BBC: “Brexit: The Battle for Britain”
I approached Laura Kuenssberg’s highly-anticipated “post-mortem on Brexit” yesterday (BBC2 9:00 p.m.) with some trepidation. Frankly, I was expecting a hatchet job, with a re-hash of all the scraps of negative comment that have become familiar in recent weeks.
So I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be not so much a hatchet job as a (reasonably) fair-minded account of the campaign, with both sides represented, using extensive archive clips. There was something touching and poignant in seeing Peter Mandelson saying (in effect) “We wuz robbed”. I was particularly impressed by his metaphor “We were sent to a knife-fight armed with a spoon”. Of course the defeated Remainians were looking for a scapegoat, and all fingers pointed at Jeremy Corbyn. You could argue (and they did) that Corbyn made the difference, and delivered the Leave vote, whether intentionally or not.
They used several clips of Nigel Farage. He said that he realised the turning point in the campaign had arrived when Boris Johnson and Michael Gove called for an Australian-style points system for immigration — something UKIP has been calling for for years.
My concerns ahead of the programme had been heightened by Vicki Power’s comment in (of all places) the Telegraph Review programme notes: “She (Kuenssberg) also looks at how the national vote exposed a gulf between Westminster and parts of Britain who felt isolated from the benefits of the EU”. Oh yes, Vicki. And what benefits would they be? Low growth? High unemployment? An irrational energy policy undermining industrial competitiveness? Higher prices from the EU’s Common External Tariff? Take your pick.
Telegraph not impressed
Telegraph reviewer Gerard O’Donovan thought that the programme “taught us very little”. Not sure it was intended to be pedagogical, Gerard.
McTernan attacks Corbyn
John McTernan writing in the Telegraph claims that Jeremy Corbyn “sabotaged” the Remain Campaign. And, adds McTernan for good measure, he is also sabotaging the Labour party.
More woes for Hinkley Point
The Guardian and Telegraph carry reports that French trade unions are demanding that the proposed Hinkley deal be declared “null and void”. They argue that the EDF Board knew about the probable delay by the British government before they voted on the deal, and that (say the unions) should be grounds for re-running to vote.
Meantime the BBC reports a warning from China that UK/China relations are poised at a “critical juncture” over the Hinkley issue.
I believe we need nuclear power, but that Hinkley may well be the wrong project. I am also concerned that the UK seems unable to reach a decision on critical infrastructure (nuclear power, London airport capacity) unless it makes the wrong decision (HS2).
Time for Carney to go?
In the Express, Leo McKinstry calls for Bank of England Governor Mark Carney to go, accusing him of mistaken forecasts and political interventions. Certainly Carney was a key proponent of “Project Fear”, but arguably he was only doing the bidding of the man who appointed him — George Osborne. Nonetheless, Central Banks need to be careful what they say if they want to retain credibility, and Carney has been sailing close to the wind.
Switzerland bullied by Brussels “as an example for Brexit”
The Express reports that Brussels is brutalising Switzerland over its (very reasonable) reluctance to keep its borders open to the EU’s “free movement”, and is threatening trade sanctions. According to the Express, Juncker is eager to “send a message” to the UK. But there is no read-across, I’m afraid, Jean-Claude. Switzerland is a small country totally surrounded by the EU, and dependent on a complicated array of sectoral trade deals. It is rather vulnerable to threats from Brussels. Britain, on the other hand, is a great global trading nation. And Britain is not tied up in a cat’s-cradle of trade deals with the EU. We demand no more than a free trade deal. And we will get a free trade deal, because the EU needs it more than we do. Brussels simply doesn’t have the leverage with London that it has with Switzerland.
A tale of two Theresas: Villiers tells May “We must have border controls”
Theresa Villiers was a Cabinet Minister in David Cameron’s government. She campaigned for Brexit. As it happens, she was also an MEP during my first term in Brussels (1999/04). She turned down the offer of a Cabinet post in Theresa May’s government.
She has now called on Theresa May to demand proper border controls, insisting that Brexit means independence, and that Britain must be able to control its borders. No fudge. No “emergency brake”. Theresa (Villiers) has proved to be a woman of principle. Well done that lady.
“Bring back the Navy to police the Channel”
Dover MP Charlie Elphicke has called for the Navy to be recalled from the Mediterranean (where, as I would argue, it is effectively promoting people trafficking by facilitating the rescue of illegal migrants and their delivery to European countries) and instead deployed in the Channel to protect our shores from illegal immigration.
Elphicke also calls for armed guards on Channel ferries to protect passengers and deter people-smuggling. He contrasts the major efforts which are rightly being made to combat terrorism in London with the lack of appropriate measures in the Channel.
Good news, bad news
I thought I saw evidence of a Damascene conversion. A piece in the Indy (of all places), entitled “Twelve reasons not to panic over Brexit”. I thought they were starting to see the light, and to tip-toe away from their strident Remainian position.
But it was not to be. The piece might have been better entitled “Twelve ways to undermine Britain’s Brexit decision and keep the UK in the EU”. Some hope. But it represents a timely warning: Yes, we won the Referendum. But we still have work to do to make Brexit real, and there will be those trying to stop us. No surrender. No back-tracking. Independence means Independence.
The view from Italy
Italian journalist Paolo Barnard reflects on the damage that EU membership has done to his country, and congratulates Britain on its “near miss” in rejecting EU membership. Worth a read. If EU membership has been bad for Britain, it has been an unmitigated disaster for Italy.