Brexit Bulletin: ‘Somehow it’s all still very British’
For anyone who’s confused by some of the names used in this column, like any good film the cast list is at the end.
‘You’re burning the street, You’re burning your houses’ 1
The ironic thing is that we aren’t and won’t; instead we have Leave and Remain protesting alongside each other outside Parliament, chanting their chants and wearing embarrassing clothes.
The week began with Tsar Boris’s bloodless coup, which transpired to be nothing of the sort and was deemed legal by the High Court today, and ended with the Tsar beaten firstly by a runaway Parliament and then by a bull. Oh dear!
In addition, The Tsar’s threat to sack any Tory MPs voting against him fell flat and, from what I read, added to the revolt. 21 were duly sacked, and then his brother resigned from the government. Oh joy!
‘You want more and you want it fast, They put you down, they say I’m wrong’ 2
Never has a PM’s career go off to such an inauspicious start.
I won’t go into detail of the events it has been well documented everywhere, other than to say Tsar Boris now has either to negotiate a deal with the EU or ask for an extension of our EU membership until January 2020.
‘Never has a PM’s career go off to such an inauspicious start’
His last roll of the dice, calling an election before the Halloween deadline is unlikely to succeed as it doesn’t suit the opposition to fall into line with his plans, i.e. win the election with a majority and then use that to overturn the No Deal legislation and leave with No Deal.
There is, of course, one often overlooked scenario; the EU refuses the extension request. What then? Mrs May’s deal? No Deal?
The great irony in all of this is that it was the champions of Brexit who back in 2016 posed as the defenders of parliamentary sovereignty, determined to reassert the supremacy and independence of Parliament from the supposed encroachments of Brussels.
And, all week they have been fighting it at every turn: first proroguing parliament for five weeks, expelling even long serving and senior MPs from their party, and finally trying to defy parliament’s will.
As I predicted in my very first article on Brexit, ‘The Never Ending Story’, one of the likely outcomes of all this was the demise of Conservative party as we know it, something which is happening before our eyes. A purge that expels two former chancellors and a man who, only weeks ago was a candidate for the leadership; it is the Brexit party in all but name, a nationalist, populist party of the hard right.
‘the demise of Conservative party as we know it, something which is happening before our eyes’
Is this born from improvisation driven by panic, or a cunning plan, devised by Rasputin. One of the victims of the Tsar’s very own night of the long knives, Tory grandee and Churchill’s grandson Nicholas Soames, believes this is all very deliberate.
The assumption is that Cummings is intentionally baiting MPs so that he can trigger an election that Johnson will then cast as a populist battle of ‘people v parliament’.
If it is deliberate then this real death or glory politics, deliberately alienating moderate Tory voters who have always quite liked, say, Hush Puppy, thereby writing off a string of seats:
- in the south and the West Country, they are likely to fall to the Liberal Democrats.
- Scotland could return no Tory MPs
Does the cunning Rasputin expect to overcome this by winning pro-leave seats in the Midlands and north of England, many of them Labour-held, chiefly by neutralising the Brexit party?
Why vote for Nigel Farage when you can get a no-deal, full-strength Brexit with Johnson?
Are there enough ultras to carry the day?
Whilst there are plenty of onetime Labour voters who were happy to vote leave in 2016, and who voted for Farage in May’s European elections, will they really vote Tory now? In short, the plan, if it is a plan, is revolutionary; dispense with the traditional Tory support and triumph through hardcore Brexiters.
‘Cummings is intentionally baiting MPs so that he can trigger an election’
If the Tsar emerges with a majority then Rasputin will be the evil genius; or, the Tsar will be the man that inherited a mess, went on the rampage, and made everything much worse.
There is a myth about the Tsar and his new style Tory party that needs to be addressed; he and his cronies are Establishment, they are simply using non-establishment voters as their cannon fodder.
