The Prime Minister told us that leaving the European Union would give us the freedom to be “global Britain”. It was ill defined like “Get Brexit Done”, “no checks on the Northern Ireland border” and “Levelling Up”. All sounded good but meant next to nothing in detail.
We are beginning to see what Global Britain means now that we have left the EU and fallen out with the United States.
We ceased to be on a par with the great military powers of the world from about 1941. During the passage of the Second World War Winston Churchill saw us no longer able to dictate world affairs. We had to work with the Americans (and briefly the Soviet Union) to defeat the Axis.
After that we became members of NATO, the Commonwealth, and the EU so that we could use our considerable soft power to work with like minded countries as our empire disappeared.
But what is the situation now? Our weakness is on full display in Afghanistan where terrorists are calling the shots. Meanwhile at home the full effects of Brexit are beginning to be felt as our supermarket shelves become empty. We have driven away those EU workers that were so vital in our haulage and hospitality industries.
The government tell us we voted to end freedom of movement. The lorry drivers heard that but not hundreds of refugees crossing the Channel every day.
UNITE THE FEW
There were two shocks around the election of Sharon Graham to be the next General Secretary of the powerful Unite union. The winner was expected to be the hard left Steve Turner or the moderate Gerard Coyne, but Graham surprised us all. Her victory was because of her effective work in representing Unite members in disputes like the recent “fire and rehire” issue with British Airways.
It was perhaps also because she has promised to focus on issues affecting Unite members rather than an obsession with the internal disputes of the Labour Party.
That would mark a substantial break with the approach of outgoing General Secretary Len McCluskey. A key supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, he has been a thorn in the side of Sir Keir Starmer. In that sense it might be good news for the Labour leader who needs all the help he can get at the moment.
Despite facing a shambolic government, Sir Keir is making little headway in the polls and faces a restless party conference next month.
The other shock about the Unite election was the turnout, just 12%. Some feel it suits the hard left to avoid mass participation which is more difficult to manipulate. However, a 12% turnout suggests deep apathy or distaste for the McCluskey years from union members. To some extent it could also undermine the authority of Sharon Graham who has much work to do in sorting out the finances of the union which have had an unwelcome spotlight shone on them in recent months.