May Day Warning

Theresa May’s weekly media car-crash is now becoming so regular you could set your clock with it. This week’s self-inflicted catastrophe comes in the LBC interview with Iain Dale:

The person in charge of this exercise in national humiliation doesn’t have the guts or the nous to back her own policy.

This is devastating on a number of levels.

First, it’s frankly incredible that a senior politician of any level can go into a media situation so ill-prepared, particularly in the wake of her disastrous conference speech.
Second it’s an absolute gift to the European Brexit negotiators who must be looking at this unfolding fiasco with complete confusion. I doubt they glean any great joy from this chaos but it certainly undermines the idea that they are engaging with some coherent set of coordinated rational beings.
Third it points to a cavernous hole in government leadership.

It gets worse.

120 MPs have signed a letter to David Davis demanding that the government publish the Brexit impact assessments. Public money has funded these impact assessments. It’s outrageous that the Government is keeping them secret.

“Leaving the European Union will have a huge impact on our economy for generations to come,” says the letter, signed by Labour, Liberal Democrat and SNP MPs. “We believe it is important that there is a full and frank debate about the impact of Brexit on our economy, jobs, trade and living standards and what can be done to mitigate risks. That is only possible if analysis of the impact of Brexit is published.”

The pressure to publish the advice on article 50 was sparked by a letter from Jessica Simor, a prominent QC, who wrote to May asking her to release the advice under the Freedom of Information Act.

The government is hiding in plain sight, desperately exposed and ridiculous. Damned with faint praise by her colleagues she is now a figure of national ridicule. Presumably she is being kept on the political equivalent of life-support only long enough for her opponents to seize their chance.

Her latest calamity comes at a sensitive time for the Brexit negotiations, with the fifth round of talks under way and progress limited just a year and a half away from the deadline for leaving the bloc.

Her latest statements have included saying:

“While I believe it is profoundly in all our interests for negotiations to succeed, it is also our responsibility as a government to prepare for every eventuality” with the growing consensus that the Conservatives not only don’t know how to succeed in these negotiations, they don’t want to.

On Newsnight a panel of worthy political pundits and senior former civil servants sit around and a seriously discuss a secret group working within the government to scenario-plan around the government collapsing.

This isn’t a normal level of Westminister incompetence.

We are governed by an elite who are drinking the Kool-Aid and enjoying very last drop, an economic death-cult you didn’t elect.

A government and a party who are still riven and divided even after they have inflicted this referendum process.

This is kamikaze politics that can only be understood from within the ideological chamber the Conservatives reside in. While May feebly tries to convey some sense of One Nation Toryism the reality is clearly very different.

As Rafael Nehr puts it: “To make “no deal” sound acceptable, they must belittle the scale of upheaval, yet the only reason for accepting it would be to accelerate drastic change. They do not acknowledge the cliff but they dream of launching from its edge, soaring over the Atlantic once the EU shackles are broken. The psychology of this is rooted in pre-Brexit Conservative folklore. It starts in veneration of Margaret Thatcher’s pugnacious dismantling of state-run industry in the 1980s.”

The Brexit referendum hasn’t lanced the boil of Conservative euro-crisis, nor has it united the country. It has unleashed a new form of turbo-Thatcherism bolted on to a hysterical English nationalism. Brexit will destroy Britain. The challenge is can we escape with a viable economy intact.

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Comments (20)

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  1. david says:

    The situation is perfectly clear. We are not leaving the EU. Ms. May’s brilliant handling of the situation (i.e. 52% of the population chooses economic suicide, how do we ignore them without Farage becoming PM) will cost her career, will cost the Tory’s a period in the wilderness, but the country will be saved. By pretending to go along with the Brexit nonsense, getting close enough to the cliff edge that even Daily Mail readers can see the abyss, Brexit can be cancelled or fudged out of existence.

    I’m ready for my second litre of pop-corn now.

    1. Interpolar says:

      Can it be cancelled? That is no longer alone Britain’s decision. Having triggered Article 50, it is up to the other member states to unanimously agree to. A lot of people in Europe may well concluding that the U.K. is not worth the trouble.

