Is Mr Toad really the Witch’s Best Friend ?
The Telegraph has this on Mr Toad’s latest little adventure: “Syria crisis: Russia raises prospect of war if it is given G7 ultimatum as it mocks Boris Johnson’s no-show“. The Guardian has this: “Syria conflict: Russia must act now to end bloodshed, says Fallon – UK defence secretary says Moscow directly complicit in suffering, writing that ‘latest war crime happened on their watch’.
The Independent reports: “Russia and Iran warn US they will ‘respond with force’ if red lines crossed in Syria again – Threat comes after UK Defence Secretary demands Vladimir Putin rein in President Bashar al-Assad“.
Steve Coll writes in the New Yorker: “Trump’s Confusing Strike on Syria – If President Trump broadens his aims against Assad, he will enter the very morass that Candidate Trump warned against.” Mr Coll describes the civil war in Syria as “the worst geopolitical disaster of the twenty-first century” but he is rightly concerned about the consequences.
Likewise, Ezra Klein writing in VOX opined: “Trump’s foreign policy is dangerously impulsive – Trump needs a foreign policy, not just reactions to what he sees on cable news“. Mr Klein puts the problem pithily: “This, above all else, is what is worrying about Trump on foreign policy: He is unpredictable and driven by whims. He is unmoored from any coherent philosophy of America’s role in the world, and no one — perhaps not even him — truly knows what he’ll do in the event of a crisis“.
Bloomberg’s Editorial Board has this: “Making the Syria Strikes Count” – well reasoned from a US perspective, the Editorial concludes: “When he visits Moscow next week, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will need to present a credible plan not only to eradicate the Islamic State threat, but to create a limited safe zone for Syrian civilians and accelerate Assad’s transition from power. Tillerson’s mission will be to convince Putin that any hope of a U.S.-Russia rapprochement will depend on how helpful the latter proves to be in Syria.”
The Washington Post has this: “Could it be? Is President Trump on a roll?” with this telling comment: “Most analysts and political commentators are describing the attack as a calculated, level-headed decision by a president whose foreign policy disposition has been ambiguous. And oh, by the way, it doesn’t hurt that Trump did something so adverse to Russia in Syria. It showed that Trump is perfectly capable of acting with brutal hostility toward a vital interest of Vladimir Putin’s.”
Writing in the New York Times this morning, Antony J. Blinken, a Deputy Secretary of State in the Obama Administration, offers this Op-Ed: “After the Missiles, We Need Smart Diplomacy on Syria“. Well, if “smart diplomacy” is needed, then HM’s present Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs is not the right person and the Wicked Witch of Westminster seems to agree with that. Interestingly, as appears from the Telegraph and Guardian articles, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon was the government spokesperson on Mr Toad’s latest adventure.
The Independent has this: “Boris Johnson cancels Russia trip after US air strikes in Syria – A visit by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will go ahead, while Mr Johnson gathers support among G7 nations” but the first posted reader comment on Clown Boris’s diversion from Moscow to the G7 was: “One can’t help wondering what gravitas, statesmanship and authority Bonking Bozo the clown was going to bring to the party. Was he going to hand around the biscuits perhaps?”
The Financial Times also has this: “Trump sends aircraft carrier to waters off Korea – Experts divided over effectiveness of US tactics against Pyongyang’s nuclear threat“.
The Spectator has this: “North Korea must be tamed and Donald Trump is right to take action – The US President may be a reckless hothead but the world cannot tolerate a rogue state with nuclear missiles“.
One can see why the Wicked Witch of Westminster must needs cautiously support Mr Toad on these issues and it was probably wise of her to agree to have the US Secretary of State to deal with the Russians and to limit Clown Boris to the G7 meeting.
However, one op-ed in the Independent had this: “Theresa May deliberately humiliated Boris Johnson this week – her disdain for him is reaching dangerous levels – No one wants to become the latest poster boy for British subservience to Washington, or to wake on the Sabbath to ‘Boris the poodle’ (Moscow’s description). But May knew she couldn’t send him on a delicate mission with his counterpart Lavrov“.
The Guardian has this: “Russia decries cancelled Boris Johnson visit and warns on further Syria attacks – Moscow says decision to cancel trip shows Britain has no real influence and new aggressions in Syria will be met with force“.
Certainly, Clown Boris does not have the statesmanlike qualities of many of his predecessors in the office he holds. But then, in reality, the UK is no longer the Great Power we once were. Our Empire was dismantled in the the years following WW2.
We still have some trappings left – our influence within the Commonwealth – a “special relationship” with the USA – if only because because Americans speak “Murkin” which is a dialect derived from English – a seat on the UN Security Council and influence within the UN, NATO, and within the EU. But that latter zone of influence looks as if it is coming to a sorry end.
Worse, Mr Toad seems to wish to encourage the break-up of the European Union and perhaps therefore the reality is that he is no friend of the UK.
Brexit means that UK world influence will be greatly reduced
Brexit Developments – Gibraltar
Four days ago, the Independent reported: “Brexit: Theresa May and Donald Tusk agree to ‘lower tensions’ over Gibraltar – The Prime Minister met the President of the European Council at Downing Street“. How nice of Donald Trusk to say so.
But this 3rd April report in the Guardian shows that Spain has other ideas: “Brexit talks: EU will not go soft on Gibraltar issue, diplomats say – Spain has cultivated support among bloc members over control of the Rock, senior EU diplomats tell the Guardian”
Also on 3rd April, the Guardian had this: “‘We’re the sacrificial lamb’: Gibraltarians on Brexit sovereignty row – UK overseas territory could be included in trade deal with Spain’s agreement, says EU. We asked people of the Rock how they feel”.
