Talking to my dad about the latest in the Brexit saga, including the current fuel crisis due to lack of lorry drivers and other problems which were predicted in the run up to the Brexit referendum in 2016. Video version available on YouTube and below.
This is The Rick Thompson Report, where I talk to my dad about politics, news, current affairs – which almost always means an update to the ongoing Brexit saga.
What’s going on in the UK at the moment? How is Brexit going? Remember before the referendum when predictions were made by experts who recommended that Brexit was a bad idea – do you remember any of the predictions? They were labelled by the pro-Brexit camp as “Project Fear” suggesting that critics of Brexit were just trying to make everyone scared about leaving the EU but it was all baseless and everything was going to be wonderful in a very non-specific way. Well, we are now getting to a stage where we can see if those predictions are coming true or not?
So, how long has the UK actually been out of the EU now? How’s it going?
An update from my dad about Brexit, including details about Boris Johnson’s deal, the shutting down of Parliament, the upcoming general election and more. Includes some chat about Premiership football at the end.
Last time we spoke it was early August. Boris Johnson had recently become the PM and was going to negotiate a new Brexit deal after Theresa May had failed to get Parliament to accept the deal she spent over 2 years to get. Brexit, at the time was due to happen on 31st October.
I just have one question, which is “What’s been going on?”
I’m getting a sense of deja vu
it’s afudge / it was fudged
“I’d rather be dead in a ditch than ask for another extension” – Boris Johnson
Whips / The party whip
To put/throw a spanner in the works
To upset the apple cart
To stand your candidate down
None of this is spelled out but that’s what it means
You can jump to your own conclusions
Boris Johnson has refused point-blank
He’s saying Parliamentary Democracy is now defunct
The proroguing of parliament was null and void
Is that a political coup?
It would have been the biggest constitutional crisis since they cut Charles I’s head off
They didn’t get away with it
So there you have it. That was the Rick Thompson Report, recorded on Wednesday 13 November 2019.
The comment section is open if you’d like to share your thoughts there.
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Thanks for listening and I’ll speak to you again on the podcast soon!
My Dad is back on the podcast today to talk about recent things happening in the news, including political things, especially Brexit.
We call these episodes, the Rick Thompson Report.
The last one of these was a few months ago when Theresa May was attempting to get support from all the MPs in Parliament for the Brexit deal she had managed to negotiate with EU leaders, but each time she asked Parliament to accept her deal, they voted against it, mainly due to the complications with the Northern Irish backstop.
The date for Brexit was pushed back to 31 October, Halloween, subject to an agreement with the EU that the UK would take part in the EU elections – to choose Members of the European Parliament. That election happened last week across Europe and the results are now in.
Also, you must have seen in the news that Theresa May resigned as Prime Minister last week too, to be replaced by a new PM in July.
So, what’s going on – what were the results of the election, why did May step down, who might replace her and what does this all mean for the future of the UK and Europe.
This is what we’re going to talk about – no pressure Dad!
My dad is with me now, on Facetime.
Theresa May resigns
Liverpool come back to beat Barcelona 4-0 (switch on the subtitles!)
My dad answers some questions from listeners about Brexit. Includes conversation about Theresa May’s deal, the prospect of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, Parliamentary democracy, the possible reactions to revoking Article 50 and cancelling Brexit altogether, chances of a second referendum, Scottish independence, the sensitive Northern Ireland situation, consequences for EU nationals in the UK and the question of trading on WTO rules.
Hello listeners around the world, this is part 2 of a double episode of The Rick Thompson Report on Luke’s English Podcast in which I am talking to my dad about Brexit. We recorded this conversation on Thursday 24 January 2019.
As I said, this is part 2. You should listen to part 1 before you listen to this. In part 1 we chatted about the current Brexit situation, talking specifically about what happened with Theresa May’s Brexit deal, why MPs in Parliament rejected it, what’s going on now in Parliament and with Brexit generally, and what might happen next.
We talked about the possibility of a no-deal Brexit (aka “crashing out of the EU”) and what that might look like. We talked about the possibility of Brexit being postponed or even cancelled completely and we talked about the possibility of a 2nd referendum happening.
We also went into some detail about the Northern Ireland backstop – aka the Northern Ireland border problem and various other aspects of this complicated issue.
This brings us to part 2 and In this part we’re going to respond to some questions from my listeners, and there are a few times when we refer to things we said in part 1. So this will all make a bit more sense to you if you listen to part 1 first, that’s episode 573.
So, assuming that you’ve heard part 1 of this conversation, let’s now listen to my dad’s responses to a few questions from my audience. So here is part 2 of this episode of The Rick Thompson Report on Luke’s English Podcast.
Questions from Listeners
Hiro (twitter) I was expecting you to have another episode about Brexit with your dad. Thank you in advance. I have three questions.
1: The result of the referendum in 2016 was 52:48. Do you think the ratio has changed recently?
Luke: The ratio has changed because people who were too young to vote in the previous one have now reached the legal age, and some older people who voted leave in 2016 have died.
TheWeek.co.uk 21 Jan
Britain has seen a “Brexit crossover” where the number of younger Remain supporters who have reached voting age combined with older Leave voters who have died since the referendum has wiped out the 1.3 million majority that voted in favour of leaving the EU.
2: Theresa May’s deal was rejected several days ago, but she survived the no-confidence vote. It seems to me that she was left with a heavy burden and no one else wants to be in her position. Do you think there is any possibility that she will get angry and leave?
3: The British parliament is in a very difficult and complicated situation. I guess it’s showing the worst side of democracy.( It reminds me of the final days of ancient Athens. ) What do you think about it, especially in relation to the dictatorships of other countries?
Mits (twitter) Hi Luke! I always enjoy the episodes with your dad:) Especially on Brexit. Here are my questions. What would be the ideal situation for UK? Would you like a second national referendum? I am very worried about the current situation and the future..
Lysak_Michael (Twitter) Hello, Luke! In case of Brexit how will England deal with Scotland, which is going to realize its right to independence? And, of course, the border between NI and Ireland. Could your dad share his feelings about actions of IRA in 1972, 1974, 1982? Thank you!
Ladislav (Facebook) I’m so looking forward to this episode. I was wondering whether you was going to record one. I must say that the The Rick Thompson Report episodes are the best alongside ones with Amber and Paul! Question: how long will it take to decide what the next step (new government, new general election, referendum etc) is going to be?
Ivan (FB) What surprises me about Brexit is some “split” of the picture that I am receiving. Never in my life, have I heard anything positive about Brexit from articles/podcasts/media. And at the very same time whenever I speak privately with a UK citizen I ask them whether they support Brexit and keep getting answers “it’s complicated but yes”.
Luke: Which media are you consuming? Which people are you talking to?
Ju (maybe Julie or Julia) (FB) I’ve been waiting for a new episode of the Rick Thompson Report! I’m worried about a no-deal and the consequences for EU citizens who want to stay in the UK… Do you think that there will be a Brexit without a deal or will they postpone it? BTW, I’ve been listening your podcast for about a year and I just love it! 👏👏👏
Aritz (FB) Hi Rick! I’m from Spain, working in London. What’s going to happen with the pound-euro exchange? Shall I send my savings in pounds to Spain buying euros? Cheers!
