Tag Archives: Portugal

Choice or debate

Nearly six months now and I – like so many others – remain frustrated.

Why? Because no-one has yet resolved whether we’re In or Out of the European Union. If we’re In, what role do we have? And, if we’re Out, how will we live with the rest of the world?

On the In hand, we could look forward to being part of an admittedly flawed grouping of vaguely like-minded states. Growth would be slow, but it would at least be collective. Squabbling in the group would continue, but ultimately all arguments must end, and they usually do.

On the Out hand, we don’t know what to look forward to. Will our place in the world have changed that much? Will we, the UK, be a small trading nation having to make our way in the world much as Portugal might’ve done before it became part of the European Union?

The prospects are very confusing.

And they’re not made any the less so by the seeming inability of anyone anywhere to tell us what’s going on.

I know the UK voted on June 23 to Leave, but we still Remain. But in what guise?

It seems to me that we should have had an informed debate about the future of the UK before we were asked to vote, with everyone from all walks of life being asked to contribute to the discussion. That way we would have known what we were being asked to vote on. Instead, all we heard was people arguing about what kind of Europe – and thus, by extension, what kind of world – we would be living in, without considering whether or not we wanted to be In or Out of it.

As it was, no one really debated or discussed the relative merits of the European Union before we were asked whether or not we wanted to Remain in it or Leave it. They seemed to shout at one another, brandishing facts which have since proved unsustainable. It’s only now, after we have made an ill-informed decision, that Europe’s pros and cons are being fully aired. And it’s too late. We have decided. Leave is what we shall do, whether we like it or not.

The next few years are going to be regretful, that’s for sure.

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Which game next?

In the weeks since Britons were asked to vote whether they’d like to stay in or leave the European Union, we have been in a state of limbo. And that’s no place to be.

Almost as soon as the referendum result was known, David Cameron resigned. Some would say that was cowardice; others that it was the sign of a shrewd mind that knew chaos would follow a national vote called to placate his right-wing enemies.

In the meantime, the Labour Party has been going through a leadership argument, with some two or three people wanting to assume Jeremy Corbyn’s mantle as spokesman for the government’s opposition – a job he hasn’t done terribly well by anybody’s judgement.

Being in or out of the European Union will come at a price.

To stay in means having to pay our dues. But then, anyone who plays golf knows that it is better if one pays a membership fee.

Being out means that we shall have to face up to being a bit like Portugal before it joined the EU.

The best option is to tee off, if you know how to.

Being in limbo is no place to be, unless you are a dancer.

 

 

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For PM read PR

“What is it about George Osborne?”, I asked a few weeks ago.

Now I’m minded to ask: “What is it about David Cameron?”

He seems to be everywhere, sounding off about everything.

Fracking: he thinks we ought to encourage it.

The Human Rights Act: he reckons it should go.

Jesus Christ: he’s in favour of Him.

The internet: it’s full of vile sites that parents – and the rest of us – ought to avoid like the plague.

Sunday mornings: he likes them because they give him time to cook pancakes with his kids.

Bruce Springsteen: he gets off on him when his wife’s not around.

Wayne Rooney: he wants us to know that his mum sat next to the great sulk at Wimbledon.

Badgers: they’ll have to culled, even though it’ll make the government unpopular.

Politics: he seems to have given that a miss.

Government: what’s that?

I know this is the silly season and that, over the years, we’ve learned to expect the media’s usual crop of daft stories in August.

The excuse might be that parliament’s on holiday and the PM and his senior ministers are supposed to be on vacation.

So, each year, we’re subjected to pictures of the Prime Minster of the day either lounging in a seaside deckchair/sunbathing on someone’s private yacht /wandering through a Tuscan village/hanging out with Silvio Berlusconi/eating ice cream on a pier or – in Cameron’s case this year – pointing meaninglessly at fish in a Portuguese market.

And so we foolishly think we can take a break from the great affairs if state and, instead, quietly attend to our own affairs or those of soap stars and celebrities.

Cameron, you’d think, might also want to have a period of similarly private domesticity.

But no. It seems he has to be to constantly in the news and – if not in the papers – trying to make the headlines.

Willing to say almost anything, he has to be noticed.

He’s like an over zealous PR man trying too hard to get his client in the news. Except that – in Cameron’s case – he’s his own client.

When will he learn that “PM” stands for “Prime Minister” and not the daily news and current affairs programme on Radio 4?

And when will he learn that, in his case, “PR” should stand for Public Responsibility not public relations.

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