It has been a rather amazing week, hasn’t it? First, in spite of earlier denials, all of the opposition parties joined together to say they would work as one to defeat “no-deal”. Then, Boris does a u-turn on his previous claims and announces “proroguing” of Parliament. That, in turn, led to mass protests up and down the country. And yesterday, the Government was doing the rounds of the TV and radio studios to let it be known that even if Parliament did agree on legislation to prevent “no-deal”, they would probably not take it to the Queen for Royal Assent and therefore the “will of the politicians” would not become law.
As if that were not enough, the chief adviser to Boris sacked someone working for the Chancellor, Sajid Javid. That’s like a supplier to one department of a company ditching another supplier working for an entirely different division. If that had happened in any business I’ve ever worked for the person sacked would have been reinstated (especially as it seems proper procedures were not used in this case) and the “sacker” would have been marched off the premises pending an investigation.
Yet, this is the Government we are talking about which is seemingly led by a non-elected individual who is widely regarded as ruthless. He led “Vote Leave” which was fined for breaking the law by illegally overspending during its campaign. Don’t even think about the fabrication of “facts” by Vote Leave’s campaigns either. However, the man who was in charge of all that, is now apparently the Puppeteer-in-Chief in Downing Street, pulling the strings of Boris – and deciding who works for other ministers. Democracy? Whatever gave you that idea?
So, let’s consider where this man appears to be leading the automatons we call “the Cabinet”. They are all claiming that “no-deal” has to be the way to go because “unless Europe thinks we’ll do that, they will not offer us a better deal”. This is just bonkers nonsense. The EU knows that no-one in their right mind would go for “no-deal” and they know we will not accept it because Parliament has rejected it already. So, it is therefore NOT any kind of bargaining chip in a negotiation. Rule One of negotiating is that the other side has to know that your “walk away position” is real. The EU knows that Boris’s “no-deal” position is just bluster and therefore it has no value in any negotiations.
Plus, you have to add into the mix that the glue which holds Europe together is made up of two sticky pieces. First and foremost, it is peace. That was demonstrated massively yesterday in Poland where the first day of World War Two was remembered and the President of Germany accepted blame for the conflict and sought forgiveness. The other sticky bit of the glue holding the EU together is the “single market”.
With the UK out of the EU and with a land border between Northern Ireland and Ireland both of those pieces of glue that hold Europe together are threatened. That’s why the “backstop” is essential and as the EU confirmed yesterday is not open for negotiation. With the backstop, you maintain peace and keep the single market. Boris and his gang don’t seem to understand the basics.
So they rush headlong towards a “no-deal” with no apparent plan as to what to do to avoid it. That’s in spite of repeated assurances they want “a deal”. There is, though, no evidence of them even trying to get a deal. They have no specific ideas other than stamping their feet and repeating “we want a deal so in order to get one we have to say we’ll do no-deal”. Yes, you’re right, that’s entirely illogical.
It’s no surprise they have no ideas, though. Quite apart from the fact they seem controlled and overpowered by a non-elected adviser, they are living in a strange world that is far away from the one you and I inhabit. That was shown admirably this week by Jacob “I love the 18th Century” Rees-Mogg. He was quizzed firstly on LBC and then shortly afterwards on BBC Radio Four about the decision to “prorogue” Parliament.
Both broadcasting companies had prepared well, it seems, even playing clips of Moggy himself saying that the Government would “not use arcane procedures” such as prorogation. Indeed, as Newsnight had done the evening before, LBC spliced together several clips of about half a dozen cabinet ministers all saying the same thing, emphatically.
Moggy – in what can only be described as patronising in the extreme – said in both interviews that when all of those cabinet ministers had said the Government would not prorogue, they did not mean what the broadcasters (or you or I) thought they meant. According to Moggy what they meant was they would not do what was done in Tudor times by Queen Elizabeth the First. No, I had no idea that’s what they meant – and I doubt if any of the ministers had any idea that’s what they meant either. More utter tosh from Moggy.
There’s also an interesting twist to this prorogation argument. The Government says it needs to end this sitting of Parliament so that it can prepare its new Queen’s Speech and enable its “exciting programme” of (uncosted) plans for our future. Then, in the next breath, they say that the anti-no-dealers should stop complaining as it only means a loss of four days of parliamentary time. OK, Moggy, Boris and Govey Govey, if it’s only four days (it isn’t) and “doesn’t make a difference” then why do it anyway? If it doesn’t make a difference to the anti-no-dealers, then it will not make a difference to the no-dealers. So it is wholly pointless.
Unless, of course, you consider prorogation in concert with what is happening this week. There’s going to be a budget statement. That is entirely unnecessary if you are about to end this session of Parliament as it would be completely torn up when you start a new Parliamentary session with an “exciting new programme”. The only reason you would make a budget statement and then close down Parliament a week later is if you wanted to have a general election. You could provide a “make them happy” financial statement which means the people would be more likely to vote for you – NOT.
I can only reach one conclusion. Either this Government and its puppetry master thinks we are all completely stupid. Or they are completely stupid. And I know for a fact that you and I are NOT completely stupid. Which only leads to one conclusion. AGAIN…!