Wednesday, March 29, 2017

How to celebrate "Brexit Day" like a Ukipper


The UKIP former councillor Brian Silvester is a nasty piece of work, and a pseudo-patriotic fool who doesn't know what he's doing to boot.

Silvester was forced out of the Tory party in 2012 for being a slum landlord. He was fined £45,000 at Chester Crown Court for serious fire safety breeches at a multiple occupancy building. This scandal meant that his position in the Conservative group on Cheshire East Council became totally untenable.

We all know where the natural home for disgraced former Tories is, and Silvester was soon welcomed with open arms by UKIP.

In 2014 Silvester was investigated for using his council email address to try to set up a land deal to build houses on greenfield land he owned. Not only an obvious breach of public standards but also a grotesque display of hypocrisy too, given that he actually campaigned against greenbelt development!

UKIP saw nothing wrong with his outrageously hypocritical behaviour and let him stay in their party, but in 2015 he lost his council seat at the local elections.

Since losing his seat Silvester has been chuntering away on Twitter. Back in November he provoked a storm of criticism for trying to incite mobs of Brexiters to intimidate judges by protesting outside their houses

On the day that Theresa May triggered Article 50 silvester decided to celebrate "Brexit Day" by displaying the Union flag and posting a picture of it to Twitter, but he found just about the most disrespectful way of displaying the flag imaginable; upside-down and strapped between two wheelie bins!

You don't have to be an expert to see that the flag is upside down. When the hoist is on the right as Silvester has arranged it, then the white St Andrew's Saltire should be above the red of the St Patrick's saltire in the upper quadrant closest to the flagpole.

Tradition also dictates that when the flag is displayed statically (rather than on a flagpole), the hoist should be to the left, so not only has Silvester got the flag upside down, he's got it the wrong way around too!

Displaying a flag upside down is considered a grave insult to the country, region or city in question, but tradition doesn't record whether strapping a flag to a pair of bins is also an insult. I guess that if any vexillologist had ever imagined anyone attaching flags to bins, they probably would have concluded that it probably shouldn't be considered standard practice.

In a way Silvester's wheelie bin tribute is a perfect metaphor for Brexit: An ugly pseudo-patriotic mess cobbled together by an out-of-touch right-winger who clearly doesn't have a clue what they're doing.


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Is "will of the people" an actual thing or just another empty Brexiter slogan?


An awful lot of right-wing Brexiters insist on shrieking "will of the people" at anyone who dares to put their head above the parapet and raise concerns about the kind of ruinous Brexit shambles Theresa May and the three Brexiteers are going to deliver ...

... but if "will of the people" is an actual thing rather than just another empty Brexiter slogan (like "£350 million for the NHS", or "taking back control"), Brexiters have got no right to drag Scotland along on their economic suicide mission.

Scotland voted 62% to 38% to stay in the European Union; the Scottish parliament has established a clear democratic mandate for another independence referendum; and the Scottish electorate are certainly not enamoured with Theresa May's absurd lose-lose negotiating stance where the choice is between an outrageously pro-corporate Tory Brexit deal or the social and economic catastrophe that would result from Theresa May flouncing off in a "no deal" strop because the EU decide to call her bluff on her ludicrously hubristic threats.

If you have any respect for the "will of the people", or you have any respect for the democratic mandate of the Scottish parliament it's obviously only right that the Scots get the right to decide if they want to go along with Theresa May's Brexit shambles, or whether they want to make a go of it as an independent nation.

Only the most hypocritical of Brexiters could believe that it's right to ignore the will of the Scottish people (and the democratic mandate of the Scottish parliament) in order to drag them out of the EU against their will because the will of the English people supposedly takes precedence.

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She knows it's an act of self-harm, but she's doing it anyway


Theresa May knows that triggering Article 50 will be a massive act of social and economic self-harm.

May didn't campaign much during the EU referendum debate because she knew that hanging onto one of the big offices of state, keeping her head down and biding her time was the best strategy for becoming Prime Minister. However on the rare occasions she did bother to campaign she was absolutely clear about how harmful quitting the EU would be.

