Nobody Cares About Corruption In Sport

On November 13th three former South American football officials went on trial in a New York courtroom in a case highlighting corruption within the sport’s governing body FIFA. More than 40 other people have pleaded guilty to participating in a 24-year scheme involving $150 million.

World sport’s governing bodies and allegations of corruption are never too far apart. Earlier this autumn Carlos Nuzman, once head of the Brazilian Olympic Committee, was arrested and accused of involvement in bribing a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to help ensure the games came to Rio. On top of that, Frankie Fredericks, once a member of the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) and the IOC, was charged with taking bribes in a related case.

Yet most people are unfazed. It’s just more corruption in sport, whether this time it’s FIFA or the IOC or the IAAF, or another sporting body. It’s got to the point that this November on the day the corruption trial against FIFA began, the story hardly made the headlines. That’s because editors seem to think it’s not news; that people aren’t interested.

So why don’t we care? Perhaps with the rise of populism, the general public’s cynicism has increased. We’re in a time when everyone is, apparently, trying to exploit us, whether it’s the EU or the ‘swamp’ of US politicians in Washington. Continued corruption in the business side of sport is hardly worth paying attention to. The view is almost that it’s happened before, it’s happening now, and it will continue to happen.

Perhaps it’s because many of us love the sport so much that initial interest melts away and we close our minds to the bribes and racketeering. In the end fans only care about how their team is doing. We don’t want our dreams tainted.

There’s hope proper sentences will be given to corrupt officials. It hasn’t happened in the past. Disgraced former FIFA president Sepp Blatter was only barred from FIFA related activities for six years after appeal, and then invited to the 2018 World Cup by Vladimir Putin. Yet this autumn the US is putting on trial over a dozen football officials. Swiss prosecutors are conducting around 25 separate investigations of suspected corruption linked to FIFA and World Cup bids. Perhaps harsher sentences will ensue.

Yet most of the heat is off FIFA now. Hardly any journalists cover the organization regularly and FIFA remains largely unreformed. Despite the court cases, the two next World Cups will be played in Russia and Qatar, those famous footballing nations. We simply accept that’s how it’s going to be.

We shouldn’t turn a blind eye to the corruption in world sport’s governing bodies. It taints the sport just as doping has tainted the world of athletics. The problem remaining is people won’t rise up against corruption in organisations that have never changed their ways after similar corruption scandals. The only hope is the corruption trials going on in the US will set a precedent for punishing corrupt sporting officials.

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A Morning in the Life of Corbyn

The Corbynator wakes up panic-stricken today. He had a nightmare Britain might stay in the single market and the EU curb state aid, or nationalisation. Corbo perceives that the problem is their stance on competition rules, set out in Article 107 (another EU law). The EU thinks state aid is legal until it alters competition within an industry or the free market. Yet he relaxes, poring over reminders of the two best moments of his election campaign: a photo of him and his mates at Glasto, and Fields of Wheat (oil on canvas).

Today Jezza’s in a winning mood. He may’ve lost the last election but everyday he dominates the news-cycle, winning those headlines. His eyes fall on his to-do list. ‘Don’t mention Brexit’. ‘Point finger at Tory failures’. ‘Make sure we leave EU, clean break’. ‘Blame Tories for unemployment post-Brexit’. ‘Win next election’. He chuckles at the list’s simplicity. He’ll be chatting to unshakable Remainers today. They don’t have a clue about this list, his scheme. Then again, neither do the Brexiteers. To tell the truth, he hasn’t mentioned it to most of Labour, but they don’t need to know, not when it’s all so obvious.

When the Tories screw up Brexit he’ll rise to victory, basking in glory after leaving the single market and doing away with EU regulations. He’ll re-nationalise key industries, and he won’t have to contend with those pesky EU competition rules and their stance against state aid. He glances at the photo of Maggie on his dartboard. Soon he’ll have some real revenge.

His reluctance to mention his plan to Labour rests in Chuka Umunna. He’s already claiming EU opposition to state aid is one of Jeremy’s “absurd myths”. But it’s not just the rules; it’s EU sentiment against nationalisation. Thatcher helped us into Europe. She was wrong, so the EU capitalist-club must be wrong too. For the Bennite Corbyn this is a no-brainer.

