Awards and citations:

1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Monday, 26 June 2017

Escaping the Brexit lunacy

The most famous lie of the Leave campaign

Ever since the narrow result just over a year ago to leave the EU of our ‘advisory’ referendum held on 23rd June 2016 being a U.K. citizen who voted to remain it has been like living through a never-ending nightmare.

Initially it was shock that after more than 40 years in the EU we should have voted to come out in a referendum foolishly held by David Cameron. Foolish that it was held at all but even more foolish that it was held on the basis of a simple majority.

Gradually the implications of leaving the EU have become clearer to more and more people. At the same time the lies and false promises of the leave campaign have been exposed.

Unfortunately on becoming Prime Minister Theresa May, nominally a remainder, opted for a ‘hard brexit’ or even no deal. She appointed three leavers - Boris Johnson, David Davis and Liam Fox - to key positions in her Government. Over the past year it has become clear that none of them are properly suited or equipped for their roles.

Fortunately May’s gamble of holding a snap election to increase her majority backfired badly even though she got the most votes and has the most seats in the House of Commons. Instead of a narrow majority, May ended up with a hung parliament far from the thumping majority she had hoped for when she sprung the election.

The extended campaign exposed May as robotic, without empathy and keen to avoid contact with the electorate while demanding a big majority to carry out her hard Brexit or no deal. Her refusal to take part in the broadcast debates being the most obvious example.

At the same time the election campaign engergised Jeremy Corbyn allowing him as an experienced campaigner to connect with the youth vote. This was combined with a big vote registration drive. He attracted enormous and enthusiastic crowds in many parts of the country.

May's government has run out of luck – events have started to show her government in a very unflattering light. As Harold Macmillan is quoted 'Events, dear boy, events' on what blows a government off-course.  

The awful terrorist attacks in Manchester and London in the latter part of the campaign put the spotlight on Government cuts to the emergency services. 20,000 fewer police officers since 2012 involving the drastic shrinking of neighbourhood policing that brings in crucial local intelligence.

May’s arrogant and condescending speech to the Police Federation in 2015 when she scolded her audience for ‘scare mongering’ was widely tweeted and rightly came back to bite her.

The election result left May severely weakened and increasingly a figure of derision. Her pathetic reaction to the terrible fire in the Grenfell Tower coupled with evidence that Ministers had ignored recommendations from previous reports into tower block fire tragedies. It also highlighted the culture of cutting corners which incredibly allowed Grenfell to be clad with flammable material.

The now long-running negotiation with DUP illustrates May’s poor negotiating skills just at the time when we are supposed to be negotiating the very complex process of leaving the EU. 

There is a sense that the tide is turning with more people being persuaded that the best option is to remain within the EU. If a so called soft Brexit means staying within the customs union and the single market along with acceptance of freedom of movement within the EU, then why on earth are we leaving? Staying in gives us a better deal as well as being involved in discussions.

As inflation moves up, people’s wages decline, the NHS faces an increasing shortage of nurses, farmers wake up to the implications of not finding enough EU workers to work on the land and bringing in the crops, and holiday makers find that sterling buys considerably less than it did when they go abroad the idea of leaving will surely increasingly look stupid and damaging. Not forgetting the UK becoming less attractive to investors and starting to lose EU agencies based in London with Euro passporting rights moving away to mainland Europe.

MPs know that the electorate will punish parties that make them poorer.  If opinion really does swing away from leaver, MPs who know that Brexit is insanity will one hopes start to speak up, especially as there appears to be no positive arguments for leaving. Will there be cross-party alliances.

Unfortunately the Labour position on Brexit makes no more sense than the Conservative position. Corbyn’s call of Brexit for the many is just as vacuous as May’s now infamous ‘Brexit means Brexit’. If Corbyn wants to safeguard jobs and people’s living standards then the obvious course is to reverse course and stay in. Furthermore the majority of his supporters aged from 45 and below want to stay in the EU.

As long as May remains Prime Minister she appears to be determined to pursue her hard Brexit but what if she is overthrown or is forced to resign. Let’s say that Philip Hammond takes over. Since the election Hammond has already made it clear, in contrast to May that the emphasis has to be on economics rather than immigration.

What, if once in No 10, Hammond decided that the Brexit farce had run its course and that we couldn’t afford to waste anymore time and resources on negotiating a worse deal than we already have. What if he revoked Article 50 and kept us in the EU. This would completely wrong foot Labour and presumably diminish Corbyn’s current popularity with younger voter. 

May's shoddy deal today with the DUP could prop up her government for a while at huge cost – a bribe of at least a £1 billion. Who will take comments that there is no 'money tree' seriously now. Clear that there is no money tree for essential services – nurses, fire and police officers – but there is plenty to enable her discredited government to limp on. This deal threatens peace in Northern Ireland and will surely not be popular in Scotland, Wales and Northern England who will want their slice of this generous and magical cake.   

Furthermore if the Conservatives are propped up by the DUP this is unlikely to increase their popularity with much of the electorate. Vote Conservative and get the DUP will be a powerful slogan in elections to come. 

Given what has happened over the past year - Brexit and the election of Trump and Macron - i’m loathe to try to predict what the next few months will bring but it is just possible that we could be nearing the end of the UK’s nightmare.

No comments: