A day of MAYhem
Thus does the Metro greet the morning. Just about all of the papers lead with the story. The “i“: Mayday. The Sun (on a positive note) “New PM can unite the Tories and deliver Brexit”: The Mail: “Coronation of Theresa”: The Guardian “May takes fast track to Number Ten”.
The Mirror and the Times look forward. The Mirror demands a General Election (surely the last thing Britain needs right now), while the Times starts to speculate about May’s first Cabinet. The Express “Make sure you get us out of the EU” The Morning Star predictably strikes a contrarian note: “Mayday, Mayday”.
Andrea’s shock announcement: We woke up yesterday expecting two months of a bruising Tory leadership campaign. Today we wake up to see the removal vans at Number Ten, and Theresa May in place perhaps tomorrow. So what motivated Andrea in this decision that so many Brexiteers will deeply regret? Clearly she had been spooked by the Tory black ops and the vicious personal smears to which she had been (disgracefully) subjected. But I think that two other factors weighed heavily with her. First, she knows that the last thing the country needs now is two months of uncertainty and political in-fighting. Secondly, she knows that even if she won the ballot of party members, she would have to face a hostile parliamentary party that strongly preferred Theresa May.
Andrea Leadsom has characteristically put the needs of the country ahead of her career ambitions, and deserves credit and respect for doing so. But how is Theresa May going to unite a deeply divided party? Clearly she must include committed Brexiteers to her cabinet, and especially in the task of delivering Brexit. She reportedly has a poor relationship with Michael Gove. Boris has gone uncharacteristically quiet since the referendum – perhaps sulking in his tent? It seems to me that the wisest thing May could do would be to appoint Andrea Leadsom to the top post on the Brexit team (and Liam Fox for defence).
The Mail offers us its prognostications on May’s new Cabinet.
“Brexit means Brexit”. It was encouraging to hear Theresa’s dictum that “Brexit means Brexit” – but it would have been even more encouraging had she added “not Norway-lite”. I fear she is still mesmerised by the chimæra of the Single Market. We need to exorcise that demon. We want to be an independent nation with a free trade agreement – not a second-class EU associate member. The Mail reports that Theresa is set to trigger Article 50 by the end of the year. The end of the month would be preferable. Certainly her friends are insisting she’s serious about Brexit.
The legacy of Project Fear
It is a pity that the media (and especially the BBC and the Guardian) still seem to be trawling for stories that vindicate Project Fear, while ignoring the good news. Who would have thought that with all the volatility which we rightly expected around the referendum, the FTSE 100 would today be standing at 6682 – way ahead of the pre-referendum level? The Pound is down – but it bounced back above the $1.30 level on the news of Andrea Leadsom’s withdrawal (I think that was a case of celebrating the removal of uncertainty, rather than the removal of Mrs. Leadsom).
Osborne’s world tour: Good at least that George Osborne has begun “a world tour” to reassure investors that Britain is open for business. But even then his comment implies a negative: “Britain has left the EU but it has not quit the world”. Who thought it had? We’re re-joining the world. A newly liberated UK has shrugged off its “off-shore province” status, and is resuming its proper place as a great global trading nation. This is not something to explain or to apologise for. It’s something to celebrate. At least we can applaud Osborne’s planned moves to make the UK even more attractive to inward investors.
Brexit boost for women drivers
One of the most egregious pieces of damaging EU regulation was Brussels’ doctrinaire insistence on outlawing “gender discrimination” in insurance – even when striking gender differences were absolutely clear from the data. Previously, because women are safer drivers (admit it, chaps!) they got lower rates. Under recent EU rules, insurers had to apply the same rate, so women were averaged up (and men averaged down, arguably increasing risk). After Brexit we can set this right.
Not a big day for EU news
Exceptionally, the BBC web-site is just about as devoid of EU news as the Sun is currently devoid of sun-spots (possibly presaging cooler temperatures, but that’s another story). So little real news indeed that “Cameron caught humming a tune” becomes a headline.
Tearing up their cards
Finally, it is reported extensively across social media sites that many Tories are tearing up their membership cards and coming over to join UKIP after Andrea Leadsom’s shock announcement yesterday.