Igor (Twitter) Could you talk about the Irish border and the backstop? And also about Jeremy Corbyn, whether he’s the right person or not to lead the Labour Party in this important issue? Thanks, I always listen to LEP.
If article 50 is revoked or extended to buy more time for Brexit, isn’t there a huge danger of people losing faith in politics and people wanting to take matters into their own hands, riot risks etc?
What are the chances Scotland will leave the UK and instead join the EU if Brexit happens? In their Independence referendum they decided to stay in the UK, but nobody told them they would have to leave Europe.
Can your Dad give his predictions in percentages of the following happening? New referendum (people’s vote), general election, No deal Brexit, Theresa May’s deal, civil war (just a bad joke- I am actually heartbroken about what is happening in the UK)
Do you think Jeremy Corbyn is playing his cards right? It seems to me that he is lately behaving a bit like Boris Johnson, speculating too much and thinking about his own career rather than the future of the UK? Shouldn’t he just get over himself and campaign for remain?
A lot of people are angry at the prospect of Brexit not happening. They say it would be undemocratic. Don’t you think that ignoring the people’s voice would not be right? On the other hand parliamentary democracy means parliament is the body that decides. Why should ordinary folks have such power, especially if they clearly have no clue what they are doing?
Kauan (FB) Is Brexit still a thing that’s gonna happen? I thought it got canceled or smth or whatever. At least I heard it somewhere.
Chriss from Mexico (FB) Will we (foreigners) need a visa to enter?
Why did the UK government itself create this bad situation that has stopped the entire country?
(originally written: Why the own English government have created this bed situation that stopped all country?)
Luke: Ask David Cameron
Video Danny Dyer talks about David Cameron. “Where is the geezer!” “He’s in Europe. He’s in Nice with his trotters up!” “Twat!” (cockney accent) – a very strange moment in television as both Pamela Anderson and Jeremy Corbyn are also present in the studio.
Stavtsev (FB) Does it mean that Northern Ireland will be able to reunite with Ireland?
Farshid (website) What advantages does it give to Britain and most importantly what effects it will have on other countries?
Thank you again to Dad for his contribution.
Thank you also to listeners for sending your questions. I didn’t manage to use all the questions that I received, so apologies to anyone who I missed out.
Now there are loads of other things I’d like to talk about on this subject but there isn’t really time. I might go back into it at some point.
“Trading on WTO rules” and What are tariffs anyway?
But before we go, I would like to revisit this subject of trading on WTO rules, because this is something you will hear from Brexiters when they talk about the prospect of us crashing out of the EU without a deal. They usually say “We can simply trade with the rest of the world using WTO rules.” I think it’s worth looking at what that really means, and how it’s actually a very dangerous step to take.
I mentioned in part 1 a Twitter user who I have been following. In fact I’ve noticed lots of very well-informed users of Twitter who have been tweeting various information, backed up by genuine understandings of all the technical details of things like the World Trade Organisation.
So, this guy on Twitter is called Edwin Hayward, and this is what he wrote about trading on WTO terms. It’s actually very interesting because not only can you learn about the reality of what that means, you can learn a thing or two about international trade and what tariffs are. This is what he wrote recently. You can find links to this on the page for this episode.
Debunking WTO and what “trading on WTO terms” really means… By Edwin Hayward
As EU members, we participate in over 750 international treaties. Many relate to trade, enabling us to trade freely with the EU, the EEA, and 40+ other countries.
Other treaties cover non-trade issues, from air worthiness certificates to drivers licenses, UK and EU citizens’ rights, food safety, environmental protections, workers rights, etc.
On Brexit Day, we leave the EU. That means we lose all the benefits of its treaties. Those treaties are gone in a flash, as if we’d fed them into a shredder. (That’s not the EU being vindictive, it’s just how the Article 50 process works.)
Even IF we have a transition period, the treaties will already be gone, but we will be shielded from the immediate shock by the transition arrangement.
Right now, we share in EU trade deals with 78 countries (22 more pending). These deals cover 60.7% of all our of all our goods imports, and 66.9% of our exports. Overnight, we will lose them all, wave goodbye to the painstaking gains of over forty years of trade negotiations. In the absence of trade deals, we will be reduced to trading on WTO terms. WTO is a complicated system of tariffs and quotas…
Luke’s Note: What are tariffs? Tariffs are import charges, a bit like taxes on imports. A country’s government can set tariffs on goods imported into the country. Who pays the tariff? The company which is sending the products into that country. So, if your country produces tennis balls and you want to sell them in the UK, the UK will probably have set tariffs which you have to pay when you send your tennis balls into the UK. The UK government has set tariffs on those tennis balls in order to protect the tennis ball manufacturers that it has at home. Because, if it’s possible to buy super cheap tennis balls from abroad, then British tennis ball makers will go out of business – they would either not be able to compete with the cheap foreign tennis balls, or they’d have to lower their prices to match the cheap foreign tennis balls – in either case they would go out of business. So the UK government sets tariffs on tennis balls to protect those British tennis ball manufacturers. That’s what tariffs are – they are an import charge which protects local manufacturers from super cheap imports. Back to the article by Edwin Hayward…
In the absence of trade deals, we will be reduced to trading on WTO terms. WTO is a complicated system of tariffs and quotas, plus a baseline set of rules designed to make trade a little less painful and a little smoother than it otherwise would be.
WTO provides a baseline for trade, but it is the absolute minimum that all rational countries seek to improve on. That’s why everyone’s trying to sign trade deals all the time. The whole point of trade deals is to improve on the basic terms offered by WTO.
In trade terms, WTO can be likened to fourth division football: it’s definitely a step up from a kick-around in the park using jerseys as goalposts, but it’s by no means a high standard.
Let’s talk about tariffs. WTO has an immensely complex schedule of tariffs, running into thousands of categories. Different products attract different tariffs. For example, under WTO, cars are subject to tariffs of 10%.
Tariffs are paid by importers, but of course they then turn around and pass those extra costs onto the consumer.
Right now, UK manufacturers can sell cars to the EU tariff free. But under WTO, those cars will be subject to 10% tariffs, effectively making UK-made cars 10% more expensive for EU consumers.
But all the major car manufacturers have manufacturing facilities elsewhere, including other EU countries. So if we’re reduced to trading on WTO terms, they’ll just shift production to the EU and avoid the 10% tariffs.
WTO gives us the right to control the tariffs on our imports, even reduce them to zero if we want to.
But that’s when the WTO most favoured nation rule kicks in. “Most favoured nation” is possibly the most misleading expression ever invented, because what it really means is that we are not allowed to favour one nation over another in our WTO dealings.
So if for example if we are desperate for cabbages, we can set a tariff of 0% on them. That makes them cheaper, which stimulates demand and encourages more producers to send us their cabbages.
But we can’t set a tariff of 0% for just one country. If we decide to drop the tariff on cabbages to 0%, that becomes our new tariff for every country in the world. So we get flooded with cabbages from the cheapest producers on the planet.
That’s great if you love cabbages, but absolutely devastating if you’re a UK cabbage farmer.