Here's what she told a secret meeting of Goldman Sachs bankers just weeks before the EU referendum:
"I think the economic arguments are clear. I think being part of a 500-million population trading bloc is significant for us. I think, as I was saying to you a little earlier, that one of the issues is that a lot of people will invest here in the UK because it is the UK in Europe ... If we were not in Europe, I think there would be firms and companies who would be looking to say, do they need to develop a mainland Europe presence rather than a UK presence? So I think there are definite benefits for us in economic terms."
And here are a few extracts from her speech to parliament in April 2016:
"Remaining a member of the European Union means we will be more secure from crime and terrorism"
"If Brexit isn’t fatal to the European Union, we might find that it is fatal to the Union with Scotland ... I do not want the people of Scotland to think that English Eurosceptics put their dislike of Brussels ahead of our bond with Edinburgh and Glasgow."
"If we do vote to leave the European Union ... we risk going backwards when it comes to international trade."
"The reality is that we do not know on what terms we would win access to the single market. We do know that in a negotiation we would need to make concessions in order to access it, and those concessions could well be about accepting EU regulations, over which we would have no say, making financial contributions, just as we do now, accepting free movement rules, just as we do now, or quite possibly all three combined. It is not clear why other EU member states would give Britain a better deal than they themselves enjoy."
"With no agreement, we know that WTO rules would oblige the EU to charge ten per cent tariffs on UK car exports, in line with the tariffs they impose on Japan and the United States. They would be required to do the same for all other goods upon which they impose tariffs. Not all of these tariffs are as high as ten per cent, but some are considerably higher."
Even though Theresa May didn't bother to campaign very hard at all, the few things she did bother to say indicated that she thought that quitting the EU would be an act of social and economic self-harm.

This brings us to the question of why she's doing it if she knows it's such a bad idea. In my view the answer is the same as to the question of why she didn't bother to campaign properly during the referendum debate: She's putting her own self-interest above what she knows is best for the nation.

If she cared more about the best interests of the nation instead of her own political self-interest she would have campaigned against Brexit with everything she had instead of taking a back seat and waiting for the opportunity to become Prime Minister.

If she cared about the best interests of the nation instead of hanging onto political power, she'd make sure that the British people had a say on whether they accept whatever the outcome of the Brexit negotiations are, but she's determined to use her position of power to decide the future of the UK for herself. She wants to act as an autocrat and choose between a hard Brexit (without full access to the Single Market) or a catastrophic "no deal" nuclear Brexit, and give neither the British people nor parliament a proper say on what she decides.

One of the main reasons she feels comfortable committing this act of national self-harm is that she knows that she's insulated from the economic consequences. She will always have her parliamentary pension to fall back on, and no doubt she'll follow other former Prime Ministers like Tony Blair and David Cameron into cushy corporate directorships and onto the lucrative public speaking circuit. She knows that the people who will suffer the consequences of her actions will be the ordinary plebs who work in jobs like manufacturing or live in EU dependent areas like Cornwall or the north east of England.

Theresa May doesn't care about the best interests of the nation; she doesn't care about giving the public any kind of democratic say on whether they agree with the Brexit terms she comes up with; and she doesn't care that it will be other people who suffer the appalling consequences of her actions.

All Theresa May cares about is her own self-interest and hanging on to the position of power that she cunningly worked herself into, and that's why she's triggering Article 50 even though she knows it will go down as one of the most notorious acts of social and economic self-harm in the history of the United Kingdom.


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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The lame sexist pun isn't even the most ridiculous thing about the "Legs-it" article


The Daily Mail's decision to trivialise the meeting between Nicola Sturgeon and Theresa May was hardly surprising stuff from an extreme-right hate comic with a long history of promoting fascism, bigotry, sexism and homophobia.

Other people have complained extensively about the sexist nature of the "Legs-it" headline but few have pointed out that the rest of the article is a load of absolute twaddle finished of with an astoundingly hypocritical conclusion.

The article was written by the obnoxious Sarah Vine (spouse of the Tory MP, school privatiser, leading anti-intellectual, historical revisionist and high profile Brexit campaigner Michael Gove) so it's no surprise that the article declared Theresa May the winner of the women's style competition, but some of the prose looked like the kind of stuff a creepy stalker would write about his victims rather than an article that has been given the front page lead in Britain's "newspaper of the year"!

