The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

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EU will end like the Holy Roman Empire

By Niall McCrae

holyromanempireChief commissioner Michel Barnier wags his finger at the media conference. An uprising in a major European country has forced his hand, as attacks on police and politicians lead to desertions and defections. Unlike the British government, which was pummelled into submission over the Brexit deal, these plucky secessionists are undermining the authority of the formidable Eurocrat. So he threatens to send in the EU Army.

It’s 2027, and the EU is more powerful than ever, yet also more detached. It reigns supreme in the cosmopolitan cities, in the financial centres, and on university campuses: Berlin, Heidelberg, den Haag, Frankfurt-am-Main, Gothenburg, Barcelona, Fiorentina. These islands of the liberal intelligentsia look condescendingly on the masses, whose unpredictable and uninformed votes put progress in peril come each election. The provincial hinterlands are stifled by backwardness, with rising tension between nostalgic nationalism and expanding ethnic enclaves. Among the commoners, rule by Brussels is at best tolerated, at worst despised.

Consulting historians, political commentators begin to see what the EU has become: a latter-day Holy Roman Empire. And Barnier and fellow commissioners are behaving like the ‘enlightened despots’ of the European past.

The HRE was a revival of the old Roman Empire, but with papacy to the fore. Founded in AD 800 when the Pope crowned Charlemagne as emperor, its domain comprised France, Germany and most of modern-day Italy. After the French left in the tenth century, and the Italian parts were given away, the empire centred on Germany. Successive emperors looked east to expand their territory; the pagan Prussians, Slavs and Balts were suppressed by brute force, and fiefdoms were established in Hungary, Poland and Bohemia. But the intent to rule Europe was confronted by the forces of national identity, the Reformation and Thirty Years War, and the HRE gradually retreated to a federation of principalities.

Maintaining order over the many petty oligarchies of the HRE was awkward, but Joseph II, emperor of the late 18th century, had a master plan. He was an arch-centraliser, who cloaked his zeal for control in Enlightenment values. Determined to create a state apparatus that would banish feudalism, Joseph II levied taxes to pay for institutions and representative bodies operating under his jurisdiction.

Just as the European Union is becoming less united, the HRE was not really holy. The rich statelets presented themselves as hubs of intellectual enterprise and the arts, but as the princes sought to fortify their privileged status against popular rebellion, survival was prioritised over aesthetics or virtue. The Vatican with its papal bulls was a hindrance, and religious fervour was regarded from the castle ramparts as dangerous populism. With his Secularisation Decree, Joseph II banished the Jesuits, cut the number of saints’ days, and his anti-clerical stance led to a testy visit by Pope Pius VI. Joseph II didn’t care much for God: leave superstition to the ignorant plebs.

Joseph II overstretched himself. He signed a treaty with Russia and Prussia to divide Poland among the three, but faced serious revolts in Hungary and Belgium. The end came soon after Napoleon declared himself emperor of France. As la Grande Armée marched across Europe, German princes seceded from the HRE to accept Napoleon’s protection, and in 1806 Pope Francis formally rescinded the empire.

The HRE ended as an embarrassment of corrupted ideals, and the EU may be going the same way. It has extended beyond coherence, having incorporated the same parts of eastern Europe that caused so much trouble for the holy emperors. Economically it is stagnating, and it has created a cultural timebomb with its mass migration from Muslim lands. For now, the EU seems to have strength and resilience: the combined might of France and Germany, its neoliberal multiculturalism an inspiration to youth. But ten years on, and the view from Barnier’s bastion looks less assured.

Breaking news from a burning city: protesters surround the old parliament building, the EU flag is ripped off the pole. Inside, worried officials burst into a wordless rendition of Ode to Joy. The soldiers, experienced only in handing out food tokens to crowds of migrants, are refusing to fight. And this is how the most apparently impermeable and permanent regimes end: not with a bang but a whimper.

