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I found some more to add to the mix earlier today (thought I'd add it here as these arguments come up time and time again), which is less wishy-washy than I was above.

Jean-Claude Piris is, to quote his Twitter bio, "French. Consultant EU law and International law. Former Director General of the EU Council’s Legal Service from 1988 to 2010" (he's been a lot more, but it's a bit of a mouthful, so see below*):


Steve Bullock @GuitarMoog

I've always argued that withdrawing Art50 notification successfully was (unusually) primarily a political rather than a legal question 5/

JC Piris @piris_jc

But it is legally possible to!nobody could expel the U.K. if it decided to remain according to its constitutional practice before 29th March 2019. Unilateral choice. The 27 cannot impose any condition

Juho Romakkaniemi, current Head of Cabinet for the Vice-President of the European Commission, chimed in:


Juho Romakkaniemi @Romakka

Of course. If Britain decides and notifies before March 31st 2019 that it does not want to leave, that’s enough: #Brexit van be cancelled by a single letter. It’s in the end of the day a political, not a judical decision. https://twitter.com/guitarmoog/status/962804603065700353

* "Jean-Claude Piris served as the Legal Counsel of the Council of the EU and Director General of its Legal Service from 1988 to 2010. He is an Honorary French Conseiller d'Etat, a former diplomat at the UN and the former Director of Legal Affairs of the OCED. He was the Legal Advisor of the successive intergovernmental conferences which negotiated and adopted the treaties of Maastricht, Amsterdam and Nice, the Constitutional Treaty and, finally, the Lisbon Treaty. He was also Senior Emile Noel Fellow and Straus Institute Fellow at New York University."

I don't know where you think you got your info, but it's nowhere near as clear-cut as you claim.

Not least because we may have triggered Article 50, but we haven't left the EU yet.

According to the guy who actually drafted Article 50, we can reverse the process, but then, what would he know, right?

Brexit is reversible even after date is set, says author of article 50

The former diplomat who drafted article 50 says the UK could opt to reverse Brexit up to the moment we leave, even if a date for the country’s departure from European Union were added to the withdrawal bill, as Theresa May plans.
Guardian Today: the headlines, the analysis, the debate - sent direct to you
Read more

Lord Kerr, a former UK ambassador to the European Union, said Brexiters in May’s cabinet were suggesting Brexit was irreversible and thereby misleading the public.


Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme Kerr, now a crossbench peer, said the UK could still opt to stay in the EU. “At any stage we can change our minds if we want to, and if we did we know that our partners would actually be very pleased indeed.”

He added: “The Brexiters create the impression that is because of the way article 50 is written that having sent in a letter on 29 March 2017 we must leave automatically on 29 March 2019 at the latest. That is not true. It is misleading to suggest that a decision that we are taking autonomously in this country about the timing of our departure, we are required to take by a provision of EU treaty law.”


There's much legal debate (usually focusing on whether the UK could reverse course unilaterally), and if it did happen, it would most likely require the consent of the other EU members (and no doubt a punitive quid pro quo to stop the UK any other member using such a declaration as a bargaining tool in future), and since there's no precedent, possibly decisions by European courts on the matter. Here's four legal opinions by European law experts:

Stefan Enchelmaier, professor of European and Comparative Law at Oxford University, argues that the essential requirement of withdrawing from the EU is the simple desire to leave. "If you look at Article 50, first you have the decision to withdraw, then you have the intention to withdraw," he says. "No withdrawal without notification, but, the other way round, no withdrawal without the intention to withdraw." If public opinion reversed and the UK wanted to remain, therefore, this would legally be possible.

Kenneth Armstrong, professor of European Law at Cambridge University, says this is the "dominant legal opinion" on the subject and the authors of the Article are in agreement.

However, Article 50 is not very well written. There is no explicit provision for this. Equally there is no precedent for withdrawing from the European Union, so there is little to go on. Jan Komarek, a lecturer at the London School of Economics' European Institute and Department of Law, says that, as Article 50 is "silent" on whether a withdrawing member state could change its mind during the negotiation period, lawyers would have to look for other examples in international law. Under the Vienna Convention, for example, a "fundamental change of circumstances" is grounds for withdrawing from an international agreement, provided "the existence of those circumstances constituted an essential basis of the consent of the parties to be bound by the treaty".

In other words, if the UK no longer consents to being part of the EU, it may leave the EU. If that situation changes and the UK decides to remain, it may remain. "When a state which is party to an international agreement wants to revoke the agreement and then wants to revoke the revocation of the agreement, that is possible according to the Vienna Convention," Komarek says.


This is also allegedly the finding of a controversial legal opinion the government's trying hard to keep secret because democracy and the Will of the People:

It’s official: Article 50 can be withdrawn

Jessica Simor, of Matrix Chambers which was co-founded by Cherie Blair, has said she believes the document that signalled the withdrawal process from the European Union can be reversed.