Apparently Theresa May has "famously long extremities" and "elegant" fingers, while Nicola Sturgeon has "more shapely shanks" than Theresa May and "chocolate button eyes".

The only shocking thing about this kind of sexist Daily Mail analysis of female physical appearance is that the women under scrutiny were adult females for a change, rather than underage teenage girls.


The creepy obsession with the physical appearance of the two politicians who will have the most influence over the future direction of the UK was finished off with one of the most extraordinarily hypocritical warnings against Scottish independence you're ever likely to come across.

Apparently the wife of one of the most high profile Brexiters of all thinks Scottish independence is a bad idea because it would be "a wild, dangerous leap into the unknown, a glorious moment of rebellion which could all too easily lead to a lifetime of regrets"!

The fact that the wife of one of the most high-profile Brexiter politicians can draw such a conclusion in the leading article of the pro-Brexit Daily Mail just goes to show the absolute contempt that Daily Mail hacks must have for their readers.

Are Daily Mail readers really so intensely stupid that they're incapable of grasping the idea that "a wild, dangerous leap into the unknown, a glorious moment of rebellion which could all too easily lead to a lifetime of regrets" is actually a perfect description of Brexit, and that a referendum on Scottish independence would be a chance for the Scottish electorate to actually escape this wanton act of social and economic self-harm?


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"Taking back control" by handing our railways to the Chinese!


The wonderful golden dawn that the Leave campaign promised should be on the horizon, but in the week that the Tories finally get around to triggering Article 50 it looks distinctly like business as usual with the Tory Transport minister announcing his plan to hand yet another chunk of our rail network to a foreign state owned rail company.

Every time the Tories announce that they're handing another chunk of our rail network over to a foreign state owned company they do it with great fanfare, but no detail at all on how much UK taxpayers' cash is going to handed out in subsidies to these companies.

When the Tories announced that they were handing control of the East Anglia franchise to Dutch state railway in 2016 they made a great big song and dance about how wonderful it was going to be, and the story is no different now that they're announcing their intention to hand control of the South Western franchise to a consortium backed by the Hong Kong state rail system.

So in Tory Brexit Britain "taking back control" means handing the Chinese a load of subsidies to run a chunk of our rail network for seven years!

The rail privatisation farce continues


After suffering over two decades of the Tory rail privatisation agenda the UK has a shockingly expensive and overcrowded rail network from which private companies and foreign states extract £billions in profits.

The British rail network is an absolute shambles and the overwhelming majority of people support renationalisation. Unfortunately the Tories are in power and they're determined to keep their fractured, overcrowded rip-off privatisation farce going for as long as possible, even if the beneficiaries end up being the state rail systems of other countries.

In fact the Tories hate Britain so much that the UK is the only state that is prohibited from bidding for franchises to run chunks of the UK rail network!

Anyone who thinks this is all going to change after Britain leaves the EU is sadly deluded. 


Everything will still be up for sale to foreign interests in Tory Brexit Britain. The main difference will be that in Brexit Britain the new foreign owners of our infrastructure, businesses and services will be freed from all the pesky EU "red tape" like workers' rights, consumer protection laws, and environmental legislation, so they'll be freer to exploit, defraud and poison our environment in pursuit of profits to extract back to their own countries.  

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Nigel Farage will quit the UK if his Brexit baby turns out to be a disaster


Nigel Farage has said that if Brexit turns out to be a disaster he'll "go and live abroad".

He made the comments when a caller to his LBC radio show asked him whether he would apologise to the British people if Brexit turns out to be a disaster. [more coverage]

Farage refused to admit that he would apologise to the British people, citing the lack of apology from Tony Blair and Alistair Campbell as some kind of warped justification. However Farage is clearly desperately grasping at straws if he's comparing his political legacy to the catastrophic invasion and occupation of Iraq, and citing Tony Blair's behaviour as some kind of valid moral precedent.


The most hypocritical thing about Farage admitting his desire to flee the UK if his Brexit baby turns out to be some kind of evil abomination is the fact that this rabid anti-immigrant zealot would be turning himself into a immigrant somewhere else in the world in order to escape the consequences of the thing he spent his entire political life campaigning for.

It's interesting to consider where Farage might end up fleeing too.

