By David Theobald
Thanks to a six-hour stopover in the Cathay Lounge in Hong Kong at our request David has penned a few more words, as a follow up to his David Farraresque travel blog from the UK.
Arrived in Hong Kong and was pleasantly surprised to see the favourable comments on my hasty scribblings from Heathrow; even an invite from SB at BFD Towers to do some more. I am feeling very much that I have made a rod for my own back as talking about fish pie in Devon and one-armed weather presenters are the easy bit.
An attempt on my part to make sense of what is going in British politics at present is bound to fail. It is currently defeating much better brains than mine. It changes hourly (literally) and this period will probably only be fit for analysis several years hence.
Let’s see if this works: a few headings then some thoughts on each. They are in no particular order (I am not good enough to chronicle this as a ripping good yarn, Boys Own Paper, page-turner) but I don’t think this matters as there is no right way to put this jigsaw together. So you can mix and match these paragraphs to suit your own particular mood.
The Supreme Court.
The UK has never had one of these until recently. King John by the river in 1215 never envisaged one, nor did anyone else until Tony Blair deemed it necessary in 2009. It fills functions that the House of Lords managed perfectly adequately for 800 years. Its supporters will say it is an impartial panel of 11 (count them) of the finest legal brains in the land and gives an impartial final say on matters of law of general public importance.
Impartial my backside. This is a political body, nothing more, nothing less. Although its members are appointed by the Queen this is on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. And no Brett Kavanaugh style public moral evisceration to go through before you get your set of 17th-century robes either. The current president is Lady Hale, who in previous utterings before kicking Boris in the gentleman’s area has said that half Britain’s judges should (or was it must) be female. She appeared on ‘Remain’ posters during the referendum, and she is about as impartial as a red and black supporter. She wore a symbolic spider brooch when delivering the judgement that to prorogue was illegal. This was widely interpreted as her having trapped the Prime Minister. We must remember that a judge is selected but a Prime Minister is elected.
The Supreme Court ruling was 11-0. This is absolutely unbelievable in the literal sense. Get six lawyers in a room and you will get four opinions as to where the sun will rise in the morning. Superficially this judgement can be seen as yet another body blow to Boris in particular and the Brexit cause in general. I think it may well play out as being quite the opposite reinforcing the ‘them and us’ feeling that is palpable in the UK wherever you go.
Brexit is very divisive.
You bet it is. It is the opening gambit of every social interaction anywhere. I was very aware and careful not to get into any Brexit arguments as these people I am chatting to over dinner are my friends of many years’ standing. A lot of my mates voted remain for reasons as varied as some of them are indecipherable. But that was three years ago. Even those who want to remain have had a gutsful of the stalemate that has pertained for the last three years. ‘Stay, leave – I don’t care any more, just bloody do something’ was a view I heard repeatedly. People are very aware that the vote was to leave but that task was then put in the hands of a Parliament that is fiercely Remain.
It cannot work. People see this and there is a great sense of the people’s will versus the MPs arrogant thumbing their nose at the people that they are supposed to represent. The voters are very cross about this. Boris understands this very well and plays to it. He has already removed the whip from many prominent conservatives (including Winston Churchill’s grandson) who are not with the programme. This has been well received by the great unwashed. I think the divisive element is swinging in the favour of the Leave side out in the real world.
Brexit is a lot more complex than I thought – and then some.
Get rid of the unelected bureaucrats running the UK from Brussels and take back control of the country makes a good bumper sticker but doesn’t get close to what November 1st holds for the man in the street – whatever happens on October 31st. There are electronic signs on all the motorways and along with ‘Long delays between J2 – J5 on the M25’ there are ’Freight rules to the EU may change Nov1 – please check your documents’. These signs are on the motorways the length and breadth the country.
My mate who lives on the side of a mountain in North Wales says his farmer neighbours have no idea how they will sell their sheep. Do you need a passport to go a lads weekend to Majorca is a small beer (pun intended) question compared to the genuine fear great sections of the working population have as to how they can survive in the short term. How much of this complexity is real and how much is imagined or deliberately manufactured (remember Project Fear) it is hard to say. However, in the short term, there is going to be great disruption.
The Irish Backstop.
This genuinely has no solution. It is no wonder that nothing was found to sort it out between June 2016 and now because it can’t be solved. There can be no hard border between the North and the South. No one wants ‘The Troubles’ back and that’s what would happen within hours of the first checkpoint going up. Boris, just a few hours ago, delivered his final offer to Brussels to circumvent this. I don’t understand it (I doubt Boris does) but it involves two borders, a virtual checkpoint, a line in the sea, one border lasting for two years, one for five (maybe) and a partridge in a pear tree. Brussels won’t accept it, it won’t work even if they did.