She also claims to have been told by two sources that Theresa May has been advised Britain is not legally bound to quit the EU.

Writing in the Observer Ms Simor said: “Article 50 provides for the notification – not of withdrawal but of an ‘intention’ to withdraw.

“In law, an ‘intention’ is not a binding commitment; it can be changed or withdrawn. Article 50(5) is, moreover, clear that it is only after a member state has left that it has to reapply to join. Had the drafters intended that once a notification had taken place, a member state would have to request readmission.”


This is also the opinion of the European Commission:

EU confirms Article 50 can be reversed — just not by Britain alone

The EU has confirmed the UK cannot unilaterally reverse Brexit – while simultaneously leaving the door open for Britain to remain part of the European Union.


In a fact sheet released on Wednesday, the European Commission stated that “it was the decision of the United Kingdom to trigger Article 50. But once triggered, it cannot be unilaterally reversed”.


Indeed, French president Emmanuel Macron said last month that the door was “always open” for Britain to remain in the EU.

His comments were echoed by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who said that “If they wanted to change their decision, of course they would find open doors, but I think it’s not very likely”.


Late last year, a Brexit Minister was forced into an embarrassing apology to the House of Lords for making a claim like yours:

Brexit minister apologises to peers for saying article 50 cannot be revoked

Lord Callanan, who was appointed a Brexit minister last month to replace Lady Anelay, who stood down for health reasons, has just apologised in the House of Lords for telling peers last week that article 50 could not be revoked.

Asked a week ago today to confirm that the supreme court, in the Gina Miller case, said article 50 was irrevocable, he said: "I can confirm that. It is also stated by the European commission that article 50, once invoked, is irrevocable unless there is political agreement on it."


And today Callanan did apologise. In a statement to peers, he said that his statement last Monday was incorrect. That was a result of “a misunderstanding of the question”, he said.

"To reiterate, for the avoidance of any doubt, the supreme court proceeded in the Miller case on the basis that article 50 would not be be revoked, but did not rule on the legal position regarding its irrevocability. It was, and remains, the government’s policy that our notification of article 50 will not be withdrawn ... I recognise that my comments have caused confusion and I apologise to the House."


In an attempt to clarify the situation, the EU Parliament drafted a resolution:

Brexit can be stopped after Article 50 is triggered, EU politicians say

Britain will have the option to reverse Brexit, European Union lawmakers are set to announce.

The European Parliament is drafting a resolution as a response to Theresa May triggering Article 50 and beginning the formal process of exiting the EU.

The resolution will provide the UK with an option to halt the Brexit proceedings as long as other members agree.

Donald Tusk, the European Council President, said he was sure the other member states would support Britain if it had a change of heart.


Clickbait from Quincy, huh? Disappointing.

Anybody who makes claims like The Beatles "were the worst musicians in the world" can't ever have tried to actually play the parts they came up with, and does a grave disservice not just to their abilities, but to how influential what they did was to contemporary and later musicians (vastly more influential than Jones, I'll wager, but I'll try to steer away from getting caught up in pointless backbiting).

The Beatles were never slow to acknowledge their own influences - unlike some other bands, they were very respectful of black musicianship, having been steeped in it by exposure to early records imported via Liverpool docks, and also took a strong stand against racial segregation among audiences during their American tours - from classical music, jazz, showtunes or other bands and artists that were developing as the same time as them.

All of the components - the guitar parts, basslines, drum parts, vocal harmonies, and also the production techniques - were always in service of the song, not technical virtuosity or gimmickry for the sake of it, not least because they were generally working within industry- and self-imposed limits on song length (it didn't hurt that they generally started out with strong song ideas to dress up in various ways).

However, there was abundant technical virtuosity, nevertheless.

Harrison started out playing short rockabilly-like solos in the early years, drawing on influences like Chet Atkins. Later, he progressed to lyrical solos like those on "Something" and "Let It Be", which are works of art in themselves, and continued to expand on this when he went solo.

Contrary to what was written by somebody above, it wasn't that Harrison couldn't have played a decent solo on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" (he was an excellent slide guitar player, with a unique tone he developed by detuning harmony strings), Clapton was a close pal whose chops he loved and respected, and the two influenced and sparked off each other. Harrison was typically unegotistical enough to hand Clapton the chance to shine spectacularly (I know a lot of people love Prince's live version of the solo, but to me it's extended cliched technical noodling to no great purpose, whereas the original solo was soaked in emotion and very concise).

