Disagreements, defectors, election speak: Our (Brexiteer) diarist Iain Dale records a new election week
I do wonder whether the right-wing polemicist Christopher Booker has undergone a brain transplant. For more years than I can remember he has written a column in the Sunday Telegraph pointing out the corruption and absurdities endemic in the Brussels beast. Yet this week his column was headlined ‘Our Brexit illusions are about to be shattered’. He railed against the unrealistic expectations of ultra Brexiteers and that we are ‘blindly drifting’ into a weird Brexit afterworld. Much more of this then our esteemed editor will be offering him a column in this newspaper. Heaven forfend.
The Sunday Telegraph is a once great newspaper. I made the mistake of buying it this week for the first time in many months. It’s election coverage was pedestrian at best and its cultural pages a joke. It used to carry several pages of book reviews. It now has half a column, which must amount to 150 words at most. It reviews three books at 50 words a pop. I shan’t be buying it again.
David Campbell-Bannerman is a Tory MEP. He used to be a UKIP MEP. Before that he wanted to be a Tory MP and chaired the Bow Group. Are you with me at the back? The man is a serial defector, distrusted by most Tories and all of UKIP. This week he was bleating on Twitter that he wasn’t being shortlisted for any safe Tory seat in Westminster. The sense of entitlement is baffling. Can the Tories really be blamed for not trusting him not to re-re-rat? If such a word exists. If it doesn’t it ought to as it’s made for someone like him.
Alastair Campbell, this newspaper’s Editor at Large, is someone I have a very high regard for. But when he uses words like ‘lie’ to criticise politicians he disagrees with, he does damage to our political discourse. He may disagree with Theresa May on Brexit, but to accuse her of lying is going it a bit. She has her views on the way forward, he has his. Obviously if you disagree with someone on something it’s fine to accuse them of being wrong, and then to explain why, but I don’t know many politicians who deliberately lie about their beliefs or motivations. And neither, I suspect, does Alastair. A lot of harsh words are going to be spoken in both this election campaign, and in the next two years, as we negotiate leaving the EU, tempers will fray. But can we all just agree that both sides are allowed to express their views and beliefs without being called ‘liars’? That shouldn’t be too much to ask.
Brendan O’Neill, the Leave supporting editor of SpikedOnline had some fun with his guide to 2017 Election Speak earlier this week…
Hard Brexit: Brexit
Soft Brexit: Not Brexit
Stopping Brexit: Stopping democracy
Reversing Brexit: Reversing democracy
Rethinking Brexit: Rethinking the terrible social experiment that was democracy
Xenophobe: Anyone who disagrees with me
Racist: Anyone who *really* disagrees with me
Fighting fascism: Tweeting abuse at people who voted Brexit
Restoring sanity: Restoring the old establishment
Listen to the experts: Don’t listen to the people
Liberal Democrat: Illiberal, anti-democratic
I think even die-hard remain supporting readers of the European might have had a chuckle at that. Or perhaps not.
The FT reported on Wednesday that the EU had upped their Brexit bill to more than 100 billion euros. Coming on top of the leaked report of the Downing Street dinner to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung it’s almost as if the EU has a Brexit deathwish. I reckon Juncker alone has won the Tories another five seats this week, with Diane Abbott pushing that total another ten seats higher. If the EU is trying to win the hearts and minds of the British people they’ve got a funny way of going about it. Every threat made to Britain enables Theresa May to paint herself as a Boudicca-like warrior queen going into battle on Britain’s behalf. And let me tell you, that in the Labour marginals, voters are loving it.
Talking of a Brexit bill, could any reader of this newspaper please tell me where in the EU treaties it says that a country leaving the EU has to pay a single euro into the Commission’s coffers after leaving? You can’t, because it doesn’t. Legally, the EU hasn’t got a ‘jambe’ to stand on. Michel Barnier was asked this very question on Wednesday but had no answer. It seems to me entirely logical that if there is some sort of transitional agreement, we would still contribute, or if we remain members of any of the agencies. But the thought that we should continue to subsidise French farmers is for the birds. On top of that, the new ‘hard line’ stance suggests that we wouldn’t be able to put any of our accrued assets against a Brexit bill. The EU is very keen to talk about a divorce. Well, in any divorce both partners have to account for both their liabilities AND their assets. I’d have thought that was obvious to anyone half sober. Eh, Mr Juncker?