Search This Blog

Monday, 31 July 2017

Odd Ministers at Odds

Dr Liam Fox is a non-practicing physician, which means that he might have some advantage over a person with a doctorate in Economics when it comes to diagnosing the mind of the British population. But for him to suggest that it would be some sort of breach of faith for the government to seek a 'soft Brexit', or a period of transition from membership of the common market to some other status, because a small majority of the voters in the 2006 Referendum voted to "leave the European Union", would be too far to stretch credibility.

I voted to leave, partly because I thought that we 'leavers' would loose but that a strong marker could be put down against the continentals' nonsense of developing an "ever closer union" with its own military capability. When my side won, I hailed the narrow victory as a licence to negotiate a rational settlement with the remaining states of the European Union that would get the United Kingdom out of the morass of the Brussels and Strasbourg institutions but keep this country in the close European free-trade pact that pre-existed the Union. That Dr Fox is now putting up his version of what the vote means is in some ways helpful; because it shows that the Tory 'hard Brexiteers' are truly dangerous for this country.

The rhetoric around the time of the last general election, that both Labour and Conservative parties accepted the majority decision in favour of [undefined] Brexit, masked the underlying fact that most Members of Parliament from both parties who were to be returned in the election had voted to remain in whole shebang of the Union in the referendum. It would now appear that most Members of the Commons do not know how to interpret the referendum result, while an overwhelming majority of the Lords are opposed to the whole concept of Brexit but recognise that they cannot blatantly overturn the decision of the electorate.

The present constitutional position appears to be that referendum result stands as an historic fact, but the sovereignty of parliament was not abandoned by that result. Thus any resultant agreement with the European Union - as with the USA, or Australia, of Belarus - will be made with the assent of the Queen, the Lords and the Commons.

The present political fact appears to be that a small group of headbanging Brexiteers have been given licence by Mrs May to discuss half-baked promises of potential free-trade agreements with various governments that all have the common purpose of clinging on to power by not upsetting too large a proportion of their electorate. These tentative discussions about trade treaties appear to be understood to mean that the hardliners can simply effect a British exit from the European Union with no comprehensive draft treaty with the EU in place. This is infantile absurdity. If such a cliff-edge Brexit were to be undertaken, in a world characterised by point protectionism [as defined in this blog: do a word-check], it would be a recipe for economic devastation in this country.

Mrs May seems to have been flattened by references to her past 'failure', as Home Secretary, to reduce net immigration to a few tens of thousands of people annually. She seems to be caught in the headlights of a juggernaut that is bearing down on her, terrified lest she would be seen to oppose those few party colleagues who assure the electorate that they can keep out mass migration without detriment to the health service or the wider economy. The spectacularly dull Chancellor of the Exchequer is bringing some sense to the discussion, and thus earning the odium of those parts of the press that enjoy the power to press for reckless policies simply because they cannot be held responsible for any outcome. Those same media constantly carry stories to the effect that before the election Mrs May wanted to get rid of Mr Hammond, and can not now do it because of the precariousness of her own position. If the sort of sense that Hammond is promoting is swept aside by the 'hard Brexiteers' the country will be brought to a point of crisis which Mrs May shows no sign of  a capability to control.

 What Liam Fox was reported to have said over the weekend is gravely alarming: so the sooner the Democratic Unionists abandon their contract with Mrs May to sell her their votes, the better. The collapse of the government into backbiting is the harbinger of collapse; so let it all happen soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment