… trailing through the papers for this week’s squirrels …
If you think that there’s not been much about Brexit coming from our esteemed PM and her cabinet colleagues these last days you would be right, or at least partially right. The government ‘consensus’ apparently is that everybody has to keep quiet until after the Budget is presented this coming Monday.
Surprisingly, Ms May’s Party seems to be obedient – or is it really such surprise? Not after we learned that the members of the 1922 Committee, far from presenting her with a choice of a silk noose or a loaded pistol, knives at the ready, actually seem to have embraced her (“it wasn’t a lion’s den, it was more like a petting zoo” writes the DM, see also the DT here). Fear – of who comes after May, of being forced into a GE and a Corbyn win, of losing their place at the trough – seems to concentrate their minds wonderfully, but alas in the wrong direction …
Meanwhile, and thanks to the DM now being under the leadership of an arch-remainer, the unsuspecting public is exposed to a new litany of Project Fear items, all brought to the table by a collection of Z-list ‘experts’ of whom no-one has heard before. The Remain squirrels must have had a whale of a time, seeing how they have been proliferating!
This one is a somewhat aged squirrel: Patients could have to stockpile their own drugs unless a Brexit deal is done by Christmas, but never mind, it’s bound to scare some more people. Well, all right, adding “Christmas” into the mix must be attention-grabbing.
The next squirrel also has been around: No deal Brexit will make fighting serious and organised crime ‘significantly’ harder – oh really? Are the knifings and acid attacks all due to EU immigrants then? That surely must be racist! But wait: it says the “National Crime Agency warned no deal could block European Arrest Warrants” – isn’t that what we Brexiteers have been demanding because the EAW is fundamentally incompatible with our Common Law? I forgot: “EU – good, UK – bad”: repeat three times, five times a day, then it surely all makes sense.
Here is however a brand-new squirrel, or rather it’s two squirrels for the price of one: Brexit could KILL 5,600 people a year by making fruit and veg unaffordable meaning their diets are no longer healthy enough, warns Oxford University researcher. There’s the ‘Brexit will kill’ squirrel, preening its fur, and there’s the ‘Brexit will make everything expensive’ squirrel, somewhat diminished but still alive and kicking. Lurking in the background are the baby squirrels, not yet fully adult, but expect them to grow: ‘Brexit will make us all ill’, ‘Brexit will damage the NHS’, and ‘Brexit promotes cancer’.
And then there this unexpected squirrel joining the fray, cleverly hiding behind ‘what France, what M Macron could do’ (see here):
“France will deliberately disrupt British imports and exports through Calais if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, a Cabinet minister has claimed. French President Emmanuel Macron could introduce extra checks for lorries taking parts to British factories and trucks taking British food into Europe, causing major delays and disruption. He may do this to pressure Britain into paying a £39bn Brexit divorce bill, the anonymous minister said.”
The ‘anonymous minister’ has now been outed – it was Dominic Raab, the Brexit minister. The Home Secretary Mr Javid joined in, allegedly telling the Cabinet that
“[…] French border police could cause huge traffic delays by asking every driver their reason for travel. This would add an extra 50 seconds to the usual 25-second checking time on each truck, causing miles of tailbacks. The chaos could force British factories out of business and leave food produce rotting at the border. This means that no matter how well Britain prepares for a no deal Brexit, the country is powerless to stop massive disruption if France wishes it.”
I am in two minds if those statements were meant to stiffen the spines of the Cabinet to go for the No-Deal Brexit, without paying Brussels a penny, or if it’s a new, top-level squirrel blaming M Macron for a change. But fear not, there’s an intrepid squirrel-hunter about! His name is John Redwood, and he had this to say in his diary:
“The Transport Secretary went to Calais this week and nailed the Project Fear lie that Calais would mount an economic blockade or go slow on UK traded goods if we just leave on 29 March next year. The Mayor of Calais made clear they value the UK business, and will ensure the port runs smoothly after Brexit.They realise the Dutch and Belgian ports would love to lift the trade off them. It was good to see a Minister rebutting a Project Fear nonsense.”
The proliferation of these squirrels is quite deliberate because it means that Brexiteers and squirrel-hunters big and small have to spend their time hunting them down, one by one while the serious betrayal is being concocted away from our eyes.
Meanwhile, it’s becoming positively medieval, with more and more precious, ‘erudite’ debates on how many angels can dance on a pin, i.e. how many different Brexit deals there can be so that the dreaded ‘No Deal’ which we peasants want and voted for can be avoided. This diverts our attention from an important statement by the Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox QC who is reported to have told the Cabinet that “Britain has a choice to accept a backstop it cannot get out of, push for no deal or renounce the backstop entirely.” Plain speaking, this!
There are some Brexiteer journalists who try to tackle the aspects of the current negotiating disaster (e.g. here and here), but alas, their excellent articles are always behind a paywall, so I’ll leave you with this brief statement by the squirrel-hunter extraordinaire, John Redwood:
“We will be full members of WTO on 30 March and trading under their rules – There is some nonsense about the WTO going around. It’s a rehashed Project Fear story which makes no sense.The UK is a member of the WTO and will be a full member trading under the WTO rules when we leave the EU.”
So there you are – another squirrel dispatched to its maker …
Let’s get on with Brexit and perhaps ponder that there’s a certain date coming up quickly: the Fifth of November …
Alternatively, and still tripping down Memory Lane, there’s that chap called Cromwell …