‘Putting on some clothes I made my way to school, And I found my teacher crouching in his overalls, I screamed and ran to smash my favorite slot machine, And jumped the silent cars that slept at traffic lights’ 1

 

And, oh, how the crowd cheered at Trumps comments, echoing his words and chanting them back to him. As the saying goes, you reap what you sew, therefore, when you incite racial hatred that is what you get.

‘when you incite racial hatred that is what you get’

No apologies for starting with the latest mass-shootings in the US, and with no disrespect to the terrible events in Dayton, Ohio, focussing on the tragedy in El Paso. The killer posted a racist diatribe on-line before the event, whilst it cannot be proven that he was influenced by the president’s  words they certainly didn’t discourage him.

With 251 mass-shootings already this year, there are plenty of crazies in the US, many deeply religious, well, their own interpretation of religion. Let us not forget the KKK were devout Christians, or at least thought they were!

 

 

‘The KKK took my baby away, They took her away, Away from me’ 2

 

There is undoubtedly a link between Trumps words and actions, and racist attacks. As Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke pointed out, ‘We’ve had a rise in hate crimes every single one of the last three years during an administration where you have a president who has called Mexicans rapists and criminals, though Mexican immigrants commit crimes at a far lower rate than people born in this country. He has tried to make us afraid of them … attempting to ban all Muslims from this country. The day that he signed that executive order the mosque in Victoria, Texas was burned to the ground.’

The shootings came a day after Farage was quoted as describing Trump’s ‘go back’ comments, aimed at four congresswomen of colour, as ‘genius’. Farage, who has close links with the Trump administration, added: ‘I thought, ‘Dear, oh dear, oh dear’. You realise, 48 hours on, it was genius because what’s happened is the Democrats gather round the Squad, which allows him to say, ‘Oh look, the Squad are the centre of the Democratic party’.

‘He’s remarkably good at what he does. He does things his way. But he is a remarkably effective operator.’

I think we file this in the unfortunate and badly timed category! But El Paso serves a point, when you start inciting racism you cannot know where it will end. Let that be a lesson to us all.

But back to Brexit and Boris, Trumps other great UK mate.

‘Adding to the confusion, Downing Street says it wants to negotiate’

Mrs Mays’ attempts at negotiating an exit were not helped by her ‘red lines’, and her successor doesn’t seem to have learnt from this.

Firstly, by stating that we leave on 31/10 whatever, and then by refusing to engage with the EU until the Irish backstop is dispensed with. The EU says the backstop, a guarantee that is supported on both sides of the Irish border, is a non-negotiable part of the withdrawal agreement.

This situation is only made worse with comments such as those made on Tuesday by Michael Gove, who oversees No Deal preparations, accusing the EU of intransigence over Brexit talks, calling it ‘wrong and sad’, as divisions between the UK and Brussels became further entrenched.

Adding to the confusion, Downing Street says it wants to negotiate.

In Brussels, the commission says it is open to ‘clarification’. In Dublin, the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, says: ‘Our position is that the withdrawal agreement, including the backstop, is closed but there is always room for talks and negotiations.’ And, if reports can be believed even the DUP says it is prepared to consider a time-limited backstop.

 

In the view of this column, there are two unanswered questions:

 

  • Does the government want a negotiated exit? Three years ago many Leave campaigners, including Farage, would have accepted this, now No Deal seems to be their goal. And, Boris has selected a cabinet to support this.
  • Who is really pulling the strings? Boris, or a more sinister shadow lurking in the background?

 

By this I refer to Dominic Cummings, the former campaign director of Vote Leave, who appears to have taken on the role of ‘Kingmaker’, much as Richard Neville, 16th earl of Warwick, did during the War of the Roses (1)

Cummings is not to be underestimated, he appears to want to side-line Parliament and engineer a No Deal Brexit, and then trigger an election; essentially, he is trying to create a people against Parliament situation.

For example, he is understood to have told government advisers that Johnson could stay on as prime minister even if rebel Tory MPs were able to form a ‘government of national unity’ opposed to a no-deal Brexit.

‘Johnson could stay on as prime minister even if rebel Tory MPs were able to form a ‘government of national unity’’

Dominic Grieve, a former attorney general, has said it would be unconstitutional for Johnson to defy any vote of no confidence and remain in Downing Street until after the Brexit deadline of 31st October. Now, I would have thought that it is reasonable to assume that a former attorney general understands the constitution and laws.

The plan would be to form such an alternative government in the 14 days after the government lost a vote of no confidence. The Fixed-term Parliaments Act gives 14 days for such a government to be established before an automatic general election is called.

But it appears that Cummings has done his homework; Experts suggest that the PM would remain in control of the timetable even if the government lost a confidence vote. Catherine Haddon, a senior fellow at the Institute for Government thinktank, told the Times that nothing in the Fixed-term Parliaments Act required a prime minister to resign on losing a vote of no confidence.

‘In terms of a strict reading of the legislation, Boris is not required to resign. It is completely silent on all of this,’ she said. ‘The onus is on the incumbent prime minister – they get to choose whether they resign. If they do not it is hard for a new government to be formed without dragging the Queen into politics.’

