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The last British commissioner

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For candidate European commissioners, a few guiding principles can help them survive confirmation hearings at the European Parliament: know something about your policy area, don t have a dodgy past, and say lots of nice things about MEPs. But Sir Julian King, Britain s candidate to join the commission, had no precedents to draw on for his hearing with parliament s civil liberties committee on Monday evening. His aim: to become the first EU commissioner from a country planning to leave the EU.

The Last British Commissioner

If you d told me a few months ago that I d be sitting here I d probably not have believed you, he told the hearing in Strasbourg. It is a particular situation. He came through it well.

On policy issues, he confidently tackled a barrage of technical questions on his new brief as security commissioner with queries on everything from counter-terrorism to data encryption. Sir Julian also benefited from the fact that his new responsibilities are in area where many in the parliament believe that the European Commission needs to be more active, meaning they welcome the impetus that could come from the creation of a security commissioner post. That thirst for more policymaking may help explain why, in the end, Sir Julian did not face many direct questions about the large elephant in the room.

Those that did come did so mainly from pro-Brexit MEPs from Britain itself. UKIP s Gerard Batten asked: which master you will cleave to? London, or Brussels. He got a clear answer: I don t think that you should read anything into my nomination to do with the wider issues of Brexit, Sir Julian said. I m not here as a representative of the British government.

He now looks a shoo in to be formally confirmed later this week as Britain s new, and very possibly last, EU commissioner. But that Brexit elephant will still be hanging around.

Email: Twitter: @jimbrunsden

Hungary row Luxembourg s foreign minister demanded that Hungary beexcluded from the EU3 for its mistreatment of refugees. Jean Asselborn argues that exclusion is the the only way to preserve the cohesion and values of the European Union . Other countries (cough) Poland should watch out, said Asselborn, who also argued that it should be possible to suspend someone from the EU without unanimity.

Warsaw Discount Holidays © holiday tour Poland s Law and Justice party s parliamentary leader underlined how little Warsaw cares about international scrutiny. The visit of the Venice Commission in Warsaw is very much a Discount Holidays © holiday tour, said Ryszard Terlecki, referring to a visit of the human rights watchdog4. We do not attach particular importance to it. All that we had to tell the Commission, we already have.

The Rachman plan The FT s Gideon Rachman comes up with a two-tier solution5 for the EU s woes: a tight federalist bloc with Germany and (probably) France at its centre and a periphery of those who are sceptical of further political integration, including the Visegrad group, the Irish, the Dutch, the Swedes and the Danes. The euro awkwardly bestrides both. But an EU with a defined tertiary bloc would rather appeal to the Brits, giving the UK the option of staying.

Voila! Full piece6.

The Last British Commissioner

Not an EU army The push for tighter defence strategy in the EU continues: France and Germany have put out another paper7 spelling out how it should work. Some historically neutral countries such as Ireland and Austria are nervy, while others are concerned about diminishing Nato s role, which was not just a British concern.

TTIP is alive Or so says Washington s chief negotiator8.

The clear message we are getting from EU member states is that, notwithstanding these recent comments there is a clear desire to keep moving forward, he said. And the closer you are to negotiations the more confident you are that in fact negotiations are moving forward.

Facebook legal woes Facebook faces another day at the European Court of Justice, after the court was asked to rule9 whether a class action against the social network in Austria was valid10. The case is being run by Max Schrems, an Austrian student who has almost single handedly made life very difficult for the $360bn company over the past five years.

Brits do quit Mere months after declaring Brits don t quit , David Cameron has resigned for a second time this time as an MP. It marks aninauspicious end11 for the former prime minister, who pledged to continue as a backbench MP. The reaction has been unkind. This Daily Telegraph piece12 David Cameron s petulant resignation as an MP shows why he leaves no lasting legacy and that he doesn t care – was typical.

Secret talks Brexit minister David Davis warned his fellow MPs13 that they should not expect to be 100 per cent in the loop during negotiations.

Clearly there is a need for parliament to be informed without giving away our negotiating position.

