Leaving the EU – Chapter 1

The fallout from the UK European Referendum result was predictable no matter which way the result went. The UK still have a long way to go before they leave the EU. 

When I woke up on Friday 24th June 2016 I was genuinely surprised by the result of the UK EU referendum. I had gone to bed the previous night slightly deflated that a ‘Remain’ result was imminent. I had just read an article that confirmed ‘Boris Johnson admits defeat on the tube’. I was sickened by the jingoism of some remain voters on Twitter tweeting under # images of Nigel Farage in the mangled wreckage of the light aircraft that crashed during his 2010 election campaign, with the accompanying suggestion ‘crash test dummy’.

By the end of Thursday I had had enough. The emotional manipulation, the claims of far right infiltration, of Eton boys having a punch up, the analogous claim that a vote for leave is a vote for racism, and the apparent genuine belief that to leave the EU meant literally leaving Europe. Presumably by tugboats attached to north of Scotland?

I felt disappointed that the debate had become so muddied and, to my mind, a central thread of the narrative in the latter stages of the campaign became heavily focussed upon an MP who had been murdered. Because Jo Cox MP supported remaining in the EU her death became a reason to remain in the EU.

With a strong focus by the mass media in the MP’s death, culminating in what would have been Mrs Cox’s 42nd birthday and Trafalgar Square tribute the day before polling, the debate over a choice to leave the EU was seemingly repackaged as an emotional decision.  News reports of flowers and tributes being laid outside Batley polling station (Mrs Cox’s constituency) on polling day was faintly reminiscent of the hyperbolic press reporting of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.

The murder of the MP was undeniably terrible. I believe the crime was cynically exploited to further a political agenda. Details I would expect not to see were published by the press. For example, on the 17th June 2016, the day after Mrs Cox death, the media were widely reporting that the police found nazi regalia and that the suspect was also known to have bought books from a US-based neo-Nazi group. I posit that reporting such information may jeopardise a fair trial.

I find many aspects of the media narrative surrounding the death of Jo Cox implausible and incoherent. I do not know the real truth about the incident and it is unwise to speculate.

The widespread profiling of the suspect within the mainstream media loudly reverberated through the EU debate as polls opened. By the end of polling day there was a clear sense that the propaganda machine had done its duty and the UK was to remain in the EU. Nigel Farage had conceded that the Remain side had probably won. It seemed like a done deal.

So it is with a sense of disbelief that I write this. It was close (it was always going to be) but the result was came in; a 4% lead in favour leaving the EU!

Now a week has passed and it doesn’t feel quite like the victory it was last Friday. It is as if a large proportion (although not the majority) of the population have rejected the outcome of the democratic process. The older generation have been denigrated, apparently by the young, for voting to leave. It has been estimated that 64% of 18-24 year olds did not vote. A petition for a second referendum was signed by millions, although many of the signatures on the petition had dubious origins.  Nicola Sturgeon is reported to have confirmed she may advise members of the Scottish parliament to block the UK exit from the EU. And David Cameron has not immediately invoked article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which would start the process to exit the EU, as he told parliament he would do in February 2016.

What was the point in having a referendum if we were not going to observe the result?

For the record, I am quite content with voting leave. It is not something I regret, as the media have reported some leave voters are. Maybe they have, but I doubt these people are significant enough to overturn the result. There are plenty of people who’s decision to vote either way was not based on the rational. Should we now factor people’s reasons for voting as a barometer of their legitimacy to vote? Should some votes be more equal than others?

When I see the reaction from Jean Claude Juncker in the EU parliament I am pleased that the majority of the UK voted to leave the super  state:

I do not doubt there are hard times ahead. From the political rhetoric and the way the vested interest financial sector are reacting, it appears that any deal between the UK and the EU is going to be difficult. It seems that there is a popular belief that the EU hold the best hand and the UK will have to capitulate to such an extent that we may as well have just stayed in the EU in the first place. I think not, and it is concerning that the likes of Boris Johnson are looking for some kind of EU-lite membership renegotiation.