You can’t have it both ways. Either you shelter behind tariffs to protect domestic producers, or you reduce them or cut them to zero to encourage cheap imports – and destroy your local industry in the process. The rules of WTO force that tradeoff for every product sector. But that’s only half the picture. We have no control over other countries’ import tariffs, i.e. the tariffs imposed on the things UK-based producers export to them. If we’re trading with them on WTO terms, both the EU non-EU countries will impose whatever tariffs the WTO demands.
Overnight, our exports will be more expensive. That, combined with the fact that we will no longer share common standards with the markets we export to (also covered by the treaties we will have lost) will make products manufactured in the UK significantly less competitive in the global market.
For instance, why would any overseas consumer buy a UK-made car if they can get exactly the same car from the EU or elsewhere at a lower cost? Short answer: they won’t.
But what if the EU were to drop their tariff on cars to 0%? That would help our car producers, because our cars would no longer incur tariffs. However, “most favoured nation” would kick in. The EU would be forced to offer every country in the world 0% tariffs on cars.
The mere notion is absurd. After all, the EU aren’t going to leave their domestic market unprotected just to help the UK. It would be completely irrational to expect them to.
So, in practice, trading on WTO terms will mean that everything we make in the UK will be more expensive for overseas consumers at a stroke. Some industries may be able to reduce their production costs to offset the tariffs; most will collapse.
And we will be faced with the impossible task of choosing product by-product, industry by industry, which producers to protect by maintaining our own tariffs, and which to throw to the wolves by cutting or eliminating our tariffs.
If all of the above sounds grim, that’s because it is. There are no countries in the world that trade exclusively on WTO terms with other nations. None whatsoever.
Even North Korea has a couple of trade facilitation arrangements. We will have none. Nothing at all. No country has ever torn up all its international arrangements before (quite frankly, none have been crazy enough to). So we will be in a very lonely, exclusive club.
So if somebody tells you the UK will be OK trading on WTO terms, they either:
A) Don’t understand what that means or B) Are lying to you For example, Patrick Minford (of Economists for Brexit) is on record as stating that WTO would destroy the UK car industry, but that it would be a price worth paying for the freedom afforded by Brexit.
In other words, Brexiters see manufacturers as collateral damage, to be swept aside in pursuit of Brexit.
Perhaps you’re not so sanguine? Perhaps you would quite like the UK to keep manufacturing things?
In which case, you need to take heed of just how destructive, how damaging, trading on WTO terms would be. Estimates for the likely damage range from 7%-10% of GDP. Even at the low-end, that’s worse than the 2008 financial crash.
But unlike the crash, we’d be deliberately, willingly inflicting the pain on ourselves. Incredible, but true.
And the result would be the return of austerity, not for a few years, but for decades or generations to come.
WTO: just say no!
Brexiter James Delingpole promotes a no-deal Brexit on WTO terms, but then can’t explain how the WTO actually works
Part 1 of a double episode of the Rick Thompson Report, talking to my dad about the latest developments in the shambolic Brexit story. This time we’re focusing on what happened in last week’s Parliamentary vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal, what the situation is now, and what might happen in the future. We talk about no-deal Brexit, the possibility of a 2nd referendum, postponing Article 50 and more. Part 2 contains questions from listeners and will be available soon.
In this episode I’m talking to my dad again about Brexit. We’ve been covering this story in episodes of the Rick Thompson Report since before the referendum in June 2016.
These episodes tend to be popular because although Brexit is a complex situation my dad is able to speak clearly on the subject both in terms of his accent and also in terms of how he presents his ideas.
This one is going to be a double episode. You are currently listening to part 1.
In this first part I just wanted to ask my Dad about 3 main things:
What happened last week in the House of Commons?
What’s happening now?
And what is likely to happen next?
We spoke yesterday and it took us over an hour to answer those three questions, because they’re not easy questions to answer due to the complex nature of the current situation.
That’s what you’re going to listen to in this first part.
Then in part 2 of this double episode I ask my dad some questions which I’ve received from some listeners on social media.
So this first part is a general report on the current Brexit situation (or Brexit shambles as perhaps it should be called) and then the next part will be a Brexit Q&A.
The last time I talked to Dad on the podcast about Brexit it was November and at that time Theresa May had just managed to get agreement from the EU for a Brexit deal.
Basically, after the referendum in which 51.9% of people voted to leave the EU and 48.9% voted to remain, (and the turnout was 72.2%), and after David Cameron resigned, and Theresa May became PM and everyone wondered what was going to happen and she said “Brexit means Brexit” and nobody really knew what that meant because it didn’t actually mean anything – “What will happen? Are you going to trigger Article 50? What kind of Brexit will there be?” “Well everyone, Brexit means Brexit” “Oh, oh ok”
Imagine if I, as an English teacher, defined words and concepts like that. “Teacher teacher, what does shambles mean?” “Well, it’s very simple. Shambles means shambles. Let me be absolutely clear when I say that shambles means shambles.” Strong and stable English teaching.
Anyway, after Theresa May clearly said “Brexit means Brexit” and the UK government triggered article 50 to begin the formal process of the UK leaving the EU, (even though there was no leaving plan in place) the clock started ticking and Theresa May and her government attempted to start negotiating with the EU to create an exit plan that both sides could agree on.
So even though none of the actual specifics of “leaving the EU” had been defined except that Brexit meant Brexit and that she had to carry out the will of the people, well – the will of the 51.9% of 72% of the people, which is actually about 35% of the people, Theresa May attempted to negotiate some kind of agreement with the EU – an agreement to define the terms not only of our exit from the union but also for our entry back into a new relationship with our largest trading partner and closest neighbour – a deal that was surely destined to be unsatisfactory for almost everyone, because of all the different views on what Brexit should look like.
Despite all the problems, the resignations of members of her cabinet, the sticking points of the Northern Ireland problem, the single market, the customs union, the UK’s outstanding financial commitments to the EU budget and so on, despite these sticking points, Theresa May somehow managed to get a deal together that the EU accepted.
The EU said “OK, we don’t like it. We’d rather you stayed. But we will accept these terms. Now you need to get your Parliament to give it the thumbs up too.”
That’s where we were last time, before all the MPs in the House of Commons in Parliament were due to vote on Theresa May’s deal, the deal that took two years to sort out but which nobody at home seemed to like.
Parliament voted on the deal last week on Tuesday 15th January.
This brings us to those three main questions for my dad.
What happened last week? What was the result of the vote?
What’s happening now?
What’s going to happen next?
And that’s what we’re going to talk about, so get ready for some fairly complex conversation about politics and the future of the UK as we know it in part 1 of this episode of the Rick Thompson Report on Luke’s English Podcast.
Some notes for this conversation
Last time we spoke we talked about how the UK Parliament was going to vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal that she had agreed with the EU. This deal set out terms in which the UK could leave the EU.
So, what happened?
What was the result of the vote? (15 Jan – Tues last week)
The result of the vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal. “Noes” = votes for ‘no’, “Ayes” = votes for ‘aye’ (yes)
Why was the deal rejected?
Why didn’t Labour vote for Theresa May’s deal? They want soft Brexit, right?
What happened next?
Corbyn called a no confidence vote the next day.
Why did Corbyn call the no confidence vote when it was obvious what the result would be?
