Once again the common sense pragmaticism of Ruth Davidson will give the country a life line. A second referendum is risky but inevitable

15 Dec 2018 at 13:38

Mercifully, none of our tribunes have treated us to that well worn sound bite, that, ‘lessons have been learned’ after the trouncing of Mogg and his barmy army. There is only one lesson and it was learned many years ago. These people will never be satisfied unless they have everything they have demanded. And then they will demand more. They will not make compromises, they will not make the slightest move towards party unity and they would be perfectly content to see this government come crashing down and replaced by a Corbyn/McDonnell junta. What is so troubling and rather strange is that after years of banging on about democracy, they didn’t want Parliament to have a meaningful say over any deal. And rather than gracefully concede defeat on the vote of confidence, they demanded that Madame should resign. Mogg has transformed from an eccentric faux gentleman who was respected, into a bitter old curmudgeon spitting venom at anyone with whom he disagrees. It is not a pleasant sight. Meanwhile, Owen Paterson Spode tries to rally his back shorts to down tools. To go on strike. To paralyse government business. Some regard him as a ‘true Tory’. The world really has gone mad.

It saddens me to say that the time has come when someone is going to have to make a decision about what to with these people. They don’t care about their party or their government and are under a dangerous delusion that they have a higher duty to deliver something that cannot be delivered rather than turn their guns on the horror of Corbyism. Being a Conservative is about tolerance and compromise. They have lost the right to even call themselves Conservatives.

The vote against May was higher than I expected, but I am not surprised. Votes against leaders are rarely about single issues. And it’s rarely about confidence. Some of the 117 would have been Remainers, many Brexiteers, some who have been sacked and a few have been overlooked. It was like that with the first vote against Thatcher in 1990. Mike Brunson and I predicted it within single figures because we didn’t divide it between wets and dries. We took into account the pissed off and the very pissed off.

So where are we now? Sadly in no man’s land. The deal is dead. Norway was never a runner, Canada plus a fantasy and no deal is Armageddon with a cherry on top. Which is sour. And this has been the easy bit. We haven’t even started negotiating about trade deals or our relationship with the EU.

Madame has been dealt an impossible hand where every card is a Joker. She had to offer the Rampton Wing red lines to try in the vain hope that they would settle down. But this is what the EU thrives on. National difficulties weaken that party in a negotiation. And they stand together united as the Club. As Britain will always put Britain first the Club will always put their own interests first. Does anyone honestly believe that they would allow us to have frictionless trade with them, allow us a say in the rule making and give blessing for us to do trade deals with the rest of the world? Or on the backstop who do you think they will support us or Ireland? And do you really think they are going to support us against Spain over Gibraltar? Even yesterday Nigel Evans was on Sky saying that the Italians will still sell us their Prosecco and the German’s their cars. BUT WITHOUT A DEAL THEY WONT BE ALLOWED TO. Sometimes I could weep over the selective ignorance about what a trade deal is all about.

Against all my previous thoughts Inow see no other choice than to have a second referendum. And what will clinch it is Ruth Davidson’s Tories. They will announce next week that they support one. For Scottish Tories it’s good but risky politics (think SNP and what they want). For Parliament it will be a lifeline. The Brexiteers will scream betrayal and the Telegraph will become even more of a deranged hate sheet than ever before. The rest of the press will be more sanguine. As that great European compromiser, Margaret Thatcher once said, there is no alternative. Strange isn’t it that for generations Brexiteers fought and won the battle of Exit. Now it looks like that their collective incompetence and tunnel vision will let it fall from their grasp. What stupid, venal, selfish fools. They should be cast into the outer darkness of Parliamentary hades. The eighth circle of hell, which is every politician’s room 101. Risible irrelevancy.

And once again it will be the Scottish life boat captained by the good sense of Ruth Davidson who will provide the party and the country shelter. It is a very risky strategy. But wasn’t this first suggested by Bozo and Mogg? Have a second vote once people know what was on the table. They are now saying that it was not quite what they meant. Well, we’ve all heard that before.

A referendum is almost the last thing that Madame wants to contemplate, but I suspect and profoundly hope that she sees the inevitability of it. She has fired the starting gun for a leadership election and when she finally bows after the final curtain her legacy will be that she did her damnedest to save the country. But nobody can save the Conservative Party. In its present form it has decided to head off to EFTA, but it’s finall stop will be the Dignitas Clinic for a final farewell. A tragedy in the making.



