Now the dust is beginning to settle, it is probably a good time to take a look at the spectacle that was Theresa May’s almost infamous speech in Florence. She left vast holes in her dialogue. Not holes you could definitively, quickly point out, but grey areas. Vague, non specifics that can be interpreted a number of ways.
The points that I gleaned from this 5000 word ramble once I cut through the fog that had the effect of inducing mental disorientation were;
- She agreed not £30bn but £18-20bn payment
- There is a non specified transition period of ‘about 2 years’
- We do not seek an unfair competitive advantage
- She did confirm leaving the custom union but see the second point above
- She sees the migration/refugees as a ‘shared’ problem
- Most worryingly, she sees a Third Way for UK/EU relationship going forward.
Well for me, as we have paid in more than we have got out over a number of years, why do we have to pay to leave? And why is it so much? This is one of those grey, not quite sure moments. The EU has said we owe it and no one seems able or willing to question the bill. The ‘about’ two years, well could she not come up with a more specific figure? And about two years from when? Is about less than four, eight? It is a totally unacceptable statement akin to a second-hand car salesman tying a gullible punter into a warranty deal.
She doesn’t want an unfair competitive advantage. Well why not? That was the whole reason for the leave vote. Because we were getting an unfair deal. The logo behind the rostrum said shared history, shared challenges, shared future. That is not the motto of a country striding out on its own, forging new links in a brave new world. Just like she sees migration as a shared problem. Shared with the architect of the Schengen Agreement perhaps.
And as for this Third Way! That sounds like a Blair soundbite. In fact it was. And he is the one still brokering an out-but-in hybrid kind of arrangement. It has been said she is the most left wing PM since Callahan. I think she is more akin to Neville Chamberlain. He was a ditherer too. And thought maintaining a trade agreement (with Germany) of more importance than UK security/ sovereignty. There is the famous quote of him saying something like “I have in my hand a promise from the Chancellor…” Quite a parallel there.
Let us not forget the UN speech either. Bashing Trump over the Paris accord, climate and migration. Perhaps she was thinking to alienate the USA to such an extent she will be able to say the UK needs an EU deal. Or not leave at all.
And why the silence from the supposedly all-powerful Tory grandees? I would have expected an uproar, telling her to get her act together and do the job of a PM. Which is to lead! But no. Nothing. Just a bit of a moan from the Bow Group.
The whole Brexit deal is being made to sound as complicated as possible, to justify an expended and protracted transition deal. It reminds me of how John Major, another PM with a personality bypass, waxed long and wearily about the Maastricht treaty. In the end everyone told him to just go away and get on with it. Perhaps this is another level to the remain strategy.
The party is scared of its own shadow. It got the snap election wrong, May was unengaging and aloof. Boris started well earlier this week but has now, apparently, backed down. If they do not get a move on they will lose the next election and will deserve to.
The problem with that is the dire Marxist alternative to what we have now. I wonder what Rees-Mogg is doing now?