My knee jerk reaction to the vote was that we must invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty immediately. However, having now read around the subject it appears this is not the only, or best route to leaving the EU. In fact, Article 50 allows the EU to offer terms for the UK to accept and dictates the time frame in which negotiations will take place without a framework within that period. Effectively the EU could offer a deal at the 11th hour which the UK may feel forced to accept without reasonable reflection.

An alternative, and probably better way of conducting matters would be for the UK government to repeal the European Communities Act 1972, which is the legislature that allows UK government ministers to transpose EU Directives and rulings of the European Court of Justice into UK law.

With this Act repealed the UK would no longer have legislature which enables EU legislation to be imposed. We are then free to ratify any sensible existing legislation (workers rights etc.) and discard that which we do not need. We could then begin a process of negotiation with the EU that allows the UK a more equal footing at the negotiating table. Once negotiations had been completed we could then invoke Article 50 and allow that process to begin. In any event the European Communities Act 1972 will need to be repealed. It strikes me this would be the best way to respect the will of the people and negotiate the best deal.

To be continued…

Hair of the Dog


This was going to be a soul searching blog about the difficulties of writing. Then I realised that was a load of boring old shit. Then I was going to do a “The Voting Is Almost Over” EU Referendum post dissecting my views about the EU Referendum campaigns. But that’s a load of boring old shit too. 


This is Brecon The Dog.

She is thinking about one of her favourite things.
Killing bunnies.
She loves catching them, slaying them and
Crunching on their little bunny bones,
While their adrenal hearts still beat.

She will savage bunny-kind.

She is 10 years old. Tempus fugit.
And has sore back hips,
which makes her a slow to rise and go.
She sights her bunny-scope, emancipated from old age,
She chases rapid-grey-cotton-garnished-strafing-bottoms.
Fortunately, for bunnies, she is not swift enough or well-sighted
To catch them in their flight.
Her few confirmed kills notched up,
Where rabbits choose to freeze, not flee.
Victimes de lapin dans les phares de chien,
serve a snack of rare delight.

As far as I know Brecon does not worry about politics,
or other human made ills.

She dislikes being left alone,
packs of dogs,
bigger dogs.

Her main concerns? Are there cats? Squirrels? Rats?

She likes food, rolling in fox mess, walks, the outside, sleeping and…


Should I Stay Or Should I Go Now


I’m nailing my flag to the mast. I’m all for leaving the EU. But I’m not the right wing lunatic that Leave supporters are being polarised as.

I am not right wing. Or a racist. Or a fascist. I don’t like Nigel Farage, or Boris Johnson, or Katie Hopkins, or the BNP, or Britain First. I don’t hate Europeans. I am not a nationalist. I am not anti-immigrant.

I now feel I must make these qualifications as the EU debate seems to have shifted into a polarised debate about racism, immigration and the far right. There also seems to be a groupthink ‘shame by association’ with the prominent figures in the ‘Leave’ campaign.

I spoke with a very good friend recently who we shared our politically formative years with. He asked me how I was voting and was shocked by my response. He, like a lot of people I know, are voting to Remain. We discussed the whole campaign at length, neither of us tried to change each other’s minds. We just talked about all the issues. Both of us agreed on the central hypocrisies and stupidity of the arguments being made by both camps. At the end of the conversation neither of us seemed like we were going to change our opinion anytime soon. He commented to me that it was very strange that having grown up together and being very much on the same page in regards to our outlook on the world we still sit on opposite sides on this.

Immigration – Imagine That

I admit my views on immigration are pretty radical. I support the idea put forward in John Lennon’s Imagine:

Imagine there’s no countries,
It isn’t hard to do,
Nothing to kill and die for,
And no religion too

He’s right as well. It isn’t hard to do. All those imaginary borders aren’t really there, and can be imagined away. I think there should be open borders globally and people should be free to come and go as they please. That’s the great thing about the imagination. It can imagine all sorts of things. If we did collectively imagine Lennon’s notion, then there wouldn’t be any disputes about immigration, because there would be no such thing.

Immigration is a silly distraction. It is an argument about policy. We are not being asked to vote on immigration policy. We are being asked if we want to stay in or leave the EU. The question is very broad.