Jeremy stifles a yawn, realising he better pretend he played a part in the Remain campaign, and didn’t sabotage it with watered-down statements handed in too late for the 10pm news that everyone watches after dinner. Blimey Remainers were slow. But the Corbster always knew that. Same as the students. As if there’d ever be free tuition fees!

There’s no point offending anyone, but he needn’t play to a side. He pauses to recompose himself. When the Tories fall apart after a disastrous Brexit deal, and after he lets the nation fester for a while in the sludge of economic depravity created by the Conservatives, there will only be one man to vote for.

Jeremy steps outside, smiling for the cameras. Yes, he was feeling it now. His inevitable triumph in the next election was swelling within him. He might throw another bone to the students. His smile grows wider. Maybe he’ll promise something to the NHS. But it didn’t matter! The people will vote for him anyway. Jeremy Corbyn will be the only viable alternative to the Brexit-botching Tories.

Thanks to Concrete/Venue, who published this in print and online: click here

The “Brexit Bullies” Paradox

Commons Speaker, John Bercow risked becoming Britain’s latest ‘saboteur’, last week. At least, that’s what the Brexit cheerleaders would have you believe. The Chancellor Philip Hammond was labelled as such for daring to highlight the challenges of Brexit, and Bercow caused outcry when he suggested that MPs could vote against any Brexit deal. He said it’s “opinion, rather than a constitutional fact” that MPs must vote in favour of a deal owing to the referendum result. And you know what? He’s right.

The main slogan of the Leave campaign was “Take Back Control”. Apparently we needed our borders back, our NHS back, and most importantly, our parliamentary sovereignty back. For too long Brussels had ruled over us. MPs had become minions of the EU. It was time to put the power back into Parliament, to leap into a new Golden Age under a reinvigorated parliamentary democracy. ‘Vote Leave’, ‘we want our sovereignty!’ they cried. But that’s not what they want. Not really.

The problem with referendums is that simple questions are asked about horribly complex issues. We voted to leave the EU, but we didn’t vote on how we should leave. Few people knew about Article 50 or Brexit bills as they cast their vote. Parliament’s job is to debate that for us. MPs exist to represent their constituents, and any deal should be scrutinised to ensure it would benefit British people. It should go through the usual process of law, with parliamentary committees picking it apart until it reaches MPs as a chiselled masterpiece.

Wait, MPs debating a bill? No! Let a handful of Tories negotiate the deal and make MPs blindly vote it through! This is the paradox of the Brexiteers. The people who voted for control don’t want parliamentary control. In fact, any time someone speaks up in favour of parliamentary sovereignty, such as Bercow, those Brexit cheerleaders rise up in a worryingly unstable pyramid, deeming them traitors, enemies of the people, and dictators. Woe-betide anyone who tries to debate the Brexit bill in Parliament. ‘Oh no, we can’t have that,’ muse the Brexit bullies.

Uncertainty is crushing Britain. The exchange rates are laughable, the government is a mess, and Boris is still peddling the £350million-a-week claim. When John Bercow said that if MPs feel the Brexit deal isn’t good enough they have the right to vote against it, he wasn’t going against the will of the people. He was defending Britain’s parliamentary sovereignty. He was defending our democracy. Brexiteers say that’s what they want too – but not, it seems, when it gets in the way of what they really desire.

Thanks to Concrete/Venue, who published this in print and online: click here

Update

A quick update – I’m back from South America. I’m glad to say I wrote many poems out there so now I’m just editing away.

You can find my poems here.

As always, keep up to date by following me on Twitter, @ChrisMatthews98, Instagram, @chrismatthews1998, and of course on WordPress!

Best,

Chris

Why The Young Will Vote Tactically

A General Election. Great, and I’m on a gap year, a 19 year old first time voter stuck out in the middle of South America. The last part’s not so terrible, I know.

There’s no denying that Theresa May has called the election at almost a politically perfect time. Even though she utterly ruled it out. Last year she definitively stated, “I’m not going to be calling a snap election. I’ve been very clear that I think we need that period of time, that stability, to be able to deal with the issues that the country is facing, and have that election in 2020.” Still, Labour is split by Corbyn, the Lib Dems are still fighting back from their university U-turn of the 2010 coalition with weak leadership, and UKIP have realised that as their own dream is realised, they dwindle back into irrelevance again. Of course, the election is still a gamble. The main issue is Brexit, and it means that voting priorities might change dramatically.

