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Brexit bulletin – as we career towards a no deal Brexit Philip Gilbert posits that our entire political system is broken

Brexit bulletin – as we career towards a no deal Brexit Philip Gilbert posits that our entire political system is broken

When routine bites hard, And ambitions are low, And resentment rides high, But emotions won’t grow, And we’re changing our ways, Taking different roads 1

 

As I envisaged in my original Brexit article, ‘the Never-Ending Story’, an inevitable consequence of this entire fiasco will be the splintering of the two-main political parties. However, as neither seem fit for purpose, perhaps only good can come from this.

Without doubt the most accurate comment was; ‘I’m not leaving the Conservative party; it has left us’.  ‘The modernising reforms that had taken years to achieve were destroyed.’

Three Conservative MPs, Anna Soubry, Sarah Wollaston and Heidi Allen have quit their party to join the new Independent Group of MPs, declaring that hard Brexiters have taken over and the modernising wing of the party has been ‘destroyed’.

The modernising reforms that had taken years to achieve were destroyed

In a devastating critique of Theresa May’s handling of the Brexit negotiations, the three MPs said the Tories had lurched to the right, adopting UKIP policies and pursuing a hard Brexit. The three resigned in a letter to the prime minister earlier on Wednesday, writing: ‘We no longer feel we can remain in the party of a government whose policies and priorities are so firmly in the grip of the ERG and DUP.

And, if the ‘new parties answer to The Supremes (3-girls, geddit?) wasn’t enough, Justine Greening and Dominic Grieve say they would not be able to support government under no deal and would seek to join ‘new party’.

Better still, today (22-02) leaders of The Brexit Delivery group of MPs, comprising Leavers and Remainers, say up to 30 may back alternatives if the PM’s reworked deal isn’t supported. In response, number 10 says talks aimed at getting the changes MPs demand continue ‘at pace’. Best make that a sprint ma’am, you only have a month!

However, the tory ‘exiters’ weren’t the trail-blazers, at total of 9 Labour MPs have resigned from the party this week.

‘Gimme Honda, gimme Sony, So cheap and real phony’ 2

 

There has been considerable criticism of the Magnificent 7+2, the most often cited is that Labour ‘has always been a broad church,’ presumably meaning that all different opinions, beliefs, cultures should work together.  Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be room for the synagogue.

Labour has become narrow-minded, and incapable of accommodating alternative points of view.

While Corbyn loyalists try to explain this as a cynical move by a small group of MPs facing deselection threats, the reality is that it under his leadership, the Labour party is an insufficiently broad church to accommodate these MPs.

Isn’t it remarkable that a party, rightly proud of its anti-racist history, is now being accused of being institutionally racism? Even more so as Karl Marx was Jewish, as were many early socialist thinkers and supporters. Apparently, Palestine and Venezuela now seem the party’s prime preoccupation.

In my view, politics is broken, we are completely stuck

In my view, politics is broken, we are completely stuck; the current two-party system strangles innovation, and has matured into total crisis.

Perhaps I am old-fashioned in wanting and expecting politicians to stick to their beliefs? Not only are these MPs prepared to gamble their political future for what they believe in, no system that is as broken as ours can be fixed by those with the power to create change keeping their heads down.

Our elected MPs should not be wasting time contemplating their navels as the terrible Brexit deadline leads us to a national crisis. One which is exacerbated by a lack off effective opposition, allowing our Leader to fudge, delay, and procrastinate, promising renegotiations of an agreement she championed and, one which the remaining 27-member states have said is their best offer.

She will be remembered forever as the Leader that led us into the arms of the ERG and a no-deal Brexit.

Labour, perhaps more accurately their leader, must also do better. Surveys show that 75% of Labour members support a second referendum, including their own Brexit spokesman, Keir Starmer.

In addition, the party’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, has told Jeremy Corbyn that he must change direction or face a worsening split. Labour MPs are reported as saying that up to 40 more could defect if their party leadership does not move towards a second referendum on Brexit and commit to taking more steps to root out antisemitism from the party.

Today, (the 22nd) the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, pitched-in insisting that Labour is ‘moving towards’ supporting a second referendum as the party seeks to stem the flow of defections over Brexit.

And, finally, and praise be, Jeremy Corbyn has awoken from his stupor, accusing Theresa May of deliberately running down the clock in order to get her deal through, saying that the prospect of an extension to Article 50 was a ‘complex and difficult question to answer’.

Wonderful, the Leader of the Opposition has finally woken up to the PMs game. Nice one Jezza, perhaps too little too late though…

Nice one Jezza, perhaps too little too late though…

As to this weekend’s meeting of EU leaders in Egypt; we are not off to a good start, Michel Barnier has said he is more concerned than ever after a week of talks with Theresa May and the British negotiators that has left Brussels fearing an accidental no-deal Brexit in five weeks.

It is understood that the British team are privately admitting that a time-limit or unilateral exit mechanism on the backstop will not be accepted by the EU.

In addition, a senior EU official said there would be ‘no deal in the desert’, since not all the 27 other EU leaders would be present, and the issue required proper preparation.

So, commons revolt excepted, we are careering toward ‘NO Deal’ and a victory for ERG and the like.

Therefore, let us revisit overseas trade, if you remember this was one of the big wins from leaving the EU. As reported last week things are not going too well, are they Liam? Remember what you said in 2017? No, well here’s a reminder; you said that ‘the UK would be able to replicate 40 EU free trade deals by Brexit day.

elected representatives who have failed us and, in doing so, have played fast and loose with all our futures

This week, he admitted that the UK won’t be able to roll over an EU trade deal with Japan in time for a no-deal Brexit; British exports to Japan are worth £9.9bn per year.

Undeterred by his lack of delivery he used the arm behind the back technique, telling the BBC: ‘Of course, we will get access to all the EU’s free trade agreements if we leave the EU with a deal, which is the government’s policy, and for all those who don’t want any disruption, there’s one easy way to avoid that, which is to vote for the deal which the Prime Minister has.’ Threat or bribe, you decide?

In response to all of this, People’s Vote supporter and Labour MP Stephen Doughty said: ‘Brexiters promised that voting Leave would mean a bonanza of new international trade deals that would make up for lost trade with the EU. ‘Instead, Brexit is costing us the global trade deals we already have as EU members.

So, that is that. The parties are splitting-up, we have not managed the trade deals we had promised, and it looks like No Deal is still on the table.

When the dust settles on all this some of us will be disappointed and feel cheated by the outcome, by the fact that we put our faith and fate in the hands of elected representatives who have failed us and, in doing so, have played fast and loose with all our futures.

 

‘In you I put, All my faith and trust, Right before my eyes, My world has turned to dust’ 3

Another triple for those of you that like to wrestle with the lyrics that Philip uses to annotate his pithy commentaries.

1 He’s eased you in with an old favourite as Joy Division make the teamsheet again, this time with the anthemic ‘Love will tear us apart’; apposite.

2 Learning that there’s often a clue in the copy, next off the rank is The Clash with ‘The Magnificent Seven’; it is, I’m not sure about them.

3 Lastly, something of a curve ball; although he did give us a hint, it was DJ Google that came up with the sixties classic ‘Reflections’. Enjoy.

Philip Gilbert 2Philip Gilbert is a city-based corporate financier, and former investment banker.

Philip is a great believer in meritocracy, and in the belief that if you want something enough you can make it happen. These beliefs were formed in his formative years, of the late 1970s and 80s

 

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