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The the unruly mob of the Commons is a disgrace. Shuttle diplomacy begins again. The choice is simple. May for the Continent, Rees Mogg for the incontinent

11 Dec 2018 at 09:42

“Why can’t they just get on with it?” says Colonel Mad to his good lady wife at the Felchingham Conservative Club.
“What Brexit dear?” She simpers over a schooner of Cyprus Sherry.
“No! Fucking Christmas!” thunders the colonel, raising a fluffy grey eyebrow to the steward for another tincture. After all, it was nearly ten thirty in the morning. The sun surely must be over the yard arm somewhere.
“But Madders, that nice Mr. Johnston said it was going to be a doddle, that the beastly Krauts want to sell us their cars and those awful Dagos their prosecco. And don’t forget we cancelled our health insurance because of the the £350 million extra a week for the NHS”.
But the colonel wasn’t listening. The steward had failed to deliver his drink and was flirting with a barmaid.
“Steward. My whisky and soda. Chop. Chop,” he barked in full military mode.
The youth in a stained white jacket reluctantly broke off his attentions and sauntered over.
“Enough of the chop, chop grandpa. I’m running this bar now.”
“But what happened to that nice chap from Poland? Nothing was too much trouble for him.”
“Gone back to Poland where he bloody belongs. Oh, and before I serve your drink, if I can be arsed to, I want a pay rise.”
By now the colonel’s rheumy eyes were fixed on the television above the bar.
“Oh it’s Mr Johnson darling,” wet gussetted his lady wife.
But this was too much for our thirsty hero who slumped back dangerously on his bar stool.
“Fucking man.”
“But listen dear. He is telling us that if he was Prime Minister, which he doesn’t want to be, all he needs to do is shout loudly at Johnny Foreigner and they will give us everything we want.”
“I’m afraid my dear that we are up shit creak and nobody can find the bloody paddle. Steward! Drink! Pronto!”
But of the steward there was no sign. He had gone on strike.

This is a terrible time for democracy. Members of Parliament are failing us. They are stuck in the headlights of a speeding truck and don’t know which way to jump. Some are just praying for a miracle. That somehow the truck will screech to a halt and the driver, dressed as Santa, will distribute sacks of wonderful presents to us all. The rest are just hiding under the duvet hoping it will all go away.

Yesterday the Commons was in turmoil. “Let’s have a People’s vote……..let’s crash out with no deal…..go back and tell Brussels what we want…whatever that is…..let’s have a vote of no confidence…let’s elect a new leader who will be …..better…”

So Madame does what she has always done. Tries to square the circle. Attempts to reconcile the unreconcilable. Puts up with unspeakable abuse. And sits in the Parliamentary stocks being pelted with rotten fruit.

The Tory mob is just as unpleasant, violently irrational and unstable as the Paris yellow shirts. Anna Soubry has lost her marbles. Priti Patel beyond a disgrace. And in India Esther McVey would be sacred. All the while Owen Paterson Spode leads his black shorts to a land fit for unicorns.

Corbynistas are just as bad. Mad eyed Momentum Williamson tours the country as chief Witch Finder General. “I see the mark of Blair on the body. Confess, confess and I will purify your soul through the burning fires of deselection.” Whilst McDonnell, Corbyn’s Beria, draws up lists of those to be executed after the revolution. For them Brexit is just a side show on the long march to power. No deed or thought will be too cynical.

Parliament has become like Bedlam where the aristocracy used to come and wonder at the sad antics of the seriously deranged. And at the moment one of the few voices of sanity is Madame. Off she goes again for another round of shuttle diplomacy. The choice is simple. May for the continent and Rees Mogg for the incontinent.

Heaven knows what the twenty seven think of all of this. Well, I’ll hazard a guess.
“Britain has decided to leave. It was their choice not ours. We have negotiated a deal where both sides have made concessions in good faith. The Anglo Irish Agreement makes it clear that there cannot be a hard border between north and south. We will not let Ireland down. In no circumstances will we allow a deal which will put British interests above EU interests. We will give you assurances regarding the temporary nature of the backstop. But they cannot be legally binding. We will not allow the negotiations to be reopened because we have more pressing issues. Massive unemployment. The Italian economy tanking. A new Chancellor in Germany. The French have become an ungovernable basket case. And don’t let’s forget the migration crisis”.

Let’s be honest, Britain has just become an irritation to the EU. They have calculated that if we crash out without a deal it will be a catastrophe for us and a minor disaster for them. The best Christmas present they can give Madame is a beautifully wrapped package with some helpful words on the card. But the gift will still be the same. Parliament would be mad not to accept it. Sadly, there is no available certificate of their sanity. But their worst crime is that they have become the Grinch that stole Christmas.



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The Cox advice is neither sinister nor devastating just explaining the bloody obvious. To say that Northern Ireland should be treated no differently than the rest of the U.K. is a fantasy. It always has been.

6 Dec 2018 at 11:23

If anyone bothers to read the full text of the Attorney General’s advice they will be shocked at how uncontroversial it is. There is nothing there that hasn’t been trailed or leaked for weeks. However, there are three stupidities surrounding it’s publication that need to be addressed. Firstly, by trying to suppress it the government gave it a sinister status that it doesn’t warrant. Secondly, by acting against the will of the House which ordered its disclosure previously, it gives a wonderful opportunity for MPs to jump on their high horses and proclaim that they need to strike a blow against their masters in the executive. And the last really moronic stupidity is to pretend that Northern Ireland is treated no differently from the rest of the United Kingdom.

