Friday 29 March 2019

MV3 rejected - now what?

The government lost by 344 votes to 286, a majority of 58. The May deal was rejected for the third time. So now what?

On Monday, the Letwin Parliament meets again. Last time they met, they looked at the eight possibilities and rejected all eight. Sigh.

On Monday, they could take most of those off the table, based on the ones that were worst, and then vote on the three most promising.

But first ... the petition with nearly 6 million signatures calling for Revoke, will be debated. I think it will be rejected, but the result will be closer than the rejections of the May Deal. Previously, that was defeated by 184 to 293. I think it will be defeated again, but not by so much.

Then the Letwin Parliament sits, and I think it will consider:

Customs union, previously defeated 265 to 271
Labour plan – previously defeated 237 to 307
Revoke article 50 – previously defeated 184 to 293

The awkward squad (the ERG) will continue to squawkward, and Farage will moan and groan, but the fact is, we need to make a decision about this, and "No deal" was previously defeated 160 to 400. Plus, it does nothing to preserve the committments we made in the Good Friday agreement.

And my best guess for what could come out of this, would be the customs union, which is also part of the Labour plan (and, by the way, it doesn't violate the Good Friday agreement). But to get there, I think May must go, new General Election, and when we have that sorted, we can decide which of the realistic options we want (and by realistic, I mean that the EU is likely to accept, not the pie in the sky of "they'll give us everything we ask for because we own the only unicorn in Europe"). So, for example, if we go for the "Norway" option, we can reasonably hope that the EU will accept it because of the precedent.

And should we have a "confirmatory" vote? A "people's" vote? A second referendum?

I think that's a really bad idea, because look what happened last time. The 2016 referendum specified leaving the EU, and the Norway option fulfils that specification. Please, let's not ask the people again.

But scrapping the May Deal and not crashing out, and having a general election, and getting a "Norway option" agreed, will take more than a couple of weeks, so while that is happening, we should revoke article 50, because there's no sane alternative (praying for time to stop isn't going to work).

Then, when we've firmed up what we want, we can invoke Article 50 again, and leave with grace and agreement, and settle down to enjoy all the unicorns that the last few years have earned us.

So who will be the next PM?

Not me, that's for sure.

Sunday 24 March 2019

A very British coup

Rumours are swirling about the possibility of a cabinet coup to topple Theresa May.

Two problems.

First, I don't see how that's possible. Tory party rules are that you can't have two leadership challenges within 12 months, so the next one can't happen until December.

Second, I don't see how this gets us out of the mess we're in. There's still only three choices, No deal, May deal, Revoke.  The deadline is a couple of weeks away, so no time for the "Ask the people" option, and we already used the "Take half the options off the table", and we took all the options except "Revoke" away. And the anti-revokers are threatening to throw their toys out of the pram if we revoke. Or even if we do an "Ask the people".

Imagine that there is some way to have a leadership change (perhaps someone convinces May to resign). Then exactly which leader would be able to get a majority for any of those three? Even if they asked the best possible candidate (which is, obviously, me) I would say "I'll go for Revoke" and if that failed to get a majority, I'd resign.

I used to live in a sensible country, where the main controversy was about women bishops.

What happened?

Saturday 23 March 2019

The knife panic

We are staring at a possible panic over knife crime. This has become such a serious issue  that it has even temporarily displaced Brexit in parliament.

They are talking abuot a ten year prison sentence for carrying a knofe.

I can only hope that the law as actually drafted, is not born of panic. I carry a knife; in my man bag, I have a pen knife with a one inch blade. In my car, a pen knife with a three inch blade. In my car tool kit, I have several tools, one of which is a multitool including a knife. And screwdrivers, of course, including one screwdriver which is several inches long. I would hate to be stabbed with a screwdriver.

So let's hope that the Ship of Fools, during their brief respite from voting on what sort of Brexit they don't want, are able to come up with a well-designed knife law.

Or maybe they'll only be able to decide that knife law they don't want.