Now what’s going on?
Amendments to the parliamentary process – MPs taking back control from the government.
How likely are these things, how could they happen, and what could they look like?
No-deal Brexit (aka Crashing out) [If we don’t get a deal together it can happen. But it would be disastrous and so it might be possible to delay article 50.]
Article 50 postponed (but how?)
EU Parliament elections at the end of May. MEPs take their seats in July.
From The New Statesman: It’s been reported that the EU is willing to allow a short extension, but anything beyond July 2019 would be extremely tricky, as that’s when the new MEPs take their seats following the European Parliament elections in May – putting the UK’s role into question. How could it remain a member state without elected representatives? Some solutions have been mooted to this, but they each have their difficulties and EU members would have to unanimously agree. https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/brexit/2019/01/can-government-extend-article-50
Another deal led by May/Conservatives
A general election
No Brexit at all
Megathread from Twitter of negative impact of Brexit that is already happening (so, it’s not “project fear”)
Hopefully you haven’t collapsed from exhaustion out there because of all the confusing politics. You’re ok aren’t you? Enjoying this? Yes, of course – it’s the Rick Thompson Report. It’s sort of a privilege to be able to listen to my dad on the podcast. I should say a big thank you to him for his contribution.
This is where I’m going to stop this part, part 1, but the conversation will continue in part 2, and we’re going to answer some questions from listeners which I received this week on social media.
Part 2 should go up pretty soon. It might even be available now. If it’s not up yet, it just means I’m still working on it and it will be published as soon as it’s ready! So check it out.
Thanks for listening. Thanks to my dad for his contribution.
Want to know answers to some basic questions, like What does Brexit mean? What is the Brexit deal? What is the backstop in Brexit? When will Parliament vote on the Brexit deal? Will Brexit even happen? Then read this article from the BBC’s website.
Talking to my dad about the current Brexit situation, including what could actually happen in the UK if we leave the EU with no deal. Expect language relating to politics, economics and the big issues of the day. Intro and outtro transcripts available.
Hi everyone, how are you doing? Here is a new episode of the Rick Thompson Report. Long-term listeners will be familiar with this type of episode. This is where I talk to my dad about the news, which is almost always about Brexit. We’ve been doing these ever since the referendum happened, tracking the UK government as they attempt to extract the country from the EU. We’ve heard all about the leave campaign and their claims, the impossible job of negotiating a deal with an entity that you’re also leaving – like marrying someone that you’re also divorcing.
The last time I did a RTR was in December last year and we talked about the state of the UK’s negotiation with the EU, with the shaky leader Theresa May attempting to put together a new deal which could somehow keep things as good as possible while also letting us leave. Both my dad and I are quite perplexed by the desperate need to leave the EU, when it looks like just cutting off your nose to spite your face.
Sometimes I hear from people, or read things on social media that suggest that the UK as a whole wants to leave the EU. I might read comments about how Britain wants to leave, or Britain doesn’t want to be in the EU, and I feel a bit annoyed because there are plenty of British people who think Brexit is a bad idea. I’m one and so is my dad, we make no bones about that, but this isn’t for some ideological reason, or because we’ve picked sides. It’s because it doesn’t really make practical sense to close access to our biggest marketplace and a zone which also includes all sorts of environmental, scientific and security communities that we will also be leaving. Also the real prospect of leaving the EU with no deal could be catastrophic in many ways, and even the UK government is issuing advice about stockpiling food and other measures in the event of a no deal Brexit. The deadline is approaching fast and the UK still hasn’t found an agreement with the EU. What will happen next March when we leave officially? How will this affect life in the UK? Listen on to find out.
I do invive your comments of course, so if you feel like you have something to say, leave your comment in the comment section. I’m very curious to know what the rest of the world is thinking.
But now, without any further ado, let’s talk to my dad about the latest Brexit news.
So there you have it. There are my dad’s thoughts on Brexit. I certainly hope you have enjoyed this episode of the Rick Thompson Report, keeping you up to date on Britain’s tricky situation.
As I said earlier, please do leave your thoughts in the comment section. I’m curious to know what the rest of the world is thinking. I wonder how Brexit is reported and generally considered in your country? Is the leading narrative that Brexit is a good or bad thing, and why do you think that is? Do you think Brexit would help or harm your country in some way?
Thanks as ever for listening, leaving comments and generally being great audience members.
Have a great day, morning, afternoon, evening or night and I’ll speak to you again soon.
Talking to my Dad about the current situation with the UK’s Brexit negotiations with the EU. Listen to hear explanations of what is going on with Brexit, how Northern Ireland is involved, what motivates Brexiters and some comments about other bits of international news – all delivered by my Dad with his clear and coherent English. Notes and transcriptions available.
Hello everyone, here’s a new episode of the Rick Thompson Report. It’s been a while since the last one of these. If you’ve never heard a Rick Thompson Report on the podcast before, these episodes are when I talk to my Dad about the news – usually politics and especially Brexit.
It started last year when I spoke to Dad about Brexit in an effort to explain the subject and to see what kind of language would come out of our conversation. People told me they liked hearing my dad’s comments and so we made it a more regular feature on the podcast.
My Dad has a clear voice and he’s able to explain these complicated political stories in a fairly coherent way. Also he is a former journalist who likes to keep up with the news so he’s a good person to talk to.
It’s no secret that my dad believes the UK is better-off in the European Union, even if the EU is by no means a perfect institution. I have to agree. This is not the BBC – we don’t have a duty to try and present a balanced view, although I think it’s really important to deeply consider both sides of the argument. But this isn’t the BBC so we can give our personal opinions, and after plenty of consideration we think leaving the EU is an unnecessarily reckless thing to do and we often wonder about the motivations of the people who campaigned and voted for it in the referendum in June last year.
Since the referendum, Dad and I have followed the story of Brexit on this podcast in episodes of the Rick Thompson report.
If you want explanations of the specific language of this topic, I suggest you go back into the archive and check out episode 352
Former UK prime minister David Cameron called a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU largely in order to satisfy the wishes of the growing Eurosceptic elements within his own party. Some members of the Conservatives are so anti-Europe that it could have split the party in two (with the Eurosceptics breaking away perhaps to join UKIP or to set up another party or something), and this would have effectively destroyed the Conservative party. So I think, when he called the referendum, Cameron didn’t really believe the country would vote to leave, and that by having a referendum with a ‘remain’ result, this would silence the Eurosceptics and it would bring his party together again, mending the divisions.
So, arguably, this whole thing has happened just to settle a dispute within the Conservative party.
It didn’t happen in the way that Cameron expected of course. As we know, the people of the UK actually voted to leave by a narrow margin – 51.9% of the country voted to leave and 48.1% voted to remain. This was a result that nobody really expected and therefore we are now in completely new territory. Instead of silencing the Eurosceptics, many of them are now in charge.
So, why did people vote to leave the EU, especially when so many experts and commentators predicted that leaving would be highly damaging to our economy and therefore to the general standards of living in Britain?
