Teresa May’s Christian Democracy

 Teresa May’s Conference Address

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The Prime Minister gave the final address at the Conference which can be seen on line courtesy of the Conservative Home blog:  “WATCH: Theresa May’s speech to the Conservative Party Conference – in full”.

Mrs May’s address was very much an expression of “One Nation” Conservatism but it was also more than that:  It was also an expression of the tenets of Christian Democracy.

It’s a long time since we have heard a speech like this at a party conference and it bodes well for the country in many respects.

The Telegraph has this by Tim Stanley: “Theresa May has closed the liberal era. Bring on Christian democracy” in which he speaks of the essence of the Teresa May approach:

Cameron thought One Nation politics meant being nice to gay people while cutting benefits. This, I’m afraid, is the cold hearted logic of contemporary metropolitan liberalism – it leaves people to their own devices, sink or swim. May, by contrast, has a provincial, WI, prayer book, round table, civic conservatism that is parochial but also instinctively compassionate.”

With every respect to Mr Stanley, one needs to understand the real meaning of Christian Democracy and this Wikipedia entry may be of help.   The principles originate in the teaching of St Thomas Aquinas and are expounded in a whole series of  papal encyclicals beginning with the 1891 Rerum novarum  encyclical of Pope Leo XIII (which condemned the misery of workers suffering unbridled exploitation) followed by Quadragesimo anno, by Pope Pius XI in 1931, Populorum progressio by Pope Paul VI in 1967, Centesimus annus, by Pope John Paul II in 1991, and Caritas in veritate by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009.

The principles expounded in those texts have been adopted by other branches of Christianity and by people of other faiths. Anglo Catholics, particularly those who,  like Mrs May’s father, trained for their ministry at Mirfield College with the Community of the Resurrection,  generally consider that the principles of Christian Democracy are an essential part of good government. They are about the state ensuring that all the actors in civil society act fairly, the one to the other.

There was once much in common between “One Nation Conservatism” and the concept of Christian Democracy.

The disconnect between the two  began with the rise of the “greed is good” policies so beloved of Reagan in the USA and, sadly,  of Baroness Thatcher in the UK which brought about the deregulation of business, the progressive dismantling of the welfare state, the privatisation of nationalised industries and the diminishing of the trade unions in order to reduce labour costs.

To the extent that Mrs May is returning her party to “One Nation Conservatism” and  introducing respect for  principles of “Christian Democracy” that is the very best defence against both the extreme right and the extreme left.

The next months are not going to be easy.  But a return to One Nation Conservatism and to the principles of Christian Democracy make for a good start.

May’s Away and the Brexit Clowns Play

Parliament in Recess

Parliament rose for its summer recess on 20th July 2017 and is not due to sit again until 5th September 2017.  Just a few days after Parliament returns, it rises again on 14th September 2017 for the Party Conferences.   The Conservative Party Conference is to take place in Manchester from 1st to 4th October 2017.  Most MP’s, including the Wicked Witch of Westminster (aka Teresa May), are taking their summer holidays now.

NextPinkThe Wicked Witch has been seen walking around Desenzano del Garda in Northern Italy with her husband and wearing  a dreadful pink shirt dress (said to be on sale in Next shops for £26)  and roundly slated by the Daily Mail’s Fashion Editor in an article still to be found on Press Reader: “Oh Dear, Teresa!“.

But the Wicked Witch might have her mind on other things – such as whether she will still be in office for the Conservative Party Conference and, if so, how the hell she is going to get us all out of the mess the Referendum has created.

Do the Tories have confidence in the Wicked Witch ?

ww-westminsterOn 23rd July 2017, the Independent had this: “Fifteen Tory MPs ‘to sign Theresa May no confidence letter‘”.  But, as the article pointed out,  40 signatures are required to trigger a leadership contest.

The problem for the Conservative Party is that Party members (as opposed to MP’s) have been brainwashed for so long by advocates of Brexit that 80% of them say they voted leave in the Brexit Referendum.   The Wicked Witch’s predecessor, David Cameron thought he could win the Referendum vote.  He failed and left it to May to try and sort out the mess.

The public at large do not have blind support for Brexit at all costs.  Fanatic Brexiteers such as David Davis, Liam Fox or Clown Boris would be unlikely to win an election.

On 25th July 2017, the Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, had this in the Torygraph Telegraph “Sir Michael Fallon: Theresa May has the support of the Cabinet ‘at the moment'(£)“.

“At the moment”! – a polite way of saying that the knives are being sharpened.

Current Brexit Issues

Also on 25th July 2017 The New Statesman had this piece by Stephen Bush: “The promises of Brexit can’t be kept. You can only decide which bits to betray – Vote Leave’s great success was in presenting a menu of contradictory options as if they could all be secured“.

This is a perceptive analysis and it comes to the right conclusion:-

You cannot have a Brexit that unlocks trade deals with India and the rest of the BRICS (five major emerging national economies) and reduce the uncontrolled flow of people from elsewhere around the world to the UK.

You can’t have a more generously-funded public realm and pursue a Brexit that makes everyone poorer.  You have to choose“.

On the same day, the New Statesman also had this by its perceptive Political Editor George Eaton: “What price would the UK pay to stop Brexit?“.  Now that Article 50 has been invoked, stopping the process is not so easy.

