Author Archives: Bernard Aris

May’s “Hard Brexit” causes tensions in previously strong UK-Dutch relationship

Despite all the sugar-coating in her speech, the “Hard Brexit” announced by prime minister May didn’t go down well with Dutch businesses, many of whom have done business with Britain for decades.

The combination of the threats uttered alongside the Hard Brexit option, and a series of recent stories in Dutch newspapers about extradition letters being sent to Dutch housewives by Tory immigration ministers, seriously changed the way many UK-loving Dutch think about being in Britain, and British policy attitudes.

That point was today brought home to me, when I met a friend whose family had been visiting the Lake District every summer for decades. He told me that he didn’t feel as welcome in England as he used to, seeing the way the May government is treating our mixed-married compatriots who also love Britain. He pointed out that May’s “walk away” threat puts British-Dutch couples in complete limbo. 

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 25 Comments

I agree with Nick: “EU must fear havoc from both sides now”

I was surprised when the BBC in its TV news bulletins yesterday (Monday 16th of January) interviewed our Nick Clegg by way of reaction to the infamous Trump interview by Gove and Bild Zeitung. Nick said that Britons and Europeans need to realize that from Trumps Inauguration, Europa has two big powers’ presidents who wish the EU to disintegrate; his words were “who wish the EU ill”.

In a previous posting, I enumerated how Socialist parties in the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain have withered away; and how leaders of such parties like Corbyn and the Dutch …

Posted in Op-eds | 14 Comments

Trying (too hard) to curb EU free movement: A symptom of the EU-wide social democracy meltdown

Just as I was reading Nick Tyrone’s blog about Corbyn betraying the EU freedom of movement but wanting to have the EU cake nonetheless, another recently-elected Labour leader came on Dutch public radio. Note the date: Tuesday, January 10th, 2017.

I’m talking about former Amsterdam alderman and present Dutch minister of Social Affairs, the ambitious lawyer Lodewijk Asscher of the “Partij van de Arbeid”/PvdA, literally: “Labour Party”.

In the 1980s, when Labour under Michael Foot was going through its “Militant Tendency” phase, the then PvdA leaders, ex-prime minister (1973-’77) Den Uyl and coming prime minister (1994-2002) Wim Kok deplored that leftist populism and leftist political correctness gone wild. So both criticised it: British Labour, come to your senses.

Not today.

In the Dutch campaign that just got started for the General Election on 15th March, Mr. Asscher, who just two weeks ago won a party leadership contest, just said that he counted on “European Leftist support” (PvdA jargon: from fellow Labour and social democratic parties) to pursue his top-profile policy: curbing free movement of labour through the EU. When the radio presenter quoted a phrase Gordon Brown grew to regret: “Jobs for our labourers first”, Mr. Asscher readily agreed. And who does he expect to get support from?

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Farage’s legacy and continental populist laws put EU expats in UK in impossible quandary

 

With Farage’s legacy (Britain leaving an EU it never loved) and Trump’s victory in the US (appointing Putin’s friends on key White House and ministerial positions), the world is getting back to the “each for his own, beggar-thy-neighbour”-politics that were such a stunning success in bringing wealth to everybody in the 1930’s.

What the possible success in upcoming European elections of populist parties (many already being sponsored by Putin) will mean to European expats living in the UK (often being married to a British citizen) is becoming clear with the cases of a Dutch engineer/housewife and a German aerospace executive who both received orders from the UK home office to leave the country forthwith, as reported by The Guardian.

In the case of the Dutch woman, who was unjustly rejected in her application for British citizenship, an earlier Dutch political success by convicted racist populist Geert Wilders has aggravated the significance of applying for British citizenship; and will do so in the case of all Dutch inhabitants of the UK. (I wouldn’t be surprised if they are in their thousands).

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 28 Comments

Dutch “Liberal” VVD cosying up to the Tories and distancing itself from “European” Liberals

vvdIn the past week, attentive British citizens could see a clear divide opening up between the two Dutch ALDE member parties, the EU-enthusiasts and Social Liberals (in Beveridge’s tradition) D66, and the populist (see the enduring stature of prominent ex-leaders like Hans Wiegel) VVD.

On Monday, a short furore erupted in the British tabloid media over conversation notes gleaned from the writing pad of a Tory political assistant coming out of Downing Street 10 (or 9: the Brexit Department). She was the assistant of Tory party vice-chairman (International) Mark Field, and she and Field were accompanying foreign visitors who obviously had had a meeting about Brexit. The notes appeared to suggest that the Tory Brexit strategy is as Boris Johnson sometime brags: “have your cake and eat it”. Nobody asked or mentioned who those foreigners were: the leader, Mr. Halbe Zijlstra, and Foreign Affairs spokesman, Mr. Han ten Broeke, of the VVD parliamentary party.

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The “Ambassador Farage” episode: Brexiteers, be careful what you wish for!

The episode where president-elect Donald Trump twittered that he’d like to get his goodpal Nigel Farage as British ambassador to the US, was a stern lesson to the pro-Brexit-camp in British politics – be careful what you wish for; if you get it, it may turn out to be a nightmare.

The following summary of this episode and the start of Trump’s Transition is mainly based on Dutch newspaper articles: Telegraaf, Financieel Dagblad, Volkskrant, of the past two weeks.

It all started with Mr Farage, being the undisputed first foreign politician to be invited to Trump’s Transition HQ.

Shortly afterwards, in a talkshow on Londons LBC Radio, Mr. Farage said that what president Trump needed was “a good eurosceptic ambassador” in Brussels for the EU and European NATO partners, and he would like to get that job. Another guest on the show, Labour MP Chuka Ummuna, expressed his horror at that idea, to which Farage replied “anything that will diminish or destroy the EU; I don’t care how we do it.”

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 26 Comments

Dutch D66 starts fightback against Trumpish Populism

In the aftermath of the Trump victory in the American elections, D66, the direct Dutch equivalent of the Lib Dems, has started a fightback both against the rising, fact-free and people-insulting populism personified by Trump, and against the appeasement-like reaction of the Dutch government on Trumps election.

It started not only with the usual statement on the party website by party leader Alexander Pechtold MP, but with D66 publishing small advertisements (with a large party logo) in national Dutch newspapers, in which we stated that the age of staying passive in the face of rising populism had passed, it was time to join a party willing to fight back like D66.

Posted in Op-eds | 14 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarDavid Pocock 20th Jan - 11:55pm
    Tbh I would protest trump but this protest already feels like it is further left than I'm comfortable. I think at some point we have...
  • User AvatarJen 20th Jan - 11:49pm
    Sarah - to check - you mean the organisers tweeted inviting other parties including UKIP but didn't tweet inviting the Libs?
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 20th Jan - 11:25pm
    Catherine If nearly everyone was the same or similar how dull it would be and how strongly I do encourage a range of views ....
  • User AvatarCaron Lindsay 20th Jan - 11:23pm
    Lorenzo, I was incredibly proud when Vince Cable as acting leader refused to engage with the Saudi Arabian king who was here on a state...
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 20th Jan - 11:14pm
    Caron I think you are right in criticising Trump. I have written a lot about my views on this man, on here , and on...
  • User AvatarGeorge Flaxman 20th Jan - 11:07pm
    Watching Twitter daily there seems no letup in "I joined today" posts. A great time to be a LibDem.