The whole bloody history of the place is based on its differences with the U.K. Apart from the election of MEPs, who nobody has ever cared about nor really understood what they are there for, proportional representation plays no part in our electoral life. Stormont is elected by proportional representation. We have always prided ourselves on our jury system, but in Northern Ireland it was abandoned for years and replaced by the Diplock Courts. And we certainly wouldn’t tolerate thousands of marches every year with bowler hatted orange sashed people marching through the streets of England proclaiming territorial rights. And we tolerate abortion and welcome same sex marriage over here too. Oh, and they haven’t had an elected government for months. So please don’t let’s pretend that the Province is not different nor treated differently from the rest of the U.K. . It always has been and always will be.

Northern Ireland does not represent the easy going tolerance of the rest of the U.K. The Gaels, whose badge is republicanism, like to see themselves as part of the whole of Ireland, whilst the Celts whose badge is Unionism tend to be Leviticans protecting their way of life and culture which they have always perceived to be under threat by endless betrayals. There are very good historical reasons for both these positions. Both are steeped in blood and injustice. And neither the Gaels nor the Celts have right on their side or occupy the moral high ground.

Of course, Brexiteers never gave much, if any, thought to the consequences of leaving the EU would have in Northern Ireland and Gibraltar. Both are historical anomalies. The irony is that despite its many imperfections the EU gives stability to both. The Spanish wouldn’t have dared send a warship into our waters playing their national anthem were we not exiting the club. The EU has always stepped in to prevent the Spaniards from blockading the rock. The backstop provides them with protection until we reach an agreement. Talk of joint sovereignty is rather chilling. And in the Province the Gaels enjoy the illusion that they are part of the island Ireland of Ireland because they are citizens of the EU. The backstop preserves that.

So the EU has prevented the Spaniards from wrecking the Gibraltarian economy, and kept the Gaels and Celts from slaughtering each other in another civil war. The total irresponsibility of the Brexiteers is that they shut their minds to all of this. The hard border issue has little to do with commerce and everything to do with symbolism.

What May and her team have done is keep all the plates spinning. If she loses the vote then they all come crashing down and all those banks and companies who have put their exodus on hold will get the last stage out of Dodge.

But Huzzah! Parliament now has the last word on it all. It can instruct the government on how to proceed. May and Juncker are smart enough to realise that once you let the Genie out of the bottle of re negotiation you have to be very careful what you wish for. Cox warns in his advice that the backstop is not necessarily in the interests of the EU. Oh, and if the U.K. wins the right to unilaterally withdraw from the agreement so will the EU. Not a happy place to be.

Whatever happens nobody will be totally happy. It is the nature of politics that they never are. At the moment both sides are accusing the other of betrayal. That is not a bad starting point. But nobody knows where it will all end. My instincts lead me to believe that May will eventually win. But this is not the the end, nor even the beginning of the end. It’s just the end of the beginning.



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If the May Agreement is voted down we are on a one way ticket to economic hell. But I am not buying my hand cart yet

29 Nov 2018 at 09:13

Is it too much to ask politicians to behave like grown ups? Is it such a terrible ask for them to tell us the truth? And why is it impossible for the sneering rabid mob that support Mogg and his peculiars to realise that the emperor is stark bollock naked? Lastly, do we get the politicians we deserve?

It’s easier to answer the last question first. No. We have been cheated. We have been lied to and most of them know it. But they are too supine, spineless and cowardly to admit it. The greasers and chancers want promotion. The rest just want a quiet life. No more constituency meetings whereby their diminishing and elderly supporters have been whipped into a frenzy of betrayal- speak by Brexit Puritans. And no more rants from the gammoned pitchforkers who lead the mob on social media.

Let me explain the obvious. There is no better deal than we have now. But that ship has sadly sailed. So any other plans place our economy in jeopardy on a scale of awfulness. Least awful is the May agreement, because for now, that’s what it is. It is an international Treaty that technically doesn’t need the ratification of Parliament, but in reality does. And then we have the phantom plans. Canada plus and Norway. For reasons beyond the comprehension of your average mollusc on a bad hair day I cannot understand the primal attraction of this to the right, other than the instinct that moths have to fly into flames. Let me give you a bit of a clue why it is such a crap idea. Barnier said it was on the table at the outset. Doesn’t that make a few alarm bells jangle, Klaxons whoop, and robotic voices shriek, ‘danger,danger collision ahead’.

And then there is the Norway option which is basically remaining in the EEA but, and it’s a very big but, still allowing freedom of movement. We will be members, subject to whether members want us, until heaven knows when a brilliant deal is thrashed out giving us the competitive edge over the EU. In other words forever. And there are indications that Norway and co would block us. Lastly, there is the Death Star, eternal damnation, fires of hades option of no deal. This is the carpet biter’s, mouth frother’s and snake wrestler’s Valhalla. The popularity of this amongst the low wattage wing of the Tory party is a real and genuine mystery to me as most people would rather spend a few years in an Hieronymous Bosch themed holiday park than embark on this act of national self harm.