Rasputin, I will readily accept, isn’t the establishment, in some way he resembles an anarchist, seemingly finding parliament, government and MPs an inefficient way of doing things. This is still the establishment taking on the establishment; that will never change in this country.
Part of the problem with the Tsar is that he isn’t suited to the requirements of the new job. His fallback repertoire of glibness and bluster is all too easily seen through.
His statement on last week’s G7 summit was wonderfully upstaged by a Tory MP, Phillip Lee, quitting his seat on government benches and swapping it for a berth with the Liberal Democrats. When MPs demanded evidence of progress in Brexit talks, he could not even bluff.
All too often he becomes hostage to his own breezy rhetoric, the technical complexities and economic hazards of Brexit are indisputable; to him they are trifling or illusory:
- He claims that leaving the EU without a deal would not be a calamity, but also that the threat of calamity is necessary to persuade the EU to grant a deal.
- He says that MPs’ demands for an article 50 extension make it harder to negotiate in Brussels because continental leaders will compromise only when they see that the UK is beyond reason.
Then there is the fool’s paradise that is the decision to leave the EU gives Britain more leverage over the bloc than it had as a member and, in Slippery’s pre-referendum words, ‘we hold all the cards’.
Only we didn’t and still don’t, 27 nations collaborating to protect their combined interest trumps a lone state with no grasp of which way is up.
Whilst a leader must enjoy the limelight they also need to know when to be serious. Standing there making Brexit sound easy is all well and good, whilst it wins applause it only serves to convince him that it is easy, when it isn’t. Now, the show has ended, all the Tsar has left is the stark reality that is Brexit.
‘we won’t leave by 31/10 without a deal, he will have to ask for an extension’
Included in that reality is eating his own words; we won’t leave by 31/10 without a deal, he will have to ask for an extension, and there is little likelihood of an election saving him. It is hard to describe this as anything else other than total humiliation. One that could damage his party’s prospects in a November election, as the Brexit party would almost certainly hoover up disenchanted Conservative leavers.
And now that Sleepy has awoken from his slumber, Labour might regain the support of some of the leave voters it has lost in recent months. The party might even have a chance of becoming the largest party in a hung parliament.
And, Labours new found allies who helped secure the anti no-deal legislation, the 21 Tories who sacrificed their position as Conservative MPs, would be given some time to establish how (if they wish) they might rescue their political careers. Keeping them onside will be crucial as, in the event of the Tsar winning the election, they could be asked to vote against a government proposal to leave without a deal.
A November election is already look bad news for the Tsar. Today’s poll by ICM Research shows that the Tsar will suffer politically if he does backtrack on his Brexit promise – something he is adamant he will not do.
- Voting intention for an election before October 31 put the Tories on 37 per cent, Labour on 30 per cent and the Brexit Party on just nine per cent.
- But for an election after October 31 the Tories were on 28 per cent and so were Labour while the Brexit Party were on 18 per cent.
All in all, as a Remainer, its been a very good week.
‘You hear laughter, Cracking through the walls, It sends you spinning’ 3
OK lyric spotters – a triple treat again this week, but single points only as you save toward the big prize; and I’m pleased to say that for the first time in three weeks I managed to trouble the scorer.
1 was a slam dunk – I was a big Ruts fan and the now 40 year old ‘Babylon’s Burning’ took me straight back to furtively listening to John Peel and memories of the tragic Malcolm Owen. This one is a treat from Top of the Pops, replete with the Hairy Cornflake.
The next was hidden in plain sight; I expected a Bowie track, I thought I recognised the lyric, but however often I returned to it, I couldn’t get there, so 2 is the excellent ‘Rebel Rebel’ – this version from the equally excellent Live Aid.
Last but no means least a reminder of why I enjoy Philip’s challenge so much; a song that was lost to me, down the back of life’s sofa in the intervening four decades. But then bang – a few opening bars and I’m back in the Roundhouse gorging on Siouxsie and the Banshees and ‘Spellbound’; songs reunited – enjoy!
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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