Friday 22 March 2019

A possibility of sanity?

Thee are now seven options on the table, and one of them is to revoke article 50, which cancels the whole Brexit farrago, and is now the best option available to us.

We know that about 70% of the 650 clowns are in favour of this, and it's become clear that this is the best option available to us, now that we know that the EU is not willing to give us all the benefits of membership without any of the membership requirements. Which, it seems, came as a great surprise to many people. And that the expected unicorn that would give us the sun, moon and stars has not appeared, probably because you need a virgin to tame a unicorn.

So will our Respected Rulers vote for the best option available?

No chance.

They voted 312 to 308 against "No deal". So that's probably what we'll get.

Kick the can, kick the can

So now we have a two week extension to Brexit - the can has been successfully kicked down the road again. And if parliament can be poured into the May Deal mold, we can have another couple of weeks.

So now what? With a majority against it of 150, with the ERG awkward squad calling the May Deal "The worst deal in history", I don't see them doing a somersault. So, still no deal, it would appear.

You remember when we were told that these deals would be the easiest deals in history?

Here's the thing. We have this wonderful pink unicorn, and other countries will give us anything we ask in exchange for unicorn milk, so we can rely on being able to get whatever we want.

Except that we seem to have misplaced our pink unicorn.

Why, oh why did we get ourselves into this mess?

So we're going to be in the same situation; Parliament doesn't want "no deal", parliament doesn't want "May deal", it's inconceivable that the EU will give another extension. We've painted ourselves into a corner, and there's no-one to blame except the circus of 650 clowns.
It's going to boil down to a choice between "No deal" and "Revoke article 50", and wither way, there is going to be a LOT of angry people. Because No Deal is going to bugger up the Irish Good Friday agreement, which is the treaty that ended the Irish Troubles, and violating that treaty wuld be INSANE.

So, now about my own VAT problems.

My VAT quarter ends on March 31, Brexit happens on March 29. And it will still end on March 29, unless the clown circus can pass legislation to move that forward. And can they do it? I'm damned if I know. On past performance, all they can say is what they don't want.


Wednesday 20 March 2019

The stages of every project

These are the stages of every project, and  Brexit is no exception.

  • Planning (have an idea)
  • Estimation – always wildly optimistic
  • Design – this stage may be done while implementing
  • Implementation – project starts to overrun
  • Private discussion with customer introduces a few trivial changes
  • Design is finally written down – this stage may be omitted if time pressing
  • Changes are discovered to double the project time and budget
  • Project starts over-running severely
  • Features start being cut, but are replaced by new features
  • Project now massively over-running
  • Features cut again
  • Project released in beta
  • Steady set of bug fixes
  • Blame assigned

  • Sunday 17 March 2019

    After Brexit

    Too many Remainers are thinking that after the shambles of Brexit, the lack of trade deals and the fall in the economy, will teach Brexiters what a bad decision we made.

    But it won't.

    There will be trade deals, because the government will be so desperate to sign deals, they will take poor bargains and pretend that they are great. To do a deal with the USA, we're going to have to accept their Chlorinated chicken. (for example).

    Chlorination isn't the problem, the problem is that even after chlorination, the chicken is so dodgy that salmonella causes about 1.2 million illnesses, 23,000 hospitalizations, and 450 deaths in the United States every year. 

    In England and Wales in 2015, 8451 cases; our chicken is safer. 

    Post-Brexit, I shall be carefully avoiding US chicken, not because it's chlorinated, but because of the salmonella risk.

    But I doubt if you'll hear much about this. Because of the importance of pretending that the trade deal is good.

    It isn't just the US, though. Most other countries are in no hurry to sign trade deals with the UK, because it's obvious that post-Brexit, we're going to be desperate, and desperate negotiators are easy meat.

    And there will be considerable job losses.


    This will be blamed on the horrible foreigners, not our fault at all. Expecially on the EU, which will be portrayed as punishing the UK.

    I don't find it possible to be optimistic.

