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Thursday, 21 September 2017

Countdown to Humiliation?

Neville Chamberlain was apparent a man of almost-infinite vanity, who believed of himself the quotations [from Shakespeare's Hotspur, and others] that he used to extol his success at the time of national humiliation in the days of the 1938 Munich Agreement. Perversely, public anger then and at the outset of war was directed to his predecessor as prime minister, Stanley Baldwin, who had in fact had a much clearer view of Hitler and initiated the process of rearmament and [in particular] the expansion of the RAF and the widespread development of airfields that were to save the country in 1940. Chamberlain handed over to Churchill only when his illness made continuance in office impossible, and his death was buried in the fraught news of the nation's survival and eventual victory.

Mrs May may be equally delusional with Chamberlain, but I do not believe that she is. She is, however, mortally wounded [in political terms] by her failed general election: since which, she has seemed like a doped rabbit in the headlights, buoyed-up by a remarkable self-belief that she is unable to communicate to the nation that she very rarely troubles to talk to. Even during the election, that she called herself, she did not face up to confrontation, but took a tedious road-show around the country making absurd claims about her own strength and stability and risking losing the oldie vote by a totally silly launch of a plan to pay for home care with a 'death tax'. That might be a sensible basis for consideration: but it would have to be pondered deeply and planned carefully, not drawn up on a fag packet and launched during an election campaign that was already failing to match that of the antediluvian Marxist who had repackaged himself to capture the inexperience of younger voters.

Now Mrs May is gearing up to make only her second major speech this year in the Brexit issue: the one matter that will determine her reputation and the durability of her tenure of office. Early in the year, at Lancaster House, she vaguely talked about the sort of outcome that she hoped for from the negotiations with the EU on how Britain would stand after March, 2019. Many months later, she is to go to Florence tomorrow to make a speech whose content and tone - so it is rumoured - will be determined in the Cabinet Room in Downing Street today. Given Mrs May's propensity to take up pusillanimous positions with the advice of a kitchen cabinet of close advisers, there is a possibility that what is decided in Cabinet may be transmogrified en route to Florence: but the probability of Cabinet resignations may rule that out. However, some Cabinet members in the past have brought down prime ministers and government by resigning; and at least one egotist might be tempted to go - in the hope of future glory - if he is dissatisfied by her remarks.

Rumours about the content of her draft speech are scarce; but they include the suggestion that she will offer a [low] sum of money to the EU as a divorce settlement, spread over a couple of years after March 2019, if the EU will agree to a transitional phase that could well end in British membership of a redefined European Economic Area.

It still appears to be the case that a small number of Conservative buffoons in the Commons actually believe that Britain can walk out of the political AND economic aspects of the EU and survive economically from April 2019. If they were to have their way, supported as they are by a larger number of other MPs who would be prepared to risk a 'hard Brexit' with crossed fingers and justifiable doubts, they would be open to the same treatment as the Rumanian dictator got from the people after his

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