Britain is divided. It is split. Half the country is disillusioned with the other half’s opinions. 52 to 48; a majority of just over a million. Brexit was always going to tear the country apart. Yet unlike predictions of a new political age, the burning of the traditional party structure, and of course the continued rise of populism, with the newfound uncertainty, most people returned to their roots and traditions. With no obvious path to choose, families of labour supporters steady themselves by standing by Labour, and the same for the Conservatives, regardless of whether they voted remain or leave. It seems that in an attempt to reboot their sense of political direction, people are aligning themselves to their traditional parties and conventions: so again it’s a two horse race. The Conservative Party, or The Labour Party.

Yet there is still a large number of people who are unsure of who to vote for. I present you with THE YOUNG. Yep, that’s me too. The first involvement in democracy I had was voting in the EU referendum. I’ve never voted in an actual election. A vast number of people my age haven’t either. In fact no one aged 18-21 has ever voted in a general election. They are mostly without allegiance to a particular party, and so not only is the way we vote interesting, but our vote is hugely important as well. Any undecided voters are key to the swing of an election. The real question is how disillusioned are the young? How much did Brexit affect their view of the current government?

It’s true, usually the young don’t vote in their swathes. Remember though, in the EU referendum, over 70% of young people like me voted to remain in the EU. And remember all the 17 year olds who couldn’t vote even though they have an average of 65 years to live with the decision. The majority of the old voted leave, and they have an average of 15 years to live with it. Fair? Ask the young people what they think. Those 17 year olds can vote this year. Already a record number of young people have registered to vote. I’m printing out my vote by proxy form at the moment in a Paraguayan Internet café. The Paraguayans around me are no strangers to political unrest, even political violence. But this voting form is innocent. I know other travellers across the world applying to vote by proxy or for a postal vote. Would they’ve been so bothered if this was a normal election? Perhaps not, however this is effectively a secondary Brexit vote, so yes, they’re applying to vote. Imagine that they’re unforgiving of the people who called an EU referendum. Perhaps unforgiving of a government that tried to put down democracy. Remember, most of the young don’t have party allegiances. Most parties have only betrayed them.

This is the election when tactical voting will matter most. It’s happened, and it’s worked, in Northern Ireland. In 2015 a DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) and UUP (Ulster Unionist Party) pact not to stand against each other in four constituencies resulted in a unionist candidate winning in three out of four seats, and Newry & Armagh’s Sinn Fein majority was halved. Already the Lib Dems are considering not contesting Caroline Lucas’ seat in Brighton & Hove, and they might consider it in constituencies that are only Conservative by a small majority, with Labour the main opposition. My own constituency is Newbury. It’s Conservative. Has been for over a decade. Yet from 1993-2005 the seat was held by Liberal Democrat David Rendel. The main opposition in this constituency remains the Lib Dems. If Labour and Green didn’t field candidates, the likelihood is that those votes would go towards the Lib Dems in a bid to oust a Conservative seat. Traditional allegiance is the only hinderance.

Uncontested seats encourage tactical voting, but it’ll be young British who lead the way in the manner they vote. In constituencies up and down Britain, it’s likely that many young people will vote for the main opposition against the current Conservative government. This is the Tory Party who led us into Brexit, and then tried to make it a Brexit of only their creation, appealing the Supreme Court’s ruling in a bid to block out parliament and thus the actual will of the people. What will decide whether the Tories remain in power or not is whether other voters are prepared to abandon old allegiances and vote for a party as opposed to a person.

My local MP is fantastic. He is a benefit to the community. Yet he is Conservative. Without his seat, the Tories are one seat weaker. It is the same all around Britain. Will people be able to vote against a great candidate to push the Conservatives out of power? I assume young people will do so owing to their lack of past allegiance.

Many predict a change in the way people will vote. Even before the EU Referendum populists were calling for an upheaval of the current system. Thankfully many of those populists have voted themselves out of a job. Yet if the current figures are correct concerning the number of young applying to vote, and if sentiment on how we will vote is correct too, then there will be an upheaval of sorts. Not of the political system, but of the Conservative government. The party that allowed Brexit, and the party of Theresa May’s 2020 election promise. Their party is already on its way to becoming an anachronism. When all people join the young in voting tactically, voting for the main opposition to The Conservatives in each constituency, then this government will see the result of their continual betrayals.

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A Little Update

Sadly, for the next five months or so, I won’t be able to post much on this site. Since I finished my A-Levels I’ve been working in a local coffee shop so I could fund some travelling. Tomorrow I leave for South America, and although this means my site will mostly lie dormant during the time I’m there, I will of course be taking a pen and notebook with me, and I hope to build up a bank of material that I can post when I return!

I hope this make sense, and as a kind of parting gift I’ve published three more poems on my site today. To read them, click here.

Please follow me on Twitter, @ChrisMatthews98 / @IntheirPrime, On Facebook, and on Instagram, @chrismatthews1998. I will post to these outlets more regularly over he coming months!

Thanks and best wishes,

Chris

A British Saga: Political Betrayal and the Ironies of Farage & Co.

The Tories seem to disapprove of parliamentary sovereignty. Theresa May and her government are appealing against a court ruling that ruled in favour of parliament having a say in forming political laws and negotiations concerned with Brexit. Before the referendum Brexiteers claimed leaving the EU would help us regain our parliamentary sovereignty. Nigel Farage stated, “I believe in Britain…a proud, patriotic country that…makes its own laws in our own sovereign parliament”. Aaron Banks, the co-founder of Leave.eu, an anti-immigrant campaign group, proclaimed, “If parliament is sovereign we can either do a brilliant job or an awful depending on who we elect. It’s called democracy.” These advocates of Brexit claim we left the EU to escape political tyranny and give power back to Britain. However, when a British judge ruled in favour of parliamentary sovereignty – that parliament should have a say on the terms of a British exit from the EU – Farage, Banks, and Davies acted outraged. It’s odd… I thought they admired parliamentary sovereignty.

Ironically they’re speaking out against the very British parliamentary sovereignty that they were keen to fight for in the run up to the referendum. Some argue these leading Brexiteers only declared their support for parliamentary sovereignty to win over voters to the radical right of Brexit. These are the facts: there were two options on the ballot paper. There was ‘Remain’ or ‘Leave’. There was not ‘Leave because we want to curb immigration’ as the current government claims, nor ‘Remain because we adore Brussels’. The choice was to remain in the EU or to leave it. As the vote to support Article 50 on 7th December showed, almost all MPs agree that we should leave the EU. Even though the government’s top lawyer, James Eadie QC, called the vote “highly significant”, all it made clear was that parliament accepts the result of the referendum, not that they accept the rejection of parliament’s involvement in Brexit negotiations. Shouldn’t parliament (representatives of the people elected by the people) decide on the terms of Brexit rather than an elite posse of Tories? Some might perceive the government’s Court Appeal against the original decision as an attack on British parliamentary democracy. By implication this would be an attack on the ordinary person’s vote as well.

In addition there’s been another affair suggesting a Tory dislike for parliamentary sovereignty. At least one Senior Conservative called for UK-US trade negotiations to be aided by a man never elected by the British people as a member of parliament to represent their views: Nigel Farage. Sir Gerald Howarth, the former Minister for International Security Strategy, told the BBC “if Nigel Farage is well-connected with Donald Trump, and it would appear that he is, then we should certainly be talking to him.” Farage might be popular with his own party and take support from the same kind of people as Trump, but that gives him no right to represent the views of the British people. Of course Farage has no problem with it. He shares a similar vision to Trump, but whereas Trump will be one of the most powerful people in the free world, Farage has no political power and, like UKIP, may be doomed to irrelevancy once we leave the EU. The fact that some senior Tory members have suggested his co-operation as a possibility suggests a move against the will of the British people. (How many times has that phrase been trotted out in recent weeks?) Yet we did not vote Farage into parliament, so why should he represent us? Donald Trump might think he should be made ambassador but by the way, Donald Trump doesn’t speak for the British public nor does he have any power to fire or nominate British ambassadors to the US.