It’s very complicated and there are various reasons. Partly it seems to be about immigration – that many people see the EU as a gateway through which immigrants can come into the UK – and many people think that immigrants are bad because they take jobs away from local British people and bring with them a culture which is incompatible with life in the UK – namely the culture of those people coming through Europe from Arabic nations where Islam is the main religion, and that preventing these people from coming is more important than pretty much anything else like being part of the European marketplace, having access to all the EU protections and programs and being able to travel freely throughout Europe and so on.
Many Brexiters see the EU as an undemocratic institution threatening the sovereignty of the UK. Others think that the UK pays too much money to the EU and that it’s an unfair arrangement, and that we could be better-off making trade deals with the rest of the world, instead of Europe.
None of them ever talked about the various benefits of EU membership, which would be lost if we left.
All those reasons for leaving the EU that I mentioned are thoroughly debatable and questionable and are considered by many people to be simply not true. Is the EU really an undemocratic institution? Is it any more undemocratic than the UK’s own political system? Is EU immigration so bad for the country? The majority of EU citizens coming to Britain come from European nations and bring with them skills that contribute to UK life – for example nurses and doctors who are vital to our national health system. Will closing the doors to the EU really stop muslims from coming to the UK? Aren’t many of the terrorists who launched attacks on the UK born and bred there? And what’s wrong with muslims anyway? The Brexiters (as they’re called) seem to have the position that Islam is intrinsically at odds with British life and that it’s a direct threat to our culture, as if the values of extreme groups like ISIS are true of all muslims and that somehow getting out of the EU is the solution to this issue, even if that means breaking away from European security services which work with the UK to monitor and prevent terrorist attacks.
This is very tricky territory. We all agree that ISIS, DAESH or whatever you want to call them – that these people are dangerous and awful. We also know that the words of the Koran are interpreted in many ways – some more aggressively than others, but is leaving the EU the right response to this situation? It seems like a knee-jerk reaction to the issue and an expression of a desire to just isolate from the world and somehow go back to the way things were in the past when Britain enjoyed a more powerful position on the world’s stage and generally things were a bit more simple, when we didn’t have global warming, the banking crisis, overpopulation, the internet and all the rest of it.
Also, the leave campaign was accused of exploiting the fears and emotions of the people unfairly, making false promises, using the platform for selfish reasons and generally not having any sort of plan for Brexit beyond “Let’s just get out and make Britain great again”.
Anyway, after the referendum result the UK parliament voted to go through with it and so that’s that.
David Cameron resigned of course, straight after the referendum result came out, effectively just walking away from the mess he’d created. He’d campaigned for the UK to remain in the EU, and so the argument was that he wasn’t in a position to oversee the negotiations for our departure. So, who took over? Various people lined up to become the next PM and there was a bit of backstabbing and shifting of positions, and in the end everyone else dropped out except Theresa May, who by the way also wanted to remain in the EU. So Cameron left because he was a remainer, and was replaced by May who was also a remainer… Yes, it doesn’t make sense. That’s the thing – not a lot of what has happened since the referendum has made sense – mainly because there was no Brexit plan beyond “Let’s just take back control and make Britain great again.” How? Ummm…. Stop complaining and get on with it!!!
So after triggering Article 50 to formally begin the process of leaving, the UK’s government led by Theresa May have had to start negotiating with the EU to work out the terms of the deal.
That’s pretty much where we left things in the last Rick Thompson report. Since then a long time has passed and honestly hardly any progress has been made, and all sorts of really difficult problems have come up – problems which many people think might be impossible to resolve, like for example what is going to happen on the land border between Northern Ireland (part of the UK) and the Republic of Ireland (part of the EU). Nobody wants a hard border there, with passport checks and visas required for movement. Also – what about the rights of people from the EU who are living in the UK and perhaps are settled there with children and families? What about the rights of UK citizens living in Europe, in a similar situation, like me? What about all the companies that rely on trade with Europe? What will stop them just moving their operations to somewhere in the EU when they realise that it won’t be profitable to carry on trading from outside the EU? And what about the so-called “divorce bill” that the UK will have to pay to the EU before it leaves – the money that it owes? And what will be the impact on the UK’s economy? What about the different industries that require membership of the single market to be able to do their business – because the majority of our trade deals are done within the EU. How will this affect our economy, to totally uproot our trade deals? Will the UK be able to make a new deal with the EU that will be anywhere near as good as the one we have now?
These are extremely hard questions to resolve, especially for the UK – and the EU is not in a mood to make lots of concessions to the UK – they will not want to make it easy for the UK to leave with a great deal because they need to set an example to other EU nations to say “Look, don’t you think about leaving too! We need to stick together!” So it’s going to be a very tricky negotiation, especially for the UK who aren’t in a great position to get concessions from the EU but as I say these words the UK government and representatives from the EU are negotiating these issues, while the clock is ticking. The clock is ticking because in March 2019 the UK will be leaving the EU whether there is a good deal or not.
So, I spoke to my Dad yesterday evening and we talked about all of this, and you’ll hear that my Dad is very doubtful that Theresa May can get a good deal here, but, Immediately after the recording, during the night Theresa May and EU negotiators made some progress and, the EU have decided they can proceed to talk about the future relationship between the EU and the UK. If you’ve seen the news today you might have seen the story that “significant progress” has been made in the negotiation.
This basically means that the EU have said “OK, we reckon we could do a deal” – this is the first major step in the negotiations. This includes promises that there will be no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. But all the specific details will need to be agreed in the coming months – and they only have a few months to negotiate everything, and the Irish border issue hasn’t really gone away. We still don’t know how goods and people will be treated between north and the Republic of Ireland. To get a sense of how tricky this is – listen on and you’ll hear Dad expand on it a bit.
So things have already changed in this situation since we recorded the conversation yesterday. That’s just the way things go – we’re on shifting sands here.
This is quite a long introduction, and I’m nearly finished but I’m just trying my best to keep this clear for everyone out there in podcastland, including those of you who are far removed from this story and perhaps don’t really know anything about it. I always try to make things clear and simple for you in episodes of this podcast, but sometimes it’s just not possible when I want to talk about a subject in proper depth! And that’s the real world! This, like certain other episodes of my podcast, could be a difficult one to follow, but I hope you stick with it and that even if you don’t understand all aspects of this unprecedented political situation, that this helps clarify things at least a bit, that you can notice certain bits of nice language in our conversation and that you at least enjoy listening to my Dad’s descriptions and views on all of it.
Alright, so here is the Rick Thompson report for December 2017, recorded yesterday evening, that’s the 7th December.
CONVERSATION WITH DAD
So that was the Rick Thompson report for 7 December 2017.
How are you, are you ok? How’s your head after all that talk of politics and stuff?
I’m aware that the political scene is constantly changing, especially right now with regard to Brexit. Shifting sands as I said, so by the time you listen to this things may have changed a bit, including the announcement today that Theresa May has achieved a preliminary agreement in the negotiations.
This from theweek.co.uk:
Trade talks to start after Brexit deal struck The UK has reached a draft agreement with the EU on the first phase of Brexit talks following a long night of negotiations. Theresa May flew to Brussels this morning for a meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who said negotiations could now move on to the terms of the new UK-EU trade deal. May has promised there will be no hard border for Ireland.
