‘Lies the reason, Faith or treason…..’ 1

 

And we can add surrender and traitor to lies and treason, all utterances from just another day in the House.

Although, they were all surpassed by Tsar Boris’s claim that ‘the best way to honour the memory of Jo Cox and indeed the best way to bring this country together would be, I think, to get Brexit done.’

This, of course is the MP who was shot in the name of Brexit.

To simply tut-tut is to miss the point, the Tsar, no doubt egged-on by ‘Rasputin’ Cummings, is practising two-nation politics, deliberately seeking to divide. They are creating an ‘elite’ of parliament and the judiciary, and deliberately turning voters into ‘the mob’ to enforce his wishes when he perceives that the ‘elite’ are holding him back.

‘creating an ‘elite’ of parliament and the judiciary, and deliberately turning voters into ‘the mob’’

This strategy will, almost certainly, alienate a large proportion of their traditional electoral base, and is predicated on winning support of the disillusioned voters who supported Brexit in the referendum.

Therefore, the road to an election victory is by continuing to polarise the country on Leave/Remain lines and rousing a furious Brexit mob behind them while the anti-Brexit forces are split. This is divide-to-conquer politics in action, politics that, unfortunately, encourages the necessity of hatred as an essential ingredient to achieving electoral success.

This is such a change in the party’s beliefs that it begs the question, what does the party stand for now? Previously, Conservatives were:

 

  • The party of business whilst now they are determined to take us out of an export market of half a billion people.
  • The party of law and order is now targeting the judiciary, with questions being asked as to whether their government intends to obey the law.
  • The party of ‘family values’, or as John Major said ‘back to basics’ is now in the hands of Tsar Boris, a man currently being questioned about how his ‘close friend’, Jennifer Arcuri, was awarded £126,000 of grants during his time as London mayor, and improprieties with unwilling female journalists.
  • The party of the establishment is provoking a constitutional crisis, angering the Queen and expelling some of its most distinguished MPs from its benches.

 

All of this has been replaced by Brexit. For Conservative party members and many MPs, Brexit is almost a religion, a crusade requiring sacrifice and suffering. The reality of Brexit will never live up to their version of the scriptures, leaving in tatters behind it parliamentary democracy which, in their eyes, pales alongside the purity that is the ‘will of the people’.

 

‘Thought of you as my mountaintop, Thought of you as my peak, Thought of you as everything..’ 2

 

In spite of this there is a curious contradiction; 1986, the year of the Single European Act marked the high point of Tory Europeanism, one that set Europe on the path to a single market, driven and crafted by Margaret Thatcher and her allies. Prior to this the crusade for ‘free markets’ was an ideological rallying cry for the new right backers of Ronald Reagan and Thatcher.

In spite of all this anti-Europe rhetoric, in his speech at the party conference, The Tsar claimed that the Tories, and the British, are pro-European, saying ‘It cannot be stressed too much that this is not an anti-European party and it is not an anti-European country. We love Europe. We are European. At least, ‘I love Europe.’

‘We love Europe. We are European. At least, ‘I love Europe.’’

Which, of course, leaves unanswered what the rest of the conference thinks about Europe.

This speech was wonderfully summed up by journalist who wrote, ‘After what seems like a moment’s hesitation, the audience applaud.’

Perhaps the real mood of conference towards Europe was displayed on Monday afternoon at one of the biggest fringe events of the week. On stage was Jacob Rees-Mogg, Steve Baker, and Andrea Jenkyns, watched by an adoring audience of hundreds of activists, packing out the room and sitting on the floor.

The subject naturally was Brexit, and it was Jenkyns who most starkly laid out its importance to today’s Tories. ‘We’re at the cusp of a new golden age,’ she began, one in which ‘our language, our diplomacy, our armed forces’ would secure glory for the UK. Boris Johnson, she assured us, ‘is a prime minister with balls’. The question, how she knows that, shall remain unasked!

 

‘But she’s a queen and such are queens that your laughter is sucked in their brains’ 3

 

And, then there was an opportunity for the traitors and the ‘elite’ to be pilloried; Mark Francois led his crowd through a boo-fest against Dominic Grieve, Philip Hammond and Michael Heseltine. Redwood slated the ‘well-educated Remainer elite’, obviously his fellowship at All Souls Oxford doesn’t count.

