UK Government Struggles To Spend Brexit Windfall

Britain is going to be £10.7 Trillion richer every year after stopping payments to the EU, but it’s hard to imagine that there’s any real need for the extra cash.

The prime minister is coming under increasing pressure to detail how the money will be spent, with some suggesting we should just continue making Aid payments to our poorer European neighbours.

The NHS is currently in great shape and in no need of extra funding (A&E waiting times are currently well below the 4 day target). The UK’s road network and general infrastructure are also world-leading, so it’s hard to see where the extra billions will go.

“We will continue to fund HS2 for a start”, Mr Johnson announced, “That’s likely to use up an additional £5 billion or so per year for the next 35-175 years.

“But I think we need a huge ‘flagship’ project to sink much larger sums of money into. That’s where the Northern Ireland to Scotland bridge comes in. After some consultations we understand that from an engineering point of view the scheme is definitely impossible, which makes it particularly appealing.

“We will start building at each end and when Scotland leave the UK to rejoin the EU we can blame them for the ultimate failure of the project.

“…that was off the record by the way. Off the record, you understand?”

It Was Nice While It Lasted, So It Was

Over the last week there have been encouraging signs in Northern Ireland politics, but the positivity is quickly evaporating as a number of new issues come to light.  

Agreement had been reached to form a new executive at Stormont, but after being advised that it would cost approximately £735bn to get the country going again, the UK government has agreed to provide just £1bn.  

Local MLA’s voiced their concerns at the figure.  “That amount probably won’t even cover reimbursing us for accrued holiday entitlement over the last 3 years, nevermind addressing nurses pay, or waiting times!”  (Waiting times in Northern Ireland barber shops are among the worst in the UK and frequently go beyond the 4-hour target.)

Now, following an even more troubling revelation, Stormont looks set to close its doors again, barely one week after parties agreed a deal.

Sinn Fein have expressed their excitement after another financial scandal centering around the DUP has been uncovered.  

Today it emerged that over the past 3 years, the Guardian, in partnership with Belfast Live, have been conducting a special investigation into a number of DUP members and their financial arrangements.  

The investigation has revealed that a large number of current and past MLA’s have been detected signing up for consecutive 1-month free trials on both Amazon Prime and Netflix services, using multiple Gmail accounts.

When questioned, Arlene Foster denied having any knowledge of such a loophole but has defended her party in a statement this afternoon.  “While I do not condone this, I would urge calm, and ask the public not to play into the hands of those who want to demonise the DUP.”  

“Consideration should also be given to the context and timing of this.  Over the last 3 years there has been no assembly at stormont, and Prime Video in particular, does provide a large library of original and exclusive films, and box sets, which I know many MLA’s from all parties have found invaluable in passing the time.”

Michelle O’Neill made an official televised statement on behalf of her party, in which she shouted, “This has always been a red line for Sinn Fein!  The ‘TV-For-Free’ scandal directly undermines the Good Friday Agreement. Arlene Foster must stand aside to allow a full inquiry to be set up.”

In response, Gregory Campbell blasted Sinn Fein for what he branded their ‘hypocrisy’, saying, “Do not forget, it was Sinn Fein who repeatedly,  failed to condemn the widespread supply of cracked Fire Sticks, pre-loaded with Kodi, into their own community.”  

Amazon were also quick to comment on the crisis.  In a tweet the company advised that it “would continue to deliver for the people of Northern Ireland.” *  

“Don’t give up! I believe in you all. A person’s a person, no matter how small! And you very small persons will not have to die. If you make yourselves heard! So come on, now, and TRY!”

Boris Johnson

In other news, a 33 year old man has been shot in both legs in a ‘paramilitary style’ attack for posting fake news stories and “all kinds of dumb content” on his blog.  

MLA’s from both sides of the community, (and neither), have been careful to show a united front.  “We stand together, and in full support of the gunman in this instance. This is a quiet and sensible community and we hope this serves as a lesson to avoid this kind of silly behaviour.”  

*Sometimes UK delivery does not include Northern Ireland and additional charges may apply.  

Tensions in the Middle East

It seems the world has been repeatedly rocked this week by news story after shocking news story.  I’ve decided to write this brief post, hopefully providing a clear and calm reflection, to help make sense of what’s been happening.    

Firstly, in a very impulsive move, which is feared may jeopardise years of efforts to stabilise the Middle East, and potentially escalate tensions around the world, a UK judge has ruled that ‘ethical veganism’ is a ‘philosophical belief’ and so is protected in law.  It is understood the prime minister was not informed in advance of the tribunal’s shock ruling, but Mr Johnson has urged all parties to de-escalate while potential consequences are analysed. 

The US military also sent shock-waves through the political world after it carried out a targeted drone strike which killed Iranian Major General, Qasem Soleimani.  

Hillary Clinton questioned the wisdom of the strike.  “People should be allowed to express themselves in any way they want, and identify as whatever kind of person they want to be.  Labelling someone a ‘terrorist’ could be very damaging, not only for the individual, but also for their followers. Tolerance is key.  Love and compassion is what this world needs more of.”  

Without pausing for breath she continued, “I hope Trump dies soon.”  “If the impeachment is unsuccessful, a drone strike should not be taken off the table.” 

Iran have been quick to vow ‘severe revenge’ for the reckless decision by Queens University, Belfast, in appointing Mrs Clinton as Chancellor. 

*The details of this next story may be upsetting for some readers*

Finally, in probably the most shocking and disturbing story of the week it now seems inevitable that after 30 years, Liverpool will win the league. 

Civil war seems the most likely outcome if this happens, but for now people are being urged to stay positive, and to pray that the team might suffer serious and numerous injuries in the second half of the season.

We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

Gandhi

The Trouble With Northern Ireland

The people of Northern Ireland have a tendency to be overly negative and focus too much on problems.  It’s widely believed that we are just a bunch of whingers. Let’s correct that here. Read on.

Depending on who you ask you are likely to hear a variety of opinions on what the main ‘problems’ are in Northern Ireland.  Some people will refer to the historic, but still visible and deeply-ingrained, social divide between Goths and Steeks (sections of the peace wall are still visible in parts of Belfast).  For others, it’s the damp climate, and for many of our younger generation, it’s Northern Ireland’s perceived backwards, or ‘behind the times’ lack of Krispy Kreme.   

These are valid and serious concerns, but I would like to present a more positive picture here.  I think, if we ignore Larne for a minute, we might discover that this wee country actually has a lot going for it!

I have to admit the thought of Larne has made me lose my train of thought a bit.

..there is also the lack of a local government; the mystery ‘Backstop’; over-reliance on the public sector for jobs;  the arguments around language; flags. The weather is pretty miserable when you think about it. Larne..

Sorry. Let’s try to get back to positives..

A new rapid transit service was recently introduced in Belfast and, I think, as well as improving public transport into the city, it also serves as a metaphor for the political progress being made in Northern Ireland.  The Glider I’m currently on has performed an emergency stop. Many of the older/more vulnerable passengers have obviously been affected the worst, while the rest of us are being held up and getting increasingly frustrated.  

Metaphors aside, the Glider has a very distinctive design with it’s passenger space divided roughly into 48% and 45% sections with 7% in the middle.  The drivers remain completely out of touch with everyone except other drivers, while power is shared equally between a diesel engine and an electric motor.  The long term wisdom of this decision has yet to be determined. It’s purple, with free WiFi.

If you can think of some more ‘NI positives’ and you’d like to email them to me I will try and include them in a future post.

“Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream.”

George W. Bush