Bristling Brock speaks out...


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Mrs May has given a much better speech at the Mansion House than her previous form would have heralded.   Let us be thankful for that.   Most observers seem to have received the speech favourably with praise over the style and content.   I really do hope they are right and that the usually belligerent EU find little to really moan about now.   But perhaps the key statement amidst all the technicalities was the simple remark made in the closing moments of the speech - along the lines of 'neither side will get everything it wants'.   That has been an unspoken truism since the referendum but one that the government seem to have only recognised in this last week; by contrast, the EU have had a very clear idea about what Brexit meant for them - reduced budget contributions, the dismissal of customs union arrangements with the UK, an equivalent dismissal of the primacy of the European Court of Justice and a stab in the process of increasing European federalism.   These were the things they were going to lose irrespective of any compromises on the detail with the UK.   Yet now, the UK is aware it will have to make compromises - some of which are perfectly reasonable such as Euratom, security, pharmaceutical, defence collaborations - and some which will be no doubt less palatable.   The Phase 2 outputs will eventually reveal all that to us.

What must happen though is a severance from the EU, politically, legally and constitutionally.  That is essential to be the headline position in whatever final agreements are made.   The UK may choose for itself, arbitrate through a British court and remain independently sovereign and in like manner the EU can also make those same choices and decisions about its own membership.   The new vision - if that's what it is - is that whilst leaving the EU in those decisive ways Britain will still be available as a collaborative partner in matters that affect us all as regional inhabitants, irrespective of national or political boundaries.  It would be truly foolish of the EU to spurn this approach - although their past form has been much prone to something akin to 'auto-reject' on anything coming from the British side - but it will be a test of their common sense now to see what they make of it.   This blog has been a detractor of British attempts to grapple with Brexit but is happy to see at least a sign that the government is getting down to it now.   Bristling Brock still has reservations but at least this is a step toward progress.  Nonetheless, there are still visceral divisions within the Conservative bloc which are potentially dangerous to absolute consensus and unified support but, hopefully, the EU will take a realistic position.

Angela Merkel has finally secured her coalition arrangements and this may presage her re-entrance into the EU debate.  Whilst she has always taken a pro-European stance it is evident that in a business context there is a desire to maintain a workable trading relationship with Britain.   This may be a sentiment exacerbated now by the Trump administrations declaration to threaten to impose import tariffs upon European cars entering the US.   If that were to be the case then Germany would be the biggest European loser in that - making a smoother arrangement with the UK would then be infinitely more in their interest.

I see Cameron and Osborne are congratulating themselves on having engineered the reduction in the national, day-to-day budget deficit according to their 2010 master-plan.   The main instrument in getting to this lauded position has been austerity in public sector spending which has hurt a good proportion of the public since the financial crash of 2008.   Naturally, critics say it was too much and for too long - and that may or may not be the case - but it is nevertheless unpleasant to see these two ex-politicians clapping themselves on the back and claiming some sort of moral victory here.   Common sense would have told them to keep quiet about it.   John McDonnell is, of course, highly critical of the austerity programme but he too should be careful of what he utters.   His credentials as a competent Chancellor-in-Waiting are very questionable.   I do, however, like Yvette Cooper's Twitter response - "My God, the damage these two have done and not a flicker of self doubt" - which must resonate with millions around the country.

And finally, the passing of that great athlete, Roger Bannister has been announced.   He was from a generation that sought the best for the sake of sport - not of self-aggrandisement.


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