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 naïve.

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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Classroom

The Tories have Forgotten Brexit’s Purpose

ClassroomWith Theresa May’s disastrous Brexit deal set for a second historic drubbing in the House of Commons, the commentariat have been thrown into a frenzy of shrieking speculation. Tales of no deal, no Brexit, no divorce bill and no fresh fruit have reached a fever pitch as our political prognosticators share their sage insight as to what will happen next.

With all this noise and fog surrounding tomorrow, a large slice of the political class and their media buddies have completely forgotten yesterday’s lesson. They seem to have lost sight of exactly how this huge snowball of unanticipated yet wholly predictable events ever got rolling in the first place. They ignore history at their peril.

It was none other than David Cameron who pushed the rock down the mountain back in January 2013, and what’s more he did it all for party political reasons. Prior to Cameron’s fateful decision to call the Brexit referendum, dissatisfaction with the European project had been growing for years, gnawing steadily at the Tory heartlands and eventually manifesting as an existential threat from Nigel Farage’s UKIP.

Just like a toothache, Cameron knew the Europe issue would only get worse if he ignored it; so he took the bold decision to shoot the UKIP fox once and for all before it could raid any more Tory chicken coops. In doing so he set off a political tsunami which has swept us into these uncharted constitutional waters.

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Graffiti

Globalism, a Skyscraper Built on Sand

GraffitiThe Eurozone is sliding into recession, again. France is on fire, again. Italy is in open revolt and nationalist populism is rapidly gaining ground across the entire Western world. We cower behind concrete as we wait for the inevitable Islamist attack while apologists for religious genocide walk among us unchallenged, and in many cases proactively protected by the establishment. In response to these crises of their own creation, our democratically elected governments conspire to stifle free speech and police unfashionable opinions in the name of security; the oldest Faustian bargain known to civic society.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. We were promised that a post-national world would usher in greater peace, prosperity and security for all. Instead we are reaping a bitter harvest of fragmentation and frustration first sowed by the post-Cold War consensus of neo-liberalism, a consensus which was foolproof, evidence-based and unassailable…right up until the moment it was properly tested in the real world.

To put it another way, our political, academic and media elites held certain truths to be self-evident without really thinking them through. Or even worse, they did think them through and pressed ahead anyway, knowing that the real-world burden of their lofty aspirations would be borne by those least able to resist the post-national reality they were never consulted about. That idea may sound a bit like a conspiracy theory, but it would help to explain the otherwise mystifying decades of hostility and organised vilification of all who dared to question whether borderless travel, mass migration, national outsourcing and state-sponsored multiculturalism are in fact unalloyed benefits. After all, if the establishment was so confident in the robustness of its ideas, why would it actively seek to destroy those who questioned the its orthodoxy?

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Face hidden by a mask

True Colours III

Face hidden by a maskI didn’t want to believe it was a stitch-up.

I didn’t want to believe it when the Tories chose a high ranking Remainer for Prime Minister.

I didn’t want to believe it when the government agreed to a negotiating sequence organised around political rather than economic objectives. I grumbled but kept my eye on the prize when the UK agreed to pay the European Union £39 billion, basically for nothing.

I started to worry when Theresa May ambushed her own cabinet at Chequers, suddenly producing a previously unpublicised plan which she’d covertly created alongside arch federalist Olly Robbins. Boris and his Brexiteers made a big mistake that day. They’d have been better served by taking that rather pleasant walk down the drive and cadging a lift to Wendover station. I’m sure someone in the press corps would’ve been thrilled to oblige. It’s not far.

Still I clung to the belief that Parliament would never agree to this “turd” of a treaty because it’s so obviously intended to tie us still closer to Brussels, while ensuring the idea of a membership referendum can never trouble the establishment again. Well, I was half right about that.

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Storm clouds

Labour’s Brexit Reckoning

Storm cloudsIt’s coming.

I know it doesn’t look that way at the moment, especially with the Tories tearing each other to pieces right now, but the Labour Party’s Brexit bunker is not nearly as impregnable as many inside it might like to imagine.

Brexit’s been a blast for Labour so far. For them it’s been the gift that keeps on giving. How they must be laughing themselves silly as they deliberately face every which way on the issue, carefully constructing a trail of quotes to ensure that everyone in Britain hears exactly what they want to hear from Her Majesty’s Opposition. It gets better though, because Labour knows perfectly well that no Brexit deal of any kind can pass their impossibly ambiguous six tests. A cynic might say that hurdle was deliberately set so high that nobody could ever find it, let alone clear it. Ironically, those tests may come back to bite them if Jeremy Corbyn ends up in Downing Street.

For more than two years the Labour Party has sat back and enjoyed the show, safe in the knowledge that no matter how hard they try, the government can never capture the unicorn they’ve demanded of them. Such is the privilege of sitting on the opposition benches.

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