The most likely destination at the moment seems to be the United States, where he could work as Donald Trump's butler, but who knows how long the shambolic Trump Presidency will actually last before he faces impeachment, or is toppled by his own party?

It would be a grand irony if Farage ended up seeking refuge from Brexit in one of the 27 remaining EU states, but it's not difficult to imagine such a brazen display of hypocrisy, especially given the way he was perfectly happy to collect hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of EU salary and expenses in return for being one of the laziest MEPs in the entire European parliament.

Another potential option for Farage could be Scotland. If Brexit turns out to be the straw that broke the Union's back, Farage could seek refuge from the Brexit chaos in independent Scotland. This option is a bit less likely than the US or elsewhere in the EU though, because Farage is hardly "Mr Popular" in Scotland.


The main thing to consider about Farage's admission that he'd flee the UK if Brexit turns out to be a disaster is the fact that he's got the economic freedom to do it. Most of the people who will suffer the rising inflation, wage depreciation, job losses, service cuts and losses of human rights after Brexit will be those without the economic means to up sticks and flee the country for less catastrophically ruined pastures.

By admitting that he's willing to simply run away from the mess he's made, Farage has clearly demonstrated the problem with Brexiteer politicians: They've always known that they have the economic means to avoid the potentially awful consequences of what they've been demanding, which means that they've been gambling with other people's lives and livelihoods, not with their own.



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Monday, March 27, 2017

They're not gambling with their own livelihoods, they're gambling with other people's


Theresa May's threat-based EU negotiation tactics are a ridiculously dangerous game of brinkmanship. The Brexit minister David Davis has openly admitted that the Tory government did absolutely no research into how harmful a "no deal" situation would be to the UK economy before they decided to use the threat of it as their main "negotiating tactic".

In January 2017 Theresa May's clown costume speech was wildly celebrated by the hard-right pro-Brexit press, but it was clearly an absolute shambles of a speech. The idea of making a "do as we say or we'll blow up an economic bomb" threat the absolute centrepiece of your so-called "negotiation strategy" is ridiculous enough in its own right, but when you've not done any research into how big that bomb is, nor whether the UK will actually suffer the most damage from it, well, it's so reckless and inept it's beyond description.

The hard-right press may adore Theresa May's threat-based posturing but the UK manufacturing industry certainly don't. They understand that the consequences of a retaliatory nuclear Brexit will fall heavily on the UK manufacturing sector. A report from the EEF has savaged Theresa May's ridiculous rhetoric. The report states that Theresa May's endlessly repeated "no deal is better than a bad deal" mantra is "unacceptable" and highlights 10 ways in which the threatened "no deal" scenario would devastate the UK manufacturing industry.

The EEF's Chief Executive Terry Scuoler said that "The idea of being able to walk away empty-handed might be a negotiating tactic, but it would in reality deliver a risky and expensive blow".

The problem of course is that the Tories and the hard-right press have already conditioned millions of people into believing the bonkers rhetoric that "No deal is better than a bad deal", which means that any concession to the EU whatever will be inevitably be taken as evidence that the UK is getting a bad deal, and lead to furious calls for the Tories to walk away from the negotiations with nothing.

The manufacturing sector provides some 2.7 million UK jobs and in the month to April 2016 the EU accounted for 52% of the value of manufactured goods exported from the UK. However the Tories and their cheerleaders in the hard-right press don't give a damn about stuff like this. As far as they're concerned these manufacturing jobs are totally disposable. They're just negotiating collateral. Just chips on the table in the enormous political gamble they're making.


If the Tories do launch a ruinous job-destroying nuclear Brexit, the hard-right press hacks will defend them to the hilt by seeking to transfer the blame onto everyone else. The EU are the most obvious target, but somehow blaming Jeremy Corbyn for the job losses would fit neatly with pre-existing press biases, and the pro-Brexit press blaming "remoaners" for the appalling consequences of what Brexiters actually voted for would hardly come as a surprise at all. As long as the people who are principally responsible for the disaster (the Tories and the tabloid hacks themselves) are insulated from blame.

