Sunday, 15 November 2020

10 Drowning Street

 

The media are full of speculation as to the whys and wherefores of the shenanigans in Downing Street.  There are briefings and counter-briefings but I suspect the truth has yet to be revealed.  Though I have no claim to be well informed I suspect my own musings  are no wilder than anyone else's.

 First a couple of questions:

Question 1

Does 10 Downing Street keep a stock of cardboard boxes so that those dismissed with immediate effect (wie) can carry away their personal effects?  (One might ask a similar question of the Trump White House.)

Question 2.

Do those dismissed wie get a week's month's pay in lieu of notice, or three months', or a golden handshake?  It's an important question because it is"our" money, "taxpayers' money" and the Conservatives like us to think they are very careful with public money and only spend it frugally and wisely.  So far I haven't heard or read much about any severance payments.  We should be told.





Now for some thoughts:








First it's quite normal for  a prime minister to have a few close allies  around himself /herself who form a "kitchen Cabinet." These have normally been other cabinet ministers and  members of the party, with perhaps the odd "advisor" (Bernard Ingham with Mrs Thatcher, Alistair Campbell with Tony Blair). 
 
Johnson's cabal seems to have been entirely of  non-cabinet members.  That the government as a whole have failed so dismally is Johnson's own fault really, since he appointed  both cabinet members and cabal not on their ability, but on their "soundness" re Brexit.  However, sooner or later senior party members were bound to resent their lack of influence - that the "unelecteds" were setting the agenda.

It seems to me likely that what has ignited the row is that Johnson is veering towards a deal with the EU and Cummings (and Cain - I'd not heard of him until last Friday)  are hardliners who would prefer "no-deal."  
 
Johnson needs a deal, first of all because he promised in last year's election that a deal was "oven ready."  Secondly to avoid the logistical chaos which is bound to arise, especially in Kent, if there really is no deal, and  thirdly, that no deal would upset the Irish arrangement and therefore President-Elect Biden..

The most optimistic possibility, put forward  by the former labour minister  Denis MacShane  is that, now that  the hard-liners have gone (though not from the Party: Rees Mogg and others are still around) Johnson could do the sensible thing, beg the EU for a further year's extension, using the coronavirus as an excuse, to avoid the chaos which is bound to ensue if we really do leave on the 1st January 2021.
 
True the final date for extending the transition has passed, but the EU is good at wriggling round legal difficulties  and I'm sure they would happily find a way if asked.

8 comments:

  1. I thought that Cummings's shambling. divaesque, front-door exit with a pathetic cardboard box was some sort of plea for a chic, alligator, top executive-style briefcase for Christmas.

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  2. "Divaesque." What a lovely word. Sums it up admirably.

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  3. It seems to me likely that what has ignited the row is that Johnson is veering towards a deal with the EU and Cummings (and Cain - I'd not heard of him until last Friday) are hardliners who would prefer "no-deal."

    Seems highly unlikely to me. For one thing no one would prefer 'no deal'; if the EU was prepared to offer a Canada-style free trade agreement rather than loading extra 'level playing field' conditions that would require us to track their changing regulations they would bite Barnier's hand off for it. For another if that was what Boris was after he'd have had to sack David Frost the chief negotiator, and he's (as far as we know) stayed in post.

    Johnson needs a deal, first of all because he promised in last year's election that a deal was "oven ready."

    That 'oven ready' comment was about the Withdrawal Agreement, though, which has already been passed and allowed us to leave the EU last January.

    Secondly to avoid the logistical chaos which is bound to arise, especially in Kent, if there really is no deal, and thirdly, that no deal would upset the Irish arrangement and therefore President-Elect Biden..

    We do not so arrange our domestic policy so as to avoid upsetting the president of the USA!


    The most optimistic possibility, put forward by the former labour minister Denis MacShane is that, now that the hard-liners have gone (though not from the Party: Rees Mogg and others are still around) Johnson could do the sensible thing, beg the EU for a further year's extension, using the coronavirus as an excuse, to avoid the chaos which is bound to ensue if we really do leave on the 1st January 2021.

    Boris knows that that would be signing his political death warrant, though, and whatever his other failings no one has ever been able to question his sense of self-preservation.

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    Replies

    1. "That 'oven ready' comment was about the Withdrawal Agreement..." Touché - sorry: substitute "The easiest deal in history."

      You claim that "no one would prefer 'no deal'..." I think the extreme Brexiteers would. For them it seems to present a matter of principle rather than practicalities.

      "We do not so arrange our domestic policy so as to avoid upsetting the president of the USA!" Oh yes I think we do. And China, Germany and many other big beasts. It's an interconnected world requiring "give and take" in matters foreign and domestic.

      It's a gamble, but I should not be surprised if Johnson were to gain a lot of kudos by doing the sensible thing and extending the transition period.

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    2. You claim that "no one would prefer 'no deal'..." I think the extreme Brexiteers would. For them it seems to present a matter of principle rather than practicalities.

      I don't see any reason why anyone — even the most extreme 'Brexiteer' — should say we shouldn't, as a sovereign nation, have exactly the same kind of trade agreement with the EU that it has with other sovereign nations, such as Canada. Can you point to any instances of any 'extreme Brexiteers' saying or writing that a 'Canada-style deal' should not be accepted, and would not be preferable to 'no deal' (or an 'Australia-style deal' which is equivalent to 'no deal')?


      "We do not so arrange our domestic policy so as to avoid upsetting the president of the USA!" Oh yes I think we do.

      Okay; well, we oughtn't.

      It's a gamble, but I should not be surprised if Johnson were to gain a lot of kudos by doing the sensible thing and extending the transition period.

      The only people Boris would please by going back on Brexit are people who would never vote Conservative in a million years, and would never vote for him personally in a billion, so what is the up-side for him of doing so? What good is 'kudos' if it doesn't translate to votes at the ballot box?

      Delete
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