On 22nd July 2017 the Torygraph Telegraph had this: “Lib Dem and Labour plot to delay Great Repeal Bill ‘could be the thing that does it for Theresa May'(£)

 

Also on 25th July 2017, the Torygraph Telegraph, once (but regrettably no longer) a firm supporter of the  Conservative Party also had this moan from the odious Nigel Farage: “The great Brexit betrayal has begun. The Tories have sold out the British people – now even Jeremy Corbyn has a tougher stance (£)“.

Actually, as this Times article makes clear, that is not yet quite true: “Fight to keep Britain in single market, unions urge Corbyn“.

One is forced to wonder whether the change of ownership of the Telegraph (it is now controlled by the Barclay Brothers) impacts on the newspaper’s stance on Brexit.

Writing in the Guardian on April 4th this year, George Monbiot wrote this: “Freeing up the rich to exploit the poor – that’s what Trump and Brexit are about – A bonfire of public protections is being lit in Britain and in the United States – and the beneficiaries of it will be the very rich“.

Today, 30th July 2017, the Independent has this: “Brexit: Cabinet splits emerge over Philip Hammond’s plan for transitional deal – It comes after Mr Hammond claimed there was a ‘broad acceptance’ at Cabinet level for many of the current arrangements with the EU remaining ‘very similar’ for a period lasting three years“.

 

May’s Away and The Brexit Clowns Play

Brexit Killer Clowns
The Wicked Witch’s Brexit Killer Clowns –  Davis, Johnson and Fox

Today the Guardian’s Sunday sister, the Observer, has this: “While May’s away: Hammond leads cabinet reshuffle on Brexit policy – Announcements by Amber Rudd and the chancellor, notably that of a three-year transition deal, mark a significant development in EU policy“.  It is, however, yet to be seen how that that might work.

Meanwhile, Clown Boris has gone off to the Antipodes where he has been pontificating in the Sydney Morning Herald: “Boris Johnson: Britain to seek stronger ties with Australia after Brexit“.  That has not stopped his surrogates – today the Torygraph Telegraph has this: “Boris Johnson’s ally attacks Philip Hammond’s plan which could see thousands of EU citizens move to Britain after Brexit(£)“.

Meanwhile, Clown Liam Fox has been in the USA talking about a possible post Brexit trade deal.  Obviously this can only be a talk about talks since EU law prohibits the negotiation of trade deals until after the UK has left the EU.  The Express has this : “‘What armageddon?’ Liam Fox tears into Brexit scaremongers and hails future of US-UK trade – LIAM Fox has hailed the start of a “new and exciting chapter” in UK-US trade and hit out at Brexit scaremongers during a speech in Washington this lunchtime“.

This event was held at the American Enterprise Institute (“the AEI”) which has a video of Fox’s address on line: “The future of UK trade policy: Remarks from the Right Honorable Liam Fox MP, UK Secretary of State for International Trade“.

But see this assessment of the AEI on Source Watch: “The American Enterprise Institute

The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI) is an influential right-wing think tank that advocates for lower taxes, fewer protections for consumers and the environment, and cuts to the social safety net AEI describes itself as “committed to expanding liberty, increasing individual opportunity, and strengthening free enterprise.”

In other words the AIE (funded by the extreme right) is committed to soaking the poor for the benefit of the rich. Precisely the sort of philosophy which appeals to Trump and to the Brexit Clowns.  Just the right sort of place for Clown Fox.

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Donald Trump aka Mr Toad

But, of course, no-one can say whether the Trump administration will still be in office at the time of Brexit.  The New Yorker has this by Andrew Sullivan: “A Week of Reckoning” which makes this point about Mr Trump (aka Mr Toad):  “We have become, at this point, inured to having an irrational president in an increasingly post-rational America. We’ve also come to tell ourselves that somehow (a) this isn’t really happening, (b) by some miracle, it will be over soon, or (c) at some point the Republican Party will have to acknowledge what they are abetting, and cut their losses. And yet with each particular breach of decency, stability, and constitutionality, no breaking point seems to have arrived, even as the tribalism has deepened, the president’s madness has metastasized, and the norms of liberal democracy are hanging on by a thread.  But surely this week must mark some kind of moment in this vertiginous descent, some point at which the manifest unfitness of this president to continue in office becomes impossible to deny.”

In other words, Clown Fox may be wasting his time – some other Administration may be in charge by the time the UK leaves the EU, if, indeed, it does.

There may be few further posts between now and September.  An August holiday in Europe beckons.

30th July 2017

 

 

 

When will May resign ?

11 July 2017 – The Witch’s Attempted Reboot

ww-westminsterThe Torygraph Telegraph has this, behind its paywall: “Theresa May faces up to her ‘new reality’ with extraordinary plea to Labour for cross-party cooperation (£)“.

See also this in The Independent: “Theresa May admits her flagship gig economy report could end up ‘gathering dust’ as PM bungles relaunch – PM refuses to guarantee Taylor Review legislation into exploitative workplace practices“.

There was a splendid sketch by John Grace in the Guardian: “You call that a relaunch? The Maybot’s broken record is still not fixed – One year and two reboots into her premiership, Theresa May finds herself welcoming a report aimed at helping people stuck in jobs without any security“.