It doesn't really matter to the hard-right if their ludicrous "no deal" threat eventually leads to the annihilation of tens or hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs. In their minds those kinds of jobs are just plebs' jobs after all, and they'll still have their parliamentary salaries/pensions and their well paid jobs as right-wing tabloid hacks whatever the outcome of Theresa May's recklessly incompetent threats. 


Even if a few Tory politicians end up losing their seats over the ensuing economic chaos, they'll still have their parliamentary pensions to fall back on, plus a load of corporate directorships, and maybe even jobs working as writers (or editors) for the hard-right propaganda rags.

These people are economically insulated from the devastating economic consequences of their threatened "no deal" scenario. They're not gambling with their own lives and livelihoods, they're gambling with other people's.

The really sad thing is that countless thousands of canteens, toilets and rest rooms in the industries most at threat from a Tory nuclear Brexit will be littered with copies of disgusting hard-right propaganda rags like the Mail, S*n and Express, and as a consequence many of the people whose livelihoods are most at threat from the threatened "no deal" scenario will actually have voted in favour of Brexit and in favour of letting the hard-right fringe of the Tory party use their jobs as bargaining chips in the vast gamble they're making with the entire future of the UK economy.



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Friday, March 24, 2017

An open letter to the people who used this woman's picture to spread hatred


Hi there,

You're one of the countless thousands of people who shared the slightly different picture of this poor woman (the carefully selected image where she didn't look quite so distressed) in order to whip up a storm of anti-Muslim hatred. This is an open letter to you explaining why you should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself.


Here's what the woman said about the incident and the way her image has been appropriated as extreme-right propaganda:

"Not only have I been devastated by witnessing the aftermath of a shocking and numbing terror attack, I've also had to deal with the shock of finding my picture plastered all over social media by those who could not look beyond my attire, who draw conclusions based on hate and xenophobia" [source]

It doesn't take a great deal of empathy to understand how devastating it must be to have been caught up in the aftermath of an appalling terrorist attack, and then to have had an out-of-context picture of you (taken as you called your family from the epicentre of a terrorist atrocity to tell them that you're OK) appropriated by extreme-right fanatics in order to whip up a storm of hatred.

The problem is though is that if you've adopted the divisive extreme-right hatemongering mentality, it's likely you're extremely lacking in basic human decency or empathy, which means you're likely incapable of feeling shame at the grotesque misrepresentation you've helped to perpetrate.


The poor woman who had her picture appropriated by the extreme-right wasn't the only one to be horrified. The photographer Jamie Lorriman also spoke out about the way his picture had been cruelly misappropriated by anti-Muslim hatemongers like the right-wing paedophile apologist Milo Yiannopoulos.

The grand irony of course is that by helping the extreme-right fanatics to whip up a storm of anti-Muslim hatred, you've actually been doing the terrorists work for them.

The extreme-right and the terrorists have far more in common with each other than they do with decent ordinary people. They both thrive in atmospheres of fear. They both incite division and hatred. They both crave for a violent clash of civilisations and work tirelessly to make their sick dreams come true.


By sharing misleading extreme-right propaganda like the desperately misleading image of this poor woman, you've actually been doing the work of the terrorists for them by spreading even more hatred and division.

The sad thing is that most of you will be far too cowardly to admit this fact even to yourselves, let alone to the rest of us. In fact I suspect most of you will have been too cowardly to even dare read this letter, even though in many cases it will have been posted on your social media account by friends and family who were rightly horrified at your shockingly divisive behaviour.

I genuinely hope that you have the strength of character to admit to yourself that what you did was cruel and divisive, and that this experience helps you to learn to be more careful about what you share in future.

Regards


Tom (AAV)



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UKIP's economic spokesman says Single Market access is a "critical priority"!


Mark Reckless and Douglas Carswell were two of two of the most influential politicians in delivering Brexit. It was their defections to UKIP that spooked David Cameron into offering an EU referendum manifesto pledge in order to prevent even more Tory politicians and voters abandoning the party for UKIP.

Of course David Cameron's short-term EU referendum gamble failed. His gamble did deliver an unexpected Tory majority at the 2015 General Election, but within a little over a year Cameron was resigning in disgrace after throwing the entire economic future of the UK into uncertainty.