But all the warnings of industry, the Bank of England, the OECD and anyone who is capable of counting without the assistance of fingers and toes, are shouted down, abused and screamed at. This is so depressing and so dispiriting that I could weep.

Let me explain another unpleasant reality. The May Treaty is decried by normally sensible people like Jo Johnson (what is the matter with this family?) as making us rule takers rather than rule makers. But isn’t that what happens when we leave the EU? We won’t be able to help make the laws and regulations. Does anyone honestly believe that we and we alone will make the rules and regulations with anyone we do a trade deal with? That our Parliament with all the the omnipotent power of its sovereignty will tell the world how to trade? This is delusional and downright dangerous.

But will anyone listen? Will anyone act with honesty and integrity? And if you think that the Tories have become the party of the mob Labour has become a national disgrace. They don’t give a damn about what happens to the economy. They just want to get into power. And they don’t want to be part of any EU that won’t allow them to subsidise failing industries. They know damn well this could never be on the table as it would give us a competitive edge. So the leadership want out and always have done. The DUP look at everything through the prism of Ulster and the SNP for independence and power. What a shower.

Nobody voted for this economic Armageddon which we are sleep walking into. Years ago Margaret Thatcher was called Tina, simply because There Is No Alternative. It’s the same with the May agreement. I just pray that Parliament has the courage backbone and common sense to support her. However, there is a ray of hope. I hear that Justine Greening is going to announce a five point plan. Thank God. The nation will sleep easier in their beds.



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Oh, ERGs you stupid boys, they don’t like it up ‘em. Doomed, doomed you are all doomed. Don’t tell him your name Johnson

21 Nov 2018 at 11:18

The most terrible fate for any politician who desperately seeks to be taken seriously and passionately feels that the fate of his party and his country lies in his wisdom is to become the butt of national ridicule. It is political death by a thousand cuts. And it is a gift that never stops giving. Poor Moggy. He had carved out a reputation as a rather eccentric but deeply honourable Parliamentarian. When the Mogg spoke the Commons listened. He was revered in the Tory heartlands as a philosopher king speaking to the faithful in words that they could thrill to. Thousands queued to hear the sage of Somerset orate at the party conference. Only he had the courage to expose the betrayal of May and her knavish tricks. And oh, what an English gentleman with whiff of moth balls, ready rubbed shag, distributing Werthers originals to adoring children in front of a roaring fire. Only he had the authority to decree, with the ersatz solemnity and sadness of a Cooperative funeral director on a bad day, that her time had come. With a beatific smile, like the brass plate on a coffin, he urged his ERGs to write their letters of execution. But the epistles of St. Mogg were a tiny trickle in what should have been a Tsunami of indignation. As some of us predicted, the grey beards had a peek over the precipice and failed see the promised rainbow cloud which would cushion their fall, only the jagged rocks below.

Old hands like Redwood, Jenkin, Paterson and Davis are not fools. Taking a wrecking ball to the agreement is one thing, but demolishing the government is quite another. A very, very dangerous path. And Raab with his Keith Josephian vein hammering away like an asp in his left temple knows that if he wants the top job he has to feign loyalty. And Bozo? Like a WW1 general he is quaffing champagne at headquarters seeing how many of his troops will be sacrificing their political lives for his own. He might be there for a while.

Well, it turned out to be an omnishambles clusterfuck of biblical proportions. It has boosted Madame in the polls amongst all wings of the party and the public. She is no longer seen as the hapless, indecisive, traitor of Brexit, but someone who is is single-mindedly doing the best for her country.

And then there was yesterday. A row of old men, triumphs of the morticians art, flogging a horse that had died a week ago after receiving a telegram from the Queen. But the killer moment, like so many in politics, was sheer happenstance, when a journo referenced Dad’s Army to Mogg. An astute politician would have ignored it. But it has given birth to a dangerous caricature which will stick. The front page of the Evening Standard must have caused much merriment on the commute home. And Patrick Kidd’s Sketch in the Times today is a masterpiece. Captain Moggering. Genius. He will never recover from it.

Have you noticed that photographers are now producing pictures of Mogg that makes him look mad and odd? They did it with John Redwood. Years ago then a Tory, Quentin Davies, employed a farm manager who was prosecuted for cruelty to sheep. Every time he stood to speak in the House there would be a chorus of bahs and other sheep noises. He never got over it. Now when ever an ERG gets to their feet every Dad’s Army catch phrase will be deployed. ‘Stupid boy…..don’t panic don’t panic…..they don’t like it up ‘em…..don’t tell them your name Pike……doomed, doomed we are all doomed’. And this is just the start. It will be a gift that goes on giving.

But don’t write the ERGs off yet. They are subtly changing the narrative to ‘if you don’t get rid of her she’ll lead us in to the next election’. Well, this may be no bad thing at all. In fact, looking at all the clowns who fancy their chances this would be a very wise move indeed.