A QC who called for the abolition of the Supreme Court, whilst Rees-Mogg claimed the Lords was stuffed full of Tony Blair’s placemen.

However, the question I want to pose and attempt to deal with today is, how we got to this situation?

Firstly, let us consider the history of euro-scepticism;

1946: Winston Churchill spelled out his vision ‘to recreate the European family, or as much of it as we can, and to provide it with a structure under which it can dwell in peace, in safety and in freedom. We must build a kind of United States of Europe.’ But he did not see Britain as being at its heart. ‘France and Germany must take the lead together.’

1974: Labour PM Harold Wilson had promised to put the issue of membership to the people after renegotiation of Britain’s membership terms. He allowed Eurosceptic cabinet ministers, led by Michael Foot and Tony Benn, to campaign against (his ministers were so split, he had little option). Most of the Tory press backed staying in, and the result was 67% in favour.

1988: In spite of campaigning to stay in the EEC in 1975, and signing the Single European Act in 1986, Margaret Thatcher became increasingly a Euro-sceptic. Her Bruges speech of 1988 became a template for a new generation of Tory sceptics, one that many misinterpret as a call to leave when she was really calling for a limit to Europe’s ambitions. ‘To try to suppress nationhood and concentrate power at the centre of a European conglomerate would be highly damaging and would jeopardise the objectives we seek to achieve.’

1992: Things really became fraught in 1992 after we left the ERM, rows over the Maastricht treaty ensured that Europe dogged John Major’s premiership. In 1993, he described Eurosceptic members of his cabinet (the likes of John Redwood and Michael Portillo) as ‘bastards’. With a tiny working majority, his government was crippled by division

2012: We now roll forward to David Cameron who wanted his party to stop ‘banging on about Europe’. Honouring his EPP pledge, cutting the EU budget and veto integrationist plans were not enough for the Eurosceptics, they wanted a referendum on whether to stay or leave. In 2013, he gave them one and said he would try to renegotiate a better settlement for the British people before holding a vote before the end of 2017.

Now, as we try to negotiate our exit Eurosceptics say nothing but ‘No Deal’ will do.

‘this is overwhelmingly a Tory problem, and one that today leaves us with the ‘battle of two democracies’’

As can be seen this is overwhelmingly a Tory problem, and one that today leaves us with the ‘battle of two democracies’.

One, the ‘will of the people’ represent(ed) 52% of the electorate that voted, totalling 17.4m people; the other is a democratically elected parliament, elected by the self-same 17.4m people who voted to ‘Leave’.

And herein lies the crux of the problem; voters were asked to vote to stay or leave, in asking the ‘wrong’ question we have got the ‘wrong’ answer. The result is that we have a democratically elected parliament, which has a majority of Remainers, being asked to implement Leave, the result of a democratic referendum.

What parliament doesn’t know, and, maybe many of the Leavers don’t know either is; how do we want to leave? This has led to a Remain parliament seeking, what they believe is the best option, i.e. a soft-Brexit or no Brexit at all.

Lined-up against this is the No Deal leavers, championing this as the ‘will of the people’. To which I will finish by echoing the words of the Tsar himself; Humbug. The people voted to Leave, what none of us know is what they meant by it.

 

‘You shut your mouth, How can you say I go about things the wrong way?’ 4

 

OK lyric spotters, a rare treat this week with four, count them, four tracks to try to fathom – the dilution rules will apply, with points to be redeemed in the usual fashion.

First up 1 is a new act for the column – I didn’t get there, but once you’ve heard it, it’ll be with you all day – The Human League with ‘Open Your Heart’.

Next is, according to Philip, ‘one of the greatest songs ever written’: its certainly a corker and the return of an old favourite – 2 is Velvet Underground with ‘Pale Blue Eyes’.

3 – and described as ‘pure indulgence’ our bonus track sees the return of Bromley’s finest – David Robert Jones with a lesser known track ‘Queen Bitch’ from Hunky Dory, written in tribute to Lou Reed.

Last but not least, and the only one I bagged this week, 4 is The Smiths and ‘How Soon is Now?’ – enjoy! 

 

 

Philip Gilbert 2Philip Gilbert is a city-based corporate financier, and former investment banker.

Philip is a great believer in meritocracy, and in the belief that if you want something enough you can make it happen. These beliefs were formed in his formative years, of the late 1970s and 80s

 

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