      1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

        I think it can be cancelled because the departure of a state with 65 million people represents the loss of a significant market and a significant trading partner. This is an argument which the Brexiteers have been trying to make but they couch it in such xenophobic and condescending terms that it evokes irritation in the negotiators on the other side. The fact that the Government is so ill prepared for negotiations is a disgrace. Mr Cameron’s refusal to have civil servants even prepare for various scenarios shows how ill-suited he was for leadership. Every Government at all times has to have regularly reviewed contingency plans. The fighting like ferrets in a sack by a small clique of very well heeled posh girls and boys further prevents serious consideration of issues and the development of a negotiating strategy. The arrogant contempt for the devolved governments and for the leaders of various parts of England, indicates that we are seen as the vassals of a feudal clique – you’ll take what you get.

        The majority was less than 52/48 on a 75% or so turnout, so it is not really a resounding mandate for change. As in all referenda, some people vote for reasons other than that of the question and some who voted LEAVE did not expect that to be the result. The demeanour of Messrs Gove and Johnson the morning after, suggested they did not expect that result.

        Many people are more aware of the incompetence of the government and of the mendacity of many of the arguments (on both sides). Many are really worried of the consequences, especially in the context of a Trump presidency, a looming financial crisis, climate change, etc.

        Catalunya might well trigger change in Europe as might the rise of the right in many EU states into bringing more transparency, greater accountability and greater devolution of powers. The UK might well founder along the lanes and green fields of the Irish border.

        Other, admittedly smaller states have changed their minds. The UK might do so, too, but given that the alternative government is perfidious Labour, I am not holding my breath.

  2. Mark Rowantree says:

    I’ve always thought that the pro-EU Tories would stab May in the back. The more time passes, the more I doubt that they have the bottle to take such selfless step. Similarly, the policy of the Labour Party is nonsense and seems to suffer from many of the same delusions as their Tory confreres.
    It has reached a pretty pass when I find myself on the same side as Labour ‘moderates’ like Benn and Flint. People who ordinarily I wouldn’t give house room to.
    Whilst figures on the left whom I respect like Dennis Skinner: seem to inhabit 1975. Where Brexit will automatically remove every trace of neo-Liberal thought exemplified by the EU.
    Of course, I have more than a little sympathy for the idea that the EU is simply a ‘bosses’ club. Then I remind myself that virtually every single piece of progressive legislation introduced by the EU has been in spite of, rather than because of the UK.
    I am not blinded by passion for the EU that I fail to see its limitations e.g. Catalonia been a prime example. However, in an increasingly interconnected world with a seemingly isolationist US led my a narcissistic lunatic: the need for a united European. voice has become more, not less important.

  3. John S Warren says:

    Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, a career British diplomat who drafted Article 50 (and therefore we may hope actually understands it) has made it quite clear that Article 50 can be revoked. I shall not provide the links, but a simple Google search will soon enough supply the evidence.

    Those who deny that Article 50 can be revoked will require to do a lot better than make vacuous, unsubstantiated assertions. If they think it can’t be revoked the Brexiteers need to make a precise, well sourced and verifiable case; be my guest, for I am persuaded by facts.

    The case for Brexit is falling apart; and the British Government and its Front Bench is quite obviously bereft of talent; transparently not ‘up to the job’. It is forgotten that this wrethed Government LOST the referendum and simply clung on to Government by the simple device of changing sides (or rather cynically representing both sides in the referendum campaign). Clearly the Conservatives thought that was a clever strategy. It wasn’t, and the Government, and theresa May, have been found out.

    Neither, incidentally – on the basis of today’s PMQ’s – is the Labour Party up to the job; Jeremy Corbyn could not deliver the ‘coup de grace’ on his now hapless and defenceless opponent, who had already been humiliated by a local radio interviewer (few had ever heard of) on LBC, and who had quite easily dismantled the last vestiges of credibility of one of the worst Prime Minister’s in British history. It seems the whole Brexit problem is simply too hot and too difficult for the Labour Party to handle.