Cameron and his cabinet were so full of hubris that they didn't even bother to develop any kind of contingency plan for what to do if the public ignored his pitiful fearmongering and voted for Brexit, so after the Brexit vote the Tories spent the next seven months desperately trying to cobble together some kind of Brexit strategy whilst fobbing the public off with utterly inane drivel like "Brexit means Brexit".

When Theresa May finally got around to announcing her Brexit strategy in her woeful January 2017 clown costume speech it turned out that all they had come up with was the diplomatic equivalent of a toddler tantrum; "give us what we want or we'll blow up an economic bomb by quitting the EU without any kind of trade agreement"!

It's clear that with their diplomatic ineptitude the Tories are slow-marching the UK towards a catastrophic nuclear Brexit with no access to the Single Market, and Mark Reckless is terribly complicit in getting us into this precarious situation.

After losing his Westminster seat at the 2015 General Election Mark Reckless soon resurfaced as a UKIP representative in the Welsh Assembly, where he now heads up the Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee. This committee has been looking at the potential impact of Brexit on agriculture, the environment and rural communities, and some of their findings are astounding given who their chairman is.

As chairman of the committee Reckless has stated that there is "access to the Single Market place, continuation of financial support and assurances over migrant labour are critical priorities"! [source]

Given that Reckless and his ilk played such a critical role in taking the UK to the brink of a catastrophic "no deal" Tory nuclear Brexit he has some gall to suddenly start crying that the Single Market and EU migrant labour from are actually critically important for Wales!

In a way it's indicative of what a farcical shambles Brexit is, that one of the leading proponents of quitting the EU is now crying about the damage that Theresa May and the three Brexiteers are about to inflict on Wales by quitting the EU.

If Reckless really cared so much about these critically important issues for Wales, how did he ever think it was appropriate to campaign for Brexit when he knew perfectly well that nobody, not least the Tory government, had an actual plan for how to handle it?


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You don't have to be pro-EU to be worried about the Tory Brexit shambles


Ever since David Cameron's ridiculously rushed EU referendum debate last year I've faced near constant accusations that because I have serious concerns about the social and economic damage of a shambolic Tory Brexit, that I must therefore be pro-EU.

The regularity of these kinds of accusations just go to show how absolutist "black vs white" political tribalism is incredibly popular these days.

An awful lot of people simply don't want political commentators with nuanced opinions. They want political commentators who either comfort them by reinforcing their own opinions, or political commentators who they can hate for contradicting their beliefs. 

Since I've been doing Another Angry Voice I've probably written more critical analysis of the EU than 99% of Brexit supporters, yet an awful lot of Brexiters hate me and crudely traduce my work as pro-EU because I'm unwilling to share their blind optimism about a Brexit administered by a bunch of brazen incompetents like Theresa May, the disgraced Liam Fox, Boris Johnson, and David Davis (a man who was recently described by an AAV reader as "a walking facepalm").

My position on Brexit has been consistent since well before the referendum. The EU undeniably has a lot of faults (like all major institutions do), but quitting and giving the hard-right fringe of the Tory party the opportunity to redesign the UK according to their completely bonkers ideology was always going to be a classic case of "out of the frying pan, into the fire", especially for the poorer regions that benefit so much from EU Structural Adjustment Funds.

Unfortunately it doesn't matter how many times a person tries to explain that you don't have to be rabidly pro-EU to have concerns about the absolute shambles the Tories are making of Brexit, the baying Brexiter enforced optimism mob will always try to shout them down as "traitor", "sore loser", "whinger", "pro-EU""remoaner" ...

This kind of tribalistic abuse is an inevitable consequence when politics gets dumbed down to such an extent that so many people these days willingly buy into "black vs white" political absolutism.

All I can say is don't allow yourself to be intimidated. My guess is that a significant proportion of the abusive Brexiter enforced optimism mob are intent on shouting down anyone with concerns about the unfolding Tory Brexit shambles because they're terribly afraid that the people raising concerns are actually right. They're afraid that that their wildly optimistic Brexit fantasy is gradually developing into a chaotic Tory nightmare.

They're desperate to shout down anyone who questions the abilities of the Tory Brexiteers not because they're confident that Brexit is going to be a marvellous success, but because they're terribly afraid of admitting to themselves that the whole thing is developing into an absolute bloody shambles.


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