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Mogg and his barmy army have created a powerful and dangerous enemy which will be their nemesis. Nothing is deadlier than the MAIL

17 Nov 2018 at 09:34

On Thursday like all political anoraks I had Sky on in the background as I tried to work and saw the whole repulsive freak show unfold. It was weirdly hypnotic, like watching a mixture of Jeremy Kyle cock fighting with a bated badger. It is rather strange that Parliament has become so articulate about bullying, particularly women, that they think it is perfectly in order to humiliate, denigrate and bully the Prime Minister. It’s a tough job and politics is a rough game, but this week it has crossed the bounds of decency and humanity. Brigden was a disgrace. Nick Soames was quite right to tell him to, ‘sit down you dishonourable little twerp’. He sensibly regards oiks like him as something he would instruct the under keeper to remove from his green wellies.

And then there was the Mogg circus. It was hardly the Greatest Show. And the only gentlemanly thing about him is his tailoring. But this vulgar display of political piety could have been from a cast of Barnum curiosities. They really are a very odd bunch. Social misfits, eccentrics, political inadequates and fanatical fantasists every one of them. They are living the dream. They are wallowing in their moment in the limelight. They have moved from the Round Table to the Rotary. But it has become more than a moment. They are rebels without a pause. It is fitting that they are in league with the venom spitting DUP who sniff betrayal at every turn and spy conspiracies behind every chimney pot. For the DUP I have just one word which should stop them marching brolleyed an bowlered through the lobbies of Westminster. Corbyn.

But to the purist Brexiteers it seems that the world is against them. Big business, the banks, experts, the political elite, subversive elements of the press and the treacherous judges. Yet they see themselves as plucky little fellows standing up for the forgotten and oppressed. They are the true champions of the people. But their pious selfishness has created a real foe, far more ruthless, far more cynical and far more effective than any that their collective psychosis could contour. The Daily Mail. Friday’s editorial stuck it to them. And today’s exclusive interview with Madame in her study, with a Daily Mail casually placed on her desk says it all. The day of reckoning has come for the crackpots.

This weekend is pivotal for Madame. MPs have gone back to their constituencies to take soundings. My instincts (which are not always right) tell me that there will not be a clamouring for a defenestration and probably not even a vote on a confidence motion. The rebels are no longer running for Office but running for cover. Constituency Associations have been whipped into a frenzy over Brexit but now, with the reality checks from the whips hitting the phones things may change. The Brexiteers are furious. The familiar squeals of ‘unfair’ are beginning to emerge. They have blamed Ollie Robbins, May, Barnier, project fear and the Brussels truth fairy. But never themselves. It is time for moderate Conservatives to take back control from the ERGS.

And to my Remainer friends I say this. A people’s vote is as much a fantasy as the delusion of a Brexit Utopia. There would have to be legislation to extend article 50. There would have to be legislation for a referendum and the electoral commission would have to approve the question or questions. It’s not going to happen in time if at all. And to those who want to try and ‘improve’ the proposal? In your heart of hearts you know that this is foolhardy and very, very dangerous. Barnier and Tusk have no inclination to go back to the drawing board simply because some of the 27 think that the EU has given away too many concessions to us. A renegotiation will just open up a can of worms that will eat into everything that we have gained. We would be the losers.

Parliament is entitled to reverse Brexit as it is sovereign and the referendum was only advisory. But it would be the recruiting sergeant for extremism. The British people may have been lied to but they ultimately decided. We have to accept their decision through gritted teeth.

Of course the deal is flawed. What do you expect? But there is nothing better on offer. However, it gives business time to plan, to spit in the eyes of Armageddon.

The Sunday newspapers, particularly the Sunday Times, will give us a clue about the mood music in the constituencies and on the back benches. I suspect that there will not be a contest. But even if there is she must fight on, sign the agreement quickly and face down Parliament daring them to vote it down or face economic disaster. And to the Moggs, the Brigdens, the Bakers and Boris? I suspect constituency associations will show them nothing but contempt. Not just at the despicable way they have treated May but how their fantasies are destroying their party and country.

Isn’t it strange? The shy, awkward vicar’s daughter is showing more guts and determination than I have ever seen in a lifetime of politics. Those kitten heels have turned in to roaring lion shit kicking boots. And shit will have to be kicked.



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Jo Johnson is a good and decent man. His resignation was principled but ultimately futile

10 Nov 2018 at 09:27

I am rather fed up with the line that Brexit ‘is the worst crisis since Suez’, simply because it’s not. Brexit is far worse than Suez. Suez confirmed that Britain was no longer a world power. Brexit confirms that by cutting ourselves adrift from the EU our influence on world affairs will be minimal. The economic costs of Suez were marginal. The economic costs of Brexit will be catastrophic.

