Outside the marginals

A commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010, 2015 & 2017 elections (and THAT referendum)

Intruding on private grief

As in good grief, what is going on?

Last Thursday’s momentous vote was a vote to begin divorce proceedings. Or, if you like, to move out of the house we share with 27 other countries.

It did not, though, come with any plan – let alone an agreement – as to where we are moving next or what our relationship will be in future with those we used to share our life with.

Asked a few days before the vote whether he had such a plan for the day after if the Leave campaign won Boris Johnson was brutally frank – in private at least. No was his answer.

He and other Leavers declared their hope that David Cameron would have one and would stay in office to implement it.

But Cameron was determined not to be the one tasked with clearing up a mess which, he believes, they created.

Besides he believes he would have no credibility doing so either at home – with the electorate who rejected his pleas to remain in the EU – or in Brussels – with leaders who listened when he assured them that he could and would win the referendum.
BBC News Website, 27 June 2016 | Nick Robinson Comment, UK suffers leadership gap in risky times

So how do we clear up this mess – “Project Farce” – as Nicola Sturgeon as termed it?

No one in Parliament seems to be in any particular hurry – but uncertainty is not helping the economy (S&P has down-rated the UK economy today).

But we are in a new world: we can just “dismiss” such concerns. We’ve trashed the restaurant; all we need to do is move on to our next watering hole; someone else will clear up.

This morning on BBC Breakfast, Michael Heseltine, suggested that those who created the mess should clear it up. More specifically:

Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Nigel Farage are the only people with the “credibility” to conduct Britain’s negotiations to exit the European Union, Conservative grandee Michael Heseltine has said. In an interview with Sky News today (26 June), Heseltine said: “The truth is, unpalatable though I believe it to be, is there are only three people who can have credibility with the exiters in conducting those negotiations. That is Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Nigel Farage.

“Let’s face up to it. Unless you put them in charge and they’re seen to be in charge, they will simply say that the negotiators screwed it up and the debate will go on.” He added that he believed voters were misled about “the potential of a better world”.
International Business Times, 26 June 2016 | Brexit: Michael Heseltine says Johnson, Gove and Farage must lead negotiations to leave EU

The headline may look facetious, but that final paragraph does rather justify the idea.

So perhaps we need someone like Theresa May as PM (despite the illiberal reputation she has gained at the Home Office) with Boris Johnson as EU Change Manager minister. This would reflect what many businesses do when facing massive change. You appoint a strong committed lieutenant as Change Manager and leave the Chief Executive to get on with “Business as Usual”.

An uncontested election for leader would allow us to get on with it. Those who voted Leave contain a large number of people disillusioned with politics. Someone owes it to them to implement their choice. After all Leave has told us:

  • The EU is irredeemably dreadful
  • The EU is holding us back

and then

  • If we leave “Immigration will be ‘controlled'” (Promise)
  • If we leave “The NHS will receive £350m a week more funding” (Promise)
  • If we leave “Agriculture, Science, the regions etc. will continue to get the same levels of financial support” (Promise)
  • If we leave “Trade deals will not be a problem because Germany wants to sell us BMWs and France wants to sell us Wine and Cheese” (Promise)
  • If we leave “We will still be able ‘to live, to travel, to work, to settle down’ in Europe” (Promise)
  • If we leave “VAT on fuel will be removed” (Promise)

It sounds like a land of milk and honey; we should get it as soon as possible. Put Farage, Gove and Johnson in harness and get them on the job!


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