The key passages in the Wicked Witch’s speech:-

  • “When I commissioned this report I led a majority government in the House of Commons. The reality I now face as Prime Minister is rather different.”
  • “In this new context, it will be even more important to make the case for our policies and our values, and to win the battle of ideas both in Parliament as well as in the country.”
  • “So I say to the other parties in the House of Commons – come forward with your own views and ideas about how we can tackle these challenges as a country.”

May’s plan is a lead balloon which has no chance of flying even within her own party.    The Torygraph – Telegraph has this behind its paywall:  “Theresa May’s plans to work with Labour on Brexit will hasten her downfall, Tory ex-ministers say“.

The New Statesman has this damning article:  “Theresa May’s premiership is doomed – her analysis is right but her solutions aren’t – Her “relaunch” has only brought her sell-by date closer“.

Parliamentary Reaction

There is to be a new parliamentary group.  See this in The Independent: “MPs set up new all-party group to combat ‘destructive’ hard Brexit – ‘We won’t accept MPs being treated as spectators in the Brexit process“.

  • MPs from all parties have formed a group to fight against a “destructive” hard Brexit, with former Tory minister Anna Soubry and former Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna among those leading the effort.”
  • “Politicians from the Liberal Democrats, the SNP, the Greens and Plaid Cymru have also signed up to lead the new All-Party Parliamentary Group on EU Relations.”

It is worth looking at this editorial in the Guardian on 10 July 2017: “The Guardian view on cross-party cooperation: backbench MPs hold the cards – Political parties are too wary to cooperate in the way that voters say they like. But backbench MPs can make it work on an issue-by-issue basis“.

Brexit – Legal Issues

Iron-May-smile-v2One of the stupider “red lines” which the Wicked Witch has imposed on  her Brexit negotiating team is  that the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (“the ECJ”) should no longer bind the UK.

There can be no doubt that the Wicked Witch also wishes to abolish the appellate jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights (“the ECHR”) if she survives to consummate Brexit.

But in the event of Brexit, the ECJ will expect to have ultimate jurisdiction, not only over the Brexit deal itself,  but also over the post Brexit rights of EU citizens, EU standards and many other issues.

Professor Sir David Alexander Ogilvy Edward KCMG PC QC FRSE  is a Scottish lawyer and academic who was a Judge of the ECJ from 1992 to 2004.  The Independent has this report  based on the opinion of Sir David:  “Anti-EU ministers show ‘invincible ignorance’ over European Court, says top ex-judge“.

The Torygraph Telegraph has this: “Euro-judge warns of unpleasant Brexit surprise from European Court“.

Hopefully, “surprise” will be the precursor of an eventual enlightenment, if not of the Wicked Witch and her Brexit Clowns, at least of sufficient backbenchers to avoid a Brexit disaster.

Post Brexit Citizens’ Rights

On 23rd June 2017 the New Statesman had this: “Theresa May missed an easy opportunity on EU citizens’ rights – If the UK had made a big, open and generous offer, the diplomatic picture would be very different“.

The Guardian had this on 26th June 2017: “EU citizens ‘bitterly disappointed’ with post-Brexit rights offer – Theresa May’s proposal is vague, say campaigners, amid anger that 150,000 people with permanent residency cards have to reapply for ‘settled status’“.

On 27th June 2017 the Business Insider had this: “All the rights EU citizens in the UK are set to lose after Brexit“.

By 10th July 2017:-

(1) ABC News had this: “EU Parliament condemns UK Brexit proposals on citizen rights” ;

(2) Politico had an expanded account:  “Brexit ‘bad cop’ gets angry over citizens’ rights – The European Parliament flexes its muscles and threatens a veto“;

(3) The Evening Standard had this: “Theresa May’s offer to EU citizens living in UK ‘falls far short’“.

On  12th July 2017 the BBC reported:  “Brexit: EU negotiator Barnier firm on citizens’ rights“.

Also on 12th July 2017 the Independent had this: “Brexit and Trump have forced the EU to listen to its critics and change, admit its top officials – Exclusive: Jean-Claude Juncker’s chief strategists tell The Independent Europe knows it must change“.

13th July 2017 – Brexit Woes

The Gibraltar Chronicle has this: “Queen hints at Gibraltar row during state banquet speech”.

The Torygraph Telegraph has this: “Theresa May’s Government could ‘come apart like a chocolate orange’ over Brexit, watchdog chief warns“.

The Independent carries the same story: “Brexit: Government’s new customs IT system heading for £34bn ‘horror show’, watchdog warns – The National Audit Office says the Government is only just starting to realise how difficult Brexit will be“.

Back in February 2016, Peter Hitchins wrote this for the Mail on Sunday: “The EU is our own Hotel California: We can check out, but we’ll never leave“.

This is worth re-reading because the idea of the Brexit Referendum being merely a device to extract more concessions from the EU may well have been correct.

The trouble is that when the Referendum result came in, the Cameron government bottled out and ttimesbrexitclownshe Wicked Witch and her Brexit Clowns took over.  Knowing, as they did, the strict timetable requirements of Article 50, the first priority of  the May Government should have been to work out the impact of Brexit on every aspect of our economy and our lives, prepare a Brexit game plan, have it costed and laid before Parliament.

