There is no “soft Brexit”. What many in the political class and their slavish media as “soft Brexit” is in fact no Brexit at all. In fact is a worse option than no Brexit at all being as we would continue to have the EU albatross wrapped around our necks without even the scant consolation of having seats in the toothless European Parliament and a place – one out of 28 – at the Council of Ministers.
Membership of the “Single Market” (against which as a Labour MP alongside Messrs Corbyn, McDonnell et al I fought hundreds of hours in Parliament) and of the Customs Union would continue to involve the transfer of billions of pounds per year from the British taxpayer to the well-upholstered Commission in Brussels, continue to place European courts above our own and of course continue to require “free movement” of eastern and central European labour to relocate here at will.
These are the very three reasons why more than 17 million voters opted to Leave only last year.
If this is the mouse which all this labour has delivered it will be rejected by millions of British voters again but this time at a General Election. It will further bankrupt the British political class of credibility and will scar the body politic perhaps beyond repair.
What has brought us to this?
The British ruling class has never accepted the decision of the British people and has sought to subvert it from the beginning, through the Courts, through Parliament, through the media (particularly the state broadcaster the BBC). The “liberal” elite which had so much to lose were never going to allow a little thing like democracy to get in their way.
The catastrophic failure of the Tory government to tell the British people what a Brexit Britain would be like was not just a failure of the imagination (though a more unimaginative unexciting slab of politicians would be difficult to, well, imagine) but a product of the fact that the majority of Tory politicians including Theresa May herself did and do not want Brexit at all. For them it was all a game to keep a once resurgent UKIP (about whom more later) at bay.
The equally catastrophic (for them) decision to over-ride the fixed term parliaments act and call a general election after triggering Article 50 but before commencing the negotiations is another reason why we are in the state we are in. To demand a mandate and a bigger majority to strengthen your negotiating hand only to lose the majority you already had renders your negotiating hand utterly useless. Most British people can already sense this. All EU leaders did from the first moment the Exit Poll was broadcast at 10pm on June 8th.
The Labour Party position is of course as constant as a chameleon and just as difficult to spot.
No-one watches Labour politics more closely than me and I quite literally could not tell you where the party currently stands on any of the above.
And UKIP which once made this subject its own and which made the political weather for all the others on Brexit has been swept away in the aftermath of the referendum result. Having punched above its weight for so long and then only by the ring-craft of its leader Nigel Farage it collapsed under the weight of his departure and the reality that though the victory had been principally theirs it had fallen to others to implement. Others, who quite frankly, never believed in it.
Quite where we will be going from here is not easy to divine. But some things are certain.
The Prime Minister is a dead woman walking and will be exceedingly fortunate to see out the Ulster marching season clinging to the tassels of an Orange Sash. Its not one damn thing which brings down Prime Ministers but one damn thing after another. I lived through Mrs. Thatcher’s Poll Tax moment and I had no doubt as I stood on the plinth at Trafalgar Square with utter mayhem all around me that her goose was then cooked. The Tories, ruthlessly efficient at dispatching their own leaders if at little else, took care of the rest.
Theresa May is no Margaret Thatcher. There will be no parade of wet-eyed acolytes to No 10 sadly saying goodbye to her. She is a here today gone tomorrow automaton of no great moment at all, not even a footnote in history. I believed this from the moment it became clear that she had lost her majority in the election. In the aftermath of the catastrophe at Grenfell Tower I now believe it would be an act of mercy for the Tories to remove her.
Equally certain is that the treacherous buffoon Alexander Boris De Ffeffel Johnson is in no position to steady the Tory ship. Apart from his preposterous Billy Bunter act which it is too late to change, a Johnson led Tory Party would look and sound like something from a 1950s Terence Rattigan drawing room scene. Jaw-Jaw chin-up old boy pink gins and lots of frilly knickers being tossed into view. Johnson is carrying more baggage than British Airways and now it is not only his disgraceful private conduct over decades.
Two, deadly, policy failures in particular will render him unelectable though there are many others when I’ve got the time to write them down.
His sacking of London firefighters decommissioning of their equipment and his closure of ten London fire-stations all to save two-pence ha’penny in a multi-billion pound budget as Mayor of London whilst ramming through a Garden Bridge of dubious provenance and process looks bad now. Very bad. His contemptuous treatment of the Labour London Assembly member trying to raise legitimate safety concerns over it is preserved forever on video and is a horror movie to behold. II gets uglier with every viewing, and there would be more viewings of the Boris Horror Show than he can possibly now imagine.
His decision to remove railings from London’s bridges on the grounds that they were ugly I probably don’t have to spell out. If he had not so removed them not one but two acts of terrorist mass murder on Westminster and London Bridges could not have happened. As an ugly example of poor judgement it is pretty hard to beat.
A General Election fought between the new “people’s champion” Jeremy Corbyn and the old elite’s Boris Johnson of Eton Oxford and the Bullingdon Club wouldn’t even make a decent pillow-fight. Not since Don Cockell fought Rocky Marciano would there have been a miss-match like it.
That only leaves David Davis.
Davis is a true believer in Brexit. As a fighter of terrorism his ability to strangle enemies with his bare-hands and a length of piano-wire learnt as an actual special forces soldier could be a credible deterrent.
He comes from a single-parent council house. He has the normal empathy of a human person. He believes in liberty and sacrificed his first front-bench career on account of it. He lacks polish and spin and I don’t say that as if it is a bad thing. He is the Tories last hope. I do hope they don’t select him…