Good Friday used to be a day of contemplation for what once was Christendom. Now it is another opportunity to rush off for a long weekend, Ecoloon-Protests notwithstanding. So there’s little real Brexit news, but there are still some interesting snippets to be found … I couldn’t help but grin when I read this:
“UK Commissioner Sir Julian King will takeover as the bloc’s most senior official for five days, as his colleagues go on holiday. The British eurocrat will make the final decision on applications for EU funding and dictate the Brussels response to emerging domestic or global crises. The bizarre rota decision, which was made ahead of Britain’s original Brexit date on March 29, will see Sir Julian in charge of the EU despite him expecting to lose his job three weeks ago.” (link)
And I savoured this:
“The EU security chief’s ongoing presence is likely to infuriate French President Emmanuel Macron, who attempted to axe British participation in the European Commission in exchange for the latest Brexit delay.” (link)
But stop rejoicing – see this:
“European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker praised Sir Julian’s “exemplary” performance during the leaders’ debate on the Brexit delay. Sir Julian was nominated by Downing Street to serve as part of Mr Juncker’s Commission cabinet, which pulls the EU strings from Brussels.” (link)
So the business of the EU now rests in the hands – capable, as far as the EU is concerned, I’m sure! – of another of May’s ‘Remain’ helpers. Well, as long as it upsets the wannabe Napoleon M Macron …
Next we have various pundits pontificating – not about Brexit but about the Tory Party, about Labour, about Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party (TBP) and UKIP. I shall not enlarge on the TBP/UKIP fight – you can read about that in most non-paywalled papers – but make these observations:
Firstly, and depending on the political bend of the writer to either Labour or Tory, their interpretation regarding TBP is wildly different, even though they use the same YouGov poll which gave TBP the enormous lead in the European Parliament elections (EP).
Secondly and interestingly, both sides, coming from opposite directions and interpreting the TBP phenomenon differently, reach the same conclusion: because of TBP, there must not be a ‘hard’ Brexiteer to replace Ms May, and her WA ‘deal’ must be dragged across the line.
Here’s a quote from an author of the Tory persuasion (I assume), who sees the way out in voting Ms May’s deal through and then have a charming, touchy-feely PM to replace her to implement it:
“What do we want out of all of this? Surely to end up out of Europe, but still in a civilised relationship with it. To feel good about ourselves as a country again. To find common ground rather than retreating into boxed-in corners where neither side can move forward. So yes, absolutely, the next Tory leader should be a Brexiteer. […] But they [ed: that’s PC speak for when you want to be gender-non-specific …] also need to be able to bring two snarling, warring sides together – which means they need to be able to try and understand the other side of the argument. That requires warmth, charm, and a desire to bring rapprochement. To be able to practise the skilful, ancient British art of compromise politics. Vote an extreme Brexiteer into that role, and the irony is, we might end up with no Brexit at all.” [paywalled link]
It is of course pure coincidence when we read elsewhere (here) that Boris Johnson is believed to be the front runner in the May Replacement Stakes:
“The former London Mayor is in a prime position to takeover as Prime Minister should Theresa May be toppled. […] A senior figure of the ex-Foreign Office minister said: “Right now, Boris would win. We will have the numbers. Before recess, five new MPs a day were approaching him. Everybody knows Boris puts bums on seats like nobody else can, and May’s decision to invite in Corbyn pushed a lot of people towards us.”
Hm. Is he the ‘they’ the DT author was thinking about? I couldn’t possibly comment …
Labour, on the other hand, still seems strangely unconcerned about TBP, but a former Labour spin merchant has this warning:
“A Farage victory may well convince the Tories to respond by electing a hardline EU-sceptic to replace Theresa May as party leader and as prime minister. If you’re a Labour Party strategist, that may be a risk worth taking. Maybe a Right-wing Tory leader is all that Labour requires to shore up its own support and create a broad enough anti-Tory coalition to propel Corbyn into Number 10. All of this is possible, but the risks are huge. To maximise the chances of success, any political strategy needs to cut down on the number of “ifs” upon which that success depends. British political life is too unpredictable and combustible right now. The safer course of action for both main parties would be to agree a deal and call off these unwanted elections.” (paywalled link)
Ah – see the last sentence: the cat is out of the bag. I’ll come to this below.
Now let me draw your attention to the nicely-hidden suggestions in those two articles I quoted from at length – suggestions which, I believe, other pundits will make with increasing clarity and force over the Easter weekend.
One is that Ms May’s deal must be dragged over the finishing line after Easter, regardless. The covert reason is that this would stop the EP elections and thus the rise of TBP and Nigel Farage. The Westminster Establishment is again scared of that particular fox as a YouGov researcher predicted ‘a Nigel-Farage-shaped upset at the ballot box’ (here).
Just as David Cameron (remember him?) was singularly unsuccessful to slay that particular fox by giving us the referendum, I believe that, again, the Westminster establishment will be singularly unsuccessful this time round.
The reason is that they all know that the WA, no matter how erudite the pundits’ arguments, is an abomination. They know that we know it, and a ‘compromise’ by May and Corbyn to push it through would end in electoral catastrophe for both parties.
The other suggestion is that ‘we must all come together’, that ‘we must find a compromise’, that ‘being divided’ is bad. Of course, they know and we all know that the compromise they ask for is a compromise on Remain terms.
However, ‘compromise’ is the preferred political instrument of the EU. They carefully make it look as if ‘compromise’ and ‘pragmatism’ were one and the same thing. Yes, British politics were always pragmatic, not driven by ideology but by principles.
In contrast, EU compromises are driven by ideology (EU = good, everything else = bad), and are imposed from a position of power. Ms May’s WA, her ‘negotiating team’, Remainers of all political colours have shown in abundance that they have assimilated the EU’s ideology to such an extent that the destruction of our democracy is negligible, as far as they are concerned.
We Leavers however have not and never will adopt the EU ideology. When we seek a compromise we do so while standing firm on our principles, on our convictions. Our compromises are based on give-and-take. They are not based on grovelling surrender, especially not when that surrender is draped with worthless phrases like ‘let’s all come together’.
On this Good Friday, I leave you with a quote from G.K. Chesterton: “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried.” Now replace “the Christian ideal” with ‘Brexit’ … isn’t that a perfect fit?