As predicted in the previous post the real question facing us, whether to continue with Brexit or stop it altogether (either by revoking Article 50, as I'd prefer, or having another public vote) has now morphed into the quite different question: deal or no-deal?
A letter to the Guardian from a Stephen King on 6th August puts the matter clearly:
'. . .Boris Johnson has changed the conversation. The debate is no longer "Brexit v referendum /no Brexit", it is "no deal v deal." This smart strategy positions a deal as the best possible outcome , and removes from the debate any notion of reconsidering the whole project.'
Sadly the Guardian's editorial policy seems to have fallen for this sleight of hand.
An article in yesterday's paper (7th august) was headlined 'Hard Brexit would harm ability to fight crime', thus giving the impression that some other sort of Brexit would be OK, not so bad, perfectly acceptable. . .
Today (8th August ) the leading article, after surveying the areas in which agreement on a deal may still be possible, urges Mr Johnson to 'engage with EU leaders in a spirit of professionalism and respect.'
An article by Martin Kettle, also in today's paper, is headlined 'Deal of no deal: it's not really up to Dominic Cummings.'
With friend like these (and the Guardian and Daily Mirror are about the only friends we have in a largely Brexit supporting media) who needs enemies?
Whether this shift of emphasis has been engineered by Mr Johnson himself, or his wonder-working media manipulator Dominic Cummings, I have no way of knowing, but there is little doubt that we are being manoeuvred into a situation in which any sort of deal, even merely a cosmetic tweak on the May deal that already exists, will be hailed as a major triumph of British grit and Johnsonian guts and determination, and no deal purely the result of European obduracy.
It beggars belief that, in the final three months of this crisis our MPs have chosen to go on holiday. Heaven knows what future historians will make of it.
At times of crisis in the past parliament has been recalled, notably in :
- 1949 to discuss the devaluation of sterling (from $4.03 to £1, would you believe, to $2.8)
- 1950 to discuss the Korean war
- 1956: the Suez Crisis
- 1961: Berlin Crisis which led to the building of the Wall
- 1982: Falklands War
- 1995: Bosnia
- 2001: Iraq and WMD
- 2011: Riots following the shooting of Mark Duggan
- 2013: Syria.
I just cannot help reflecting what an outcry there would be from the establishment and just about everyone else if an even slightly left of centre government were implementing similar self harm.
Someone, somewhere, should be constructing the coalition of remain forces to stop this madness..
Brexit or No-Brexit: that is the question, and the only question that should be preoccupying us now, and could and should be resolved well before 31st October.