This should have happened  BEFORE there was any question of triggering Article 50 but May and her Clowns did not bother.  So far, there has been no evidence that the May Government has the faintest idea of what Brexit will do to the economy or to our lives.

The Evening Standard has this: “Catastrophic’ Brexit could cost 70,000 City jobs if Britain leaves Single Market, major new report warns“.   It will be interesting to see how the Brexit Clowns propose to avoid that outcome.

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The New Statesman has this: “An epic tale of hubris and humiliation: Theresa May’s masochism premiership – She won the ultimate prize, and then tossed it away so carelessly“.   The article ends with this rather sad conclusion:  “Only she can really know how it feels to have won the ultimate prize and then to have tossed it away so carelessly. She has no one to blame but herself. And so the masochism premiership goes on – for now“.

Today the Conservatives table the so-called “Great Repeal Bill” in the House of Commons.

The Guardian has this: “Labour threat to defeat Theresa May over Brexit bill – Conservatives risk defeat over ‘great repeal bill’ that unbundles EU laws if they do not make concessions to opposition parties, warns Keir Starmer“.

The Leader of the Opposition was not there.  He has gone to Brussels – see this in the Independent: “”Bromance blossoms as Jeremy Corbyn meets EU’s chief Brexit negotiator in BrusselsLabour leader gives Michel Barnier an Arsenal shirt and receives a French nationalised railway poster in return“.

However, the position of HM Opposition was made perfectly clear – see this in The Independent: “Labour vows to wreck Brexit process by voting against ‘Repeal Bill’ unless Theresa May makes major changes – ‘The Government’s Repeal Bill falls short on all counts. It is simply not fit for purpose’

Paul Goodman has written on the Conservative Home website: “Tory MPs, the Repeal Bill, high motives for backing it, and a lower one too: self-preservation“.  What is interesting about this post are the comments from Conservatives who are opposed to Brexit altogether or who argue for a “soft Brexit”.  Is the mood of the Conservative Party changing?

Writing in The Times but behind the paywall, Ian Martin says this: “Tories must find a new PM before October – Negotiating Brexit terms with a nascent superstate will require leadership that Theresa May is not equipped to provide (£)

It will be interesting to see how the Conservative Party might achieve that before the Conservative Party Conference which is due to start on 1st October 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sic Transit Teresa ?

The Gingerbread House of Commons

gingerbreadThe Wicked Witch of Westminster (aka Teresa May) will, no doubt, have read the Brothers Grimm tale of Hansel and Gretel while she was a child in the vicarage.    The witch in that story enticed children into the Gingerbread House with the intention of cooking and eating them.  Mrs May’s invitation to other parties to support her programme for government (in particular Brexit) is a similar enticement.

Fortunately, the Wicked Witch’s proposals did not tempt the opposition MP’s and none have been captured.   The Evening Standard had this: “Labour rejects Theresa May’s offer of say on policies as proof PM has ‘run out of ideas‘”.

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Teresa May – The Wicked Witch of Westminster

This was The Independent report: “Tory MPs attack Theresa May after she reaches out to Labour for policy ideas – Prime Minister faces backlash for what one backbencher calls ‘this new lovefest with the benches opposite“.

The New Statesman had this: “May’s plea to Corbyn makes her look daft, but the Tories have no choice – The party needs a new narrative in which its reliance on other MPs is a feature, rather than a bug“.

The New Statesman also has this by its Editor,  Jason Cowley: “The guilty men of Brexit, Churchill, Boris Johnson, and the “bullseye of disaster” – The xenophobia during the EU referendum campaign was loathsome“.

The Guardian had this: “Corbyn rebuffs May’s offer to work together on post-Brexit policies – Tory backbenchers were also critical of prime minister’s invitation to Labour to help form cross-party consensus“.

The Guardian also had these op-eds:  (1) by Ellie Mae O’Hagen:  “Theresa May reaching out to Labour is an act of pure desperation – There are several theories as to why the prime minister is suddenly interested in cross-party ‘ideas’. None of them reflect well on her or her party“;  and (2) by Poly Toynbee: “Theresa May’s first year was awful. Her next promises far worse – The boulder of Brexit blocks her path, she can feel the Europhobes’ knives at her back, and Corbyn is waiting. The great unravelling is beginning“.

Newspaper Obituaries

The Independent has this op-ed by James Moore:  “A year on from when she first became Prime Minister, Theresa May is about to be replaced by someone even worse – Trump’s Twitter etiquette looks mild in comparison to the ideas David Davis has for Britain and Brexit. If he takes over, we should be very afraid – and he’s not even the worst option. Enter Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson“.

brexitgunThe dreadful Sun newspaper  has this political obituary by Trevor Kavanagh: “After a turbulent 12 months for Theresa May as Prime Minister, we look back on her first (and possibly last) anniversary – Upon David Cameron giving up the keys to No. 10, Britain seemed lucky to have no-nonsense Theresa May ready to jump in to serve – however a lot can change in 12 months“.

Interestingly, the efforts of the  Sun’s political obituary writer  prompted this reader comment:-

She almost managed to completely destroy herself and her party in only 49 days to try and avoid Brexit, those 49 days also clearly show that the influence of these vile gutter rags are waning day by day.  She and her party was probably only 1 week away from escaping the toxic fallout of Brexit and the destruction of their Party! Cameron and Osborne saw the writing on the wall and had to sense to clear off and start cashing in, you should have joined them Theresa“.

