Since my previous blog, then there has been a period of calm or, if you prefer, a period in which Brexit matters were briefly absent from the headlines whilst the various opposing factions got down to some serious plotting.
The peace process – Chequers style
Mrs May, presumably hoping to get her retaliation in first, convened an all-day cabinet gathering at Chequers on July 6.
Her objectives in calling the meeting were reported as being:
- To spell out her plans for Brexit to her cabinet colleagues.
- To bounce her cabinet into accepting her plans by the time-honoured tactic of giving them very barely enough time to read the plans, much less the time required to grasp their implications and consequences. This latter objective was said to apply especially to the perceived usual suspects.
The arrangements for the Chequers meeting appeared to your aged blogger to be based on the away days much beloved by bullshitters masquerading as managers with all the apparatus normally associated with such fraudulent gatherings.
It would appear from the copious leaks that emanated from the proceedings that great pressure was applied throughout to spell out the serious consequences of failing to unite behind her banner. Of these the most horrifying was that “Corbyn will get you,” a warning sufficiently terrifying as to subdue all but the most determined of her critics.
Those emerging from the day-long ordeal indicated that the outcome was that a united cabinet was now united behind a sound plan and that the next step was to present the said plans to our enemies in Brussels and, then – just like that – dictate the terms of a final agreeable Brexit.
The Sunday papers were full of praise for the latter day Thatcher – she had routed her internal fifth column critics and she was now about the to apply the same treatment to the pesky nuisances in Brussels (‘Iron Lady May has crushed the egos and the weasels’, trumpeted Dan Hodges in the Mail on Sunday). All downhill from now on.
Well – up to a point, Mrs May.
I awoke on the morning of Monday, July 9 to learn that Mr David Davis had resigned sometime around midnight. Good to see that our politicians are busy even at that unlikely hour.
This development had not been on the hymn sheet that the crowd of spokespersons clustered in No 10 were consulting, and there was confusion as the May team sought to minimise the problems arising from the departure of Mr Davis. To aggravate matters further Mr Davis made it clear in an interview on the following morning with John Humphreys that he had no intention of going quietly, by mounting a spirited and rational and plausible defence of his resignation on the Today programme.
So much for the overture.
As the day wore on, rumours began to circulate that BoJo had taken the day off – rather in the manner of his long trip to Afghanistan to avoid the Heathrow debate.
It emerged early in the afternoon that BoJo too had resigned and had poured petrol on the fire by noting in his tear stained resignation letter, a doleful despairing document etched in bitter tears, his grief at the betrayal of his beloved Brexit dream.
This development did indeed fox me – sorry about the pun, Liam – because I had always understood that the one consistent political principle pursued at all times by Boris was to advance the political career of Boris. It just shows how wrong you can be.
It has to be said that the timing of the BoJo resignation letter was masterly, because Mrs May was occupied and preoccupied with the formidable task of preparing to defend her Brexit plans to a House of Commons that was not wholly persuaded of her case and her cause. BoJo evidently holds firmly to the principle that you wait until your opponent is down before you kick them – nice work, BoJo.
The press coverage the following day broadly reflected the predilictions of the organs in question. True to form, Richard Littlejohn’s Daily Mail column urged the resignation of Mother Theresa (“She has repeatedly misled the British people and forfeited the trust of being our Prime minister”). Conversely, a Times leader opined that “The foreign secretary’s resignation is neither unexpected nor unwelcome. He has been a disruptive cabinet member and Mrs May has greater authority without him”. Meanwhile, in the same newspaper, Rachel Sylvester’s column argued that “The fantasies promoted by Leavers have led us to the cold reality of a government in chaos and a PM no one dares to kill”: not exactly a ringing endorsement of Mrs May.
Brexit – What next?
Sadly, much of the Brexit debate will continue to focus on the survival prospects of Mrs May in No 10, rather than on the most important issue to arise in the politics of the UK since 1945: namely, how can the absurd Brexit fiasco be jettisoned to enable the UK to reverse the outcome of the 2016 referendum and return to the comparatively sound and sensible political, economic and social arrangements developed over tens of decades throughout the EU?
We Remainers note with glee (and BoJo notes with gloom) that the Brexit dream (for dream read nightmare) is dying.
What political actions will kill it off?
Holdenforth suggests that a combination of the following developments should do the trick.
1. Mrs May to be forced out of No 10 by either losing a vote of confidence in the Commons or by a successful leadership challenge. Holdenforth can assert with confidence that Mrs May will not opt to follow the action of Neville Chamberlain in May 1940 and go voluntarily – it will have to be the old heave-ho.
2. The ensuing general election will be in effect a re-run of the referendum in all but name.
3. The outcome will be that there will be a majority in favour of the Remain cause as the voters belatedly grasp how they were conned the first time round.
4. No need at that point for any delay – just a brief note from HMG to the senior management of the EU to apologise for any little local problems triggered by Brexit – a spot of meiosis would be appropriate here, our application to invoke article 50 to be withdrawn and that as from now – its back to business as usual between a penitent UK and the EU.
It should also be observed that the great majority of the current crop of MPs understand only too well that Brexit was and is a huge national error but, as is the way with MPs, timidity, and looking after Number 1, take precedence over the national interest. In the Brexel 2 campaign, the Remainers should stop making obeisance to the sacred result of June 2016 and bellow out that the voters were conned by the insidious combination of the stupidity of David Cameron, the mendacity of Mr Farage and the astounding duplicity of BoJo.
Their campaign slogan should be “Goodbye Brexit: Hello, Bremain!”
The realistic possibilities continue to be as follows.
1. The likelihood of an attempt to dislodge Mrs May via a successful leadership is gathering support mainly because of the increasing exasperation among Tory MPs about her perceived hopeless political performance.
2. The other and rather more plausible possibility is that the resolute Tory Remainers – the dirty dozen according to Paul Dacre – would prefer to see Mrs May lose a vote of confidence, thus triggering a general election under her leadership.
Holdenforth is as confused as you are as to what the outcome will be.
What we do hope for and will use our limited resources to demand is the latter option, that of a general election.
Were that to happen a whole new game would come into play.
An election called in these circumstances, clearly a second Brexit referendum in all but name, would see a significant re-alignment of the parties and crucially, the re-entry into the fray or rather into the political vacuum that is now so prominent a feature of the UK political scene, of former senior politicians: Tony Blair, Nick Clegg, Gordon Brown, John Major, George Osborne and the Miliband brothers,
Holdenforth says – Bring it on!
In this election (let us refer to it as Brexel 2) the only issue would be: does Brexit go ahead or not.?
Failing this, we would hope that Theresa May will write to Donald Tusk requesting that we return to the status quo of the UK remaining within the EU, and apologizing profusely for any inconvenience cause over the past 2 years.