I may not be able to tell you everything, even in private hearings.

The comments came during a hearing in which there was some levity, according to MLex s Matthew Holehouse14:

David Davis met Irish ministers for talks in Dublin, and told them of Irish heritage.

They assumed I was applying for a passport.

Email: Twitter: @duncanrobinson16


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Euro Fury: PCW/GFW Global Conflict

PCW Global Conflict

March 5 2016

This was a joint production of Preston City Wrestling and Jeff Jarrett s promotion/gold distributer Global Force Wrestling. It s a mixture of imports and local lads. Preston City is not what I would call a good promotion but they ve been doing OK business with co-promoting, especially with Ring of Honor. PCW s opening video is almost exclusively ex-WWE guys or people who don t work here anymore. That s strike one. We re in Blackpool at Club Domain. It s an ugly, high angle hard-cam set up. Sha Samuels opens the show because he s the champion around here.

This only happens so the casual fans (here for the Masterlock Challenge) recognise him as a defined heel when he comes out later.

Kenny Williams vs. Lionheart

Kenny really likes Back to the Future, comes out to Huey Lewis the Power of Love and is dressed like Marty s son in Back to the Future II, complete with hoverboard. His main promotion is ICW in Scotland but he s starting to get deserved exposure elsewhere. Lionheart has been knocking around the UK for ages. I ve never liked his name but he s a passable worker. This match is smooth and well worked with Lionheart countering most of Kenny s more ambitious moves with wrestling. They go from there to Japanese style strike duels, which are OK but culminate in Kenny hitting a fucking tragic excuse for a rebound lariat. That spot needs to go from everyone s arsenal because it sucks. This alternates between being a good match and being Discount Holidays © holiday camp crap.

Lionheart pushes the ref into the ropes and wins with the Rock Bottom. This was certainly a match.

Final Rating: **

Dave Rayne vs. Joe Hendry

Joe Hendry s entrance is In The Air Tonight . Can you feel Joe Hendry in the air tonight? The man is a genius. Unfortunately he waits until the drums kick in to actually enter the arena. Hendry plays heel by refusing to wrestle and deciding to put on a concert, when everyone gets shuts their filthy Lancashire mouths. His hour long concert is cut short by the arrival of Dave Rayne. Dave has been around for 15 years and has peaked with PCW.

These two talk for ages pre-match and even have a singing contest. There is room in wrestling for lots of different shit but there s a reason that most companies don t do things like this. Rayne isn t very good and does a lot of slow motion strikes and WWE tribute show bullshit. It s not like he even looks good because he s lacking gym time. Hendry puts him away with minimal fuss. There was more bullshit before the match than in it. Hendry is a good talent but this match was nothing.

Final Rating: *

GFW NEXGEN Championship

Sonjay Dutt (c) vs. Bubblegum

Sonjay won the GFW junior/X division strap late in 2015 and has been defending it globally because Global Force don t run that many shows. Hell, GFW have run more shows on this UK tour than they did in the entire rest of the year pre-March. Dutt is a total pro and Bubblegum is solid although he blows a back elbow. They settle into a fair few in-ring chats during chinlocks, which is unfortunate but they have some good pre-planned sequences lined up. Including a Dutt dropkick through the ropes where he clips the top of Bubblegum s head. Bubblegum s comebacks are a little sloppy but Sonjay is like the junior Ric Flair and is great at getting over the local guys but ultimately beating them. Sonjay is clinical when Bubblegum isn t botching and he finishes with the tornado DDT and a frogsplash. Sonjay is such a competent professional wrestler.

God bless him.

Final Rating: ***

Chris Dickinson vs. Johnny Moss

Two large bald muscular gentlemen. One from BritWres (Mr Moss), the other from New York (Dickinson). This wouldn t feel out of place in EVOLVE, where Dickinson has worked. The pacing is a little pedestrian but I can t say I blame either man due to the surroundings. They do better work on the mat and in exchanging big suplexes than anything else. Even during the big spots the pacing is sluggish. The trading of suplexes is fun, even if they are all super safe bumps. Both guys are freaky strong but a Tombstone counters bit goes wrong twice and they persist with it.