Perhaps the reason there isn’t mass protest against the current government is that British people don’t believe the Tories mean what they say. After all, they might take inspiration from Donald Trump who has not only backtracked on eradicating Obamacare, but in terms of Hilary Clinton he now reckons he won’t try to “lock her up”. It seems Mr Trump sees himself as a bit of a joker. Just as some might argue that Trump’s election campaign was rife with meaningless rhetoric designed to garner support from radical right-wingers, some might think that the government’s appeal of the original Brexit court ruling is simply meaningless Tory rhetoric aimed at garnering support from right wing radicals, or UKIP.

Maybe no one can come to terms with the fact that the ruling government has made two attacks on British democracy in the space of a few weeks. Or perhaps, having freed ourselves from the tyranny of Europe, we don’t want to label ourselves as an oppressed people.

Thankfully, as Lord Neuberger pointed out in the Supreme Court, they are not trying to “overturn the result of the EU referendum”. Instead they are ruling on who can take part in “the process by which that result can lawfully be brought into effect”. The government’s Appeal of the original decision shows intent to rule without involving parliament and the views of the British public in the process. The Supreme Court will not overturn the original decision that favoured parliamentary democracy. Yet, if it does, we will have no need for parliamentary elections as we will have no need for MPs. Rather, we will elect a ruler who will do what he or she sees fit with no regard to the views of ordinary British people. This would be the point at which there were mass protests in favour of parliamentary democracy.

 

Blind Utopianism – How We’re All Addicted to Progress

Both the election of Donald Trump and Brexit are symptoms of an illusion. The illusion is utopia. Many people believe that our lives should be described by an upward curve, and that everything must always be improving. As a millennial, being born at the turn of the century, I’ve been taught to deify this idea. We’re addicted to the promise of utopia. To reach it we must progress in every way possible. Each year we must be richer, happier, and stronger as a nation. This belief, or this craving of bettering ourselves, has resulted in growing support for the radical right wing, for populists such as Nigel Farage and Donald Trump. Opportunists tap into our cravings all the time. I think I might buy a new shirt and suddenly every website I go to advertises ‘fashionable shirts for men’. People’s attraction to the radical right is the same. People such as Trump and Farage are simply tapping into the desire for utopia.

The reasons behind a vote for Brexit and those behind for a vote for Donald Trump are largely similar. Both were votes against the establishment, against tradition, and against big money (apparently most are able to forget Farage’s millions and Trump’s billions.) Many voters for Brexit and for Trump share an end of the century negativity. “It was better in my day,” they claim. Suddenly life isn’t getting better and better and so there are scapegoats. There is the current administration or government. There is globalisation. There is social progression. There is the acceptance of all people being equal, and there is anyone who looks, acts, or sounds different to us. There’s nothing wrong with optimism, but as realistically life isn’t going to steadily improve, we shouldn’t be dependent on improvement.

There is a huge difference between hoping for improvement and devoting yourself to the continuation of progress. Most people hope that their lives will advance. We hope that the economy, and in turn our bank balance, will flourish each year. But we can’t kid ourselves into thinking that we will reach a point of ultimate bliss and utopia. As a millennial I was always told that in this day and age I could be anything owing to technological advances and the possibility of job fluidity. As a millennial I would not be stuck in the same job for life. No, instead I could set myself free and progress as the world improved around me.

The problem is that we’ll keep changing our allegiances in a bid to find the perfect leader who will lead us into the Promised Land. The irony is that meanwhile no one else will be able to push forward with any kind of reform. If we continue to buy into this craving for utopia, there will be no change whatsoever. Yet this idea of utopia is addictive. We’re obsessed with progress, and yet there’s no sensible reason why every year should bring new heights of prosperity and satisfaction. Still, when people feel we aren’t progressing, they turn to the populists: to Farage and Trump. Each year we will ask, “Have we progressed, are we closer to reaching utopia?” In many years we will answer, “No, we are not.” Already people are gripped with the idea that it’s the fault of politicians, of the government, and of an elite administration. We banish expertise and facts, placing our trust in opportunistic populists. These are people who fuel our addiction with bold, yet hollow phrases. “Take Back Control,” they muse, and “Make America Great Again” someone cries out amid the fog of senseless hope. We need to accept that life is not an upward trend. For most, life is just a straight line, and that is perfectly fine.