‘it is hard for a new government to be formed without dragging the Queen into politics’

Jonathan Sumption, a former supreme court judge, said Johnson would be entitled to stay on as prime minister even if he lost a confidence vote.

So, if this is the case, a government that has lost a no-confidence vote can simply let us ‘exit’ without a deal due to circumstances. The genius of this is based on the EU extension granted by the EU which expires on 31/10, if there is no negotiated settlement, and the government doesn’t request an extension, we simply fall-out of the EU with No Deal because no one negotiated one!

This is far too clever and subtle for Boris; this has Cummings sticky fingers all over it.

After crashing out of the EU, we need to agree deals with them e.g. for trade, etc., etc., which brings us to the election. This could be unlike any previous general election because, rather than voting for Labour or Conservatives people are voting for or against Brexit, for or against No Deal.

‘This is far too clever and subtle for Boris; this has Cummings sticky fingers all over it’

Boris is gambling that because he has delivered Brexit his star will be in the ascent, and he can carry the day and win a majority. Of course, given that he seems more than happy to ignore Parliament why is he bothering, instead why not go all the way and form a dictatorship. Cummings would make a marvellous head of the secret police that seem obligatory in dictatorships.

However, assuming we maintain at least a pretence at democracy, Cummings may not be able to influence the electoral outcome in constituencies that are pro-Remain and have a sitting Tory MP; it is estimated that 86 Conservative MPs are in this position

This column has discussed this point previously, but it is worth revisiting; analysis shows that 3.5 million people voted Remain in the 2016 referendum and then went on to back the Conservatives in the last election.

This opportunity has been recognised by People’s Vote campaign (‘The Campaign’), the driving force behind the campaign for a second EU referendum, who have drawn up a list of up to 100 target seats where Remainers will be urged to set aside their traditional party loyalties to help install MPs in favour of remain. Although, if we have already crashed-out ‘remain in what’ might well be asked.

This strategy payed dividends in last week’s Brecon and Radnorshire by-election, and played a part in helping the Lib Dems win the seat.

The campaign plans to cover England, Scotland and Wales, and aims to boost the number of pro-People’s Vote MPs in Parliament and oust those who oppose another public poll.

 

Key seats targeted include:

 

  • Richmond – where pro-Brexit MP Zac Goldsmith holds a majority of 45 over the Lib Dems
  • Chingford and Woodford Green, the former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith’s seat, where he holds a majority of 2,438 over Labour.
  • Chipping Barnet, where Theresa Villiers, the pro-Brexit environment secretary, has a majority of just 353

 

In addition, the campaign will work to defend sitting MPs backing a second referendum, such as Lib Dem’s Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran who holds a majority of 816.

Labour under Corbyn have, yet again, failed to understand, or simply ignored the situation, and along with the SNP, have refused to join the campaign. The latter may not be such a loss, Scotland appears to be moving further towards Remain and Second Independence Referendum, it would be no surprise to see them sweep the board north of the border

And, it isn’t only remain considering joining forces, it has also been reported that Conservative MPs are pleading with the Brexit party not to field candidates in their constituencies. Leave.EU founder Arron Banks says, ‘at least 10’ Conservative MPs have asked him to persuade Nigel Farage not to split the Brexit vote.

In summary, its all rather at odds with everything. A No Deal Brexit seems increasingly likely, and one that will bypass Parliament. In response Parliament can hold a no-confidence vote in the government which, even if he loses, doesn’t necessarily mean that Boris needs to stand-down or call an immediate election.

In conclusion, a bunch of rabid anti-Europe right-wing Tories, otherwise known as the Cabinet, can crash out of Europe and there may not be much any of us can do to stop them. As I wrote earlier, this is too subtle for Boris, Cummings is pulling the string, I suppose we should be grateful we have strict gun laws in the UK. I leave you with this sobering thought from 1979:

 

‘I will be Führer one day, I will command all of you, Your kids will meditate in school…’ 3

 

Footnotes:

  1. Richard Neville, 16th earl of Warwick, also called 6th earl of Salisbury, byname the Kingmaker, (born November 22, 1428—died April 14, 1471, Barnet, Hertfordshire, England), English nobleman called, since the 16th century, ‘the Kingmaker,’ in reference to his role as arbiter of royal power during the first half of the Wars of the Roses (1455–85) between the houses of Lancaster and York. He obtained the crown for the Yorkist king Edward IV in 1461 and later restored to power (1470–71) the deposed Lancastrian monarch Henry VI.

Source: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Richard-Neville-16th-earl-of-Warwick

 

OK lyric spotters three tracks to identify, and in line with the mood of his article, Philip is taking us to some pretty dark places this week.

1 First is our dose of Bowie with ‘Panic in Detroit’ – written in 1973 for Aladdin Sane the song is based on his friend Iggy Pop’s experience of the 1967 Detroit riots and among other lovelies references Che Guevara and John Sinclair of the White Panthers.

2 Next up are the Ramones with perhaps a slightly less well known, but none the less appropriate ‘The KKK Took my Baby Away’

3 To complete a pretty testing trio with a somewhat sinister theme, there are double points available if you identified the Dead Kennedys with the less than fluffy ‘California Uber Alles’. Redeem your points in the usual way – but most importantly, 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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