The Guardian reports on the possible role of a cross-party alliance against a hard Brexit:

Rebel MPs form cross-party group to oppose hard Brexit – Anna Soubry and Chuka Umunna to lead ‘all-party parliamentary group on EU relations’ as Theresa May prepares to publish repeal bill this week

That may save something from the wreckage.

 

The curse of “interesting times”

The Witch and Mr Toad at the G-20

In reality this was not the G-20 meeting of former years but the G-19 sabotaged by Trump.  trumpvstoadOn his way to the G-20, Mr Toad (aka President Donald Trump) made a brief visit to Poland.  The Atlantic has this: “The Racial and Religious Paranoia of Trump’s Warsaw Speech.

The Washington Post has this: “Trump affirms the Polish government’s assault on democracy

Both articles are worth reading because they throw much light on Trump’s “alt-right” approach to international relations.

The Atlantic also has this about the G-20 meeting itself: “Merkel’s Impossible Role at the G20 Summit“.

The Observer has this:  “‘Face like thunder’: how the mood soured at Donald Trump’s first G-20 – Anger at US president rejection of Paris climate accord and clashes over Washington’s stance on trade made for a fractious meeting“.

The Sunday Telegraph has this: “Theresa May plays G-20 Trump card in attempt to quell Tory rebellion“.

The Sunday Times reports (from behind a paywall) “Donald Trump throws Theresa May a lifeline with trade deal – Remainers plot to sabotage Repeal Bill (£).”  Key points:-

  • Theresa May claimed last night that plans for a trade deal with America had put Brexit back on track and she also said that China, Japan and India also wanted to do deals. 
  • Anti-Brexit MPs and peers said they would try to derail the “Great Repeal Bill”, to be published this Thursday.

However, The Independent has this: “UK trade deal with the US will not make up for the damage caused by Brexit, Justice Secretary David Lidington says – Admission comes hours after Donald Trump said ‘very, big big’ UK-US trade deal would be completed ‘very, very quickly’“.

Will The Wicked Witch Survive?

ww-westminsterThe Daily Mail has this: “May must quit now, says chief Davis ally: Devastating attack by former Chief Whip as ‘kamikaze’ hardliners move against the PM“.

The Sunday Times also has (behind its paywall) an op-ed by Adam Bolton: “Rivals keep May on life support rather than risk being snuffed out by voters (£)

The Evening Standard has this: “Pressure mounts on Theresa May after former chief whip’s ‘she’s dead in the water’ claim“.

The Independent has this op-ed by John Rentoul: “The Cabinet is going to split over Brexit – and no one can predict what happens after that – How Brexit may never really happen: we could just move from half in to half out“.

The Observer has this: “German industry warns UK not to expect help in Brexit negotiations – Bosses say the priority is to protect the single market, dashing hopes that exporters will put pressure on Merkel for a favourable trade deal“.

also this op-ed by Nick Cohen  “One by one, Brexit’s ‘salvations’ are seen to be illusory – All the pre-referendum claims made for our future trading position within Europe are now exposed as so much hot air

In a memoir published in 1949 Hughe Knatchbull-Hugessen, a former British Ambassador to China, mentions that before he left England for China in 1936, a friend told him of a Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times.  

May is living in interesting times

 

 

Is the Witch in trouble ? Yes

 

6th July 2017

timesbrexitclownsGeorge Eaton, the Political Editor of the New Statesman has this: “The Brexiteers fear they are losing the argument – As the costs of EU withdrawal become clear, the Leavers are desperately searching for scapegoats“.   It is well worth reading.

The New Statesman also has this: “8 ways the UK is in trouble over Brexit – The EU’s chief negotiator has made clear just how many barriers there are to a good outcome“.

The Torygraph Telegraph has this: “Business leaders threaten to derail Brexit by demanding Britain stays in Single Market and Customs Union indefinitely“.

The Independent also covers the same story: “David Davis: Brexit Secretary on collision course with business leaders over EU single market and customs union –  ‘Our proposal is for the UK to stay in the single market and a customs union until a final deal is in force’ said the director-general of the CBI“.

The Independent also has this: “Brexit will ‘undoubtedly’ damage Britain’s influence on world stage, says William Hague – The former Foreign Secretary said membership of the EU’s Common Political Security Committee ‘amplifies the UK’s weight in the world’“.

Joe Murphy, the Evening Standard’s Political Editor has this: “First sign backbench MPs on both sides may be mobilising against hard Brexit”.

 7th July 2017

Today, the Torygraph Telegraph has this (unfortunately behind its paywall): “Theresa May is a ‘lame horse’, furious Tory ministers warn, amid claims they could resign to force her out”.  However, the Sun has a similar story: “PM OUST BID – Tories plot to topple ‘three-legged horse’ Theresa May with a coup of mass resignations this Autumn – Mrs May accepted responsibility for the snap election disaster during the Tories’s summer party“.

The Independent has some interesting articles:-

Labour takes eight-point lead over Tories in first YouGov poll since election – YouGov poll puts Labour on 46 per cent of the vote“.

David Davis: Brexit Secretary on collision course with business leaders over EU single market and customs union –  ‘Our proposal is for the UK to stay in the single market and a customs union until a final deal is in force’ said the director-general of the CBI”.