    Thursday 14 March 2019

    The can, kicked again

    After a flurry of votes on various amendments, our team of 650 clowns has decided to ... kick the can further down the road. Again. Maybe.

    The vote was 412 to 202 to ask the EU for a delay beyond 29 March. But for that to happen, the 27 other EU countries have to ALL say yes. Will they?

    Why should they? We still haven't said what we want. All we've said is what we don't want, so I'll just list that.

    1. We don't want the May deal.
    2. We don't want to leave with no deal.
    3. We don't want to stay in the EU.

    And to that, we can add:

    4. The EU has said that the May deal is the only one on offer.

    So what do we want? We don't know. And when do we want it? We don't know.

    Quite likely, not all the 27 EU countries will agree to an extension that has no end in sight. They must think we're a bunch of toddlers, making a demand but without any clear idea of what we're demanding.

    "Give me what I want!"
    "What do you want?"
    "I DON'T KNOW!!!"

    How does that affect me?

    I'm ready for "Making Tax Digital" which comes in on April 1 (good choice, clowns). But I'm not ready for paying my VAT which will come due on April , because our 650 clowns can't tell me whether we'll be in the EU or out. If we're in, I can use the "Union VAT-Moss scheme" which I've been using for a few years now. If we're out, then I can't use that, I have to use the "non-Union VAT-Moss scheme". But for that, I have to register for it in an EU country, and I can't register until we're out of the EU.

    And if we leave on 29 March, then I think I will have to simply not make any sales on the next two days, because if I do, I'll be blowed if I know what to do with the EU VAT.

    Those 650 clowns have absolutely no idea how much chaos they're causing.

    The damage to democracy isn't being done by the possibility of re-running the referendum, it's being done by the clown car crash that is Westminster and the revelation of utter incompetence that we are witnessing.

    Sunday 10 March 2019


    The current debate about knife crime seems to have focussed on knives. Asda will no longer allow the sale of a single knife, there are suggestions that carrying a knife with a blade longer than three inches could get you into trouble.

    In my car, I carry a selection of spanners and other tools, so that if I have a mechanical problem, I stand a chance of fixing it. And they have been useful in the past, especially for bicycle maintenance.

    One of those tools is a screwdriver, with a shaft several inches long.  No-one is talking about screwdrivers.

    Or sharpened sticks.

    Friday 8 March 2019

    VAT update

     I finally got an email about VAT Moss. It tells me what happens if we crash out on March 29.

    So I will be able to do my last VAT Moss payment on April 1, but I better not make any sales on March 30 or 31st. And then I'll have to register for the non-Union scheme in an EU country. Maybe Ireland, because the speak English.

    But what happens if we leave with the May deal? No-one has told me. What happens if Brexit is postponed? No-one has told me.

    What they are telling me, is "get ready". How, when no-one knows what's happening?

    Dear VAT MOSS user,

    We are writing to tell you about changes to the UK Mini One Stop Shop (MOSS) and the actions you’ll need to take if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 29 March 2019.

    What will change?                        

    The UK will no longer be a part of the VAT MOSS service. UK businesses that sell digital services after the UK has left the EU won’t be able to use the UK MOSS portal to declare VAT due in EU Member States.

    The £8,818 annual threshold for cross border sales of digital services to EU consumers will no longer apply. All supplies of digital services to consumers in the EU will become liable for VAT in the consumer’s Member State.

    What do I need to do?

    If the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019, the last return you will be able to submit via the UK MOSS portal is for the period ending March 2019. You should only include sales made between 1 January 2019 and 11pm on 29 March 2019. The submission and payment deadline is the 20 April 2019. The portal will remain open until the 15 May 2019 in case you need to amend your quarter one 2019 return after submission.

    Any other outstanding MOSS returns or corrections should be made via the UK MOSS portal by 29 March 2019. After this date, you will need to contact the relevant Member State concerned if you need to amend earlier returns.

