There are days where I wonder if our top politicians have taken leave of their senses. It seems that they are addicted to being in the glare of the MSM and simply cannot do without. Apparently they don’t mind making themselves look ridiculous as long as they get into the headlines. The example of Ms Caroline Lucas recently who proposed an all-female cabinet to take care of Brexit is still in our memories.
Yesterday morning we looked at reports of Speaker Bercow sounding fiercely combative about wrecking Brexit any which way he can (here) and we had the oleaginous article by Mr Hammond (here). Then, during the day, our celebrity leaders and some MPs who think they are celebs themselves were busy creating ‘news’.
The PM Johnson introduced his “People’s Prime Minister’s Questions”, a live-streamed video performance on Facebook. If you’re not on Facebook, if you were at work or even soaking up the rain on your holidays in our green and pleasant lands and couldn’t watch: tough! You missed it … I’m not on Facebook either, so there’s no report from me. If you’re desperate to know, you might read this column.
Some MPs and apparently some EU diplomats were watching this “PPMQs” though. Their reactions deserve to be laughed at:
“Boris Johnson was accused yesterday of jeopardising MPs’ safety after he claimed they were “collaborating” with Brussels to prevent Britain’s departure from the European Union. […] The comments were met with dismay in Westminster and Brussels where European diplomats said it was the prime minister’s unacceptable demands that stood in the way of a deal, not the House of Commons.” (link, paywalled)
That is so incredible it defies belief: the EU is supporting the Remain Parliament and opposing the PM’s government! Let that sink in! There’s more and it’s not even ridiculous:
“Guto Bebb, a Tory MP, called the remarks “absolutely disgraceful”and said it could lead to an increase in threats against MPs. “I knew Jo Cox. Boris Johnson should reflect very carefully on the fact he is using language about us collaborating with the EU when he knows full well of the threats people are facing,” he said. Ms Cox, a Labour MP, was murdered a week before the EU referendum outside a library in West Yorkshire. Yesterday John Bercow, the Speaker, said that he had received death threats after telling an audience at the Edinburgh fringe that he would fight to stop the government from suspending parliament to force through a no-deal Brexit without consent.” (link, paywalled)
I don’t need to point out that it’s of execrable bad taste to drag the murder of Jo Cox MP three years ago into an argument about No Deal Brexit. That a Tory MP can sink so low to use this stick to beat his own PM with is unbelievable.
I also wonder about the state of mind of politicians who seem to glory, in a perverted way, of getting “death threats”. It’s not as if MPs and Mr Bercow himself have the full support of the Law and the police to pursue those who utter such threats! It’s not funny to mention them as if they were a badge of honour, or as if one were a political nobody without receiving such threats.
As for the EU diplomats’ reaction – when one has been stonewalling for three years, when one expects unquestioning compliance with a ‘no negotiations’ attitude, then any demand for new negotiations certainly has to be ‘unacceptable’:
“Senior Brussels figures said the prime minister was misrepresenting the EU position and his own red lines were responsible for the blockage. “We are not waiting for MPs,” one EU diplomat said. “We have accepted that the UK is leaving the European Union and negotiated with the government in good faith.” (link, paywalled)
Obviously, ‘negotiating in good faith’ means, in ‘EU Speak’, “non, nein, no”, ad infinitum, as we all know by now – and as Mr Phil Hammond MP surely must know!
In the wake of his article the commentariat (they had a lot of work to do yesterday!) got busy. The Times, where Mr Hammond’s article was published, rushed to his defense or rather rushed to attack the Hammond-attackers:
“Does Philip Hammond matter? Downing Street seems to be in two minds. One Boris Johnson ally told Politico that the more figures such as the former chancellor and Dominic Grieve speak out against a no-deal Brexit the more the “public hates them”. And yet the scale and intensity of the briefing against Mr Hammond undermines this attempt at insouciance. The former chancellor provokes a visceral response among many Brexiteers who have come to regard him as the “saboteur-in-chief”. (link, paywalled)
So he does! The next paragraphs are quite factual:
“The official narrative is now that the Treasury blocked mitigations to forestall any effort to use no-deal as a credible negotiating tactic. Mr Hammond was never going to let it go unchallenged. […] The more they [Johnson’s allies] can tie Remainer Tories up in process the more successful will be their caricature of them as desiccated, vain, nit-pickers more concerned with their own reputation than the worries of ordinary people.” (link, paywalled)
Not a bad strategy, that! The next paragraphs are also instructive, illustrating nicely the thought processes of the Westminster Bubble dwellers, be they MPs, government spokespeople or MSM commentators:
“A secondary line of attack is that Mr Hammond’s assertion that parliament will block no-deal is undermining the chances of a successful renegotiation. Mr Johnson’s demand that the Irish backstop be abolished might well be a more credible explanation for failure but alternative culprits are already being lined up. Mr Johnson’s allies speak of the coming “din” — a wall of parliamentary white noise that the public will tune out — as they sketch the route ahead. If Remainers are going to make their voices heard they must choose the message and the messenger with care.” (link, paywalled)
The Brexit commentators have meanwhile rushed to defend Johnson. We get three ‘Johnson defenders’ against one ‘Hammond defender’, but it is too tedious to repeat their arguments. They all forget that we’ve heard it all before, for more than three years now. Just get on with it!
One politician yesterday did get on with it. He finally got off the fence he was comfortably sitting on. I am talking of Mr Jeremy Corbyn MP, Labour Leader.
Yesterday he wrote a letter to the Remain opposition MPs. The gist of this letter is his proposal for a VoNC, followed by a ‘caretaker government’ with him as PM (naturally!) and a GE, allowing for an extension to Article 50.
You can read the letter in full here where reactions of MPs are reported as well. Ms Swinson, the LibDem Leader, has rejected Corbyn’s proposal out of hand.
I have the ever increasing suspicion that she is already seeing herself as PM, even if just as ‘caretaker’. Now she’s gained another MP: the former Tory MP Ms Sarah Wollaston who was part of the original TIGs (what a long time ago that was!) has now changed her affiliation again and joined the LibDems.
This is how our politicians ‘represent’ us: switching party affiliations as if they were putting on fresh underwear. They don’t ask their electorate. They blithely assume that their voters will change their minds as often as they do.
That is, after all, the Remain rationale for a 2nd Referendum: voters having changed their minds .. These MPs think that we’re like them: changing our minds at the latest drop of another MP’s hat. Projecting one’s convictions or fears on others never ends well.
Finally, because of one word, I cannot resist quoting from an excellent article by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in the paywalled DT. It is about the difference between the trade deals offered by the USA and the EU negotiations:
“To present the British dilemma as a choice between two variants of infeudation is to misunderstand the European project. The US is offering a trade deal. The EU aims to maintain a lockhold over how this country governs itself. Chalk and cheese.” (paywalled link)
I had to look up ‘infeudation’. It describes precisely what the EU is about, what their negotiation attitude is about. It tells us why we must resist at all cost!
That word encapsulates the reason why we voted Leave. It always was and is a choice between Freedom and Feudalism. We may no longer rule the waves, but we’ll certainly not be slaves – not of our Remain Parties, not of the EU. Keep that in mind and
Photo by lir segev