As log ago as 21st July 2016, the Gibraltar Chronicle had this: “Spain could veto Brexit talks, Margallo says“: “The Spanish Government will veto the terms of any Brexit negotiation between the UK and the EU that sought to include Gibraltar, Spain’s acting Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo said yesterday….“.
Nobody can say that this was unexpected We knew it was coming. On 17th January 2017, the Gibralter Chronicle had this: “Govt’s stark analysis highlights Brexit border challenge“: “Nearly half of all jobs in Gibraltar would be put at risk by a hard border after Brexit, according to a detailed analysis prepared by the Gibraltar Government. The data, presented as written evidence to the House of Lords EU Select Committee by Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, identifies frontier fluidity as the key concern for Gibraltar as Britain prepares to withdraw from the European Union.”
Since the evidence was presented to the House of Lords, one would have though that the Wicked Witch and Clown Boris would have taken Gibraltar’s problem very much into account when preparing the Article 50 Notice. It appears they didn’t bother.
On 6th April 2017 the Gibraltar Chronicle had this: “Clause 22 may yet change, for better or worse“.
Spain has been working on recovering Gibraltar ever since it was ceded to the British Crown in 1713 by the Treaty of Utrecht. It will not give up easily.
Brexit and Scotland
4 days ago, the Independent had this: “Scotland rejoining EU would be ‘relatively speedy’, says senior German MEP – ‘If the political agreement would be there, then the process would be relatively speedy. Scotland is a member of the European Union and fulfils all of the conditions,’ says CDU member Elmar Brok“.
That is good news for Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP, possibly also for Scottish businesses – especially those in the financial services sector – indeed it could even result in some financial services players in England deferring Brexit relocation decisions and moving north of Hadrian’s Wall rather than relocating to Frankfurt, Paris or Dublin.
The Scotsman has this: “SNP could push through indyref2 bill to force May’s hand“.
Interestingly, the Scottish Sunday Herald has this: “Thumbs up for Nicola Sturgeon as other politicians see negative approval rating“. A Lord Ashcroft Poll gave the First Minister a +11% approval rating with a -21% rating for her Conservative opponent and a -23% rating for Teresa May. So the Wicked Witch of Westminster can stop interrogating her mirror!
Brexit and Free Movement
A week ago, the Independent and Open Britain launched a campaign: “Drop the Target: Theresa May must scrap goal of reducing net migration below 100,000 a year – Campaign launched by The Independent and Open Britain is being supported by MPs across the political spectrum“. That makes sense. The target was never realistic.
Three days ago, the Independent had this: “Boris Johnson says freedom of movement can continue after Brexit – Foreign Secretary claims to be ‘one of the few British politicians to speak up on the benefits of immigration’“.
Yesterday the Independent has this: “Drop The Target: Senior Conservative MPs demand five-year immigration ban – Pro-Brexit politicians tell PM their hardline plan ‘will deliver on the will of the electorate’“. According to the newspaper report, the messenger acting for the Leave Means Leave cabal was one Stephen Woolfe MEP, a former UKIP member who is now an Independent. (Click on his name for his details on Wikipedia which are not impressive).
On the Leave Means Leave website, the following Members of Parliament are named as being members of this entity’s “Political Advisory Board” or as “Supporters”. Their names below carry links to their respective Wikipedia entries.
- Rt Hon Owen Paterson MP (Con – North Shropshire)
- Rt Hon John Whittingdale MP (Con – Malden)
- Rt Hon Theresa Villiers MP (Con – Chipping Barnet)
- Rt Hon Peter Lilley MP – (Con – Hitchen & Harpenden)
- Dominic Raab MP (Con – Esher & Walton)
- Peter Bone MP (Con – Wellingborough)
- Chris Chope MP (Con – Christchurch)
- Nigel Evans MP (Con – Ribble Valley)
- Nigel Mills MP (Con – Amber Valley)
- Kelvin Hopkins MP (Lab – Luton North)
- Tim Loughton MP (Con – East Worthing & Shoreham)
- James Gray MP (Con – North Wiltshire)
- Jim Shannon MP (DUP – Strangford)
- David Nuttall MP (Con -Bury North)
- Sir David Amess MP (Con – Southend West)
- Marcus Fysh MP (Con – MP for Yeovil)
- James Cleverly MP (Con – Braintree)
- Andrew Bridgen MP (Con – Northwest Leicestershire)
- Adam Holloway MP (Con – Gravesham)
- Sammy Wilson MP (DUP East Antrim)
- David Davies MP (Con – Monmouth)
|People who live in the above-mentioned constituencies and who do not support a hard Brexit might want to consider the possibility of switching their support – for example to the Liberal Democrats: “The only party fighting to keep Britain open, tolerant and united“.|
On 5th April 2017 the New Statesman had this “Exclusive: Conservative poll showed party would “lose seats” to the Liberal Democrats – Election strategist Lynton Crosby warned the party would lose MPs to the Lib Dems in an early election, sources say“. According to the article, polling showed that the Conservatives would lose about 27 of the Conservative gains from the Liberal Democrats in the 2015 election.
On 6th April 2017 the New Statesman followed up with this: “What would be a good night for the Liberal Democrats in the 2017 local elections? – Tim Farron’s party have a favourable map and scope for gains“.
Obviously, one cannot be sure what outcome of future elections will be but the Conservative Majority in the present Parliament is small. Over the two year period to Brexit there may well be changes. One can only hope.