This article first appeared in Conservative Woman

Sugar Beets and the Pandemic of Modern Obesity

This country’s change from consuming sugar derived from sugar cane, which Britain historically purchased from its old colonial territories, to consuming sugar extracted from sugar beets from about 1973 onwards has slowly but surely greatly contributed to this country’s obesity problem

S Davies

2nd September 2017
I pose the question of whether this country’s change from consuming sugar derived from sugar cane, which Britain historically purchased from its old colonial territories, to consuming sugar extracted from sugar beets from about 1973 onwards has slowly but surely greatly contributed to this country’s obesity problem. It is popularly believed that despite us as a nation consuming fewer calories these days than was the case in the 1960's,  obesity has gradually become a real problem. So, is it the EU's forced substitution of sugar obtained from sugar beets rather than sugar obtained from sugar cane making us really fat? 
 
I suggest that the country's obesity pandemic is partly due to its switch to the creation of sugar from sugar beets, which came about after the UK entered the European Economic Community in 1973. The UK had historically relied upon sugar cane for its sugar, which was a state of affairs that hadn't changed since sugar was first introduced into this country and became more widely available from about the 16th - 17th centuries onwards. In fact beets were not discovered as an alternative to cane until the late 18th century and weren't used in manufacturing until the early 19th century, when they had to be cultivated to yield a higher sucrose content than that which they originally and naturally contained.
 
The difference in quality between the two types of table sugars is a matter of debate. From a culinary perspective, I personally find sugar derived from sugar cane to be a far superior substance. I find it crisper and that it gives a lighter result. There is no apparent taste to cane sugar, which is just sweet. I personally find that there is an ever so slight aftertaste or noticeable different texture to beet sugar. Cane sugar is the master baker's sugar of choice, whatever the chemists say about it supposing to be the same. Meringues made from sugar cane are crisper and far superior. Cakes don't flop as easily with cane sugar. Yet the scientists say that “sugar is just sugar” and that there is no difference between the two substances. 
 
So, what is the difference between sugar cane and sugar beets? To look at a 500 gram pack of Silver Spoon (beet sugar) and Tate & Lyle (cane sugar) next to each other, they generally appear to be of the same size, and have the same volume, so there can't be much of a difference regarding the physical density of the product. On closer inspection of the sugar grain or crystals, the beet sugar may seem less crisp and light than the cane sugar. However, I think that to appreciate the difference between them, one needs to look at how the two products are processed, the difference in production being necessary due to their respective botanical composition. 
 
Sugar beets and sugar cane must be processed differently to achieve apparently the same table sugar. Sugar beets, which are a root crop, are sliced and boiled to extract the syrup. This is then evaporated into crystals. Sugar beets produce two by-products: the beet pulp, from which the sucrose syrup has been extracted, and molasses. The beet pulp is dried into pellets and fed into the human food chain inasmuch as it's then sold on as animal feed. The sugar beet molasses is not fit for human consumption but can is fed to animals.
 
Sugar cane, which grows in reeds above the earth's surface for several feet before it's harvested, is sliced and heated in water to extract the sugar syrup. Cane sugar also produces molasses as a by-product. However, this molasses can be used for human consumption - e.g. in the Caribbean it is utilised in the manufacture of rum. The bark or reeds of the sugar cane crop is then either defunct or can be used in the manufacture of baskets and mats etc.
 
The botanical composition of sugar beets is described on Wikipedia as follows: "The pulp, insoluble in water and mainly composed of cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin, and pectin, is used in animal feed." The botanical composition of sugar cane is described as: "A mature stalk is typically composed of 11–16% fiber, 12–16% soluble sugars, 2–3% nonsugars, and 63–73% water." 
 
I suggest below that the more resinous nature of sugar beet may have a deleterious effect on the human liver. It must be ground down or processed to such a level in standard sugar production that it is then able to permeate the small intestines and enter the liver via the bloodstream. This can then act as a resinous mist on liver cells and affect their ability to act to their required capacity, so forcing the body to rely on alternative glucose-fuelling sources - i.e. cortisol from the adrenal glands. Perhaps cane sugar, having no inherent resinous qualities, degrades more easily, leaves no residue and is thus less taxing on the human body.
 
In attempting to explain my theory, I think that it's important to first go through the stages involved in the body's metabolism of food. The human body, and animal kingdom in general, are glucose-driven vessels who rely upon glucose as their primary source of fuel. This contrasts with the plant kingdom, whose primary source of energy is slightly different and is called fructose. This general blood sugar requirement is irrespective of whether the body ingests fat, carbohydrate or protein. 
 
