Poor Chris Grayling. Regularly humiliated by Michael Gove (blessed be his name) and more recently in Cabinet by Cameron. Even Liam Fox didn’t bother to respond to his desperate pleas to lead the Brexiteers. I suspect even the Samaritans would hang up on him. Yet each week, those of us who are normally are revolted by blood sports, enjoy his torture by Shadow Leader of the House, cheeky chappie, Chris Bryant. Today’s torture was naming him The Prince of Darkness and the Honourable member for Mordor. Ok, he’s mixing Harry Potter with Lord of the Rings (no euphemism Chris, honest), but if Grayling quivers in unopiated agony, that’s fine by me.
I suspect that it is pretty clear that he and IDS are going to walk the plank as they are so angry with Cameron having the effrontery to tell the House the basis of his negotiations before deal. Tensions are so high I would be surprised if it is not before18th February. I would imagine IDS would then lead the OUTERs, after all, the referendum is the juddering climax of his career.
On Tuesday I attended a briefing by Pauline Neville Jones and Dominic Grieve about the security aspects of leaving the EU. The Boothroyd Room (like a dreadful unfinished Spanish Hotel foyer circa 1972) was packed with the likes of me, Nick Soames, Alan Haselhurst, Damien Green and David Curry. The audience was so refreshingly wet that you could have shot snipe off of us. But the briefing was fascinating. The 5 eyes (the main world wide intelligence services) and NATO have warned that we would be less safe if we left the EU. The European Arrest Warrant would bite the dust and we would go back to the bad old days of waiting years for criminals to be extradited. And as far as border controls we would have to abandon the controls of British officials in Calais. It would be a nightmare and the Sangette jungle would be transferred to Dover and most of the South Coast. So much for control of our own borders.
The trouble is that every rational argument about the thousands of bilateral agreements that would have to be renegotiated is met with the response from the Amish wing that ‘they need us more than we need them, so there won’t be a problem’. In other words, the Brexiteers are asking the British people to take a giant leap into the dark, when what all of us want, particularly business and security, is certainty.
There is also a lot of nonsense being talked about MEPs blocking any agreement for a ‘brake’. I say nonsense as only this morning the leader of the European Parliament’s largest grouping the EPP said that it could be put in place within two or three months after the referendum. This rather scuppers the smear put about that it would never happen or take at least eighteen months.
And then there is the benefits scare. I have been arguing for years that the best way to deal with this in a non discriminatory way is for benefits to be paid at the rate of the country where you are domiciled. It requires an easy bit of software which even the DWP could deal with.
Sovereignty still seems to be the buzzword and rightly so. But we have a head of agreement that deals with this. We will no longer be bound to work towards closer integration. Finally, the European court. As we are signed up the the EHCR in Strasbourg the EU Court in Luxembourg cannot enforce its decisions on Human Rights on us. Sensibly, Gove (blessed be his holy name) has ruled out our leaving EHCR because it only asks our Parliament to take into account their decisions. And if we keep the carpet biters on side by a British, Big Cocked, Act of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act, that’s fine by me, as it won’t be jot different from the one we have. A bit like a cigarette after a wank.
The constitutional court idea floated to deal with the supremacy of our law is not a bad one. The President of the Supreme Court is right to argue that a separate constitutional court on the German model is not wrong in principle, just impractical. We could achieve the same results by giving the same powers to our Supreme Court. Let’s do it. Oh, and let Boris take the credit or whichever SPAD clocked it in the Readers Digest.
I know that the starting gun has not officially fired but the REMAINERs are missing a trick. Nobody is talking about agricultural subsidies. Before the EEC the government paid our farmers to farm. ‘Disgrace’, scream the Brexiteers. ‘They should be in free market’. The trouble is that producing our food is seasonal and subject to the delights of the British weather. Leaving the EU would hand a British Chancellor either a blank cheque to give to our farmers (not in your dreams) or a cut in their incomes. And it is billions of pounds. So It’s about time we heard from the horny handed sons and daughters of the NFU.
Oh, and before I go back to my jury, there is some interesting stuff going on at the MAIL group. Dacre, when he is not on a baby seal clubbing holiday in Nova Scotia,, is a bit of a carpet muncher as an OUTER. His oppo on the MOS has a more sensible view. Lady Rothermere rather prefers the sensible view of Geordi at the MOS and despises Dacre. There could be a bit of a power struggle over an issue that is so important. But when push comes to shove Dacre might be spending more time with his poison ivy.