The Arguments

There are equally weighted arguments about the economy. These were central to the debate a few weeks ago, but have tapered off. The case on either side seems speculative and in truth we wont actually know until we get there. Remember how nobody seemed to predict the ‘credit crunch’. Presently, and in light of Jo Cox murder, the debate appears to pivot on Vote Leave = Racist, Vote Remain = Not Racist.

There are arguments from the Remain camp about the positive EU legislation, such as employment law and human rights. I agree that having proper rights enshrined helps to prevent freedoms being eroded. I think this can also be achieved by consensus not imposition.

There is also the  argument we are ‘better together’. But leaving the EU doesn’t mean we are picking up our ball, running off and saying “I’m not your friend anymore”. I’m pretty sure that a vote to Leave will not alter Britain’s geography. It will still qualify as being part of the continent of Europe. It just won’t be part of the EU.

In regards to staying and changing the machine from the inside, I am less optimistic. While I believe anything is possible, I think this is an argument that relies heavily on non-apathy and educated political activism, which just doesn’t seem to exist in any great abundance presently. It can, and has, been argued that the reason why there has been such a surge in nationalism and the right wing throughout Europe, not least in the UK, is precisely because of the growing power of the EU.

Possibly the worst populist argument doing the rounds is that centering around the  personalities in each camp. I have seen a Facebook post where a list of popular establishment figures are cited in the Remain camp and less celebrated members of society are cited in the Leave. With a clear inference this should influence the way we vote.

One of many examples of this personality debate was demonstrated by Ellie Goulding. The singer tweeted:


The message has since been retracted. I am not singling Ms Goulding out, merely highlighting a perfect example of the reduction in the IQ level of the debate. Is that all we actually need to know about Brexit Ms Goulding?

There are a number of celebrities that I am a big fan of, or have respect for who are Remainers. In some cases I have a deep affinity with their work; mainly musicians. Their work has had an impact on my development and my outlook on life.  I find it awkward to be on the opposing side of their position on the matter. But hey, no one agrees on everything. And there ends the relevance of their opinion upon my own on the EU issue.

My position on the great EU debate centres on the EU itself. I think to understand anything it is important to learn of its genesis. How did it begin, and how has it come to be? If we understand that then we may have an idea where it may be going.

Path to the EU

There seems to be little reporting about the direction the EU is heading and one could be left with the impression that it will stay as it is. A much maligned argument from the Leave side is that the EU will evolve into a federal superstate. Some argue we are already in one. I have to admit that based on my research of the EU I believe there is some, in fact a great deal, of validity to this.

The idea of of a European Federal Union seems to have first been politically tabled by Aristide Briand, French Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, in 1929. It was not until 1952 when the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) Treaty formed a union between France, Germany, Italy and the Benelux countries. The ECSC was born from the Schuman Declaration, written by Jean Monnet, a man considered  by some to be the ‘Father of Europe’. The Schuman Declaration begins with the words:

World peace cannot be safeguarded without the making of creative efforts proportionate to the dangers which threaten it.

It went on to state that through imposing a central authority governing production of coal and steel between France and Germany would make war materially impossible. As well as European Peace there was also an ambition to develop Africa. The stated long term goal within the declaration was to lay the foundation for a European Federation.

The ECSC evolved into the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1958. Under this framework attempts were made to implement indirect taxation, industrial regulation, agriculture, fisheries and monetary policies; a Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) was introduced in 1962.

The UK did not enter the EEC until 1973. The UK people were not asked if they wanted to join. In 1974 the terms of EEC membership came under scrutiny and a referendum was held in 1975. The British people were asked:

1975 ballot

Remaining in the ‘Common Market’ was sold by the political class and the press to be financially beneficial to the people of the UK. The people unanimously voted ‘Yes’.

In 1979 the European Monetary System (EMS) was introduced. The long term objective of the EMS was to form a single currency and an Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM), where exchange rates between member states would be fixed.

In 1992 the EU was formed under the Maastricht Treaty. The treaty came into effect in 1993 and created common foreign policy, security policy and power over domestic policy and judicial matters. The framework for introduction of the common currency was also introduced. The EU grew in size from 12 member states in 1993 to to 27 member states by 2013.

In 1999 the Amsterdam Treaty came into effect creating further policy and directives. The treaty of Nice came into effect in 2003, which reshaped the EU infrastructure.

