Plan for Britain?
27th March 2017
Blink and you may have missed the Prime Minister’s visit. Channeling Hakim Bay Theresa May promised ‘temporary powers’ for Scotland like sweeties. In a botched appearance, which had all the openness and transparency of a late-period Ceaușescu, the Prime Ministers visit was riddled with contradictions and flaws.
First as the First Minister pointed out: “I think it makes it very difficult for the prime minister to maintain a rational opposition to a referendum in the timescale that I have set out”. The PM had been mouthing “Now is not the time” – a sort of mystic mantra that has replaced her hypnotic bromide that “Brexit Means Brexit”.
But like much of this farce it makes little sense. Having made an absolute stand on timing as the single decisive principle it now turns out, by her own admission, that this issue simply doesn’t exist. Bizarre doesn’t really cover it.
— Ross Colquhoun (@rosscolquhoun) March 27, 2017
The key word here is ‘rational’. Very little of this is rational.
Second – was the Plan for Britain slogan an exercise in advanced irony?
As the only discernible fact we know about the process is its entirely shambolic nature, the idea of a ‘plan’ seemed a sick joke.
Ian Birrell has talked of people being “engulfed by pessimism”:
“The path ahead is torturous, involving almost 21,000 laws and regulations impacting on every industrial, service and public sector. These range from major issues over health cover, migration, security and visas through to the mind-boggling minutiae of business rules, consumer protection and environmental regulation. One key Whitehall insider confessed they were “rather overwhelmed” by the complexity.”
Again and again you read of a black-hole at the heart of negotiations, and the Prime Minister comes north and speaks in riddles.
Uniting people by treating them with complete contempt is an interesting concept.
Promising to build “a more united nation”, Theresa May said: “As Britain leaves the European Union, and we forge a new role for ourselves in the world, the strength and stability of our Union will become even more important.”
An interesting part of the new dynamic of the rolling constitutional crisis is how the two campaigns are diverging. As the language and tone of the independence movement becomes more pragmatic, more reasoned and less romantic, the unionist voice seems to be becoming more shrill and more immersed in uncontrollable hyperbole. The union has become ‘sacred’ and the claims for its powers and history more and more far-fetched, it has become now an ‘unstoppable force’. May – who did not take any questions following her speech, said the UK was “a force for good, helping to build a better future for everyone”.
We’ve gone from the memorably low-bar ‘UK:OK’ to a imagining Britain as a sort of divine force in the world.
‘A Force for good’.
We’ve gone from Blair MacDougall to Obi Wan Kenobi in one fell-swoop.
Third – amongst this fantastical series of statements – the idea that you could make such a speech without any reference to Ireland, a country that many sober commentators say is now hurtling towards reunification on the back of the Conservatives insensitive handling of the Brexit scenario, is quite remarkable.
Talking of a ‘united nation’ on the day when the power-sharing agreement that has held Northern Ireland together looks to be irrevocably lost is mind-blowing.
So what does Brexit mean? It means rampant de-regulation and economic chaos. One nougat that has just emerged is David Davis’s back-story working for sugar-giants Tate & Lyle. One unanticipated consequence of Brexit may mean the decimation of England’s sugar-beet farming. British Sugar, which claims to bring £300m to the rural economy by processing 8m tonnes of sugar beet into 1.2m tonnes of sugar a year at four factories in the east of England will be unable to compete with the global competition if a Hard Brexit comes to pass.
As Dan Roberts reports for the Guardian:
“Not only has sugar beet been an unusually reliable source of income for 3,500 of Britain’s arable farmers, but its broad green leaves are an important rotational crop in between soil-sapping wheat. If they are forced to compete head-on with what the NFU regards as artificially subsidised cane sugar from producers places in places such as Brazil and Thailand, it fears the economics of an industry supporting 9,600 jobs will unravel.”
Great. As the economy tanks we’ll have really cheap sugar.
Is there a Dental Plan for Britain?
“So as we look to the future and we face that great national moment together, I hope you will continue to play your part in the great national effort to building a fairer and more united Britain. This united kingdom and the values at its heart are one of the greatest forces for good in the world today and when we work together and set our sights on a task we really are an unstoppable force.”