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  • Lawrence Bailey

Why Brexit is tougher than you think

A regularly expressed sentiment down the local whenever the subject of Brexit comes up is “they should get on with it”.

The finer details relating to "they” and “it” are usually a little vague, but what do you expect?

It’s no different at the sharp end., from what I can gather. For all the ministerial talk of real progress, the hard truth is that disentanglement has proved to be much more complex and costly than the noisy guy in the Question Time studio audience might be willing to accept.

He rightly points out with that authority synonymous with anti-EU sentiment there was no supplementary question on the referendum ballot as to whether Brexit should be hard, soft or extra crispy.

But you don't need to have it written on the side of a bus to figure out that leaving was never going to be that straightforward. Nor does it help that the people charged with handling the Brexit process are just as divided as the nation.

Factional infighting among Conservatives over Europe is hardly a new phenomenon. What’s different this time is the open hostility shown by some backbench MPs towards Theresa May and chancellor Phil Hammond lest they deviate from the sacred path.

Of course, just what the “will of the people” might entail is proving a bit fuzzy, given that successive polls suggest a second referendum (advisory of otherwise) would produce a different result.

Not that we can expect a second run at the matter anyway. The tories and Labour are both agin – regardless of demands by Nigel Farage for a popular affirmation vote.

The possibility that the wrong decision was made for the wrong reasons doesn't seem to be enough for it to be revisited. So much for politics being the art of the possible, as someone once claimed.

I understand the current hang-up with ‘political elites’. Yet politicians are no different from the other specialists we employ to do the jobs we’re either unable or unwilling to do ourselves. No-one has ever called a plumber or an electrician “elitist”.

We can demand that politicians reflect the view of the electorate following a referendum – but I’d argue that this requires voters to acknowledge that the implications are a step up from deciding who gets evicted from Celebrity Big Brother.

Anyway, and on that note, it seems that “getting on with it” currently looks more like a matter of deciding the future of the Conservative party leadership than the future of the nation.


Big names begin backtrack on snooping

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned concerns at how firms collect your internet browsing history to conjure so-called ‘reminder ads’ which pop up after you’ve looked at certain products.

Among the outfits employing this technique is internet giant Google and who have suddenly announced plans to introduce a “mute” feature.

The company insist that the ads are "useful" but have opted to give users "more control" over what they see online. The change will be rolled out in an update available in the settings part of your Google account, if you have one.

The move, of course, is in no way related to recent disclosures by Princeton’s Centre for IT Policy that top firms have been secretly collecting user details by hacking so-called ‘password managers’.

The bad news is that you will still see reminder ads popping up on Facebook and Amazon who have so far yet to sign up to any measures


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