Ravi Shankar certainly didn't seem to have any complaints about Harrison's musical abilities when he began his education in Indian music and sitar. Other bands (like the Stones) used the sitar as more or less an exotic sound effect, just playing standard Western musical lines, whereas Harrison took the trouble to learn about the hinterland of the instrument (and went on to groundbreakingly meld Eastern and Western musical ideas and theory in songs like "Within You, Without You").

Neither McCartney nor Lennon were slouches either (I'll focus on their guitar playing, but they also developed into competent self-taught keyboard players, and McCartney was a good enough all-rounder to play most of the instruments, including drums, on the album Band On The Run).

Lennon was, unusually for him, quite humble about his guitar abilities, but as a rhythm/lead player, he was up there with Pete Townshend (listen to the brief, searing solos on "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", for just a few examples). He also developed, after tuition by Donovan, a decent clawhammer folk fingerpicking style, in evidence on songs like "Dear Prudence".

Here's Donovan recounting this:

Here's a take on Lennon's (and, under his influence, McCartney's) developments in fingerpicking style: https://www.guitarplayer.com/technique/john-lennon-style-fingerpicking

And here's one technical look at some of The Beatles' guitar techniques:

McCartney and Starr are too well respected by renowned players of bass and drums over the years to need any serious defending, so I won't bother here, or this will be a very long post indeed.

None of them were classically trained, just self-taught, but this bred a humility that meant they were receptive to a wide range of influences and willing to learn from others, and they were blessed with excellent natural ears and sensibilities. They'd also happily bring in session payers when they'd add to a song (it's a great shame Billy Preston only joined them at the very tail end of their career).

Nevertheless, classically trained composer Howard Goodall has broadcast numerous times dissecting in awe The Beatles' composition techniques. If you can spare the time, any of his analyses online are well worth watching. Here's one:

Largely at McCartney's prodding, The Beatles embraced not just classical influences, but avante-garde ones, which came to spectacular fruition on "A Day In The Life", which I consider their masterpiece and listen to with fresh joy each time to this day. This then developed into still-startling songs like "I Am The Walrus", "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Tomorrow Never Knows".

When you consider the musical and technical advances (and let's not forget George Martin's invaluable contribution to both those aspects) packed into a band recording career that didn't even span a decade, it's just ignorant to dismiss the important contribution of these musicians to all our cultures. And on past form, they were never slow to acknowledge that they were just one bunch of guys among many others who were stretching boundaries during that period.

It's a shame Quincy Jones apparently doesn't rate them. It's entirely his loss.

Ruth Davidson to REPLACE Theresa May? Poll reveals Tory is 'best option for Brexit'

(A continuation of what has been described as my preoccupation with the idea of Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson standing for UK Tory leader. I also figured we could do with some light relief in these grim times, but didn't imagine I'd find it in the pages of the Express.)

RUTH DAVIDSON is an “attractive proposition” and the most popular senior Conservative in the eyes of the public who has “boosted her credentials” as a future leader of the Conservative party, a new poll has claimed.


WPI Strategy Director Nick Faith said: “All the other potential candidates - except for Ruth Davidson - are seen as more likely to drive support away from the Conservatives.


As a current member of the Scottish parliament, the senior Tory is unable to run for the position.

However, with veteran colleague Sir Nicholas Soames rumoured to be readying himself to stand aside as the MP for Mid Sussex, there could be an opportunity for Ms Davidson to make a move down south.


The YouGov poll (commissioned by the Westminster Policy Institute Strategy PR consultancy) offers some lukewarm comfort to Theresa May, as it seems 41% of respondents thought she should stay put. Unfortunately, this seems to be because her suggested possible replacements are seen as even greater liabilities.

Respondents thought Boris Johnson and David Davis would each lose the Tories 9% of the vote and Amber Rudd would cost them 10% (for some reason, Brexit darling Jacob Rees-Mogg didn't figure in the poll). They thought that Davidson, by contrast, would equal May's performance in the last general election, which was such a roaring success for the party.

I hate to discourage this wave of excitement, but there are at least a couple of snags. Davidson's Tories' support in Scotland is sagging, and they've fallen back into third place behind Scottish Labour, as the latest Survation/Daily Record poll showed:

Then there's the question of Soames generously bequeathing his seat. There have indeed been recent persistent rumours in the right-wing press that he's ready to spark a by-election by resigning and retiring to the Lords. But most of those spreading the rumours haven't checked with the man himself. Well, until a couple of days ago ...


Tom Newton Dunn


Poll reveals @RuthDavidsonMSP is voters’ front runner to replace Theresa May as the most popular senior Tory. Will @NSoames stand aside to give her a seat?https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/5462108/ruth-davidson-now-voters-number-one-replace-may/

Nicholas Soames



Tom Newton Dunn

Replying to @NSoames @RuthDavidsonMSP

It’s a great rumour...

Nicholas Soames


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