Thursday, April 25, 2024
HomeNewsMerkel, Macron and why nothing has changed

Merkel, Macron and why nothing has changed


WOW! Boris, Angela and Macron have agreed that it is possible to change a document, specifically the Irish Backstop in the Withdrawal Agreement, and the Conservative press goes into top gear – and then overdrive. For example, the normally sensible Allister Heath in the Telegraph suggested that Boris had just destroyed the raison d’être of the Brexit Party and that Farage should stand his troops down.

Before we all break out the Chapel Down let’s just get a grip on reality.

Neither Merkel nor Macron is the EU. Sure, they are the biggest players, but that is not the same thing. And of course saying something can be changed is the easy bit; agreeing what it will change to is harder. And getting whatever that looks like agreed by the EU27 will be tricky, particularly as one of them (Ireland) looks to have been shafted. Fortunately Boris has the self-proclaimed best civil service in the world to help draft it in 29 days. Which is fortunate as there is still so much wrong with the rest of the Withdrawal Agreement (£39billion, continued supremacy of the ECJ and so on). But it might get through Parliament on the basis that any deal is better than no deal – even if that deal is not Brexit.

Which is where the Brexit Party comes in.

There are two threads to the Brexit Party. The first one is to get out of the EU with or without a deal, as we should have done in March.

The second purpose is to change politics for the good. The position that the UK has been placed in by successive governments of all shades is a disgrace. This is a collective failing of the system and the establishment, and the Brexit Party proposes to solve this by offering the electorate a non-politician on every ballot sheet in every constituency. They will press to understand how it was that Cameron was able to prohibit planning for Brexit during the run-up to the referendum while operating Project Fear with Goebbels-like fervour, and the subsequent debacles of Theresa May’s tenure. These problems are not confined to the EU; it is increasingly clear that no government department is fit for purpose. The Brexit Party’s questions will be ‘Why not?’ and ‘What does it take to fix it?’

Now, if Boris manages to deliver Brexit on 31 October (which means either no deal or a deal on Lancaster House speech terms) it might be that there is some chance of Brexit Party candidates not standing in some Tory seats. But winning seats from Labour and the SNP is likely to be easier for a Brexit Party candidate than a Tory one.

All of which means that I don’t think Boris is keen to face a ballot box any time soon. If he has a backstop-free deal on the table he may well be able to avoid a vote of no confidence. Whether that deal constitutes Brexit is a separate question (which is also a lesser question to those who believe in power for power’s sake – i.e. most of our politicians including ‘Have cake, eat cake’ BoJo).

Nothing has changed. The future remains turquoise.

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Patrick Benham-Crosswell
Patrick Benham-Crosswell
Patrick Benham-Crosswell is a former Army officer who has spent the last 30 years in commerce. He is the author of Net Zero: The Challenges, Costs and Consequences of the UK's Zero Emission Ambition. He has a substack here.

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