Cheating their way to Brexit

Jim Hancock

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Let’s call it out

What truly dreadful week it has been. What a vindication for those who claim politicians are liars and cheats. I’ve always argued against this lazy generalisation, but some of them have shown that they are this week.

I do not believe that the Chairman of the Conservative Party, Brandon Lewis, broke his pair “by mistake”.

I do not believe that the President of the United States “misspoke” in Helsinki.

I do believe Vote Leave cheated to win the EU Referendum, and so do the Electoral Commission.

On we go to Brexit

There are slight indications of a move against Brexit in the polls but my summary of the events of this week is as follows. When it comes to the crunch, the hard line Brexiteers are calling the shots. It is an extraordinary considering they are a minority in the Conservative Party, a minority in Parliament and a minority in the country.

Peter Bone and his ilk report outrage at the betrayal of the Chequers Agreement. The anger is coming from grassroot members of the Conservative Party living in the suburbs and rural England, whose average age is 65, who yearn after an England of warm beer and cycling to church. They are not representative of the moderate cosmopolitan majority.

The problem is that the majority can’t get their act together because of several reasons. The Remainers and soft Brexiteers in the Tory Party back down when the crunch comes. Labour Remainers are trapped by the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell. They are actually Leavers believing in the freedom to subsidise failing industries against the EU’s State Aid rules. The Lib Dems, who should be doing far better in the polls with their Exit from Brexit campaign, are not cutting through. They were not helped by the absence from a crucial EU vote this week of both the current and former leaders.

May carries on

I have always believed in the resilience of Theresa May when most commentators were predicting her demise.

The fact is as we go into the summer recess that she has got through the Commons, the major bills to implement Brexit. There is no sign of the 48 letters requesting a Tory leadership contest, still less evidence that 159 Tory MPs would vote against her in an election she would intend to fight.

The truth has always been that she is best placed to be in charge through this nightmare process and then she will disappear in a welter of criticism from Remainers and Leavers as the country descends into chaos and economic downturn when we are out of the EU.

Poor old business

Meanwhile business lives with the thing it hates most, uncertainty. But we are already paying a heavy price for this madness. Investment decisions being put on hold, talented Europeans leaving our university research teams and pharmaceutical companies spending millions setting up European plants to wastefully duplicate drug testing facilities in anticipation of a hard Brexit.

Here comes Summer

I may have got this wrong, but I have the impression that everyone involved in the negotiations are going on holiday. They all talk about time running out and the crunch coming in October as if August didn’t exist.

Politicians and civil servants need to scrap their holidays and get on with the detailed talks over the most critical issue this country has faced since 1945.

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