“You’re in denial” said Nigel Farage to Andrew Marr in that BBC show yesterday. If you look at today’s papers – reports, opinion pieces and readers’ comments – then one has to conclude that the Remain part of this country is in denial as well.
It’s as if nothing else happened yesterday on the Brexit front except ‘that’ interview – but it did. So let’s take a look before we go to ‘that interview’, starting with Labour.
There was an interview on SKY with Tony Blair. Yes, he did squirm (see here), but for me the important point was his assertion that Labour is a Remain Party and must therefore insist on a 2nd Referendum in the forthcoming talks with the Tories.
Corbyn has now nowhere to hide. Two of his most powerful frontbenchers (Sir Keith Starmer MP and Tom Watson MP) are insisting that a 2nd Referendum be included in their ‘deal’ with the PM, see here, here (paywalled) and here (paywalled).
Poor PM! That space between a rock and hard place she’s created for herself has become even smaller now as her own MPs are also putting pressure on her. The PM will have to face the Brady Bunch, a.k.a 1922 Committee, on Thursday, which some of her MPs are now calling her ‘D-Day’ (here and here). Mind you – their ‘hard stance’ only refers to getting her to set a date for her retirement. The PM must feel like being savaged by a mischief of mice.
Until Thursday, much can still happen. There are today’s talks with Labour, there’s a Cabinet meeting tomorrow, and she and her Remainers better take note of the gathering storm that are the EP elections which are now only ten days away. It’s interesting to observe how the PM’s cabinet are now regarding the situation – and yes, they’re also deeply into denial:
“Theresa May was under pressure from cabinet ministers last night to scrap formal Brexit talks with Labour and launch a final attempt to secure a compromise in parliament. Supporters of a deal with the European Union are preparing to use tomorrow’s cabinet meeting to urge the prime minister to set a timetable for indicative votes by MPs after the European elections. The move comes amid growing criticism from Conservatives of the talks, which are due to begin again today, as ministers who previously supported them lose faith.” (link, paywalled)
Thankfully, our Cabinet ministers are happy to leak, so here’s what they think the PM ought to do:
“Damian Hinds, the education secretary, said that while he hoped the talks would “find progress”, an alternative would be to try to find a “stable majority” through a government-backed process of allowing MPs to vote on different Brexit options. Privately, senior ministers including Amber Rudd, the work and pensions secretary, David Gauke, the justice secretary, and Greg Clark, the business secretary, are preparing to call on the prime minister to move swiftly towards such a “plan B”. (link, paywalled)
This shows nicely that they are as fully culpable of the demise of the Tory Party as is the PM. The panic imposed by the EP Elections and the rise of TBP is palpable:
“If we can’t do a deal with Labour we need to throw our weight behind indicative votes,” a government source said. They added that the group would also resist attempts to step up no-deal planning, which is due to be discussed at tomorrow’s meeting. “How can we campaign against the Brexit Party if their campaign for no-deal is our contingency plan,” they said. “Nothing better sums up the ludicrousness of our situation than that.” (link, paywalled)
Are they saying that there must be no contingency planning for a No Deal Brexit because that’s what TBP is campaigning for? Really? It’s as if it’s yet again only about slaying that Farage Fox.
So – ‘that’ interview … if you haven’t seen it, you can watch it on iPlayer, or on youtube in a slightly edited form. Our BBC-supporting MSM show short clips in their reports as well – here and here, and paywalled here and here. Their ‘take’ is that a ‘furious’ Nigel Farage has ‘lashed out’ at Mr Marr. Oddly enough, that’s not what viewers saw, or rather it’s what only Remainers saw.
If one were to read only those write-ups one would be left with the impression that Mr Farage screamed and shouted and stormed out of the studio … but that’s not what happened.
What did happen was that Nigel Farage was no longer playing ‘Mr Nice Guy’, answering those ludicrous questions in a jokey manner. And ludicrous they were as Mr Marr tried to get answers on a list of remarks Mr Farage had made during the 2015 GE and 2016 referendum campaigns.
Why, for instance, was he asked about a remark he made years ago on gun control? Guns, Mr Marr? Shouldn’t you have asked about knife control? The aim clearly was to paint Nigel Farage as ultra-far-right-extreme populist who needs to be shunned, and his Brexit Party as well. Or see this question:
“Mr Farage was asked if he was “uncomfortable with foreign languages being spoken on trains” following a remark he made to that effect in 2014. Mr Farage replied: “You are just not interested, are you? Let’s talk about democracy, let’s talk about trust, let’s talk about competence in politics. This is ludicrous.” (paywalled link)
Ludicrous it was indeed, as ludicrous as the insistence of Remainers that Mr Marr ‘showed up’ how horrible Mr Farage is. Here’s an opinion piece in the now Remain DM, if you must. And see this:
“Marr defended the interview, saying that he was “trying to work out who you are” and “where the Brexit Party is going”. (link, paywalled)
Do we really believe that Mr Marr has never ever heard of Nigel Farage, never ever spoke to him, that he’s a total ‘unknown’ as far as the BBC is concerned? Words fail me!
Meanwhile, the extraordinary EP election leaflet the Tory Party has sent out is finally being mentioned – we wrote about it last week. Here’s a report (not paywalled), and here are some details:
“Conservative in-fighting has broken out after the party produced a European Parliament election leaflet which tells people to lobby directly Brexiteer MPs who have voted down Theresa May’s Brexit deal. A leaflet – seen by The Daily Telegraph and titled “How to show you want a Brexit deal delivered as soon as possible” – says that “for a deal to pass it needs the support of more than half of all MPs”. [It] says: “How can these elections be stopped? If a majority of Members of Parliament back a deal in time, we could cancel the elections and get on with leaving the European Union – and all the other important issues facing our country.” (paywalled link)
Dearie me – everybody and their dog knows by now that these elections cannot be prevented. It seems this message hasn’t reached Tory CCHQ. Have those Tories not noticed that this is about the EP elections, not about a GE for our HoC? Have they recycled material not used in the Local Elections? Dearie me!
I leave you with an appeal from Guy Verhofstadt who was campaigning with and for the LibDems (here). He said “the poll was a chance to send a message to the continent.”
Just so! Let’s send the message loud and clear because you lot didn’t hear us the first time: we want Brexit! And do tell your Tory MPs as well – after all the PM has asked for our input, we mustn’t disappoint her …