The match should be way better than it is but Dickinson does supreme work in jumping onto the top rope to hurl Moss to the mat for the win. Regardless of quality, and occasional botches, this was a manly match so I still enjoyed it. I just can t give it big snowflakes.

Final Rating: **3/4

Jeff Jarrett vs. Noam Dar

Jeff s wife is with him. Presumably because she wanted a trip to England. Jarrett is naturally over because he used to be in WWE/TNA. Jeff s wearing his Bullet Club gear and manages to turn heel between walking through the curtain and hitting the ring. Karen Jarrett goes for the Memphis manager s heat but comes up short of Saraya for jumping into the crowd and molesting someone. It s extremely close and her wiping her privates on Dar s ring jacket and spitting on referee Joel Allen is just nasty. It s also typical avoiding working hard crap that Jarrett did with Jurn Simmons in Germany.

It s awful. Jarrett s work here is absolute shit and Karen is an albatross. Dar takes it really easy, knowing he s in there with a borderline legend and wants to learn this kind of match. Jarrett is glacially slow and all his spots look awful. It might be time that he gives it up. Dar has this won with the Champagne Super Kneebar but Dutt runs in for the save with Karen on distraction duties. Jarrett then literally just pins Dar without doing anything. This was a steaming red hot turd from the pre-match to the finish. Blame is totally on Jeff and his wife.

Jarrett should probably retire at this point. I ve said that about people who ve come good again but none of them looked this bad.

Final Rating: DUD

Post Match: Heel shenanigans continue as Dutt challenges Dar to a fight right now and they go to have a match but Sonjay bails after two seconds. Karen throws her shoe at Dar. Apparently that stinks too. Poor Karen has questionable personal hygiene.

Masterlock Challenge

Yes, they re really putting a Masterlock Challenge on this show. Presumably because Masters is only just back from a three month absence with a knee injury. Iestyn Rees answers the challenge. It s like looking in a mirror. Rees stomps Masters knee to set up a future match, which would be fine if Masters wasn t a bloody fly-in! He did the Masterlock Challenge on all of these tour shows but it seems like a bit of a waste.

Team Single (Rampage Brown & T-Bone) vs.

Jack Barren & Jack Garvey

Team Single, the tag team champions, offer an open challenge. The challengers are trainees, who worked on the ring crew. This is a squash. It should be over in a few minutes and the longer it goes the less I believe in it. Rampage, who is a lovely man outside the ring, almost kills the poor kids by slamming one on the other while he s on all fours. Both of them are pancake flat. The kids are allowed offence, which is just wrong. The kids being there makes the match so much sloppier than it needs to be. Eventually the Jack s count lights.

This was very drawn out for what it was.

Final Rating: *

PCW Championship

Sha Samuels (c) vs. Dave Mastiff

Big Dave comes in as a powerhouse babyface suplex machine. Imagine Shigehiro Irie only with a big beard and less smiling. Instead of having a match they brawl around the building and tease ridiculous spots like throwing each other off the balcony. The crowd really don t care about any of it. A couple of masked men run in to help Sha and he wins. This is greeted by absolute silence.

Final Rating: DUD

Post Match: Team Single run in for the save and they try and get an impromptu four on four match going but the bait and switch is that the match will be on another show.

That makes me feel so much better about that main event.

  • 0 – 0.9 Torture
  • 1 – 1.9 Extremely Horrendous
  • 2 – 2.9 Very Bad
  • 3 – 3.9 Bad
  • 4 – 4.9 Poor
  • 5 – 5.9 Not So Good
  • 6 – 6.9 Average
  • 7 – 7.9 Good
  • 8 – 8.9 Very Good
  • 9 – 9.9 Amazing
  • 10 Virtually Perfect

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Natural highlights in the country include Thingvellir National Park and Gulfoss Waterfall (above)


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