I am still genuinely confused why Jo Johnson has resigned. Unlike his vile brother, he is a good, kind and principled man. I have no doubt that he genuinely believes that his resignation will stiffen the resolve of those Remainers who want a referendum. Maybe it will or maybe it won’t. Nobody knows. But do not let us delude ourselves. Whatever happens we will have no influence in the making of regulations and laws which will affect our ability to trade with the EU. And we will have no influence in enforcing the laws as they stand and as they are developed in the European Court. So the ghastly Dyson creature will not be able to trot off to Luxmenbourg to stop discrimination against his vacuum cleaners. Nor will Michael Gove be able to get justice for British farmers as did his predecessor John Gummer when the French banned exports of British beef.

This is what taking back control of our laws means. We can chose to pass those that mimic the EU ones or we can’t export our goods. Of course, we can insist that whatever ever is left of our automotive manufacturing industry will be able only to produce cars with the steering wheel on the right hand side. It is taking back control in name only. It just makes some people feel better. In reality we will be the vassal state that the Brexit purists bang on about. We will be the law takers and not the makers. Did anyone seriously believe that Brussels would allow us to trade with them on purely our own terms? And then let us freely trade with the rest of the world? Does anyone believe that free trade really exists anywhere? Does anyone genuinely believe that trade deals are nothing more than trade offs for self advantage?

All Madame is trying to do is keep the wheels from falling off the British economy. It is a fudge. It is a compromise. But has anyone got any better ideas? Canada? Norway? None of these are serious flyers and none of these have a hope in hell of getting through the Commons let alone Brussels. The trouble is that MPs are so inward looking they forget that whatever they can cobble together to satisfy the Parliamentary arithmetic has to be agreed by the 27 and the European Parliament.

It is the purists on both sides that are wrecking the country. Let me be horribly cynical. I would favour a referendum if I was convinced that it would finally resolve the dilemma by a wide margin whether we Remain or we Leave. It won’t. It will never be resolved. It is as much a fantasy as the Brexiteers who lied to us that a deal was going to be a doddle.

So for those of you with the very best intentions who want a People’s Vote be careful what you wish for. It will solve nothing. It will divide the country still further and will bring us no closer to squaring the impossible circle of how we can trade with Europe and the rest of the world without obeying the rules set by Brussels. Surely it has dawned on most people that this is impossible. And anyone who thinks that a General Election will solve the problem is quite simply certifiable.

So this is why Brexit is far, far worse than Suez. After Suez we became a second rate world power, but with influence. After Brexit our influence in world affairs will be minimal. We will be a sad irrelevance in Europe and a fading joke in Washington. In trading terms we will survive but not thrive.

After Suez we ate humble pie. But with Brexit fudge is the only dish on the menu. If Parliament fails to support a May deal then we really are doomed.

Jo Johnson is a good man. His resignation was principled. But in the end it is futile.



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My confession. I am subject to an NDA but I feel no shame

27 Oct 2018 at 09:51

It is sad, if not tragic, to see the reputation of an able and decent man ripped to shreds by the press over a serious error of judgement. Oh, I am not talking about that greasy old tub of libidinous lard Philip Green. His tawdry excuse for a reputation sank without trace with the BHS pension fund. But I am talking about Peter Hain. What ever possessed him? I am not entirely sure that I buy the argument that he was in cahoots with a firm of Solicitors who act for the Telegraph group who objected to the interim injunction banning publication of certain non disclosure agreements. I am old fashioned enough to believe that no reputable firm of Solicitors would ever seek to undermine a court order. I just think that Peter, one of the good guys, made a colossal error of judgement. And that will be his foot in the mouth note in history.

I was pretty sure that Parliamentary Privilege would not be used against Fat Phil in the Commons. Way back in 2016 Bercow warned MPs to behave responsibly in the wake of the Tom Watson fiasco. Yes, I know. Asking an MP to be responsible is like asking a dog to not piss against a lamppost. But the thought of a public bollocking, rarely being called to speak and being relegated to the mad benches populated by the likes of Nadine Dorries and Alan Mak is a cruel punishment. So I expect to welcome a ruling on Monday by the Lord Speaker, Norman Fowler, warning that Parliamentary Privilege is not device to circumvent the rule of law to get a cheap headline.

Judges are there to implement the law and if Parliament is queasy about making it they have to develop it themselves. So on the delicate balance between privacy and the freedom of the press, which Parliament avoids like the plague, the law is developed by senior judges on a case by case basis. And they are not doing a bad job of it as Sir Cliff Richard will attest. But the Green case throws up a whole range of murky issues which really should be looked at with clarity rather than through the prism of #Metoo.

Let’s have a look at injunctions generally. It has always angered me that protecting one’s reputation is the sole preserve of the rich and famous. They can pay a fortune to attempt to obtain a super injunction. They are the Fortnum and Mason of the breed. The mere mention of its existence is a contempt of court. They are very, very rare. Then there are the anonymised Green type ones who are in the Tesco range, and finally the bog standard Aldi model with the party’s names attached but not the detail. The name of the game is for the rich and powerful to defer the letting of the cat out of the bag for as long as possible because these orders can be thwarted by media platforms outside the jurisdiction. So it’s an awful lot of money for a bit of breathing space. Is it worth it? And then there is the Streisand effect. The mere act of trying to conceal leads to far more hostile media attention than the real story.

