I suspect this last couple of days, the 20th and 21st November 2023, could be noted by future historians as the turning point in which the British establishment abandoned fantasy and began the slow trudge back to sanity with regard to our relations with the EU.
The one thing the Tories are "world beaters" at is perception management. For the couple of weeks or so before last Thursday's mini-Budget we had drip drip drips of information about how terrible things were going to be, preparing us for the worst. Then it turned out to be not so bad after all, and then not yet, (though miles away from the good that it could have been, see earlier post.)
Perception management does not happen by accident. In the Sunday papers the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, just hinted that the government just might be toying with the idea of lining up with the EU in just one or two areas. I believe this is known in their trade as "Flying a kite," just to "test the waters."
The reaction from the ERG hard liners, and therefore the Prime Minister who is in their thrall, has been a resounding "No!"
So not yet. Now is not the time. But we've received a gentle hint about where the saner parts of the Tory party would like to go.
And the reaction of the CBI, the major business leaders, has been equally clear, a resounding "YES!" would have been greatly to be preferred.
This is important. Those of us who get most of our information and opinions from the Guardian, Observer, and Financial Times, with the occasional bit of sound expert comment via the BBC, and who know enough to be able to discount the views of the mysteriously-financed Think Tanks that the BBC wheels on for "balance," and who happen to have a little bit of expertise ourselves, have known all along that Brexit is a damaging shot in the foot made possible in order to try to hold the warring factions of the Tory Party together.
But his weekend has not been the the whinging of a few disgruntled academics, administrators and commentators.. Brexit is a flop and business leaders are making it surrounding clear that to avoid further damage we need to change direction.
So far sir Keir Starmer's reaction has not been too helpful. He feels he needs to tread carefully in order not to upset the so-called Red Wall voters who have traditionally supported Labour but have been seduced by the sovereignty myth and the alleged need to "take back control" (of our borders?) Oh for leaders who would dare to confront them with the truth.
One suggestion floating around is that if we are not yet ready to join the "single market" we might join some of the "markets." (Note the plural). Science, education,agriculture perhaps? The EU may not be too keen on this, It sounds like "cherry-picking."
But the manoeuvring in the right direction has started, and we shall see more of it in the coming months in efforts to resolve the Northern Ireland pickle.
Like the English and Welsh football teams, we're on our way.
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