May’s 15 pages setting out the last-minute Brexit deal “give her what she needed for now”, says the BBC’s political reporter Laura Kuenssberg, but “this is a political agreement, not a practical one that answers every single question”.
So, basically, all the specific details still need to be worked out, and there are a lot of them.
So let’s see what happens. I wonder how things will turn out.
That’s the end of this episode.
No vocabulary to go through here I’m afraid, although you heard quite a lot of expressions relating to international relations and politics in there. For this episode I can’t do a vocab review because I’m a bit pushed for time today and I want to get this episode published as soon as possible so I can get back to work.
There is no baby news at this moment. The new Thompson still hasn’t arrived, but it could be any day now!
I have already recorded episode 499 and that will be all about the royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, plus a discussion about the Royals with a Royal Family quiz. So everything you wanted to know about the royals, and in that one I’m joined by Amber – so you will get to hear her lovely voice on the podcast again.
And after that it’s episode 500.
I wonder if I will be able to work on that and get it published before Thompson Jnr arrives on the scene. If not, it might take a little while for it to arrive. We will see. In any case I will speak to you again on the podcast soon in episode 499.
I was on the Earful Tower Podcast this week
Also, remember Oliver Gee from Australia? I talked to him on the podcast recently. I was on his podcast yesterday – we recorded an episode all about the Paris Metro, recorded while riding on the Paris Metro. It was quite fun – we talk about our observations of the Metro and some of the funny things I’ve experienced during my many hours spent travelling around the city.
You can listen to it by going to https://theearfultower.com/ I think I might publish that episode in a website post too so that if you’re an email subscriber you’ll get the link in your inbox.
OK, thanks for listening, speak to you again soon. Bye!!!
Last week something surprising happened. The British PM Theresa May announced a “snap general election” – meaning, she called an election earlier than expected and with a short time between the announcement and the date of the election. That’s what a ‘snap’ general election is. In this case the general election is going to happen on 8 June this year.
So this is a general election, which means that all the MPs in the UK’s House of Commons in Westminster, London could change. I don’t think they will all change but we will see a different arrangement for sure, with parties either losing or gaining seats, and the government could change as well. The House of Commons is where all the MPs sit. Each seat in commons represents a different part of the country – the different constituencies. People will go out to the polling stations, vote for an MP for their constituency and the one who wins the most votes in that constituency gets that seat. The party which gets the majority of seats in the House of Commons has the right to form a government. At the moment that’s the Conservatives since they won the majority of seats by a fairly small margin in the last general election we had, which was in 2015, i talked about it on this podcast. How is our parliament and our government going to change with this election? How’s that going to affect the direction the country goes in?
So, politics is in the news (as it always is) so I think it’s time to talk some more about this subject on this podcast, so let’s talk to my dad Rick Thompson again. My dad is a journalist who worked at the BBC for years and he’s also a visiting professor at the University of Central England. Generally he’s a well-informed and articulate person and certainly he’s the one I always ask when I want to know all about something that’s happening in the news. So, let’s talk to Rick Thompson about this snap election, what it all means, and how it relates to this ongoing story of Brexit and politics in the UK.
Before we do that I think it might be necessary to give you a bit of a summary of the story so far, in terms of British politics. This will take about 10 minutes but it’s important context.
I’ve been covering politics in the UK since the 2015 election, doing episodes every now and again about the political situation and events, attempting to talk about them in a balanced way while also giving my personal take on things. You can go back and listen to them – since summer 2015.
In any case, here’s a brief summary of British politics over the last couple of decades to just make it as clear as possible because context is everything. Without context it’s just a bunch of big sounding words and events that might not seem to have any significance. Also, it’s a good chance for you to hear some of the language of politics that you might have heard on this podcast before.
You can read this introduction and summary on the page for this episode. Watch out for certain terms and language relating to politics. There’s some nice vocabulary here and you can pick it up and use it when you discuss this subject too, because I’m sure many of you are discussing these things – politics in Europe but also politics in your countries. A lot of the language is basically the same.
A Summary of British Politics – The Main Parties
So we have two main parties in the UK and some other smaller ones which are still important, especially today.
The Conservatives – centre-right to right wing
They’re often described as the party of the rich. They tend to promote free market capitalism with the belief that allowing business to flourish benefits society as a whole because the money trickles down to everyone else through the creation of jobs etc. They believe in the private sector as the solution to society’s problems and that introducing competition in the marketplace between companies seeking profit will create the best conditions in all services, rather than the government stepping in and controlling things with regulation. So the Tories believe in small government. They’re the party that says they support hard work and dynamic entrepreneurialism – the idea that you can build a business yourself and if you work hard and have good ideas you can get rich and do great things and this benefits society in general. They’re criticised for not caring about ordinary working people, just supporting their friends at the top, being out of touch with ordinary life. They currently are the governing party.
Labour – centre-left to left wing.
Believe in supporting working people and creating conditions in which everyone can have a decent life. They believe that the government needs to support people in all areas by providing welfare, guidance and regulation to keep things balanced for all. The public sector has a responsibility to take part in many areas of life in order to constantly protect the interests of all people. More public spending, and re-distribution of wealth through higher taxation on the rich and higher public spending for services for the poor, equal opportunity programs etc. Criticised as being soft, idealistic, the ‘liberal left’, politically correct, tolerant of radical islam, incapable of managing the economy due to high levels of public spending and taxation which damages business. Being too controlling, too much influence in all areas of life like in people’s business concerns, the nanny state trying to control everything and stifling entrepreneurial instincts. They are the opposition party at the moment, struggling with their leader Jeremy Corbyn who is popular with Labour voters, but unpopular within the MPs themselves.
Liberal Democrats in the middle – they almost never get power and just sit in this kind of lukewarm water where they pick up voters who don’t really agree with the other two big parties. Considered a bit vague and untrustworthy considering they made U turns on many principles in their time in coalition govt with the tories and lost loads of seats in the last election. These days they are one of the the only major parties in England which is anti-Brexit.
Green party to the left of Labour – don’t get a lot of votes because they’re just too left wing even though their policies are about fairness and environmental protection. The left is criticised for being idealistic because they believe in high public spending, and “where’s the money going to come from?” Essentially they are a bit anti-capitalist because they’d make businesses pay for their programmes.
UKIP on the right of the tories – always focused on getting out of the EU and cutting immigration. Many members deny climate change, blame immigrants and the EU for all our problems and like to think they are the party for people who are sick of the political class.
SNP – the party for Scotland. Focused on protecting Scottish interests. Generally left wing policy for Scotland. They want independence.
Smaller parties include Plaid Cymru for Wales and several parties in Northern Ireland.
British Politics Since WW2
Over the years our country has generally swung between The Conservatives and Labour.
Following WW2 a Labour government set up the Welfare State – the state took control of the big institutions and utilities like the National Health Service, the railways, water, electricity, coal, steel etc that were like massive pillars of British economic and social life. This is what the country looked like in the decades after ww2.
In the late 70s and early 80s Thatcher (Conservative) totally changed the country by pushing liberal free market economics and beginning the dismantling of the welfare state. She oversaw the privatisation of state owned institutions, letting the markets and the private sector dominate our economy, making it very hard to go back.