In 2005 an EU constitution was rejected by France and Germany and the replacement Lisbon Treaty came into effect in 2009. The Lisbon Treaty provided further power to the EU  over the member states.

This short history (please take the time to research it yourself) demonstrates that the EU has evolved from a fairly innocuous trade group into a far greater statutory body, affecting huge areas on our individual lives. The progress towards its current state has been quicker and greater with each successive treaty. The EU today is nothing like the ‘Common Market’ my parents agreed the UK should remain in. It has been driven from the top down, not the bottom up. It has come about through imposition rather than debate and democratic representation.

I do not believe for a moment that this is something we will be able to change once we endorse it with a Remain vote. I worry that once endorsed the march towards a federalised Europe will be swift and virtually unstoppable, greater expansion of the EU will happen, an EU army will be formed, the EU central bank will become the presiding power over our economies and TTIP negotiations (I implore you to research this) will be successful.

If this seems like hyperbole then I concur. I find it a worrying prospect. I refer you back to the genesis of the EU, which cited a goal to create a Federal Europe. Jean Monnet is widely quoted to have written in a letter to a friend in 1952:

Europe’s nations should be guided towards the superstate without their people understanding what is happening. This can be accomplished by successive steps, each disguised as having an economic purpose, but which will eventually and irreversibly lead to federation.

This appears not to be something Monnet actually stated, rather it a misrepresentation of Adrian Hilton’s text in his 1997 book The Principality of Power in Europe. For context the full text reads:

One of the founding fathers of the EU, Jean Monnet, also a devout Roman Catholic, totally rejected the idea that Europe should consist of sovereign nations. He believed in the Catholic vision that Europe should become a federal superstate, into which all ancient nations would be fused. ‘Fused’ is the word he used in a communication dated 30th April 1952, and is wholly consistent with the language of the Maastricht Treaty. For this to be achieved without the peoples of Europe realising what was happening, the plan was to be accomplished in successive steps. Each was to be disguised as having an economic purpose, but all, taken together, would inevitably and irreversibly lead to federation.

The sinister Monnet attributed quote clearly has its origins in a distortion of Hilton’s text. It would be unusual that Hilton, himself a Eurosceptic,  would word his text so closely to the more sinister Monnet quote yet not quote it directly. What is more, this 1997 text appears to be the earliest citation I can find of anything representing Monnet’s quote.

Generously giving the benefit of the doubt, it appears somebody has misunderstood Hilton’s text and took it to be a direct quote from Monnet’s 1952 letter. The only word Hilton actually was quoting was the word ‘fused.’

Misdirection aside, it is clear from other verifiable Jean Monnet quotes that his intention was to form a Federal Europe in the same vein as the USA. Monnet is quoted and referenced by Christopher Booker and Richard North in The Great Deception as saying:

the current communities should be completed by a Finance Common Market which would lead us to European economic unity. Only then would … the mutual commitments make it fairly easy to produce the political union which is the goal.

This quote demonstrates the sentiment, albeit in a less conspiratorial tone, that the path to a European Union should be achieved in small steps rather than giant leaps. The Schuman declaration, written by Monnet, overtly states a Federal Europe is an ultimate goal.

Monnet’s motivation for a unified Europe is widely quoted as being in the pursuit of peace. This is noble and something I support. What makes me uncomfortable is that has been imposed not agreed. Monnet is not overtly standing on a soap box championing peace and prosperity for Europe. He seems to have been instrumental in manipulating events towards a preferred outcome of a political elite.

This blog post is already too long, and in the spirit of expedience I will not go into the background of Monnet and his associates, but he is worth reading around to get a greater understanding of his and his associates motivations. From my reading the  motivations are not benevolent and are part of a far broader and long term agenda.

Regardless of  the stated aim of peace, my objection to the European Union remains. I believe if we keep moving forward with this European project it will become a European Federation as intended. I believe that peace is dependent on those in power, not those who comprise the armies. If our political masters want war, they will have war. I do not believe that a Federal superstate on the doorstep of Russia is conducive to peace.

