange, ruler of Holland, who was married to Mary Stuart, also a protestant, daughter of James II. They were in fact first cousins. A peaceful invasion took place for the leading general, John Churchill, great ancestor of Winston, crossed over to William's camp the night before the expected battle to avoid needless bloodshed. There was no battle. James fled London for France.
The resulting settlement made William and Mary joint monarchs - the only ones in British history - and all state papers were signed by both. Parliament and the Monarchy drew up a treaty which agreed their respective powers. This was known as the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and laid the foundation of our modern democratic monarchy.
William had fought Louis XIV of France to keep Holland's freedom. He wasted no time involving English power on the Continent and John Churchill's eventual victories were to make him the greatest British general who has ever lived.
Not all Scots accepted the new monarchs. Some nobles stayed loyal to James ( VII of Scotland ) and this brought civil war north of the border. The Jacobite nobles had support among the Highlanders and won a victory at the Pass of Killicrankie in 1698 only to lose another battle within months, thus defeating their campaign.
Scotland already found itself at a disadvantage when trading with the growing economic power south of the border.
England paid for its wars from taxes on imports and trade. The Scots made it possible to avoid these taxes by landing goods in Scotland rather than English ports. A series of bad harvests didn't help either and thus was born the idea of rivalling the English by founding a Scottish colony - New Caledonia - not in the Pacific Ocean but on the coast of Central America in what is today, Panama, at a place called Darien. Scotland's government and bankers raised the money in Amsterdam and London. But the place chosen, Darien, belonged to Spain. England was at war with France and King William did not want to fight Spain as well. He was lukewarm to the idea. The East India Company had been given a monopoly on such trading ventures and were opposed. This opposition prevailed and the Dutch and English backers withdrew. The punters then raised £ 400,000 from all over Scotland and the scheme went ahead - but - those involved were poor planners and even worse judges of people. They appointed incompetents and adventurers to lead the expedition and the inevitable result was a double disaster. Two waves of colonists were lost from disease, before the Spanish attacked and the survivors surrendered. English ships were not sent as a rescue party - William had no desire to fight Spain as well as France. The loss of money represented 20% of Scotland's gnp at that time - please take note Germans as you make yourselves liable for 25% of yours by backing the Eurozone.
Economic catastrophe persuaded the Scottish leaders to approach the English and seek political and economic union. One need only read the Act of Union to realise the lack of trust between the two sides. The bulk of the Act is a list of the taxes that the combined nation will impose on pretty well everything. Only towards the end does the Act confirm that £ 398,085 and ten shillings plus any other monies will be paid into the Scottish Exchequer to redeem all its debts. ( One wag has calculated that returning the capital with 300 years interest and inflation will cost Scotland £ 853 trillions because they are breaking the deal. ) The Act was passed separately by both Parliaments - no room for the slightest wriggle by the Scots - and reminds me of the level of trust between the FCO and the Quai d'Orsay when we drew up the modern Channel Tunnel Treaty.
The result for Scotland was membership of the most advanced economy in the world and within a generation. Indeed, while the 1715 rebellion against the King in London had some support, rapid economic growth denied Bonnie Prince Charlie any support from those who ran Scotland by 1745 and made his failure certain. Edinburgh became the Athens of the North. The home city of Adam Smith. The new United Kingdom became the world's first super power with no other in sight for two hundred years. Think about that - when the Scottish Nationalists want to turn back the clock three hundred years to the days of the Darien colony.
What happens after the Scottish Nationalists renege on the Act the Union?
Scottish Nationalists claim that Scotland will remain within the EC. This claim shows no understanding of EC politics. Neither Belgium nor Spain wants to signal Flanders or Catalonia that they can break away with impunity. Cyprus already complains that Scotland should not be allowed to jump the queue for EC membership - Cyprus has issues with breakaway parts of its own island.
My hunch is that whatever the lawyers say - and none have been consulted formally, if at all - Scotland will be forced to apply to join the EC. ( Since writing this passage a few weeks ago the EC Commission have confirmed that Scotland would have to apply as a new state.) That means joining the Euro because there is no way, given the present banking crisis, that the Bank of England can underwrite a foreign economy over which it has no control. Scotland will have to exit the pound at midnight on Alex Salmond day. Given the uncertainties at such a moment, Scotland's new currency would nose dive while inflation would soar. Moreover, this situation could become prolonged.
Scotland will be regarded with great suspicion by NATO allies who are also EC member states. Denmark, Norway, France, Germany, Holland, UK and USA don't want another Irish Republic. Don't want another neutral country in a strategic geographical position accepting NATO's de facto protection while claiming de jure that they need make no contribution to their own defence. Americans in particular are fed up with freeloaders. Everyone is Irish during an election in the USA but the other three years people say what they think. Scotland's neighbours may decide to block its EC membership until their security demands are met to NATO's satisfaction. The USA can stand back and let the Danes and Dutch, Germans and Norwegians give the nasty messages then step in as judge and jury.
England faces the same problem as 300 years ago. We'll have customs and passport controls along the Scottish border. We'll need much more patrol capacity along the coasts to stop smuggling of goods and people. After a near miss with Ireland which cost the taxpayer £ 8 billions - so far - the Scottish Nationalists expect us to tolerate a failed state on mainland Great Britain.
Scots have gone all over the World. Right here in Bern they built the main bridge over the River Aare. Standard Chartered Bank from Lahore to Saigon was managed by Scots. These are the true sons and daughters of the Darien dream, who went all over the world, secure in their support from a strong base in the United Kingdom. Why aren't these Scots allowed to vote in 2014? Why not all the Scots resident in England, Wales and Northern Ireland?
And, if the Scottish Nationalists promote a return to the 13th century, why shouldn't the Orkney and Shetland Islanders vote for a return to the 15th century when they still were part of the Kingdom of Denmark? They'd escape joining the Euro. Perhaps the rest of the UK could negotiate an attractive deal with the Northern Islanders.....