I was tempted to entitle today's missive as 'Rebels, Doomsayers & the Feint Hearted' but my compassionate side got the better of me...
The Rebels are, of course, the Tory Eurosceptics who have written a somewhat uncompromising letter demanding assurances that Brexit will be fully accomplished according to its legal mandate and that remaining in the EU by stealth after March, 2019 will not happen, i.e., no transition period, out being out. To me this is encouraging news. For so long, our MP's have prevaricated, sat on the fence and waited for some positive leadership from Mrs May. As that was never really going to occur after the election result then the Eurosceptics have girded their loins and written a stiff letter. What it highlights, of course, is a Tory party and a Tory government very markedly divided on what course should be followed. These divisions of belief are damaging and most certainly make our position in Brussels appear disunited and lacking in ooomph, gravitas and confidence On the flip side we have the Doomsayers MP's like Anna Soubry and Nicki Morgan who are committed Remainers and highly vocal opponents of Brexit. They are surely entitled to their views but I hope that the thinking public will see through their intent and mark them as, literally, Doomsayers. A good measure of that often vitriolic opposition to Brexit must surely stem from them both being ousted from the front bench when Mrs May first arrived and they both seem to wish to make capital from her bad form and likely demise as Tory leader. Bit of a cat fight going on there I imagine. Ouch !
But the divisions in government are real and these will continue to hamper the potential progress made with Brussels. That would be the issue if our negotiating team actually understood what they were negotiating with - a political and economic institution rather than an elected government - but our chaps seem either oblivious to this distinction or are ignoring it as irrelevant. The fact remains, however, that until we get on the same playing field as M'sieur Barnier and his cronies we will not make more than a smidging of progress and certainly not any on trade arrangements. This will only promote the idea of hard Brexit which will further agitate the Doomsayers who believe the world will come to an end in March, 2019 (though that might well be the case for a number of them - in career terms, of course). Brexit is too important for noisy politicians to interfere with. Serious business needs serious people who are well informed and allowed flexibility to manoeuvre. At present, our team, as we're sort of stuck with it for the time being, is hamstrung by the very existence of party divisions. Stop it, and get real everybody.
Reluctant Leaders is my reference to those who would choose to be king but haven't quite steeled themselves to openly declare a challenge to Mrs May. To be fair, it's a difficult scenario as a leadership challenge will undoubtedly rock the Brexit boat even further, yet it is equally fair to surmise that if Mrs May doggedly hangs on then Brexit will be just as challenged and taken advantage of by Brussels. It's a case of six of one and half a dozen of the other but on balance I'm urging for a change of leadership. My key candidate - at the moment - is the very undemonstrative Jacob Rees-Mogg. He's not a charismatic fellow but he has an innate ability to analyse, digest and react to challenge and discord very effectively (says I...) and I believe he could take Barnier and friends apart at the seams if he was at the Tory helm. But there is that reluctance from either Mr Rees-Mogg - or anyone else for that matter - to step up and make a pitch, and whilst that reluctance exists we will continue to have weak and indecisive leadership at a time when exactly the opposite is required.
Don't construe my agitation over Tory leadership to imply any support for Labour. Far from it. As an Opposition they are as weak and ineffective as the government are at governing and are missing the essence of key issues that are confronting the country and certainly missing the capacity to put forward strategies that will address at least some of those key matters. Collectively, between Conservative and Labour options we have managed to field some of the most inept and misguided individuals into positions of influence and this paralysis of action cascades down from Westminster throughout the country, afflicting local governments to the point of inertia. It's time for this era of 'Disenlightenment' to come to an end and be replaced by capable and effective politicians who command respect and confidence in Parliament, in Brussels and amongst the British electorate. Let's start with getting a meaningful leader in No.10 and then sorting out better ways of tackling the things that are important, including Brexit.
In Trumpland, the aftermath of Harvey and the onset of Irma are preoccupying political minds but it is interesting to see the parallels between the US and Britain in the powerful divisions that exist between the factions and the impact this has on legislative programmes. But first things first - major hurricanes cause astonishing destruction - and the American government is right, on this occasion, to be focussed (though perhaps not wholly effectively) on that. For the moment, North Korea should wait.