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brexit – into uncharted territory June 24, 2016

Posted by Bradley in : britishness, eu, governance , add a comment

The BBC says that 52% of UK voters voted to leave the EU and 48% voted to remain. Winners take all – or rather lose all and impose significant losses on everyone else. The pound fell to the lowest rate against the dollar since 1985. Keith Vaz said the result was terrible. Nigel Farage said it was a victory for real people, ordinary people, decent people (I suppose the 48% who voted for remain are not real, ordinary, or decent). But all those people who believed they were taking back control are about to discover that it was all an illusion and they are even worse off than they were before. If Scotland becomes independent and joins the EU I wonder if I could get a Scottish passport (my mother was born in Edinburgh)?

why brexit matters June 21, 2016

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This is what I spent a chunk of today writing. It is here.

london as an independent city state? June 21, 2016

Posted by Bradley in : financial regulation, governance , add a comment

More amazing possible implications of a Brexit vote.

brexit worries June 17, 2016

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I think this piece by John Harris is exactly right, and at the same time what he imagines is so, so wrong:

at the centre of where we find ourselves there is an undeniable irony, which may yet turn cold and cruel. If the revolt succeeds and Brexit wins, the party in power is likely to take a political turn that will lead us even further away from what the moment demands, while Labour will likely tumble further into division and introspection.

The EU has some problems, sure. It’s an elite, intellectual project and always was, despite years of attempting to reach out to citizens across the EU. At the same time the EU institutions have a sense of social solidarity that the UK EU-haters lack. And this story of the development of the Brexit idea by Matthew d”Ancona links it to ideas of flexible labour markets, freedom from red tape and British economic creativity that needs to be freed from EU shackles. Not a surprise. But, as Harris argues, these flexible markets free from regulation are not the sort of markets to give any hope at all to the people who seem likely to vote for Brexit.

civil society and multilateral institutions October 29, 2014

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The UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association, Maina Kiai, published a report yesterday arguing that multilateral institutions should make efforts to allow the voices of non-state, non-business entities to be heard:

In recent times, non-State actors have challenged the State-centric approach to global governance and are demanding a place at the negotiating table. Civil society in particular insists that discussions and decisions of multilateral institutions should focus on people’s concerns and human rights rather than being confined to geopolitical and economic interests that primarily occupy States and corporations. The Special Rapporteur believes that the concept of multilateralism should be expanded beyond action by States alone to include the effective participation of a variety of voices within those States. With this in mind, the report highlights the challenges experienced by civil society actors in having an effective voice at the multilateral level.

The report points out that this is particularly important as supra-national decision-making has more and more impact on domestic policy.

warning on blending: irresistible! October 22, 2014

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The EU’s Court of Auditors has warned the new EU Commission about the need to focus on issues of management in blending public and private finance in development assistance in a new report:

The 30 projects examined by the Court were all judged to be relevant for the regions and countries concerned. However, the approval process under‑taken by the Commission was not thorough, and the decisions to award the grants, at a particular level, were frequently not convincingly evidenced. Guidance on what criteria the Commission should use in its decision‑making was also lacking. Once grants were approved, the advance disbursements were unnecessarily high. The Commission’s monitoring did not ensure that the added value of grants was achieved in all cases.

the vaguely united kingdom – devolution for manchester? September 21, 2014

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Reading about the Scottish referendum it seemed to me that many of the arguments for independence applied to parts of England beyond London and the Home Counties. Those parts of the country which aren’t doing as well as the South East, the “desolate” parts where fracking has been thought to be acceptable. Places with proud histories and vibrant presents ignored by southern elites. So it’s not a surprise to read on The Guardian’s web pages:

The Scottish referendum has prompted northern English councils to demand more powers from Westminster, with local leaders complaining that England is “totally overgoverned” from London.

market manipulation and sports March 6, 2014

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The UK Treasury has published a news release with the title LIBOR funds to support first Invictus Games in London (details of other payments from the fund to support armed-forces related projects can be seen here). According to the press release the Chancellor said:

I am pleased that we have been able to support the very first Invictus Games in London using the LIBOR fund. We’re using money raised from fines on those who demonstrated the very worst of values to support the very best of values, injured service personnel from around the world. This landmark event will be a real inspiration for future generations.

I have never really understood the rationale for applying these funds in this way. It seems to me that the Government has an obligation to support the armed forces in all sorts of ways and that relying on the happenstance of funds derived from fraud is not the way to go about providing the support. Then again, linking the two quite separate things almost makes it sound as though it was a good thing that people manipulated Libor over many years. What will the UK Government fund with proceeds from the investigations into manipulation in the foreign exchange market, I wonder? Early childhood education? Food banks? The dredging of canals? From this perspective we could say we need more fraud to help more people. But that can’t be right, can it?

more eu (non?) transparency issues November 19, 2013

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Euractiv shows that it isn’t just with respect to conflict minerals that the EU is having difficulty in trying to enhance transparency. The Commission’s proposals in early 2013 (but foreshadowed in 2011) to increase disclosure with respect to social and environmental matters met some organized opposition. The European Council touched on the issue in May in the context of addressing tax evasion (measures on this may be more likely):

The proposal amending the Directives on disclosure of non-financial and diversity information by large companies and groups will be examined notably with a view to ensuring country-by-country reporting by large companies and groups

Here’s what the Euractiv article says about this:

“It is strange that they have pulled back on what leaders agreed so recently,” said another source on condition of anonymity. “There is some suggestion that it was very late at night [at the summit] when the leaders made their pledge, and not all of them understood what they were agreeing to!” the source continued.

courts and the executive: control, legal certainty, sub-delegation October 30, 2013

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From the judgment of Lords Mance and Toulson in the UK Supreme Court today in R (on the application of Reilly and another) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

The courts have no more important function than to ensure that the executive complies with the requirements of Parliament as expressed in a statute. Further, particularly where the statute concerned envisages regulations which will have a significant impact on the lives and livelihoods of many people, the importance of legal certainty and the impermissibility of sub-delegation are of crucial importance. The observations of Scott LJ in Blackpool Corporation v Locker [1948] 1 KB 349, 362 are in point: “John Citizen” should not be “in complete ignorance of what rights over him and his property have been secretly conferred by the minister”, as otherwise “[f]or practical purposes, the rule of law … breaks down because the aggrieved subject’s legal remedy is gravely impaired”.