Brexit: UK may not actually exit the EU, warn political sources – BBC Newsnight’s Political Editor Nicholas Watt says some are doubting whether Britain will leave the bloc“.

The Guardian has this sketch:  “Liam Fox and his British-made tie: wrapping Brexit up in knots – It was the international trade secretary’s moment in the spotlight. He’d dressed for the occasion – but he hadn’t done much else“.

i – News has this: “Brexiteers declare war on the BBC, accusing it of pro-Remain bias

Last month the Economist had this leading article: “How to turn a chaotic election result into a better Brexit – Britain’s hung parliament presents an opportunity to change the course of exit negotiations“.

theresa-may-speechToday, the Wicked Witch of Westminster has a break from the Brexit muddle since she is attending the G-20 meeting in Hamburg.  She is, however, a somewhat diminished figure:  with a hung Parliament and with her Brexit negotiations in a terrible mess.

The Torygraph Telegraph has this:  “Gulf between Theresa May and her chancellor widens as he demands close ties with EU while she uses G-20 to woo US and China

The Evening Standard has this very perceptive comment on the G-20: “EU powers are the real leaders among the G20

After an explanation of the impact of Donald Trump and the positions of Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron, the piece ends with this:-

 

Where is Britain in all of this? Sidelined. How notable it has been that none of the big players at the G20, such as the Chinese or Indians, or even Mr Trump, wanted to stop off here on their way to Hamburg. They want to be where the global leadership is: on the continent of Europe, not on the island trying to leave it.

 

 

 

 

Brexit Threatens Economic Disaster

30 June 2017 

The Independent has this: “Britain’s Political Revolution: how Brexit, immigration and housing became flashpoints of change”  in which Patrick Cockburn makes some interesting points about the election result in Canterbury where the Labour Candidate ousted Sir Julian Brazier who had served 30 years as the Conservative MP and who strongly backed the Leave Campaign.

ww-westminsterThe Independent also reports this: “Theresa May should quit by end of next year to allow a different Tory leader to complete Brexit, says Nicky Morgan – Many Conservative MPs think the Prime Minister would be going already if there was an obvious successor“.

The article makes the following points:-

  •  Theresa May should leave Downing Street by the end of next year to allow a different leader to complete Brexit;
  • Almost all Tory MPs agree that the Prime Minister must fall on her sword before the next general election, scheduled for 2022.  Many think she would be going already if there was an obvious successor, but there is no alternative leader likely to revive the party’s fortunes, they believe;
  • Both Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and David Davis, the Brexit Secretary, provoke huge suspicion on the Tory benches; but
  • The other leading contenders, Chancellor Philip Hammond and Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, favour a softer Brexit – so would struggle to convince the Tory faithful.

However, James Forthsyth wrote in the Spectator: “To save the Tories and boost her own legacy, Theresa May must stay – She needs to reshuffle her team to give everyone who will run for leader a serious frontline job“.

While the Guardian had this: “The Tories need a lot more than a new driver for their clapped-out machine – Only a complete makeover can revive a party that has given up fighting for its core beliefs. Without fresh ideas, they might as well hand the keys to Corbyn“.

1st July 2017

The Torygraph Telegraph had this: “City must come first in Brexit, May told” which at long last pointed out the implications for the economy of the May approach to Brexit and the BBC reported “Theresa May has ‘hamstrung’ David Davis in Brexit talks

At last the penny is beginning to drop:  The Wicked Witch’s approach to Brexit is very dangerous indeed.

2nd July 2017

2017_26_brexit_plague_med

Last year The New Statesman had this very striking cover for its 17th July 2016 issue with this article by Ed Smith entitled  The Brexit Plague“.  

His article included these powerful observations:

We once imagined, ironically, that the Brexit movement would be vulnerable to cynical exploitation by careerist politicians who were keen to make a name for themselves. They would climb aboard the Brexit bus, take an easy ride, and get off higher up the mountain. Quite the reverse

Politicians have not ridden to power on the back of Brexit; Brexit has ridden to power on the back of them, breaking them in the process.  Like a superbug, Brexit inhabits its host spokesmen and women before choking the life out of them.   The illness takes a horrible course, first imbuing the victim with great energy and enthusiasm, as though the ailment was in fact a cheering tonic. Then, at the peak of Brexit bounce, when the victim’s mood seems most adulatory, despair and withdrawal set in.“.

The Independent has this: “Brexit: Theresa May ‘could walk out of negotiations’ over EU’s divorce bill – Move is designed to play well at home” – also this: “Theresa May’s approval ratings continue to fall as Jeremy Corbyn surges ahead – The Labour leader has opened up a 24 point lead over the Prime Minister

brexitgunThe Guardian has this: “Poll finds that 60% of Britons want to keep their EU citizenship – Cultural and business leaders join campaign to keep rights to live and work in Europe” also this: “PM’s European court stance has ‘hamstrung’ Brexit negotiations – Theresa May’s decision to exit ECJ has made David Davis’s job much more difficult, says former chief of staff“.