Then there is the whole problem of Non Disclosure Agreements. But is there a serious problem? Only from the politicians I suspect. Theresa May pressed the dangerous ‘something must be done button’ this week, but it was at PMQ’s so those moments of madness can be excused. Well it appears that we will be having a review and that ‘lessons will be learned’. There will be turgid, virtue signalling and unworldly debates where it will be learned that the law on contract is capable of protecting the weak and vulnerable. If someone enters into a contract where sums of money are paid to another to keep quiet about an event that happened which was criminal it is null and void and has the potential to be a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Hence non consensual sexual shenanigans are off limits for NDAs.

So what is wrong with an NDA which has been entered into freely, without pressure and on independent legal advice? Surely none. If an actor has a consensual relationship with a producer and the NDA was genuinely entered into freely surely it must be enforceable. In fact I am subject to an NDA myself which I freely signed. Now don’t get exited red tops. A few weeks ago I interviewed the Secret Barrister on my radio show. For obvious reasons SB wishes to remain secret as a result of the most honest book on our criminal Justice system that I have ever read. So we all signed up to an NDA undertaking not to reveal SB’s identity and the voice was replaced with that of an actor. What on earth is wrong with that? Nothing. But those of you who are curious about the SB identity I’ll give you a clue. In deepest Tonbridge Wells if you find a middle aged spinster drinking tea in a bungalow with her one eyed cat called Grayling you might be getting warm. Or not. Phew, I don’t think that I am in breach. But I did bump into that Peter Hain the other day…….



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It’s time that the Puritans read Thatcher’s Bruges speech and not just the spin. The ‘it’ that May must get on with is what made Thatcher a great negotiator. Compromise.

19 Oct 2018 at 08:34

Perhaps if politicians read less columnists and understood more history they could sleep easier in their beds and be happier in their own skins. Before Madame settles down for kip tonight she should be reassured by the words of John Major in his memoirs.

“Was there something I could have said, some policy I could have adopted, someone I should have fired, someone I could have hired, a speech, a broadcast, an argument which might have begun my party’s journey back to sanity?…….could a different man have done it?”

Perhaps ‘reassured’ is the wrong word. But she knows that Major’s words ring as true today. All the huffing, puffing, threatening, posturing, pivoting, pizzaing and fictional letter writing amounts to nothing more than wishful thinking. The Tories may have gone postal but there will not be a leadership challenge this side of March.

And, while trying to appease the puritans who want to burn the Remainer heretics at the stake, Madame should heed the words of Rudyard Kipling.
“But we’ve proved it again and again.
That once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane”.

But hark. There is a voice of sanity, of compromise, of such lucidity that it could have only been from that great philosopher and intellectual heavy weight Nadine Dorries. All we need to do is install David Davis as a caretaker Prime Minister, no doubt as Bozo’s John the Baptist, and he can negotiate a good deal.

Well, let’s have a think about this. The Puritan view is that we have to go in with all guns blazing and tell Brussels to accept our deal or else. And they will roll over. It, of course, means that the traitor, Ollie Robbins, and all of his garlic breathing Quislings will have to be sacked and be replaced by er………mmm, and thereby lies the problem. It’s just daft. And so simplistic it’s bloody dangerous. But no doubt over a pizza (it would have to be a Margarita) and a glass of Sanotagen with the ghastly Loathsome it appears breathtakingly easy.

I wonder if any of the puritans have bothered to actually read the words of Margaret Thatcher’s Bruges speech rather than the spin that is conveniently put to it?

“Britain does not dream of some cosy isolated existence on the fringes of the European Community. Our destiny is in Europe as part of the Community….The Community is not an end in itself. Nor is it an institutional device to be constantly modified according to the dictates of some abstract intellectual concept….The European community is a practical means by which Europe can ensure the future prosperity and security of its people…..I want to see us work more closely on the things we can to better together than alone. Europe is stronger when we do. But working more closely together does not require power to be centralised in Brussels or decisions to be taken by an appointed bureaucracy…..we have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain only to see them reimposed at a European level with a European super-state exercising a new dominance from Brussels”.

I do not disagree with any of this and in the words of Charles Powell, who wrote the speech, ‘they were hardly the words of a deep rooted opponent of everything European’.

Thatcher’s view of the EU was transactional. In other words, we could work together for the benefit of Britain and Europe. The irony is that Corbyn and MacDonnell despise the EU. They see it as a capitalist club and a brake on their grand socialist designs of propping up failing industries with state subsidies.

To the Puritans ‘compromise’ is a dirty word. They carefully air brush out of history the word that made Thatcher such an effective a negotiator. Let me give you an example of what she said on sovereignty.