I initially wondered whether it was fructose, which, as has been noted above, is not the animal kingdom's source of sugar. As a substance, it may impose a bit of a strain on the body because it is not broken down by insulin, as glucose is, and in the usual way. It must be processed in the liver after ingestion, before it's released into the wider bloodstream. It has been suggested that everyone is slightly fructose intolerant, with their ability to break down fructose varying in degree from individual to individual and associations have been made between fructose and fatty liver disease. However, my point here is that where one obtains the fructose or plain sugar from also makes a difference – i.e. whether it’s obtained from sugar beet or sugar cane. 
 
In fuelling the human body, it is of paramount importance to maintain blood glucose homeostasis - i.e. balance - and therefore blood glucose levels hover within a limited range, with a normal range being 70 to 110 mg/dl (milligrams per deciliter). The body will try and move heaven and earth to achieve this balance and therefore has more than one mechanism to ensure blood glucose stability. For immediate use, it will rely on the glucose stored in the liver. This is termed glycogen. Thereafter, glucose is stored in fat and muscle tissues. 
 
The body accesses glucose by synthesizing (i.e. creating) and using insulin, which is a hormone produced by the beta cells of the pancreas. Insulin mobilises blood glucose and ensures it reaches the body's cells and muscles. The pancreas also synthesizes another hormone called glucagon, which is something of a mirror-image to insulin. Glucagon senses when blood glucose levels are low and sends negative feedback messages to the liver that this is the case, so instructing the liver to release more glucose, whilst insulin mops up glucose in the bloodstream and either helps the body utilise it immediately or helps to store it as excess fat. 

If glucose or glycogen stores in the liver are low, the body can also produce a hormone called cortisol from the adrenal glands, which lie on top of the kidneys, to remedy the shortfall. However, the body's usual glucose reserves are stored in the liver. If the body is forced to rely on short-term cortisol from the adrenals to release glucose stores from the body’s tissues, this is not the preferred method and long-term use carries its own problems - e.g. high blood pressure, which is associated with an increased cardio-vascular risk, increased risk of stroke, increased risk of diabetes due to cortisol's glucose-raising effects. Cortisol is also associated with obesity because it slows down the body’s rate and generally deteriorates body tissue etc.
 
So, why would the body choose to use the cortisol hormone instead of the glucagon one? 
 
Simply because it feels that it has to, to maintain blood glucose balance. Either the alpha cells of the pancreas, which produce glucagon, have become impaired, or the liver's reading of and sensitivity to them has become impaired. The body is then moved into emergency mode and cortisol is forced to take over and aid the release of glucose into the bloodstream where glucagon left off. So, we need to ask ourselves whether the liver cells or even the pancreas cells are being caked up with a resinous substance that hinders its ability to detect blood glucose levels and whether this irritating substance is present in sugar beet.

By S Davies

Is a Transitional Deal Good for Brexit?

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With the Brexit negotiations in full flow, Britain is looking for a way to make the transition away from the European Union run as smoothly as possible while ensuring that Brexit happens unimpeded. There are two possible exits. The first is a clean cut that will come into effect on 29th March 2019. The second option is to negotiate a transition deal that will allow Britain to disengage with the EU over a designated period of time. Here on The Bruges Group we have examined how trade can successfully continue outside of the Single Market. It is just a case of how we get there. In this article we look at the advantages and disadvantages of a transitional deal.

 

For a Transitional Deal

A big concern amongst some leave voters is that Britain is heading towards a cliff edge scenario where no agreement or deal is reached. Many political and business commentators believe that this would leave Britain in a precarious position as all EU laws and regulations would suddenly cease. It is estimated that over 700 treaties have to be renegotiated, ranging from the airline industry to Britain’s nuclear agreement (Euratom), with the EU. With less than two years till the Article 50 deadline there is a strong argument that it isn’t feasible to negotiate every deal in time. This could leave many UK businesses in difficult positions, as they have to suddenly change from one set of regulations to another.