The Torygraph (aka The Telegraph) has this: “Remain ‘would win Brexit referendum if held now’”   Key points:

  • The Survation survey showed a clear majority of Britons (54%) would vote to Remain in the European Union if another referendum was held while 46% would back Brexit.
  • The Survation survey also showed a majority (55%) want a cross-party coalition of parties to negotiate the UK’s exit from the EU, compared to less than a third (32%) who think it should fall to the Tory minority Government alone.
  • However, a majority (36%) said the best outcome would be to stop exit talks altogether and work to stay in the EU, while around a third (32%) backed paying a fee for access to the tariff-free customs union. 
  • Less than a quarter (24%) support the Government’s current strategy of leaving the customs union in order to strike free trade deals with other countries, as Labour signalled its strongest backing for staying in the bloc yet.

Paul Goodman on the Conservative Home website writes this whinge: “Wanted: a revived campaign for Brexit of all parties and none. Without it, Remain may snatch victories from defeat“.   Goodman also writes this: “Our survey. Party member confidence in a Conservative majority at the next election plummets“.  Poor Paul Goodman – The Conservative Home website is disgracefully pro-Brexit.

The Independent has this by the Labour MP for Ilford North, Wes Streeting: “Why I went against Jeremy Corbyn and supported yesterday’s amendment to remain in the single market – The single market harmonises regulations and means there are no barriers to trade; it’s crucial for the economy and protects workers and we must fight to stay in“.

4th July 2017

Yesterday, The New Statesman had a devastating assessment of Teresa May’s position by Ed Smith which is well worth reading: “The Brexit plague – Theresa May is just the latest victim of a virulent political malady that has already destroyed David Cameron and destabilised Britain“.

  • “Ironically, by trying to turn the election into a vote of confidence in her competence, May in fact made it less likely that she would become the personification of Brexit.”
  • “The Brexiteers, most of them Conservatives, created the mess. Their relentless obsession with Europe pressed David Cameron into holding a referendum. Strands of the Leave campaign pandered to mob elements that they then couldn’t appease. 
  • If Brexit does turn into a disaster movie, who would be a suitable protagonist? It is hard to escape the logic that the most apposite outcome – even if it is unappealing, especially for the long-term health of the nation – is that Brexit should be delivered by those who initially won the popular argument.  When the mood turns, however, the same movement that craved a populist hero will need a panto villain.  Step forward, Boris Johnson: your country needs you,”

 The Torygraph Telegraph has this (alas behind its paywall): “Brexit is a ‘disastrous creature’ the EU ‘did nothing to stop’, says Malta PM Joseph Muscat“.

Brexit BusThe Independent has this: “Brexit: Vote Leave chief who created £350m NHS lie on bus admits leaving EU could be ‘an error’ Dominic Cummings also described the referendum as a ‘dumb idea’ – shaping up to be a ‘guaranteed debacle“.

Also this: “Theresa May now second most unpopular Tory in Cabinet after support in party collapses – Party members turn against the Prime Minister after her general election disaster“.   The story is based on the outcome of a Conservative Home poll “Our Cabinet League Table. May endures a record fall – from top to second bottom“.

  • May falls from first and a score of 89.1 into negative territory: -26.1.  That’s 137 points shredded in a single go.  Party members want her out as leader – though not yet

Another Conservative Home survey has this: “Our snap survey. Two in three Conservative Party members say that May should announce her resignation“.

The Guardian has these stories:-

(1) “Hard Brexit ‘means people fleeing UK’, Jeremy Hunt note says – Health secretary photographed holding paper that appears to suggest fears of mass exodus from Britain once it leaves the EU

(2) “Bad Brexit deal would be disaster for NHS, says Jeremy Hunt – Health secretary accuses some of 27 EU member states ‘lined up against us’ of wanting Britain to fail in negotiations

(3) Also this opinion piece by Polly Toynbee: “Their Brexit delusions could yet destroy the Tories – As reality bites, Conservative Euro-fever continues to rage, with pros and antis both rampant. Labour must stand by but prepare to step in“.

The problem is, of course, that the Conservative Brexit delusions will also wreck our economy.

May’s Ship of State is Leaking

Teresa May’s Nasty DUP Deal

Yesterday, the Daily Torygraph Telegraph had this by Lord Patten: “DUP deal will make the Tories the nasty party again, says Lord Patten“.

Speaking of the present state of British politics, Lord Patten asserted:

“I think it’s the worst time since Suez, though maybe even worse than that because Suez was the end of an era, it was the end of our colonial aspirations, we had the knees cut from under us, the legs cut from under us by the Americans, and this was Europe, the European Union was our replacement for that colonial role.

And thanks to the calamitous errors of two Conservative Prime Ministers in a row, who thought that they could manage the unmanageable English nationalist right wing of the Conservative Party, we’re in this hell of a mess.”

The Independent has this: “Theresa May accused of bribing DUP with £1bn deal despite claiming ‘there is no magic money tree’ –  Leaders from across the home nations say agreement could endanger peace in Northern Ireland“.

The Guardian has this: “Michael Fallon defends £1bn DUP deal amid backlash – Defence secretary says cash is not a ‘bung’ and it is in all the UK’s interests to help Northern Ireland“.

ww-westminster
‘Cash for Votes’

Of course, the deal is very much a ‘bung’  which gives the Wicked Witch the possibility of surviving as PM for a few weeks and it’s going to go down very badly in Scotland, Wales and the deprived areas of England.  The New Statesman has this by Stephen Bush: “The Conservative-DUP deal is great news for the DUP, but bad news for Theresa May“.