Until we control this addiction, the growing admiration for radical populists will continue. This irrational dependence is tearing apart our current society. People will continue to be enraged by administrations and governing bodies. Millenials such as myself will still believe in the possibility of the utopia we were forced to cherish as children. We should hope that everything is improving, but we cannot devote ourselves to this idea. Doing so is harmful to democratic society.

I HAVE A CONFESSION

Okay. I’ll admit it. I watched ITV’s Victoria instead of Poldark. The costumes, the youthful, liberal, this-girl-does-what-she-wants attitude – I loved it, and they’ve promised another season in 2017. The directors trembled excitedly at each liberal step against the old elite by the new monarchy, culminating in the frenzy of the penultimate episode when Prince Albert publicly showed his support for the abolition of slavery across the British Empire. I wonder if they’ll make such a fuss over an event that’s extremely relevant at the moment: the repeal of the Corn Laws, 1846. Wait, what?

The Corn Laws, tariffs on corn imports that meant that while Tory landowners benefited from high prices, everyday people had to pay those prices. The repeal signalled an end to British isolationism. Yet Tory landowners (suddenly turned prophets) foresaw an age of economic doom. Britain actually experienced The Great Victorian Boom: 30 years of economic success, all down to the move to free trade pushed through parliament by Sir Robert Peel. Well great, why should we care today?

There’s a trend emerging. A growth in support for radical right-wing politicians prophesying the only way to take back control or make their country great again is by cutting ties with foreigners, and abandoning free trade. As in free trade, which Britain hasn’t looked back from in 170 years? Yes, that free trade. In America Donald Trump has gone against it. He completely opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), calling it “a rape of our country”. In 2012 Hilary Clinton said the “TPP sets the gold standard in trade agreements”. She helped negotiate the deal. Now, in a bid to win over Trump’s supporters, she has changed her mind. “I oppose it now, I’ll oppose it after the election, and I’ll oppose it as president.” And this trend of hate for free trade has dribbled across The Pond. It’s odd, because companies only selling their products in the domestic market offer far less in wages than those that export their goods. Free trade leads to better paid workers, and still Britain voted to leave the EU, to reject globalisation, and to reject free trade with Europe. But it’s fine! Forget Europe, a huge block of countries willing to partake in free trade right next to us! We have the Commonwealth. We can trade with India (that famously protectionist country). Maybe not. But Canada, they love us. They’d definitely trade with us. (Apart from the minor fact that they’ve spent the last seven years negotiating a free trade deal with the EU and wouldn’t risk that by associating with a recent EU outcast.) Oh but America, that country we created. We made the language; we’re their greatest friends. This is the answer. There is a little hurdle. Some question why the US would consider trading with a little island riddled with political, social, and economic uncertainty when they could trade with the EU. But the US and Britain – we’re buddies right?

Britain’s divided between people who voted on hope and those who voted on facts. Now we all hope that Brexit will benefit Britain and the economy, but most remainers realise that hope doesn’t pay the bills. Facts do. Financial certainty is needed, but instead Brexiteers are pushing for a hard Brexit because they hope it will work. They hope the economy will succeed. They hope we will rise above the earth on a mountain of pound coins and break into a land of heavenly bliss. Enticing, but I prefer the tried, tested, and proven methods. The pound is steadily dropping. The FTSE 100 is steadily improving, and that’s a bad sign (see my article). I won’t lie, when I heard about the Tesco-Unilever pricing dispute I thought it was beginning. Again I hope I am wrong. I hope that Brexit is the start of a new golden age in Britain. But again, hope doesn’t pay the bills. We’re not only heading towards a rejection of free trade, which has undoubtedly benefitted Britain since the move from protectionism 170 years ago, but a rejection of democracy too. Recently MPs were facing no say over the Brexit negotiations. Instead all would be decided by an elite few, who happen to be in power. Thankfully the British justice system ruled in favour of parliamentary democracy. Yet this elite still claims that the British people voted to leave the EU because of immigration. Funnily enough I don’t remember the ‘state your reasons for your choice’ area on the ballot paper. Most people hope we aren’t heading for an undemocratic Britain, a country of isolationism and protectionists, but then again, hope hasn’t proven too successful so far.