I believe that we are all sovereign beings. We have the power to guide our own individual futures and we must be held to be responsible for all our own actions. I believe that growing centralisation of state power attempts to absolve individuals of their own responsibility to themselves and one another. I believe that a powerful European state, coupled with the growth of global surveillance does not equate to freedom. This is why I will be voting to leave the EU.

The cynic inside me says the whole referendum is a political manipulation, designed to give the illusion that we actually have a choice. I do not believe even if we vote to leave the EU we will actually leave the EU. I suspect we will enter into further negotiation, some small details will change and we will be asked to vote again. In much the same way the Irish were asked to hold a second referendum on the EU constitution in 2006.

The EU referendum is asking us to vote on a belief. We have to search our own conscious on the day and do what we believe is right. There is no one who can tell you what that is except you. My only hope, and it seems a vain hope, is that people base their vote not on stupid rhetoric, but upon their own proper research.

You Don’t Know Nuffink! Do you?

prismprisonPeople are difficult characters. With an axe to grind they seem to live their lives through a tiny prism of the way they think the world should be. We have a duty to expand that prism.

The oldest person I know said to me, during an existential conservation, that we are just explorers here. That is our purpose to explore and seek out new experiences. I would add that we are also sculptures. Leaving our mark on the landscape we can experience through our senses.

Many people don’t seem to do either of these things. They seem to be an expression of themselves, trapped in a microsphere of their own making. Unable to see the world from any other perspective than the narrow band they choose to inhabit.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m like that. I am prepared to concede that on some issues I am. The people around me tell me I am stubborn, so perhaps being unwilling to accept others point of view is all part of the experience. Maybe we have a predisposition to closed-mindedness and it is one of the hurdles in life to not shut down when our preconceptions of life are challenged.

But perhaps it is also necessary. We need to have strong beliefs and opinions, otherwise we run the danger of diluting ourselves to insipience. Or conceding to the stronger more dominant members of our society, whose views may be abhorrent.

I think the trick is to try and remember that staunch belief you have is just that. A belief. One of infinite other beliefs that have existed and will exist. I believe that a belief is meaningless unless it is grounded by a truth. It is a perspective of a truth and nothing more. Just like we can agree a rock is a rock we may find we disagree about its colour, size, location and how it got there. The rock is the truth, everything else is our perception based on our experience of the rock. What we choose to believe, based upon our perception of the rock does not affect the truth of the rock’s being.

Mark Passio, a superb author and broadcaster, defines truth simply as all that has happened, or is happening. I have racked my brain and I cannot think of a better explanation of what the truth may be. I have tested the same on a group of friends and they too were stumped to come up with a better definition. Having such a simple and succinct explanation removes subjectivity out of defining ‘the truth’. The affectation of “your truth” is actually alluding to perception of truth, not truth itself. The truth is the truth and it cannot be anything else.

I perceive that it is wrong to be prejudice, because I would not want people to be prejudice against me.  My experience tells me I feel bad when someone makes assumptions about me before they have given me a chance. I understand from other people that they feel the same way. Even when these people are prejudice themselves, they do not stand comfortably in the same spotlight. I have come to believe prejudice is manifest fear. Fear which causes pain and suffering when it is expressed into the world. Because of the truths that have arisen as a result of prejudice being expressed (lynching, murder, other violent or oppressive behaviours), I conclude that prejudice is an inherently destructive manifestation of fear. My perception of prejudice seems sound based on the truths created. This is and example and not a particularly difficult argument to make. Although fear based prejudice is surprisingly popular still.

As with just about everything in life a greater person has already been there before and did or said it better. This post is no exception. Bill Hicks, the comedian, said:

“The world is like a ride in an amusement park, and when you choose to go on it you think it’s real because that’s how powerful our minds are. The ride goes up and down, around and around, it has thrills and chills, and it’s very brightly colored, and it’s very loud, and it’s fun for a while. Many people have been on the ride a long time, and they begin to wonder, “Hey, is this real, or is this just a ride?” And other people have remembered, and they come back to us and say, “Hey, don’t worry; don’t be afraid, ever, because this is just a ride.” And we … kill those people. “Shut him up! I’ve got a lot invested in this ride, shut him up! Look at my furrows of worry, look at my big bank account, and my family. This has to be real.” It’s just a ride. But we always kill the good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And let the demons run amok … But it doesn’t matter, because it’s just a ride. And we can change it any time we want. It’s only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings of money. Just a simple choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one. Here’s what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money we spend on weapons and defences each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would pay for many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace.”

