The Brexit deal being pushed by Theresa May is an “S & M approach to Government” — one of those mystifying perversions like wanting to be “locked up in chains.”
So says Boris Johnson in a trenchant interview with Conservative Home. All right, so it’s just what you’d expect him to say, but I’m glad at least one of our Brexiteer politicians is out there making this important point.
Truly and honestly, the people in Theresa May’s Conservatives still sticking up for her suicidal plan — Hamsterface Barwell, Jellyspine Gove, Coffinlid Hammond, Greg ‘Boring’ Clark, and so on — are a bunch of autoflagellators quite beyond redemption. Sure it may be their personal, passionate belief that we’d all be better locked up forever in a basement with a hoist and sundry whips and a range of chains and manacles and hoods and gimp suits — but with no safe word ever to put an end to our suffering. But that’s certainly no reason for the rest of us to go along with their weird urges.
Where, though, should we go instead?
For Boris, it’s a no-brainer and I totally agree with him: the only way we’re ever going to get a satisfactory deal is if we go into the negotiations with a sense of self-respect and self-belief.
As Boris puts it:
“[The EU negotiators] are not going to give us anything until we are treated as sovereign and equal partners in this negotiation. And so far we’ve given no indication that we are willing to do the thing that is necessary for them to take us seriously.
“The second thing without which no negotiation can be successful is to do what we’ve totally failed to do over the last two and a half years, and that is to get ready to come out on WTO terms, and genuinely to be able to offer the EU a solution that they might not like, but will make them sit up and take notice.”
(WTO terms — ie World Trade Organization terms — are the thing that Remainers have cunningly managed to rebrand with the phrase “No Deal”, which they prefer because it sounds more negative.)
“What [May] needs to do, or what the Government needs to do, is go back to Brussels and make it very clear that Parliament has not accepted the Withdrawal Agreement, and that it’s time for the backstop to come out, and time to negotiate a free trade agreement, to use the IP to do that.
“The idea of handing over £39 billion of taxpayers’ money now, in advance of the final deal, is very, very strange, and I think actually a complete mistake. And so I think what we need to do in the next phase is to say look, this cash could be available at the end of negotiations if you are supportive. Because at the moment they have not been supportive. They have been massively obstructive.
“This deal is a disaster for our country. It basically means the EU can blackmail us into any terms they like in the course of the negotiations on our future. Unless every single EU member state agrees to the terms of the new relationship, they can keep us in the backstop.
“And by being in the backstop, we are confined to the Customs Union, so we can’t do any free trade deals. It’s nonsense to say we can do free trade deals. The Government must stop saying this. You can’t set your own tariffs.
“Secondly, and perhaps even more destructively, we would be locked in regulatory alignment with the whole of the EU goods and agrifoods acquis, and environment, and social policy, unless we were willing to split up the Union, and split Northern Ireland away from Great Britain.”
May won’t, of course, do any of this because she’s an incredibly stubborn woman irrevocably set on the course of stupid.
I remain optimistic, though, because I believe the tide of history is on our side and because I believe the consequences of getting this thing wrong — the biggest split in the Conservative party since Peel repealed the Corn Laws; four or more years of Labour government so loony left it will make Chavez’s Venezuela look like Calvin Coolidge’s USA; an angry, bitter populace which has lost forever its faith in democracy — will prove simply too abysmal to risk.
Lots of my fellow Brexiteers, such as my comedian pal Geoff Norcott, are starting to lose their nerve and thinking that Brexit may never happen.
But no one ever won a battle by losing his nerve. Personally, if this coming moment is our Waterloo, then I’d much rather be shot down dead like George Osborne (no, not that George Osborne; I mean his literary namesake from Thackeray’s Vanity Fair) than to be witnessed riding off to save my skin like the ludicrous Jos Sedley.
Mind you, if we do get this one wrong and Corbyn really does start to look a likely prospect, then I may have to reconsider. Costa Rica, that’s my plan. The kids meanwhile can stay in Britain and take advantage of the “free” university education Corbyn has promised when he gets in. Every cloud, eh?