British trade minister and prominent leave advocate Liam Fox has pushed for a transitional deal. The Irish Times reported that Fox told Andrew Marr that a deal of around two years was necessary to give businesses the chance to adapt. He is quoted as saying: “I want to leave the European Union at the end of March 2019. Now once we have done that, once we have fulfilled our promise to the British people, we can look to see what we are going to do in terms of making that a smooth transition… whether that’s 23 [months], whether that’s 25 [months]." The trade minister reassured leave voters by stating that the transition period would have a limited time scale.

 

Against a Transitional Deal

There are valid fears that a transitional deal could be used by remainers to keep Britain locked into many EU regulations including the Single Market and Customs Union. Business Insider predicts that a transitional deal could be based on the EEA model which would allow free movement of citizens and require Britain to remain under the European Court of Justice. With Britain replicating the EEA model, remainers in the government could use it as a base to push for a permanent EEA status.

The British Government recognises that the British public voted for a clean cut. FXCM notes that May has clearly laid out the terms of Brexit: “Let me be clear. We are not leaving the European Union only to give up control of immigration again. And we are not leaving only to return to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.”

A transition deal could also hinder Britain’s ability to make trade deals with nations outside of the EU. If Britain cannot negotiate trade agreements during the transition, due to EU regulations, businesses in the UK would face even longer uncertainly. For Brexit to be successful. Britain must be able to trade globally without EU interference.

 

Liam Fox is clear that a Brexit transition must be limited in time and scope

 

How will Brexit affect British Holidays

champagneinthesun 

Brexit could hit UK travellers like a summer storm. But don’t fret – it’s not all bad. Although it is deemed likely that travellers will needs a visa to travel around Europe, mobile roaming data charges are set to be scrapped entirely across the board. If you plan on travelling around Europe this summer, make sure you apply for an E111 card or renew it if you haven’t already to ensure you are eligible to receive medical treatment away.

With the UK scheduled to begin with the process to depart from the European Union under Article 50 at the end of March, it’s time to consider how it could affect your holiday:

Duty-free

Rules regarding duty and tax-free product are likely to make a comeback. Since 1999, travelling within Europe meant that people held no rights against duty or tax-free purchases. But, the separation of Britain and the European Union could mean that the rule is bought back into practice. So if you rely on buying cheap alcohol or tobacco, you will have to revert to buying products in limited quantities just like all non-EU countries.

The EHIC scheme

One of the many perks of being part of the EU is The European Health Insurance Card, more commonly known as the EHIC or E111 card. The card entities all EU citizens to access public health care whilst abroad, on the same basis as citizens of that country. All travellers carrying the EHIC card are eligible for almost free treatment. When the UK leave the EU, this form of healthcare will be scrapped, and a new scheme will be put into practice. For the time being, there’s no need to worry. You will still be able to use your EHIC card abroad. There will be now immediate effect to how you can use it.

Value for money

Since the second day of Brexit negotiations, the pound weakened. The sterling is predicted to be volatile due to the uncertainty of the outcome. Be aware that some airport currency suppliers have the worst rates in the country, even if you place an order in advance. To save money, don’t buy your currency at the airport. You can find some of the best currency exchange rates online.

The weakened pound may result in increased flight prices. If you have already paid for your holiday, you have already protected yourself. For now, it will only affect those paying for accommodation abroad in other currencies, such as Euros. Visiting good value destinations will help you save money. Currently, two of the most cost-effective destinations are Mexico and Tokyo. Despite seeing inflation rise in the UK, most holiday destinations have seen little, if not no change since 2016.

Until the UK officially completes the leaving process no changes will be made. The good news is that this will be no sooner than two years’ time, so people like yourself are still able to hop between the UK and EU countries.

Brexit will fail if it does not develop a clear vision for the future

butterflyhands

Barely one year after the Brexit referendum, and under four months since the triggering of Article 50, the Financial Times has published a “democratic case for stopping Brexit”, adding to a crescendo in overt calls to upend the exit process. How did we get here? The whole point of the EU referendum, just like the Scottish referendum before it, was to bury a longstanding and contentious political issue. In both cases, this has not been so.

