AN ODD couple join our Brexit roll of hour today – journalist and commentator Charles Moore and the radical Greek economist, Yanis Varoufakis.
Yesterday Moore, that indefatigable source of logic and moral wisdom, managed to save me from the slough of Brexit despond. With a civility that he and Jacob Rees-Mogg alone command, in his Spectator notes he set out the descending levels of blame for the Brexit debacle.
Mrs May: ‘Obviously the Prime Minister herself bears the chief responsibility for these mistakes.’ Political leadership requires imagination, he wrote; she has none.
The civil service: ‘I have genuinely been surprised by the bureaucrats’ uselessness in the negotiations . . . what were poor Sir Jeremy Heywood or Olly Robbins or dismal Philip Hammond’s dismal Treasury doing to surmount problems or create opportunity in the past two years?’
Remainer public servants: Of the Bank of England’s Mark Carney and Alex Younger of MI6, who have had their terms extended ‘to ensure continuity’, he says ‘we don’t want continuous negativity’.
Over-cleverness: Oliver Letwin, Nick Boles and Michael Gove. Moore writes: ‘A besetting sin in this process has been over-cleverness. As so often in our history, the “stupid” people are right. The Brexit question is a classic example of something which is simple but not easy. It is ‘Do you want to be ruled by those you can choose, or by those you can’t choose?’ Voters understood this, and gave a clear answer. Clever people keep complicating it.
‘Three leading examples of this, I am afraid – Oliver Letwin, Nicholas Boles and Michael Gove – are good friends of mine. Precisely the qualities which endear them to me in private conversation are proving a menace to the public weal. Their ability to look at things in surprising ways and generally argue the hind leg off a donkey blinds them to the key issues and makes them conjure into existence brilliant ‘solutions’ which only make everything worse. The voters are not donkeys.’
Indeed they are not.
The donkey is Theresa May, as my favourite Greek, former Greece finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, pointed out on the BBC’s Broadcasting House yesterday morning. He succinctly said what we all know but needs to be shouted from the rooftops until the Tory high command gets it, that Europe has won the negotiations because of May:
‘That happened eighteen months ago when Theresa May, in her infinite wisdom, accepted Monsieur Barnier’s two-phased negotiation. You will recall that Monsieur Barnier announced that there will be two phases and that in Phase One Britain will give Brussels everything that Brussels wanted, then in Phase Two Brussels would discuss the petitions that would come from London. When you accept that kind of two phases in negotiation you’ve admitted defeat before you have even started.’
Defeat is what May is now forcing Parliament into accepting.