Image by Estonian Presidency (CC-BY-2.0)


According to the Irish Deputy Prime Minister, the UK cannot afford to leave the European Union without a trade deal.

The Irish Foreign Minister and Deputy PM, Simon Coveney, told the Today programme that there were significant negatives for both Ireland and the UK should there be a no deal Brexit.

But he also said that:

"I don't believe Britain crashing out of the EU without any agreed process is likely to happen.

"There is an obligation on me, and others, to instil some positivity into this negotiation process rather than political standoffs which is what we've seen to date".

He also said that talk of 'crashing out of the EU' was just 'bravado'. But the only people I've heard using that term are the Remoaners, proper Brexiteers use the term hard Brexit (although simply saying 'Brexit' should be sufficient).

But then he went on to say that, should the UK want to ask for it, his government would back a request for the Article 50 process time frame to be lengthened.

"If Britain asks for more time, and if that’s necessary to get to a sensible agreement, then we would support that – of course we would." He said.

Now I wonder what the Irish republic government's terms for that would be?

And on the subject of a second referendum as well as the Article 50 process, writing in the Guardian Anand Menon, who is director of 'The UK in a Changing Europe', says it is pointless having another EU referendum as it would just be a hurried re-run of the previous one and leave the country as stubbornly divided as it is now, whichever way the vote went.

"Removing the decision from the hands of deadlocked politicians to give it to a deadlocked public is no solution at all." says the author.

Menon does though appear to be another one in favour of taking a look at extending the Article 50 process to give the country more time to organise trade deals and allow for more considered debate about the options available.

But I would answer that the Article 50 process was all about that and this time was squandered by Remoaners who tried and are still trying to block Brexit at every turn. Had the Remain side from top to bottom, backed the majority throughout the process, then many of the time related problems we have now would have been dealt with much earlier.

And the bulk of the blame lies squarely with the Remain minded establishment and especially those politicians who toiled towards making legislation work against the will of the people instead of to make it work in support of their wishes.

So I wonder what the Prime Minster will make of this talk of extending Article 50 now that she has taken over personal charge of the Brexit negotiations?

I also wonder what Dominic Raab thinks of being effectively left on the benches while Theresa May and Olly Robbins take the ball out onto the pitch?

In a written statement the PM said that the Europe Unit led by Olly Robbins will report to her and have "overall responsibility for the preparation and conduct of the negotiations".

And also said that:

"I will lead the negotiations with the European Union, with the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union deputising on my behalf."

Now, how much 'deputising' do you think there'll really be? And I bet Olly is never far away in the PM's absence when Dominic is near anyone important.

And with some saying that Robbins is now holding the strings you could be forgiven for thinking that maybe this talk of extending Article 50 will slowly be gaining ground in lock step with the crescendo of fear-mongering we're experiencing.

But, the president of the EU parliament, Antonio Tajani, shocked everyone when he said in a radio interview that:

"A few years ago, the European Union managed to be the bridge between the United States and Russia.

"But Europe now runs the risk of following Trump and Putin without having its own identity and role.

"We need international prestige to avoid being crushed."

And also said that the EU needed to get control of the migrant flow North from Libya. But for this he said the only way to solve it would be at the European level.

Now that's a typical Eurocrat's answer for you!

Anyway, on a change of tack, according to the figures out from the Office for National Statistics today, prospective first-time home buyers in London in 2017 could expect to spend 13 times their earnings on property, compared with 5.5 times in the North East.

Further, housing became less affordable for those who bought their first house in 78% of local authorities in 2017 compared with the previous year.

House price growth is moderating at present, but that does not make these sorts of numbers any more palatable to anyone trying to get on the property ladder.

And when you compare those house price to wage ratios today with the past you get to really appreciate the problem faced by potential first time buyers today.

Just look at this graph where the North East has gone from a house being worth 2.46 times a wage in 1999 to being 5.46 times the wage in 2017.

house price multiplier

And in London it's gone from 3.89 times the wage in 1999 to 13.03 times the wage in 2017!

This is just plain crazy!

But when demand outstrips supply and people, banks and governments are prepared to pour vast sums of money into the housing system then this is what you get.

Let's hope this recent slow down in house price growth starts a reset towards house prices being a sensible multiple of wages – but I won't be holding my breath quite yet.

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