There is so much packed into that statement. I sometimes find it difficult to believe this formed part of a stand up comedian’s act. It has taken me years to properly understand it. I used to hear it and my perceptions would waver, as my beliefs were being challenged. When Hicks hits the most truthful beats my beliefs were most tested and the message kind of fuzzed out as my brain tried to process it.

Testing opinions, challenging ourselves and the beliefs we hold to be right is all part of the process. Part of the exploration and the sculpture we are here to carve.



Hello. This is my first blog post. Original huh? Why do I feel the need to add my voice to the countless other views and opinions already expressed on the internet? Well, because I can. It’s partly ego. A believe I have something to say and partly a desire to change.

I think there is a lot of shit in the world. An awful lot. I think a lot of that shit needs to be changed. I believe we change things by altering the world around us. Maybe an opinion I express here might help to do that and start to move the world I see into something more like a world I care to inhabit. One thing is for sure. If I sit back and watch the world and my time float away I will change nothing.

I was talking to a friend the other week about the EU Referendum. There was a lot of weighty discussion around the table about global domination and right and left political positions. My friend said that the only way we can change the world is by our own single acts of kindness, one at a time. That really resonated with me. It cut through all the rhetoric and absolutely nailed it. We can’t change the world by shouting the odds of how it should be. WE can ONLY change how WE live our lives, and in doing so change the world around us. No outside imposed ideology can or will change a thing. These are doctrines that will suck us in then spit us back out, and we will be no better for it.

It that small simple phrase my friend summed up what we, or rather I, need to do to change the world and our/my lives/life. It is simple acts that change the world, not grand gestures. When great people tell us that true power is with us, this is what they mean. So this blog is my effort at trying to do something positive and progressive in my life.

The other reason I want to put together a blog is because its an easy way to climb a Mountain in my mind. I have harboured a desire for a long time to do something more meaningful in my life than just earn money. The job I do allows me to write a fair bit, although the writing is churn, rather than anything more broadly creative. What it has allowed if for me to hone skills in becoming more literate, as well as being able to convey a message with some clarity.

I read Stephen King’s On Writing, where the author shares his clearly useful knowledge of his craft. The big thing I took away from his book is that if you want to be a writer you need to write. Every day. No fucking about. Just write. After I read that I started to write a story. The longest story I have ever written. I just sat whenever I could spare the time and I wrote. I wrote and wrote. For about a month. Then I dried up. Then I felt bad about not writing. Then I became concerned about all sorts of things that I imagine other want-to-be writers and journalists become concerned with. What about my audience? Who were they? Would they like me? Will I ever get published? Who will I share my work with before I apply to be published? When will I find the time? Is it any good? Is it too big? Is it too small? Sex, Sex, Sex.  That’s all you ever think about. Come on Brian, lets go to the stoning!

In short, I started to eat myself up with my own personal criticisms. The end result being that I veered away from that time writing and concentrated on other, less productive things. But it remains that I want to write and I want to get better at it. And occasionally I will gravitate back to the keyboard and write with great enthusiasm, until I am tired and then I come back to it the next day, and its not what I thought it was, so I become disillusioned and I leave it. Then I come back and start again. And so it goes.

So now I’m here. I now have a platform where I can instantly publish my thoughts and ideas to the world and they can be received however. Frankly, I don’t care as long as I am getting my words down and out there.

The third facet to this is that as I get older I want a platform to express an opinion. There are very few places that I can do that without some kind of filter being applied which distorts my view. This is an ideal lens in which I can not only air my view, but also let that opinion out for my own inspection. In doing so I may change my view. Which contrary to popular consensus is something we are all able to do quite freely. By the way, this is my opinion. Not yours. So, if I think something that doesn’t sit with the way you see the world, ah well, get over it. I use swear words, I say how I feel and sometimes (although not very often) I get things wrong. My intentions are good even if they may seem contentious.

So what might you expect to find here. Keep coming back to find out. Contact me on the contact form if you think there is something that might spark some interest.