Delivery Notes

I was a bit surprised to see the latest issue of Private Eye was delivered this morning. The Eye is published every fortnight on a Wednesday but, until recently, it normally took about a week to arrive in Ireland. Since the New Year however it has been taking much less time to get here. In fact this one arrived on the nominal issue date (22nd January):

I’m not sure why it’s suddenly got much faster, but I wonder if it might be related to a reduction in other items being sent to Ireland from the UK because of difficulties that kicked in as a result of Boris Johnson’s Trade Reduction Treaty on January 1st? (Perhaps not, though, because my 1st January Physics World still hasn’t arrived and that presumably comes via a similar route…)

Anyway, I’ve been reading quite a lot of stories about the changes that have occurred in receiving goods from the UK: long delays, vastly increased delivery charges, VAT and customs payments due on arrival, and sometimes orders cancelled entirely. I think items only worth a few euro are exempt from these new charges but I know of a few people who have been handed large bills when goods they have ordered over the internet have been delivered. I think it’s going to be very important in future that firms advertising in Ireland make it clear if the goods they are selling are going to be delivered from the UK.

These developments have at least provided some possible explanations of the reasons why so many people voted for Brexit. One might be that they enjoy filling in forms and wrestling with other kinds of red tape. Another, more likely, is “sovereignty” which I interpret as meaning “not having to deal with nasty foreigners”.

As regular readers of this blog will know I voted Remain and now live in the EU as a nasty foreigner. I do however think we nasty foreigners should accept the reality of this situation and respect British sovereignty.

Indeed I have seen many interviews with British business leaders who voted for Brexit complaining about all the difficulties that now exist to trade with nasty foreigners. I think there’s only one way for decent folk to react to this and that is to help these people in their hour of need by saving them the effort of form-filling, the extra expense of delivery, along with all the other headaches, and at the same time fully respecting their sovereignty, by simply not buying goods from them any more. It’s the honorable thing to do.

Fortunately it is increasingly possible for people in Ireland to do what Brexiters want by avoiding buying British goods. There are now 30 weekly sailings from Ireland to France, operated by 4 different companies. From tomorrow there will also be a new route from Dublin to Cherbourg by Stena Line.

But now I’m in a quandary. Am I disrespecting British sovereignty by continuing to subscribe to Private Eye?

19 Responses to “Delivery Notes”

  1. Dave Carter Says:

    Which makes it more bizarre that Northern Irish supermarkets want to be stocked from England rather than the Republic. They have all the advantages of being in the single market, with tariff free access to excellent continental goods, plus of course those produced in the Republic. Its we in England who have the supply chain problem.

  2. Anton Garrett Says:

    This Brexiteer loves Europe and merely questions whether the EU “owns the brand”. Europe was around for a couple of thousand years as a distinct culture before the EU, after all. I actually think relations will improve now.

    The sovereignty argument is that I prefer the ultimate locus of power in the country to be with people who live in it and can be removed at a UK General Election.

    • telescoper Says:

      Like the people of Scotland, which existed long before the UK, can remove the UK Government?

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        Would you draw the same analogy with the southern states of the USA in 1861? That is identical to the Scotland issue, but that and Scotland are both different from Brexit because they are about secession from a sovereign nation, whereas the EU is not a sovereign nation. (Scotland and England merged into one nation, not by force, in the early 18th century.)

        At present the EU is grumbling that its most senior representative in London is not accorded the privileges of an ambassador. London is saying that it cannot offer those privileges to the most senior representatives of Germany, France, Spain etc and at the same time to the EU’s rep. I’m not aware that Brussels makes the same demand to Canada or China. Let the continent make its own decision whether to have one ambassador or 27, and let London respect that choice. But not 27+1.

        But my main point is to have the ultimate locus of power in the UK resting with people who can be removed at a UK General Election. That desire involves no wish to do anybody down.

      • telescoper Says:

        I think Ireland offers a more appropriate comparison.

      • telescoper Says:

        ps. 142 countries around the world grant full ambassadorial status to EU diplomatic missions. Little England’s refusal to do likewise is both spiteful and churlish.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        The ambassadorial matter is not a decision of England (of any size) but a decision of the UK.

        Splitting up a sovereign entity is a different issue than departure of one component of a supranational entity.

        The cases of Ireland, Scotland and Brexit all differ significantly from each other. Scotland and USA 1860s are fairly similar. Analogies ought to be accurate in their essentials otherwise they lead to conclusions inapplicable more widely.

        If you consider it unreasonable for the ultimate locus of power in the UK to be with people who can be removed at a UK General Election, please explain why.

      • telescoper Says:

        It depends what you mean by the “ultimate locus of power”, a phrase which seems to me to be entirely devoid of meaning, but one might interpret in the case of the UK to be the Queen. And one can’t remove the members of the House of Lords at an election either.

        The Acts of Union (1800) absorbed Ireland into the UK in the earlier acts of Union did with Scotland in the same way as they did Scotland, so the analogy seems to me to be apt.

        Another is the break-up of the USSR in 1991. If Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia can be independent states within the EU then so should Scotland be,

        The House of Commons (the part of Parliament which is elected) is dominated by English MPs. The Government is selected from among its members. These made the decision about

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        If power has no location then there is no accountability, which is a sinister prospect. The law is enforced by the police. Follow the chain of accountability upwards by asking who gives the policeman you encounter his orders, and iterate. You will soon reach elected members of the House of Commons.

        Decisions taken by leaders of sovereign countries of course have consequences for their citizens and others, and those consequences are factors in decision-making, but the meaning of a sovereign nation is that it can organise itself without being required to seek the agreement of others. I don’t think it’s that complicated.

      • telescoper Says:

        The police and politicians are also accountable to the law (or at least they should be).

        I do agree however with the argument that Scotland should have the right to organise itself without being required to seek the agreement of England.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        So you were on the side of the confederacy, Phillip?

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        Of course slavery is grievous and disgraceful, but you seem to be making up your criteria for when to permit unilateral secession and when not as you go along.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        OK, but then you fail to cover the vast majority of cases.

    • Dave Carter Says:

      What is, and what is not “a sovereign nation” is entirely arbitrary. Sometimes based upon geography, sometimes conquest. In the case of the UK, largely caused by financial problems for Scotland brought about by a couple of wars and the refusal of the Royal Navy to protect Scottish trade otherwise. It may not have been a military annexation, bit it was the result of what you would call in the commercial world a hostile takeover. The UK has no more right to exist as a sovereign nation than the EU does, and less than its constituent nations, which at least have a shared culture.

  3. What we need is a written Constitution which clearly separates the Executive and Legislature (and Judiciary – and Church)

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      Written constitutions have a habit of being found inadequate in once-in-a-lifetime situations. The US constitution was written with the intent that executive, legislature and judiciary would squabble for power and thereby keep power divided; I can’t remember if that’s in the Federalist papers written by the authors of that constitution to explain themselves, but I clearly recall that that was the idea.

      Setting aside the issue of Brexit per se, some of the things that went on in 2019 clearly frayed the boundaries between the three branches. We hived a Supreme Court off from the House of Lords under Tony Blair fairly obviously to align more closely with the continental separation of powers, although the older system was not noticeably broken in Britain.

      I’m all in favour of disestablishing the Church of England, some of my reasons being the same as those of atheists, some different.

      • … but written constitutions don’t have as many holes in them as unwritten ones that don’t really exist! Tom Paine is an excellent read on the subject.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        I prefer his intellectual sparring partner Edmund Burke. Both are giants compared to the standard of discourse today.

  4. There we agree!

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