The left wing was badly hurt. Partly due to failures in the pre-Thatcher era with the country being dominated by the labour unions and with a lack of growth in the economy. THatcher did revitalise things but she also damaged a lot of the working communities that relied on industries like coal mining. She pushed the country towards liberal economics like Reagan in the USA and we’ve been following that ever since.
Left wing was a bit stuck for a long time, nearly 20 years of Tories.
Tony Blair in the mid-nineties revitalised the Labour party by re-branding it “New Labour”. He took a centrist position, known as the ‘third way’ or Blairism.
Essentially this was the social position of the left with the economic position of the right.
Free-market capitalism was allowed to flourish, but with redistribution of wealth, high public spending on welfare services, progressive policies.
A lot of it was funded by the financial markets, banking ‘trickery’, credit, lending and so on.
It was like a Thatcherite economic model but with the heart of the left – he claimed to represent ordinary working people and wanted to create a level playing field in society to give everyone an equal chance. He was popular in the beginning and won a landslide victory in 1997. Generally he was quite good, but it all slipped when he took the country to war in Iraq and there were questions about the way he justified that.
Also the reckless manner in which the financial markets were allowed to play with our money led to a banking crisis as all the lending backfired when basically people couldn’t pay back all the debt and banks lost a lot of money.
It came from a culture of risky investment and frankly dodgy debt trading, which is kind of what happens when you let the markets just get away with anything.
Because our society is utterly dependent on credit, our economy took a big hit, just like it did all over the world.
Tony Blair handed over to his partner Gordon Brown who inherited this mess and tried to solve things with a mix of quantitative easing and other policies. Lacking the charisma of Blair and arriving at a time when everyone was a bit sick of Labour. Brown is remembered as a bit of an unpopular guy who also had to deal with the fallout of the Blair years.
Labour took a big hit in the 2010 election and lost.
Voter apathy and general distrust in politicians led to low voter turnout in 2010. The Conservatives got more votes than the other parties but not enough to form a government so they formed a coalition with Liberal Democrats who took the opportunity to play a role in government.
The government pushed an economic policy of austerity. The Liberal Democrats compromised a lot of their principles because the govt was basically led by the tories. They lost a lot of public support.
Scotland had a referendum to leave the UK but the vote ended up being to stay, but the SNP gained a lot of support and Scotland still might vote to leave the UK in order to remain in the EU.
The Tories continued to push austerity as their solution to the economic crisis.
The next election saw a surprising win for the Tories. They managed to win an outright majority. This is mainly because the SNP stole votes from Labour in the north. The Lib Dems lost loads of seats because people had lost faith in them. Labour’s leader Ed Miliband just wasn’t convincing enough. People probably felt that the Conservatives had a plan for the economy which they had to finish. Also the usual voter apathy meant that a lot of people didn’t vote and as a result only a portion of the population got what they wanted.
So the Tories carried on with their policy without the influence of the Lib Dems. No more coalition, just the tories.
Their policy: Cut public spending and yet relieve pressure on businesses to stimulate the economy. It also looked like they were making working people pay for the economic crisis caused by rich bankers who were also their friends.
Labour, in opposition, looked for a new leader. Surprisingly an old member of the party, Jeremy Corbyn, was chosen. He’s quite radically left wing. He’s popular with the grassroots voters, but not popular with the more centrist members of the party, including many Labour MPs and the party is quite split.
Meanwhile the economic crisis, unemployment and increasing immigration caused more competition in the job market and the cut in public services caused a lot of frustration among middle class and lower class people. UKIP gained more support by campaigning to reduce immigration and make Britain great again by getting out of Europe. They posed quite a big threat to the Conservatives both among voters and within the party. David Cameron the PM and Tory leader faced quite a lot of pressure from this growing Eurosceptic faction.
He came up with a plan to satisfy those Eurosceptic members of his party and prevent UKIP from stealing too much support from them. He had to be seen to be addressing the EU situation, taking a tough position.
He called a referendum on Europe while also planning to try and renegotiate Britain’s terms of membership. I think he believed he could use the referendum as a bargaining tool in Europe to get a better deal with more control of immigration and more control of business rules.
He thought the EU would say “ok you can have what you want, just don’t leave us!”
Dave imagined the referendum would be a choice between a better deal with EU or out.
He didn’t get the better deal he wanted, and you know how the anti-EU supporters campaigned hard for a leave vote by making lots of untrue claims, promises they couldn’t keep, presenting Brexit as the solution to all of the UK’s problems.
Surprise surprise, the country voted to leave the UK. 51.9% voted leave, 48.1% to remain.
Cameron, who had campaigned to remain promptly resigned, suggesting that he wasn’t the right man to lead the country into Brexit. There was a slightly messy leadership campaign, with Boris Johnson ultimately stepping down because he made a fool of himself with his leave campaign – too many promises he couldn’t keep and false claims. Theresa May was chosen by the Tories as the next leader. She was officially anti-Brexit during the referendum campaign, but she was chosen as the PM to lead the country through the Brexit negotiations. Crazy times.
A lot of people were angry with Jeremy Corbyn the Labour leader because he did not argue against Brexit strongly enough. As the leader of the left, he didn’t seem to care about Brexit that much and this probably damaged the remain campaign. It seems he doesn’t like Europe much. He lost a lot of support from shocked remain voters.
There was a high court claim by various people which argued that the government didn’t have the right to trigger article 50 (start Brexit process) without Parliament voting on it first. The claim was a success. Parliament voted to trigger article 50. In March Theresa May triggered Article 50. She also promised many times that she wouldn’t call a general election, and that “now wasn’t the time”.
Then, wow, she called a snap election and here we are. It was a surprise because we she didn’t need to do it until 2020.
Another general election on 8 June 2017.
Why has this happened? What’s the significance of this? What does it mean?
Let’s talk to my dad and see what he has to say.
Theresa May has called a ‘snap’ General Election, to take place on 8 June 2017.
What does this mean?
That voters in the UK will be choosing new MPs in the house of commons.
We’ll get a new government, new arrangement in Parliament
Why did Theresa May call this election? She didn’t have to do it until 2020.
She says it’s because the country needs a united government. May needs a ‘mandate’ from the people to be able to oversee Brexit.
But really, this is just an opportunity for the Tories to grab more power because the opposition is a disaster.
How is this possible? How often do we have elections in the UK?
We have elections every 5 years more or less, but the government has the right to call elections whenever it wants. In the case of a ‘snap’ election like this, Parliament votes on it and it needs a ⅔ majority to go through. That’s going to happen because Corbyn has said Labour will back the snap election.
Why is Corbyn backing this election when it’s pretty certain that Labour will lose seats?
He’s in a Catch 22 situation. If he says no to the election it’s like admitting defeat.
What is going to happen?
Tories will gain a bigger majority, Labour will lose seats, Liberal Democrats will gain (because they’re the only ones fighting against Brexit so remainers will switch to them). But, anything can happen in politics, so let’s wait and see.
How is this related to Brexit?
What about the 48.1% that voted to remain?
Who do they have to vote for? Corbyn basically agrees with Brexit so the only party left is Lib Dem and they’re just not strong enough to win this. The Tories are bound to make big gains.