People versus the politicians.
This is the growing sentiment in the UK and has, to an extent, overtaken Brexit vs Remain. People have had politicians up to the back teeth. The concept of your MP being your representative is at present in the UK a sick joke and with loads of justification. The people voted to leave, there is a staunchly Remain parliament who is thumbing its nose at the voters and the voters don’t like it one little bit.
If the Government was allowed to go to the country now, they would romp in. Boris is playing a very good hand here; the Supreme Court (not elected by you, the voter) got their judgement wrong but I will respect it (‘cos I’m a law-abiding PM), Tory MPs who will not support your vote to leave have been booted out of the party. Parliament is not allowing an election because it knows it would be decimated in its current makeup and a grouping that would be committed to doing the will of the people would be returned. Just think about that for a moment – it’s as bonkers as it is wrong as it is scary.
How this fits with the global new order.
Politics around the world is nuts. And all the insanity comes from the global world without borders type deal much loved by the US Democrats, my potty mouthed mate on Parliament Green and our own CoL with Fearless Leader as its poster girl. That she did an internship with Tony Blair (vide supra, the Supreme Court) and is much feted around the world all fits in with an underlying global movement. And it’s working.
All my mates (they are my mates, so by definition are sensible, intelligent people) think Jacinda is marvellous; just look at how well she handled a Friday afternoon in Christchurch. I have started the Herculean task of removing the scales from the eyes of the international observer but there are billions yet to be dealt with. Brexit is just a surrogate for what is happening in British politics. Brexit was just the catalyst for the UK to get started on what is happening around the world. As I walked down Whitehall from Westminster to Trafalgar Square I felt very sad. Surely 800 years of progress wasn’t going to disappear in a decade of global insanity. I really hope it won’t, but I can’t guarantee it.
Boris and Dominic.
I think Boris is playing a blinder. I am not sure how he manages to keep chipper through it all (he had a twenty year old ‘he squeezed my thigh at a lunch twenty years ago’ claim a day or so back – usual lefty playbook stuff. It’ll go nowhere) but he is unfazed by the enemy fire. He only yesterday stood by his do or die 31st October deadline. This after his ‘full and final’ offer to Brussels which is widely regarded as a a non starter. ‘Then I’ll just leave with no deal’ is Boris’s repost. Quite how he can do this with a No Deal now being illegal after a rushed Bill a few weeks back when MPs wrested control of the Commons from the Government I have no idea. I hope he has.
This brings us to Dominic Cummings, he of the scruffy skinny black jeans. This bloke is despised and hated by pretty much everybody…except for Boris. I reckon this bloke still has more (mostly devious) tricks up his sleeve than there are sleeves in a frock shop; well I hope so. He was interviewed last weekend and said winning the referendum in 2016 was tricky but getting Brexit in 28 days time was a ‘walk in the park’. We’ll see.
Jacob Rees Mogg.
I was surprised to find he was not as prominent in affairs as I thought he would be. He is regarded by most as an anachronistic joke. The Member of Parliament for the Seventeenth Century is an old joke but still oft repeated. It does the man a great disservice.
He is the only bloke in this political soap opera that makes me want to throw stuff at the TV. He is so far up himself he couldn’t be found with a SAR team. Horrible fellow. He tramples on 800 years of tradition with an arrogance that defies belief. Tradition is important and some midget has no right to bin it because he feels uncomfortable.
He refuses to wear the traditional Speaker’s kit of horsehair wig, breeches and silk stockings because it makes him feel uncomfortable. Well, suck it up, cupcake, and bloody wear it. It was good enough for centuries and it is not just daft kit, it is a symbol of what you are supposed to represent. Take away the symbols and you debase your position.
This doesn’t faze him at all and debasing his position appears to be just what he wants. He wants to replace impartiality with being circus master of a Parliament doing his bidding. It’s disgraceful stuff. He’s going but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he has a few more constitutional travesties planned before he is dragged from the woolsack
Reviled by almost everyone and (thank goodness) totally unelectable. Don’t worry about him – he’s toast. It couldn’t happen to a nicer bloke, could it?
This is the big one. Nobody (perhaps excepting Black Ops Man, Dominic) knows where this is all going to end up. No one really knows what is going to happen tomorrow. Uncertainty is a bad place for politics and business. Uncertainty is the main fuel that stokes the fires of what I have been seeing over the last few weeks. Uncertainty leaves a vacuum that sucks in all sorts of loony ideas (Bercow as ’temporary’ PM was popular with some for about six hours last week), these loony ideas create more uncertainty and so it goes on. I am glad to be out of the country, to be honest. Not just because I am going home to my family but because I am returning to certainty. Our CoL are a bunch of muppets, of that I am certain.