Voting Leave Would Always Send Calais Migrants To Britain, And Everyone Knew It

The Daily Mail has dubbed it ‘Le Stitch-Up’. A very British use of Franglais. Most papers’ front pages this morning reported that Xavier Bertrand (President of the Calais region in France) wants to renegotiate the Le Touquet agreement, which allows British border officials to police migrants wanting asylum in Britain on French soil, and French officials to undertake the same on British soil, thus stopping a surge of illegal immigrants across the shared border. Papers such The Daily Mail and The Telegraph seem aghast at the prospect, which is likely to mean less security in France and thus more illegal immigrant reaching the UK. Yet these very papers wanted their readers to vote to leave the UK. When the result came out, the Mail even congratulated them. “Take A Bow, Britain” they boasted. Now these papers accuse France of scheming against Britain by proposing this migrant asylum plan. But what did they expect? Most people could work out that a vote to leave the EU would result in the Le Touquet agreement falling apart, and that a vote to leave the EU would result in more migrants entering Britain. What’s more the Brexit result didn’t change the widely held perception that Britain will receive more migrants. (At the time I mentioned it in my article ‘Brexit Unpicked’ below). This is not news to Britons, or to politicians, or even to the papers.

Yet incredibly, many people still seem shocked. The Mail correctly pointed out today the proposal to abandon the Le Touquet agreement “contravene[s] EU rules” as if it’s always cared about EU rules. The Home Office agrees, attempting to reassure us that migrants need to register in the first EU country they enter, that this is the “international norm, and we’re going to stick with it”. It’s not though. Le Touquet is an EU agreement, and since we’ve voted to leave the EU, why would these guidelines affect us? Hardly anyone has looked at this migrant crisis from a French perspective. Jean-Claude Delage, the General Secretary of the French National Police Alliance, the union for French police, believes that by the end of September the number of migrants within “The Jungle” migrant camp in Calais will reach 10,000 – all wanting to get to the UK. It is problem both for Calais and for Britain, and it’s one that’s not going away. Why would the French carry on paying for security to keep them in France now the UK’s voted out of Europe – why wouldn’t the French just let them through? Sir Peter Ricketts, former national security adviser to David Cameron and former UK ambassador to France told BBC Radio 4 in February 2016 that if “Britain made a major decision to leave the EU [he thought it] highly likely France would review its position too.” So we’ve known about this “stitch-up” for almost the past seven months. It’s odd then that Britain is apparently in shock with this ‘news’.

This phrase, “stitch-up” implies that Xavier Bertrand’s plan has no positive aspects. Yet for the French it is a viable solution. Like Bertrand, both Nicolas Sarkozy and Alain Juppé, the two main candidates for leadership of the largest opposition party in France, Les Républicans, have called for an abandonment of Le Touquet agreement. Britain has rejected alliances with the European Union, which includes France, and so France is proposing to reject an alliance with us. It sounds pretty fair to me. It will almost certainly lead to an increase in the number of migrants travelling from outside the EU to Calais, but once they reach Calais, instead of being stopped by Border police they will simply go on to Dover. As I said, this is a solution for the French. Whether it will be a problem for the people of Dover and Kent is irrelevant to the French who might understandably believe the British can’t vote to leave the EU and then complain when they don’t like the terms of leaving the Union.

Even now British politicians, including some who campaigned to remain in the European Union, are trying to persuade the French that their plan will have terrible consequences. They’re arguing that it will lead to a rise in crime, and that British security services might stop sharing information on matters such as terrorism with the French if they go ahead with the plan. I doubt this will faze the French. If there is an increase in crime, it will affect Britain too, and probably lessen the burden on Calais as well. Similarly French security officials will realise that just as British information aids French homeland security, French information aids British homeland security, meaning that it’s unlikely that the two services will break off all relations.

Britain’s newspapers shouldn’t be writing of this affair as a “stitch-up”. Nor should they claim as the Daily Express does that “[the French] must play their part in dealing with the migrant crisis”. It is Britain that is the country not playing its part in dealing with this crisis, which could turn into a “disaster zone” according to Jean-Claude Delage. Perhaps the only comment papers should be making is that in voting to leave the EU Britain has rendered itself helpless to stop the flow of EU migrants into the UK. Again people must ask, what does “take back control” actually mean? If you want an answer I think Xavier Bertrand is doing a fantastic job of showing us.

Chris Matthews