Last week I asked my Dad for his opinions about recent news and we talked about Brexit, post-truth politics, the US election, the right-wing press in the UK, the political landscape in the EU, the rules of international cricket and the music from Tetris. You can listen to the conversation in this episode. Introduction and and ending transcriptions available below.
Introduction Transcript (script begins 1 minute into the episode)
My Dad is back on the podcast in this episode and in a few moments you’re going to hear our conversation which I recorded last week on Thursday 17 November 2016.
In the conversation we touch on these subjects: the weather (naturally), a bit about the rules of international cricket, then a Brexit update including details of the recent UK high court decision regarding the government’s power to trigger Article 50. Article 50 is a piece of legislation (part of the Lisbon Treaty) that when triggered begins the legal process of the UK’s exit from the EU. We’re not actually out of the EU yet, despite the result of the referendum. We have to wait for the government to ‘trigger article 50’ and then it all starts.
“Trigger article 50” – it sounds like something from Star Wars episode 3 “Revenge of the Sith”. In fact it feels like the political narrative these days is getting more and more similar to the plot to a Star Wars prequel, with lots of complex negotiations with shadowy trade federations, insidious political manoeuvring and the general sense of an impending journey towards the dark side, which is a pity isn’t it? “Trigger Article 50!” In Star Wars episode 3 it’s “Execute Order 66” which is an order by the evil emperor Palpatine to have all the Jedi assassinated by their own soldiers. “Execute order 66” “Trigger Article 50!”
But no, this isn’t Star Wars – we’ll have to wait until December for that.
You’ll also hear my Dad’s views on the presidential election result in the USA, some stuff about the UK’s right-wing press (newspapers), the OED’s word of the year – ‘post-truth’, ‘post-truth’ politics and general political trends across Europe and other regions at this time.
At one point the podcast gets interrupted when someone rings my Dad’s doorbell and it turns out to be a lost postman (which is actually quite a welcome break from all the depressing post-truth politics), then we somehow end up talking about the idea of a giant flea jumping over St Paul’s cathedral, a bit more about the joys of international cricket, the music from the classic Russian videogame Tetris and how a cup of tea is sometimes the best solution to almost any problem.
Language-wise this episode gets quite technical in places, especially when we talk about the UK’s constitutional, legal and political frameworks. So, watch out for lots of big words and big phrases relating to constitutional law, the inner-workings of government and even more complicated than both of those things: the rules of international test-match cricket.
Depending on both your level of English and your familiarity with these topics, this might be a difficult conversation to follow, but we all know that these challenges can be good for your English.
You might try transcribing some minutes of the episode (go to the transcript collaboration page to get started) or try some shadowing or any other techniques for active listening. Alternatively, just sit back, relax, have a cup of tea and enjoy the company of my Dad for a little while, as we try to work out what’s going on in the world.
I’ll talk to you again briefly on the other side of the conversation, but now you can listen to the Rick Thompson report.
So, there you go, that was my Dad and me going on about what’s going on. What do you think is going on? Get stuck into the comment section at teacherluke.co.uk if you’ve got something to share.
You can hear the Tetris music in the background. This one is Theme A – which I believe is a version of a Russian folk song called Korobeiniki. I’m sure many of you out there know more about it than I do, so I will let you explain the meaning of the song, and indeed the correct way to pronounce it.
For me, it reminds me of journeys in the back of my dad’s car, trying to get to level 9 on Tetris.
I actually prefer the B theme. It still gets stuck in my head to this day as I find myself humming it even when I haven’t heard it recently.
If you know about this tune as well, you can write a comment on the website.
Comments: Let me know what you think of these things
What do you think is going on generally in the world today?
On a positive note, what are you looking forward to? What are you optimistic about? Is there anything coming up that you’re impatient for? (On that note, I am looking forward to seeing the new Star Wars film, which is a prequel to the original trilogy, as many of you will know. This one isn’t a sequel to episode 7, it actually takes place between episodes 3 and 4. Yes, they still can’t count in the Star Wars universe. So far they’ve gone in this order 4, 5, 6, 1, 2, 3, 7, 3.5 and after that it will be 8. I’m looking forward to it just because I love the SW universe, and the trailer looks pretty good – although I’m a bit concerned by the script which seems a bit dodgy in places (“This is a rebellion, isn’t it? – I rebel.” It’s not Star Wars without a bit of clunky dialogue) I expect I’ll be talking more about this soon. Anyway, what are you looking forward to exactly?
Are you a fan of cricket? Have you ever heard of cricket? Do they play cricket where you live? Do you understand the rules at all?
Going back to Tetris – Did you use to play Tetris? Do you still play Tetris? What do you know about the history of this classic game? Do you have any stories to share about Tetris, including how it was developed and the people who created it? Or stories about how you played it, and how you used to get that tune stuck in your head, and how you’d play it until you got ‘Tetrisitis’?
So, feel free to get involved in the comment section.
Listen to Australian comedian Jim Jeffries trying to explain cricket to some Americans *contains rude language*
Join the mailing list
It’s the best way to get access to the page for the episode where you’ll find notes, transcripts, videos, links, other useful bits and pieces, as well as easy- access to the episode archive, the comment section and lots of other things.
Another note about the transcript collaboration team
This is now called The Orion Transcript Collaboration Team, which is cool. I didn’t name it – the name was chosen by Antonio because “Orion” is a constellation of stars in the night sky, and the members of the team are also a group of stars – so the name seems appropriate now. I like it anyway.
The team have been doing a great job. Go to the website -> (hover the mouse over TRANSCRIPTS -> TRANSCRIPT COLLABORATION and click the red, yellow or green buttons to access the google docs.
Episodes are divided up into 3 minute chunks. You transcribe your 3 minutes. Other people check your 3 minutes and make corrections. Eventually the whole episode is transcribed – it might not be completely perfect, but it’s done. Next, I have to proofread them all! So actually, this project rapidly creates more and more work for me. I am going through them *extremely* slowly, and publishing the full scripts on the website. It might be necessary to employ some proofreaders to check the finished scripts. Perhaps I should launch a kickstarter campaign for that or something, because it’ll cost money to get a pro to do the final proofreading.
I got a message from Antonio about this recently and he said this at the end:
I laugh a lot when someone corrects my chunk and I see certain mistakes I do. But I have improved a lot my understanding and can watch the BBC TV, not only the news, understanding much, much more than before I started transcribing you episodes. Maybe in this area, I am experiencing the famous breakthrough all teachers speak about. See you, Luke and thanks again for your commitment. Antonio
BENEFITS OF TRANSCRIPT COLLABORATION Catherine Bear Since I’ve been proof-reading a little bit of the transcripts, I have the feeling that my short term memory has improved considerably. So, guys, I would encourage each of you to do little bit of transcribing. Also shadowing is a nice way to improve not only the short term memory but also the sentence stress, intonation and pronunciation. I used to speak with a kind of American accent, but since I started actively listening to Luke’s English Podcast back in August and doing lots of shadowing (like 5 minutes in one go, a couple of times a day) — my English accent suddenly started to switch towards the British RP English. :) Guys, let’s share some personal success stories related to Luke’s English Podcast.
Yes, please do share some personal success stories of learning English!
Take care and I’ll speak to you soon.
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