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Brexit Bulletin: ‘Taking back control’

Brexit Bulletin: ‘Taking back control’

‘This is Joe Public speaking I’m controlled in the body, controlled in the mind..’ 1

‘Taking Back Control’ was the piece of electoral genius created by Dominic Cummings, the man who masterminded the ‘Leave’ campaign, and this week its time to reuse it.

Only this time the tables have turned; now it represents Parliament taking back control from the Executive, and the Labour leader finally listening to MPs and party members.

‘Consequently my reaction, Is getting rather strange, I can see your course of action, Leading to a change…’ 2

This week the PM was left with little option but to promise MPs a vote on delaying the UK’s departure from the EU or ruling out a no-deal Brexit, if they reject her deal next month.

‘little option but to promise MPs a vote on delaying the UK’s departure from the EU or ruling out a no-deal Brexit’

This about-face was not bought about by her realisation of the mess she has led us into, it was simply because of the threat of a revolt by three Remain-supporting cabinet ministers, Amber Rudd, Greg Clark and David Gauke

The prime minister said she will put her withdrawal agreement – including any changes she has agreed with the EU – to a meaningful vote by 12 March. If that fails, MPs will be offered two separate votes:

  • On the following day, on whether MPs support a no-deal Brexit – so the UK would ‘only leave without a deal on 29 March if there is explicit consent in the House for that outcome’
  • If that fails, then MPs will get a vote by 14 March on requesting an extension to the two-year Article 50 negotiation process to delay EU withdrawal beyond 29 March

This extension of article 50 is potentially a watershed concession by the PM, despite her pretence otherwise, this isn’t just a little bit of added time because of unexpected holdups, or for the purpose of ensuring that MPs finally give their approval to a revision of her original plan.

The reality now is that the PMs entire Brexit strategy is being kept alive by her consistent leaning to the right in order to keep Conservative MPs onside behind her Brexit plan, and the forlorn hope that the attorney general can agree some form of legal wording with the EU to enable him to change his advice that the Northern Irish backstop could be a permanent sanction.

As you would expect reaction to this threat to Brexit has been wholly predictable; Jacob Rees-Mogg, the chairman of the European Research Group of Leave-backing Conservative MPs, said: ‘My suspicion is that any delay to Brexit is a plot to stop Brexit. This would be the most grievous error that politicians could commit.’

Best get used to it Jacob, there could be a second referendum heading your way soon.

And, lo and behold the giant has awoken, expect in this instance its Jeremy Corbyn who, in no way fits any definition of the term ‘giant’.

‘Jeremy Corbyn who, in no way fits any definition of the term ‘giant’

The Labour leader finally threw his party’s weight behind a second referendum on Monday night, but there remains doubt about the wording of the question that would be put to the public.

Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, insisted the party agreed on the gist of the wording. ‘A public vote ought to be between the option on the one hand of a credible leave deal and on the other hand remain … That deal should be subject to the lock of a public vote,’ he said.

Without doubt some voters will be furious that the entire Brexit decision might be up for reconsideration in a second referendum, and this should not be ignored by those of us who want a softer Brexit than that agreed by the PM, or to remain in the EU.

To have any chance of keeping these people from being entirely disenfranchised it will be necessary for ‘Remain’ to win in a manner that gives legitimacy, and opens the way to a shared, prosperous future.

In addition, we should not accuse ‘Leave’ voters of being are stupid for believing Brexiteer lies, and of not seeing the advantages of being in the EU.

Without doubt the ‘Leave’ campaign was economical with the truth, e.g. the £350m returned to the NHS, or that being outside the customs union would not impact Northern Ireland, or that Turkey was joining the EU.

These misconceptions can, and must be corrected.

In fact, the referendum highlighted some urgent problems. For example, the continuing absence of any industrial strategy has brought prosperity to London and, to a lesser extent, our other cities, while towns, rural areas and our industrial heartlands suffered, therefore, and as I have highlighted in previous articles, many voters in these areas supported ‘Leave’.

However, it should also be noted that the ‘Leave’ campaign was not orchestrated by any of these people, it was led by a Home Counties commodity broker and a former mayor of London.

‘Leave’ campaign was not orchestrated by any of these people, it was led by a Home Counties commodity broker and a former mayor of London’

It is this lack of economic planning and the government implementation of austerity measures that are at the route of many voters’ decision to vote ‘Leave’.

Austerity together with cuts in services and the rise of zero-hour contracts, inflicted pain on many and further exacerbated the problem of structural unemployment in many parts of the UK.

‘Every job they offer you is to keep you out the dock…’ 3

Economic policy, supported by the implementation of quantitative easing and cutting rates to record lows, has not created new jobs, built better infrastructure or new factories.

Instead, many businesses have used the cheap money to buy-back their own shares, rewarding shareholders, and increasing their own bonuses.

The result of this has been an increase in income inequality; the rich have gotten richer, whilst the poor have gotten poorer.

‘an increase in income inequality; the rich have gotten richer, whilst the poor have gotten poorer’

The result is political populism as evidenced by many voters’ decision to support the ‘Leave’ campaign, because it offered them the hope of something better.

We are seemingly moving back to the politics of the 1930s. We must be careful that could something as seemingly innocent as ‘taking back control of our borders’ does not osmose into racism.

The alternative to this isn’t to be found in the retrograde Marxism spouted by Corbyn and his cronies, we should instead look to the US and the redistribution of income achieved by Roosevelts’ ‘New Deal’.

Another triple treat for lyric spotters this week – two will need will require a pretty long memory as tracks 1 and 2 date from 1977!

1 First off the rank, and heavily hinted at in the title, is ‘Complete Control’ from the Clash; can’t fail with that one – except I did. What a great version.

2 Next a bit of a curve ball from 1981 with The Teardrop Explodes and ‘Treason (Its Just a Story)’ – and a seriously dodgy barnet from Julian Cope.

3 To complete the treat for Clash fans we wrap with ‘Career Opportunities’ as Philip posits that one of the key drivers of the vote to leave was the lack thereof; another corker, that works on any level – 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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