A cautious Eurosceptic Welcome for Mrs May's Agreement

The completion of the first stage of the negotiations for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union was bound to cause controversy.  The nature of such a process was that compromises will be made. The question for those of us who want to leave is whether we can accept them. Are they compatible with regaining control, the central argument of the Leave campaign.  I have been deliberately slow to come to a conclusion because there is inevitably noise and spin around the fifteen page document that has been issued as well as differences of interpretation from the participants.  Each of the three areas is important and to some extent interlinking, so it is worth looking at them in turn.

read more

Defeats and defects

A week ago, for about seventy-two hours, Theresa May seemed to be in charge. At last, she had produced  a route march, which appeared to be acceptable to the Europeans and to her own Party. At a purely tactical level, there had been progress, But that was last week, for three days.

When it came to Wednesday evening's vote, no-one was in charge. The Government was faced by a number of related difficulties. First, there are the MPs who hate Theresa May, mainly because she sacked them from the Government. Anna Soubry and Nicky Morgan are the obvious examples, especially Mrs Morgan. In his desire to promote more women to the Cabinet, David Cameron made her Secretary of State for Education. Parliamentary Secretary would have been quite high enough. The over-promotion went to her head. Her self-knowledge has never recovered.

read more

A Prime Minister, a Pantomime Horse and a Piss-up in a Brewery

Whom the Gods wish to destroy, they first make silly. In normal times, the spat over Philip Hammond's transport arrangements would just have been an amusing embarrassment: a chance for the Opposition to enjoy five minutes of gentle teasing. These are not normal times. The disagreement over the unpaid plane bill will confirm an increasingly deep-rooted impression of a government mired in chronic incompetence: of as much coherence as the two halves of a pantomime horse, when both actors were drunk.

read more

A Philippic. Time to Save the Future

So what is actually happening? At a superficial level, British politics seems to becoming steadily more febrile. Sexual tittle-tattle, challenges to the PM, hard Brexit/soft brexit/no-one appears to know what the devil is going on Brexit: everything is confusion and farce. We have to remind ourselves that this is a formidable country, and take comfort from Adam Smith's dictum: that there is a deal of ruin in a nation. But let us attempt to look below the surface and try to interpret deeper realities.

read more

She's Got To Go

Today, commentators on Tory politics face a dilemma. The chronicling of chronic incompetence is a necessary duty. But how can one prevent this from declining into repetitious tedium? Thinking about that took me back to the Sixties and Seventies: the era of vinyl records. Those of us who were underwhelmed by Bruckner's symphonies had a recurrent problem. 'Bababa, bababa, bababa:' was the record stuck, or was it merely the composer?

read more