“Almost every nation has been obliged by the pressure of the post war world to pool significant areas of sovereignty so as to create more effective political units”.

If these words had been uttered by Madame or John Major, that ghastly little shit Mogg would have called them enemies of the people.

And please, please make an effort to understand the psyche of Europe. The project is deeply emotional. The EU doesn’t want to punish us, but they don’t want us to be the catalyst the breaks the whole thing up. And it’s pretty obvious why. This is what Churchill said in 1947.

“When the Nazi power was broken I was asked what the best advice I could give to my fellow citizens here in this island and across the channel in our ravaged continent. There was no difficulty in answering the question. My counsel to Europe can be given in a single word: Unite!”

And for those who would seek to twist these words let me remind you of what the great man said to his wife after his 1945 defeat.
“If I were ten years younger I might be the first President of the United States of Europe.”

It is poplar to tell Theresa May to ‘just get on with it’. But nobody can pin down what ‘it’ is. Well let me tell you. Take a leaf out of the Thatcher play book. Don’t be afraid to compromise and in the words of Churchill, ‘keep buggering on’. And she might find that the leaning tower of Pizza might just collapse.



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Mother Courage has found her voice and will lead the Tories as long as the opinion polls show that she is the person to beat Corbyn

5 Oct 2018 at 08:43

What on earth happened to the shy, retiring, awkward, Theresa May? Was this a transformation or has the confident, slightly humorous one always been lurking there but has never been given a voice? I suspect the latter. I was in Number 10 a few weeks ago and met her for the first time. I was rather shocked. I had never had any great desire to say hello as I had heard such horror stories about her legendary froideur. Well, on that day it didn’t exist. Charm, wit and a few jokes. She even liked my glasses. Happy, confident and rather good fun at a time when her world was falling apart.

A couple of evenings later I shared an enjoyable train journey with Nick Timothy. I told him of my surprise. ‘Ah yes. She is a much misunderstood woman’.

Some of you may think that I was just star struck. But I am a bit long in the tooth for that having known every Prime Minister since Macmillan. I have a theory that at last she is happy in her own skin. She has put up with such vicious abuse, personal attacks from the mad and the bad, had more farewells than Frank Sinatra and been written off more than a Richard Hammond car, that I bet she just said to herself, ‘what do I have to prove, what have I got to lose?’ And it worked. The weird thing in politics is that honesty tends to work better than pretending to be something that you are not. But most important of all she has finally found her voice in a speechwriter that actually gets her, a lad called Keelan Carr who used to advise her on Scottish affairs. Well, keep the boy, fill his pockets with gold. He is her finest asset.

It’s strange, isn’t it, how conference can make or break reputations. Boris was all bluster and no beef. He showed such great promise to his camp followers. Such high expectations, such cynicism, such ambition. But at the end of the day Boris trying to be Prime Ministerial is like Roger Rabbit reading the Gettysburg address. He is down but no means out. He must be hurting. A nation mourns.

And then there was this fellow Dudderidge. No, I’d never heard of him either. He wanted to show how he could put the final nail in Madame’s coffin by writing to Graham Brady, the grandee’s grandee and curry favour with the Boristas. In fact the silly boy was too clever by half and made it clear to the whips that if they gave him a job his letter would never reach the post box. They told him to fuck off. And actually he might as well have. He is finished and will never be forgiven. Best he spends more time with his correspondence.

The real shock was the crashing and burning of Jeremy Hunt. I have always thought of him as a safe pair of hands and a dark horse in a leadership election. Well, no longer. The Foreign Office now see him as a disaster, which is a shame. The most sensible action for him to take is just apologise for being so crass. The EU may be a pain but they don’t imprison, torture and kill. And Donald Tusk was the youth leader of Solidarity in 1981. But the Hunt line is even more offensive to common sense than his original remark. Evidently we all misunderstood him. Dear God, give me strength. Who on earth advises him, Pinocchio?

So Hunt, Bozo and Mogg are out of the frame which leaves Javid as a serious contender. But…….under estimate Gove at your peril. He is one of those rare breed of ministers who thinks about things, has ideas and is consummately competent. The war is not over for him. He needs to be her Cromwell with a happier ending than having his head chopped off. I predict that he will either be Prime Minister or edit the TIMES.

The latest wheeze by the carpet biters is to demand that she sets a date for her exit. This is as impertinent as it is stupid. There is no natural successor and she now has the the final stages of Brexit to thrash out. Oh, and remember what happened when Tony Blair tried this tactic. The brutal reality is that she will remain as long as the opinion polls shows that she is the only person to beat Corbyn. A friend of mine has a bet in the Savile Club wager book that she will fight the next election. I thought he was mad. But he might just prove to be right after all. This is going to be a very long game. I think I will buy stocks in Gove.

Yet my deepest sympathy goes to Geoffrey Cox. He will now be the Adonis of the rubber chicken circuit and in demand. It’s bad enough meeting the grass roots at conference, now the poor devil will have this joy all year round. Life can be so cruel.



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