After I considered what looked to be a number of diverse strands in the political wind last week, and showed how they all point to our not at all unelected Prime Minister gaming the upcoming negotiations with other EU member states in order to walk away without a deal and blame it on the ghastly foreigners, some were sceptical of my analysis. But the next batch of strands in the political wind suggest that is exactly what is being planned.
The Sunday political shows were well filled with those pontificating, and the starting point was, generally, the growing realisation that Ms May and her team would just walk away. This was what had concerned Crispin Blunt, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, who appeared before the inquisition of the host on The Andy Marr Show (tm) to voice that concern. Why he was worried can be seen in the Independent.
That now online only publication had told that “Theresa May’s plans to rely on World Trade Organisation tariffs in the case of a hard Brexit will cause a ‘major economic shock’ and is worse than any other option, according to an unpublished Treasury document … Crashing out of the EU without a trade deal is the ‘alternative to membership with the most negative long-term impact’ on the economy, it warns”.
Yet there on Peston on Sunday was London’s formerly very occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, telling anyone who would listen that walking away with no deal was no bad thing. This was echoed by the disgraced former Defence Secretary and practising spiv Liam Fox, now mysteriously restored to cabinet rank, when quizzed by the Beeb’s John Pienaar, although he modified that view later on.
The Indy’s leaked report also held a sceptical view on ideas like falling back on WTO rules: “After we left the EU, we’d need to renegotiate the terms of our WTO membership … This would trigger bureaucratic negotiations with other WTO members, lasting for months or years … This could be a very complex exercise involving a review of every tariff line - over 5,000 - to determine what rate the UK wished to apply”.
That there is now a real concern over Ms May’s tactics has even spilled over to the Mail on Sunday, where it has been interpreted as David Davis being unprepared. But it isn’t just Davis: as Bozza and Fox have demonstrated, it’s a team game and it all points to - depending on your preferred terminology - a “hard Brexit”, a “cliff-edge Brexit”, or more realistically “no-parachute Brexit” or even “lemming Brexit”.
And why the PM might not be interested in the Lords’ amendments to her Article 50 bill was spelt out by J J Patrick, whose information, remember, was good last week: “the Brexit position on people is: ‘...No deals with anyone, no guarantees for anyone’”. Nothing for EU citizens. Sounds economically suicidal? It must make sense to the Tory hard right.
It gets worse: Patrick has also claimed “Unless there is some massive change over the weekend, the country is out on WTO or worse and millions affected as amendments are binned”. We have a Prime Minister and her coterie who have locked the door to the flight deck and are flying the plane on a potentially very hazardous course.
Last week we knew we’d been had. Now we find our leaders know - but don’t care.