The Peoples Temple
David Mundell increasingly looks like a latter-day Jim Jones, leading his Peoples Temple to drink the Kool Aid while worshipping the precious, if malleable ‘Union’.
On Monday it was reported that both Mundell and the Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson had told the prime minister that they could not support any different arrangements for Northern Ireland.
“Sources had told the BBC that Ms Davidson and Mr Mundell have made it clear they would resign if Northern Ireland faces new controls that separate it from the rest of the UK – because that could fuel the case for Scottish independence.”
A source close to Mr Mundell told the BBC: “If you find yourself not agreeing with government policy” resigning would be the “logical outcome”. A source close to Ms Davidson said the issue was a “red line”.
As one commentator wrote: “Essentially Scotland’s two leading Conservatives are trying to stop Remain-voting Scotland getting a deal that protects it from the worst extremes of Brexit and will threaten to resign to ensure that Scotland gets as bad a deal as possible from Brexit.”
It was a remarkable position to take and one which they both quickly retreated from. By midweek they were desperately denying they had made any such claims.
The Kool Aid was for now, back under lock and key.
As Theresa May ventured back to Brussels for a desultory dinner she both came and returned with … nothing at all.
The only thing that Michel Barnier can offer her is “more time”, like saying to someone suffering a migraine attack “We can’t make it stop but we can make it go on for another year?”
Our Prime Minister arrived at yet another EU summit and, if in a fugue state, repeated that “considerable progress” has been made since Salzburg but – wait for it – “problems remain on the Northern Ireland backstop”.
So what solutions do Mundell and Davidson’s colleagues have to get out of this unholy mess?
Stanley Johnson’s solution to the Irish border question was “Just let the Irish shoot themselves.”
Helpfully Andrew Bridgen of the European Research Group member explained on Radio 5 Live that “as an Englishman, I understand I’m entitled to an Irish passport.” On this basis, he believes that solving the Irish border will be no problem at all.
Maybe Karen Bradley could illuminate things?
Others suggested that somehow replacing Theresa May with David Davis would resolve the Brexit crisis.
Yes, really, that happened.
Davis is being talks up by some Conservatives as an ‘interim leader’, which is a pretendy thing.
They are too scared to vote for Boris or Jacob Rees-Mogg and are now inventing traditions.
The Telegraph’s Christopher Hope chimed: “Ministers have asked in recent weeks for MPs to put the ‘national interest’ ahead of party priorities in the considering Mrs May’s Brexit proposal. Mr Davis – who is admired by Labour MPs – would be the perfect MP to unite Parliament, they say.”
Letters of No Confidence in the PM to the 1922 Committee’s Sir Graham Brady are thought to be in the ‘low 40s’.
Forty eight are required to trigger a vote to eject her.
The Tories, under extreme pressure, are teetering between the promised land of Britannia Unchained and the prospect of the Bolshevik Corbyn – the nightmarish creation of of their own worst fantasies. All of the time – stage right – Trump’s transatlantic trade deals are waiting in the wings.
There’s a sort of sick symmetry to Ireland being the entity which leads to the ultimate British crisis. The Tory MPs queuing up to outdo each other by displaying new deaths of ignorance is entertaining but undermining too.
They seem equally confused about the role of the Irish and the Europeans in this whole process and ‘more time’ won’t really help any.
The prominent Brexiter Priti Patel said an extension would not “in any way” solve ongoing concerns about the Irish border. “If the EU is refusing to help us to solve the border issue now, why will it take another three years to resolve it?”
There’s an amusing tension between the grandiose chatter about Britain’s glorious global future and the slightly desperate pleas for the EU to solve Britain’s self-inflicted problems. In a sense Britain is just doing what it has always done to the EU, pleading for exceptionalism, special status, opt-outs and deliverance, only this time there is absolutely no incentive for the other countries to capitulate to the British Government’s ridiculous demands.
The feeling that Britain is falling apart – driven by the Brexit crisis – is palpable. English nationalism is driving worsening relations between ourselves and our nearest neighbours.
“Last month, some video footage went viral in Ireland of a group of English men verbally abusing young women at a Dublin housing crisis protest. The men, it turned out, were part of a bachelor party who had come from Bristol and seemed to be dressed intentionally to look like a cartoon of landed gentry, in tweeds and the loudly colored trousers widely beloved by braying men of a certain kind.
It would have been a strange incident in any case, these English men who look like relics of the landlord class shouting at young Irish people rendered desperate because of skyrocketing rents, but it was to become more absurd still. After calling the women “scroungers” and demanding to know whether they had jobs, one of the men took the decapitated head of a pigeon out of his pocket and threw it at them.
That particular fact won’t make any more sense the longer you look at it, and yet it goes on being true. I watched the video footage over and over, looked at earnest news headlines that simply read, “The footage shows a man verbally abusing protesters, before the head of a decapitated pigeon is thrown,” but no explanation was forthcoming. Why did the man throw a pigeon head at the protesters? More important, why was he carrying one in his pocket, ready, seemingly, to be launched as soon as a worthy adversary appeared?”
So here’s how it ends, with Englishmen stupeified by self-conceit throwing a pigeon-head at people in Dublin.
England has gone Gazza-weird.
But where does all this leave our beleaguered Mundell and Davidson?
The duo have paired up with brave Bertie Armstrong and according to The Times: “… have threatened to lead a revolt against an extension to the Brexit transition period amid fears that it would scupper the party’s chances of victory in the 2021 Scottish parliament elections.”
The Kool Aid is back out of the cupboard.
This is a threat they can’t deliver on. They might be rightly scared of an extension or a Northern Irish fudge but bringing down the government would deliver either a Corbyn or a Conservative government without Theresa May. Neither could survive either scenario.
As Mike Russell commented: “What is most striking is what Brexit has done to Scottish Conservatism – reduced it to a visceral, hard line, irreconcilable DUP style unionism with no policies and no plans for our country save shouting ‘no surrender’ at the SNP.”
Some people love that – but its not a platform for survival never mind governance, even standing next to the ridiculous Leonard Labour Party -because there’s a paradox at the heart of all of this. On the one hand the Union is held up as The Thing, the One Thing that must be defended and revered at all costs. Yet last week we learned that actually “losing Scotland”, and peace in Nothern Ireland is seen as a price worth paying for Brexit (esp for Leave voters and Conservative voters).
As O’Toole writes: “At every stage of the Brexit process we have seen complete indifference to the fate of Northern Ireland. The “precious union” stuff is a gaudy orange garment borrowed from the DUP to cover the most nakedly obvious attitude: this Irish border stuff concerns a faraway people of whom we know nothing and care less. It is not our concern but merely a distraction being used by the EU Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, to deny us the perfect Brexit we deserve and demand.”
It’s frowned on to state it, but Brexit is an English crisis to an English problem, the rest of us are just friendly fire being burnt in the self-immolation of a country consumed by its own self-deception:
“Brexit has always had a large dose of phoney populism – it is an elite project for extreme globalisation wrapped up as a popular revolt against globalisation. But it also has an equally large dose of phoney unionism – it is an English national rebellion wrapped in the union flag. Among its many contradictions, perhaps the one in which the gap between rhetoric and reality yawns most widely is this one.”
This isn’t really about Britain or the Union, this is about power and lack of it and confused bitter ego.