Puppets

True Colours V

PuppetsOne notable side effect of the Brexit referendum has been to force everyone in public life to show us their true intentions, hence the title of this blog series. If the last four years have achieved nothing else, they have demonstrated beyond any doubt exactly what we’re dealing with both at home and on the Continent.

Publication of the Internal Market Bill this week seems to have shocked many commentators, although it shouldn’t really be a surprise. While the amended Withdrawal Agreement was less egregious following the re-drafting of the hated Irish Backstop, it was still a fudge that couldn’t square the circle of the EU’s internal market and the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement. However, despite its manifest shortcomings, the Withdrawal Agreement served its political purpose and made Brexit a reality.

Anyone who thought the matter of Northern Ireland wouldn’t rear its head again was being extremely na├»ve.

To put it simply, it was never possible to reconcile the EU’s single market requirements with the Good Friday Agreement. The first demands checks at the border while the second makes them illegal.

Both Remainers and Brexiteers have played fast and loose with this inevitable legal paradox when it’s suited their ends. However, from the perspective of having left the EU, the UK’s decision over which treaty to favour is a very simple one.

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Lib Dem 2019 manifesto

The Leavers of Power

Lib Dem 2019 manifestoSo here it is, merry Brexmas, everybody’s having fun!

The results of this general election will be discussed and written about for decades to come, and with good reason. This is quite literally the end of an era. Future history books will compare and contrast the period that went before with the one that dawned on Friday December 13th 2019.

The abject failure of the Lib Dems’ revoke Brexit offering speaks for itself, and much has already been made of the starkly contrasting results obtained by both the major parties. By now it’s common knowledge that Labour have suffered their worst electoral defeat since 1935, but apparently that’s okay because Jeremy Corbyn claims to have won the argument. Some would say it’s unkind to deride the afflicted, but mockery is the only rational response to self-delusion of such galactic proportions. Something that’s much more interesting than the ongoing corbynista meltdown is the sheer scale of Boris Johnson’s triumph. Pretty much everybody knows that it’s the largest Conservative majority since Margaret Thatcher’s last election victory in 1987.

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Little girl hiding

Who’s Afraid of Boris?

Little girl hidingDon’t believe the hype.

Despite all the tall talk and the set-piece protests, a general election is the last thing the Labour Party wants right now, or at any time in the foreseeable future come to think of it.

How do we know this? Well, they could’ve supported Jo Swinson’s pre-emptive confidence motion, tabled the moment Johnson took office, but they didn’t have the nerve. The embarrassingly low turnout at the recent national rally also shows that Corbyn fatigue has well and truly taken hold.

Whatever Boris Johnson’s faults may be, his first Commons session as Prime Minister shows that he’s willing to go there, as our American friends say.

The look on Jeremy Corbyn’s face said it all as Johnson stood at the despatch box and went through the list, beginning with the Labour leader’s paid appearance on Press TV and ending with his now viral Invasion of the Body Snatchers jibe. John McDonnell didn’t escape the blonde whirlwind either, with a reminder of his sacking by Ken Livingston now part of the official Hansard record.

Within the space of five minutes, Johnson tore up the cultural rulebook and exposed the hollowness, vacuousness and moral bankruptcy of the Labour front bench. Their preferred weapon of virtue signalling class politics was neutralised at a stroke, leaving them all but defenceless. I might’ve felt sorry for them, were they not such a dangerous and downright vindictive group of people.

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Dartboard bullseye

Boris Can’t Miss

Dartboard bullseyeBarring some unforeseen calamity, it seems pretty much certain that Boris Johnson will soon be the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He owes much of his popularity with the Tory party and the wider public to his easily understood and uncompromising stance on Brexit. He’s made it clear on numerous occasions that Theresa May’s disastrous withdrawal deal is dead and that the United Kingdom will be leaving the EU on October 31st, with or without any kind of trade deal in place.

The pundit classes have been at pains to point out how the problems of Parliamentary arithmetic persist regardless of who occupies Downing Street. There have already been dark threats from the likes of Dominic Grieve to vote with the opposition and bring down the government if Prime Minister Johnson attempts to take Britain out of the EU on WTO terms. We may yet see if such people have the courage of their convictions because that scenario is entirely possible.

However, in common with Donald Trump across the pond, Johnson is not nearly as dumb as the chattering classes like to think he is, and he’s had more than two years to plan his strategy. His uncompromising stance on the biggest issue in a generation shows that he is not the slightest bit scared of Parliament or the mainstream media class.

In other words, he knows he can’t miss.

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Abandoned bunker

Theresa’s Going Nowhere

Abandoned bunkerIt should surprise nobody that our airwaves are abuzz with analyses of this week’s local election results. With over 1,300 Conservative councillors suddenly separated from their expense accounts, it’s inevitable that more than a couple of columnists have noticed that the Tories have returned their worst local election results since the rout of John Major in 1995. We all know what happened a couple of years later when New Labour swept all before them.

While this is a useful yardstick to measure the scale of the catastrophe, the simple arithmetic glosses over a deeper and more fundamental connection those two electoral nightmares. This is a case where superficial differences hide a deeper and more fundamental thread of continuity.

That thread is, of course, the European Union and Britain’s perennially uneasy place inside it.

It’s worth noting that Margaret Thatcher survived the miners’ strike, the Falklands gamble and even the Poll Tax fiasco, but it was her steadfast opposition to the Maastricht Treaty and the creation of the European Union that finally galvanised her own party to wield the knife. Pundits can wax lyrical about Michael Heseltine’s principled stance on the Westland issue, but it’s no coincidence that he’s now uttering his ermine-collared judgements on the horrors of Brexit from the safety of the upper chamber. That a senior frontbencher would knowingly weaken his own party in order to remove a major obstacle to European integration should tell you much about the true loyalties of the Tory grandees.

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