See also this piece by Roger Scully in the New Statesman: “The Tory-DUP deal has left Scotland and Wales seething – It is quite something to threaten the Northern Irish peace process and set the various nations of the UK at loggerheads with merely one act“.

The Independent has this by Andreas Whittam-Smith: “There is no national interest in this dishonest DUP deal – we’re now all forking out to prop up Theresa May – Stephen Crabb referred to the deal as ‘the cost of doing business’ – something which usually refers to the paying of bribes in overseas markets, appropriately enough“.

Interestingly, the Independent also has this: “Theresa May will not last another year as PM, say Citigroup analysts – ‘Our base case remains that we will have a Conservative leadership contest followed by a new general election within the next 12 months,’ the bank said“.  The article states:-

According to reports, some ministers are even favouring Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond to replace Ms May before the party’s October conference, as part of an alliance with Brexit Secretary David Davis“.

Yesterday, Simon Heffer wrote this in the New Statesman:  “The humbling of Theresa May – The Prime Minister has lost all authority. The Tories will remove her as soon as they feel the time is right“.

The Guardian has this: “Philip Hammond: Brexit petty politics must not hinder ‘economic logic’ – Speech in Germany calls for transitional deal on trade and mocks Boris Johnson’s ‘cake and eat it’ approach to negotiations

As the Chinese curse puts it, it looks as though the Wicked Witch will be living in “interesting times” over the next few weeks

Fallout from the Grenfell Tower Disaster

The Government generally, and Teresa May in particular, have found it hard to deal with the Grenfell Tower Disaster: see this post.

The Independent today has this: “Grenfell Tower cladding scandal could cost councils millions after Government says no guarantee of extra funding –  ‘There is no way we can afford to reclad our tower blocks. If we have to find that money, it will come from other projects’”  Key points:-

  • Councils face bills running to hundreds of millions of pounds to make tower blocks safe after the Government said it would not guarantee extra money to pay for vital work to prevent a repeat of the Grenfell disaster.
  • Ninety-five high-rise buildings in 32 local authority areas have failed safety tests with hundreds more blocks still to be tested.
  • The responsible government department has said that the government cannot guarantee funding for remedial works
  • One Council leader has said “starved” councils would be forced to make cuts to other areas, including schooling, if central government did not help with costs – and that if  the government can find £1 billion to send to Northern Ireland to buy 10 votes, then these people, living in high-rise towers, deserve better.

Any backsliding on emergency support to Councils needing to tackle the safety issues revealed post Grenfell, could very quickly lead to a no confidence motion and the fall of the May Government.

 Free Movement Post Brexit

Politico had this on 22nd June: “UK and EU on collision course over rights of EU citizens – Prime Minister Theresa May told fellow leaders that the rights of EU citizens in Britain should be enforced by UK courts“.

Yesterday, Politico had this more optimistic view: “8 things that point to a UK-EU deal on citizens’ rights – Despite points of divergence, Britain and the EU27 are within striking distance of a deal“.

The Torygraph Telegraph also has this opinion piece from one Rupert Myers, a baby faced barrister (called to the bar in 2008) who practices somewhere in East Anglia : “If Britain cannot escape meddling foreign judges, some will wonder what the point of Brexit really was”

The article is behind the Torygraph paywall, but one wonders if young Mr Myers included the late Rt Hon Lord Mackenzie Stuart QC, or the late Sir Jean-Pierre Frank Eugene Warner QC GCOM, or Baron Slynn of Hadley GBE PC QC, or Sir David  Edward KCMG PC QC FRSE, or Sir Konrad Schliemann PC  (all of whom have been Judges of the European Court)  among his “meddling foreign judges“.

Today, Colin Yeo, a barrister who specialises in asylum and immigration law and who keeps up the Free Movement blog has this: “Analysis: what is the UK proposing for EU citizens in the UK and EU citizens in the EU?

Mr Yeo, who knows his stuff, makes these general observations:-

  • “The proposal confirms that the agreement “will have status of international law” but, as expected, the proposal is that the Court of Justice of the European Union will not have jurisdiction in the UK. It remains to be seen whether this will be deemed acceptable by the remaining members of the EU”.
  • The problem is that legal rights are worthless unless they can be enforced in the event that they are breached. If these rights are enshrined only in UK law, the UK Parliament could unilaterally legislate at any time to amend or remove these rights”.
  • “This might be dismissed as being fanciful, but it is not at all hard to imagine a future government seeking to water down rights in response to perceived public pressure. Trust me, I’m a lawyer; I make my living from alleged breaches of the law by the government of the day“.

There is absolutely no chance of the May government’s proposals being accepted by the EU negotiators.

The Evening Standard has this: “Brexit study finds almost half of highly-skilled EU workers ‘considering leaving UK”  and also this: “Brexit: London’s business leaders criticise Theresa May on immigration“.

 

Plato used the Ship of State as a metaphor for the conduct of government. But those who enjoy rerunning the BBC Television series “Yes Minister” will recall that Sir Humphrey Appleby pointed out that “the Ship of State is the only ship that leaks from the top“.

Mrs May’s Ship of State is leaking and heading for the rocks