    If you continue to make supplies of digital services to EU consumers after the UK has left the EU then you must charge VAT at the rate of the Member State of your customer, regardless of the value of the supply, and either:

    ·         register for VAT in each Member State where VAT is due; or

    ·         register for the VAT MOSS non-Union scheme in a Member State of your choosing.

    How do I register for the VAT MOSS non-Union scheme?

    You can only register for the MOSS non-Union scheme after the UK has left the EU. You need to register within 10 days of the month following your first sale after the UK has left the EU as otherwise your registration will take effect from the first day of the quarter after the date you apply to register. This means that if you make a sale between 30 and 31 March 2019 then you will need to register by 10 April 2019. If you apply to register after that date, and have made sales on 30 or 31 March, then your registration will take effect from 1 July 2019 and you will become liable to register for VAT in each Member State where VAT is due for the period prior to 1 July 2019.

    To allow you to register for the non-Union scheme, you will be automatically deregistered from UK MOSS with effect from 1 April 2019. You will still be able to access the system after you have been deregistered so you can submit and amend your return for the first quarter of 2019 and view previous returns.

    You can find further information on registering for the MOSS non-Union scheme on the EU Commission’s webpage [](>
    ss_en) and information on EU exit on ‘Trading with the EU if the UK leaves without a deal’ [].

    Businesses can register for our email update service at: [] - select ‘business help and education emails’, then ‘EU Exit’. You can use the ‘Prepare your business for the UK leaving the EU []’ tool on GOV.UK to find further guidance and support to help your business.

    If you have any questions in respect of UK MOSS and EU exit, you can ask email the VAT MOSS team at:

    Yours sincerely,

    The VAT MOSS Team

    HM Revenue & Customs

    United Kingdom

    Thursday 7 March 2019

    Institutional anti-Semitism

    What is institutional anti-Semitism? There's probably a definition somewhere, but for me, it would mean that the organisation in question, is more sluggish to investigate Jew hatred, than it is of other forms of racism. It might also mean that punishments for Jew hatred are lighter than for other forms of racism.

    So is the Labour party institutionally anti-Semitic? I don't have enough information to be able to form a judgement, but I think the way to find out, is to look at complaints of anti-Semitism, and complains of Islamophobia, and see if there's a difference in how long it takes to investigate. I would also want to compare the weight of sanctions, but that's more difficult, because how can you compare like with like.

    The Equalities and Human Rights Commission have decided to investigate the Labour party. I hope that they can finally excise the cancer of anti-Semitism from the Labour party - if indeed there is institutional anti-Semitism, and if it is possible to cut it out.

    Eye drops

    I just went for testing, because I had over-pressure in my left eye.

    I've been taking drops for it for a few years now (one drop in the morning). Today, the test showed that the pressure was up again, 25 where it should have been 20 (that's millimeters of mercury). So I was prescribed an additional eye drop, to be taken morning and evening.

    The problem with eye over-pressure is that it would eventually damage the eye nerve. I already have very minor damage, the VFI is 96% (my right eye is 100%).

    Reading the doctors charts, there was one for the left eye, and one for the right. I was about to ask which was which, and then I noticed that one was headed OD and the other OS.
    I did Latin for four years, so I knew that was "Oculus Dexter" and "Oculus Sinister". Right eye and left eye.

    While on the subject of health; I had a touch of psoriasis. Nothing serious, but it wasn't clearing up on its own, so I went to the doctor last week. He gave me clobetasone butyrate ointment, to be smeared on once per day, and Diprobase cream for a few times per day. That seems to have cleared it up very quickly.

    Moral - if you have a problem, consult your GP.

    Saturday 2 March 2019

    Swallows and Amazons

    One of the great delights of my childhood, were the books by Arthur Ransome. Written in 1930 or so, they describe the adventures of the Swallows (the four Walker children) and the Amazons (the Blackett girls), sailing in the Lake District.

    Recently, I found these stories as PDF fles, and I've been reading them again. And they are just as good as they were 60 years ago.