    1. Jamsie says:

      Funny, I thought the job of the Government was to represent the interests of all citizens whether they voted for them or not, whether they agreed with them or not.
      The SNP would do well to remember that especially when it comes to another independence referendum which is not wanted nor could it be won.
      If indeed it could it would be on the table now.
      All the bluster from the conference is a huge smokescreen to camouflage the fact that the grand old duke of York is marching back down the hill.
      It’s the economy stupid remains the most meaningful insight into the situation.
      Political parties who advocate tax and spend will lose support very quickly for obvious reasons.
      The SNP have already lost their traditional core support in the rural areas and are now dependant on holding on to the left wing hordes of the central belt who have jumped ship from Labour.
      When these people see that there is no land of milk and honey they will jump back leaving a very small rump of voters standing aimlessly in the rain flying their flags.
      The Party is coming to and end.
      Very shortly the Party will be over and the seekers will fade into oblivion.

      1. John S Warren says:

        How interesting. I do not think I even mentioned the SNP. It was not a subject of the comment. Perhaps you are on the wrong thread, or it is just a case of airing your prejudices? I congratulate you however in assembling one of the longest list of truly mind-numbing, ancient, rank cliches as a substitute for thought or argument, that I have seen in some considerable time.

        As for the representation of the people, the idea is that the people choose the Government (and the Party that forms it), and the government demits office immediately if soundly defeated on the major plank of its policy – like the EU referendum.

        We now have a Remain voting PM running Brexit, who will not even say whether she would vote Remain again.

        1. Jamsie says:

          Do you mean that a government demits office if soundly defeated on one of the major planks of its policy?
          Would that include independence?
          Surely naw!
          How come your opinions are opinions and my opinions are prejudices?
          Are you one of those superior beings who has more than one vote or do you just have a super inflated view of your own position?

        2. John S Warren says:

          “How come your opinions are opinions and my opinions are prejudices?”

          I know your opinion of the SNP because you insisted quite gratuitously on providing it in answer to a comment that had nothing whatsoever to do with the SNP.

          On the other hand I do not know on what basis you have formed a judgement of my opinion of the SNP, because I hadn’t given it; telepathy? visionary insight? or just plain prejudice? Tough choice…….let me see…..

      2. J Galt says:

        “left wing hordes of the central belt”

        Obviously scum in your eyes.

        I fear much of what you say may come to pass, darkness will prevail and old Scotland and her people will be done down or the majority of them anyway.

        However I would rather be on the side of light even if we ultimately loose to the sociopaths and taste only ashes in our mouths.

        1. Jamsie says:

          Not at all J Galt.
          Every individual has the right to choose how they vote.
          I don’t know about your point of the majority being done down but I suppose you could say that the SNP Administration is currently seeking to do this following both referendums.
          For me the blind leading the blind in the constant quest for supposed self determination is the problem.
          The contradiction is that the self determination would then be given up to a totally unelected cabal of career political apparatchiks in the EU.
          Politicians and the electorate need to respect the results of democratically mandated elections and referenda.
          The tail wagging the dog should be unconscionable to everyone and the current minority party in situ should govern for everyone.

          1. J Galt says:

            Thank you for the reply Jamsie.

            If throughout history and indeed at the present time the elites of this world behaved with the kind of gentlemanly respect and restraint you propose then this world would indeed be a paradise.

            However they don’t, and in what are jokingly called western democracies more often than not working people have been bamboozled into acting against their own interests. Voting for brexit and supporting the Union are the latest examples of that.

            The Eurocrats of Brussels are cuddly kittens compared to the cold hearted villains of the British establishment.

            But of course you will beg to differ and consider me the bamboozled one.

  4. w.b.robertson says:

    Don`t panic. Our civil service are supposed to plan for every scenario (and they do.) I, in another life many decades ago, even had a hand in preparing the defence plan for a Russian invasion on Scotland`s beaches. And no doubt there is a blueprint gathering increasing dust in some Whitehall safe for dealing with a declaration of Scotland`s Independence.

  5. Willie says:

    It’s all a farce, with both the EU and the US ready to kick the living bejesus out of the mighty UK.

    With a trading block of 65 million against two trading blocks of around 700 million, the US have already shown how it will go.

    Bombardier where the US implemented an initial 230% tariff, before then raising it to 300 % is a good example, because when the UK threatened not to buy Boeing planes, the good old US then said fine, we won’t service your Chinooks and other military equipment.