 

In the case of Scotland, it is clear that the opportunism of the nationalists was to blame for reviving the independence issue. Similarly, in the case of Brexit, it is tempting to point the finger at the “Remoaners” who never really accepted the result of the referendum, protesting against the democratic outcome from the get-go. Their scheming has not been particularly covert, with the entire frame of the “hard” vs. “soft” Brexit debate geared towards eventually thwarting the outcome of the vote.

 

Yet, the blame primarily lies with the pro-Brexit camp. It is no secret that prominent figures in the Leave campaign had no clear plan for victory, themselves appearing flabbergasted by the result. The present situation is the logical continuation of this reckless incompetence.

 

Beyond hazy generalities, there is little to believe in with Brexit as it stands. As a result, people will increasingly become disillusioned. If a bad deal is eventually struck and it goes to parliament for approval, either a general election or second referendum could become a legitimate vehicle through which to upend the entire Brexit process. With May’s government barely clinging to a majority, it doesn’t require too much imagination to see how persistent Remainers could eventually get their way.

 

What is needed, if Brexit is to stop haemorrhaging legitimacy, is an ambitious plan. A favourite example of prominent Brexiteers revolves around the promise of the Anglosphere, so why not start there?

 

Together, the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Canada and New Zealand constitute an Anglosphere of over 450 million people. This is more than the population of the EU 27 (without the UK). On top of this, these people are more prosperous than their EU counterparts, and have been for a long time.

 

Their GDP per capita is significantly higher than the EU average. In fact, in most cases it is even above that of the eurozone’s main economic success story: Germany. Growth rates have been higher too. While such aggregate figures are not the be all and end all of prosperity for the average citizen, they are certainly indicative.

 

Globally, the EU has been losing in relative economic importance at breakneck speed. The Western European edge of the Eurasian landmass –represented by the core 15 EU Member States– once dominated the global economy, controlling over a third of global GDP at the end of the 1960s. This was well above the US share of just over one quarter. Asia and Oceania stood at around 15% at the time.

 

Fast forward to 2011 and the EU15 share had tumbled to around a quarter of global GDP, having been overtaken by Asia and Oceania (driven primarily by China), as well as by the USA, whose share remained constant. Europe’s downwards trajectory has only accelerated as the eurocrisis has worn on.

 

The standard excuse offered up by sclerotic EU bureaucrats is that this march towards oblivion constitutes a natural “rebalancing” process as Asia, particularly China, regained its economic standing in the global economy. This naturally squeezed Europe’s share of global income.

 

But what is never addressed is why the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand were all able to hold onto their relative shares of global wealth compared to the EU. In other words, why were they able to grow faster? Why are they more prosperous? It is obvious that the dramatic rise of China had to displace other economic players in relative terms, but why has this decline fallen squarely on the EU’s shoulders, and not on those of the Anglosphere as well?

 

The “rebalancing” rationalisations for Europe’s terminal decline are most often offered up by those working for institutions obsessed with “relaunching” Europe, “fresh starts”, “no more business as usual”, “delivering European renewal”, “acting now” or otherwise declaring it “time to act”, cooking up plans to make the EU “the most dynamic and competitive knowledge-based economy in the world”, etc. etc. Yet, these are the same people who shrug at the total and unique failure of Europe’s economy to hold its own in the world. You couldn’t make it up!

 

The EU has achieved unparalleled economic integration compared to any other regional bloc. And Britain was able to be a part of this union with such diverse nations for decades. Why, then, would some scheme for the Anglosphere be so far-fetched? Why would free movement of workers, for example, among countries with such similar needs and concerns –not to mention entwined intelligence services– be so unthinkable? And if it is not, where is the action?

 

As regards the limitations on Britain’s right to negotiate alternate trade deals while it remains within the EU, Britain must be careful to observe the letter of the law but certainly not its spirit, which is designed to thwart any successful secession. What is needed is a concrete plan that could be signed as soon as Britain is officially out of the EU, to be confidently presented to the public as a vision of the future after Brexit.

 

Without this, Brexit will surely suffer the same fate as the Remain campaign. Repeating generalities about executing the will of the people is as uninspiring as hypothesising over the future marginal economic costs of leaving the Union. These are not winning arguments. Leave won the campaign because it developed enthusing stances revolving around sovereignty: “take back control”. What does it offer now?

This article is by Daniel Matthews-Ferrero