    Same could also go for other kit, such as, ahem, Trident rockets from Lockheed Martin.

    No doubt Great Britain will kick the US’s ass, or so they will say, and no doubt ditto with the EU.

    Putting the Empire back together is one suspects going to be a little problematic despite what the half wit PM would have us believe. Omni shambles.

  6. Wul says:

    And to think this all started as a wizard wheeze to stop the Tories losing votes to UKIP.

    Imagine a ruling class of people who would wilfully destroy the work and family lives of millions of their fellow citizens just to cling to their privileged positions. The same people who cheerfully send legions of working people off to die in wars to “defend our democracy”.

    What’s David Cameron doing these days? Will he suffer much if our economy tanks and our communities get ravaged by public spending cuts?

    How about if ex-Prime Ministers were made to spend the 5 years after leaving office supporting their family only on the UK average wage, living in a UK average house in a city with a median population? (We’d see then how “committed” they were to “the country I love”.)

    Most of them would find it a form of torture, yet its good enough for the likes of us.

    I’d be interested to hear how some of the Indyref “No” voters who lurk here are feeling about all this? Is this still better in your view than an independent Scotland?

  7. Jamsie says:

    For the avoidance of doubt I do not think my opinion is any more valid than anyone else’s.
    I am happy to trust the democratic will if the people of Scotland.

    1. jeff says:

      And the Scottish people voted SNP and for Indy2 in the event of Scotland being taken out of the EU against our will. Voted. Democratically.

      1. Jamsie says:

        Jeff
        If that truly is your opinion then of course you are entitled to hold with it.
        Unfortunately it is a wee bit at odds with how Mrs Sturgeon sees it and possibly the majority of the population.
        If indeed that were the case we would have been wading around in Indy2.
        We are not.
        What does that tell you?
        Why do the polls so stubbornly persist in showing that a majority of people do not want another referendum under any pretext?
        And why do they still report a majority in favour of staying within the UK?
        There must be a reason after all.
        If you are right what then could it be?

  8. Fraser MacNicol says:

    Two thoughts:

    First the tories are so incompetent and brexit so complicated, the combined result being they are making a compete disaster out of brexit. The outcome will be no deal.

    Second, their are people in the heart of the tory party who are actively manipulating, plotting and sabotaging that Mrs May has no control over. The outcome will be no deal.

    I think to believe that some how their are people trying to design a prospect of brexit being so awful it will be avoided through parliament of a second referendum, is wishful thinking.

    Nicola Stirgeon was right in her strategy of a referendum on independence based on the outcome of brexit negotiations, she had the vote and the parliamentary majority. Where she miscalulTed was the tories, labour and liberals combining, the press and bbc becoming more partisan than ever before and effects of austerity becoming. Reality in Scotland.

    brexit is not for Christmas or six months, it’s forever. Imagine two youngsters, one a Scot, one Irish, both started secondary school this year. Look and contrast their individual life prospects, then transpose those prospects to young people from both countries in general and both nations. We will be light years behind the Irish, rightly so if we can’t get off our fucking knees and become independent!

    1. Jamsie says:

      Fraser
      I don’t understand the comparison with Ireland.
      You seem to be making it out to be an economic success.
      In fact they have a punitive tax system, a much higher cost of living, a lower average wage and they have been subsidy junkies for over 40 years of membership of the EU.
      In fact in all the time they have been members there has only been one year the have made a net contribution.
      Add to that they had to turn to the UK to bail them out yet again and recently came back begging for the interest rate on their debt to be reduced.
      Go ask the average Irishman how happy they are.
      I think you might not get the answer you expect.
      The UK has always been a net contributor to the EU which alongside the huge foreign aid budget we can no longer afford.
      Both the UK government and the Scottish administration ( it is not a government whichever way you look at it ) need to retain our money in this country and reduce the need for tax increases on the hard working population.
      In addition to this the Scottish administration needs to demonstrate that they do indeed put the future of Scottish children before all else.
      So far they have failed them miserably and simply denied that they are to blame for the chaos in our education system.
      Lastly we as Scots should not be taxed any differently from any other UK citizen.
      It is another punitive policy of the SNP which is intended to show them as class warriors.
      They are not.

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