STEVE ANGLESEY crowns another Brexiteer of the Week.
Hiring one foreign secretary who compares the European Union to mass-murdering totalitarian states may be regarded as a misfortune; hiring two looks like carelessness.
And so it was that, just under two years after letting Boris Johnson get away with warning Brussels against ‘punishment beatings’ for Brexit ‘in the manner of some World War Two movie’, Theresa May had to rebuke Jeremy Hunt for the Tory conference speech in which he likened the EU to the Soviet Union.
Was May’s slapdown for Hunt’s stupidity – at first, Glenn Hoddle-style, he claimed he’d ‘never said them things’ until the Tories released a video of him intoning ‘the EU was set up to protect freedom; it was the Soviet Union that stopped people leaving’?
Was it for his poor timing at a delicate stage in negotiations? Or was the whole thing cooked up between he and May in advance?
Whatever the truth, it seems bizarre that one of May’s first team and his substitute should think it a good idea to go in studs-up on the opposition when her wider squad are being coached to pull out of 50/50 balls wherever necessary.
This week, the government advertised for a head of project management in part of the DExEU office covering veterinary medicines. The job, unsurprisingly, is billed as ‘fast-paced and unpredictable’.
But the advert goes on to say: ‘We need someone who can communicate in a non-confrontational manner… interested parties may have divergent opinions so you must be tactful. You must enjoy creating and maintaining positive, honest, professional, supportive and trusting working relationships.’
If the government can specify this skill set for the person in charge of doggy cough drops, shouldn’t they also do so for the foreign secretary?
‘Do you honestly think Theresa May can be classified as being right-wing? How is she right-wing?’
Yes, Nigel Farage is every bit as stupid as he seems.
BREXITEERS OF THE WEEK
The online version of the Daily Express – Fleet Street’s last bastion of bonkers Brexiteering now the Dacre-free Daily Mail has gone sane – has a new favourite phrase. Can you spot it from these headlines, published in early October?:
‘Brexiteer SHUTS DOWN Labour frontbencher during heated Brexit row’; ‘BBC host SHUTS DOWN EU Supergirl in calls for Brexit rerun’; ‘Tory MP shuts down Labour peer for demanding second vote’; ‘British MEP shuts down Dutch MEP in HEATED on-air Brexit row’; Wetherspoons boss SHUTS DOWN Remain campaigner with THIS simple point’; ‘Brexiteer shuts down Labour peer demanding for ANOTHER vote’…
The period of peak shutdownery at the Express website was the 48 heady hours of September 20 and 21, when no fewer than five articles with SHUTS DOWN in their headlines appeared. So what a missed opportunity when last week’s groundbreaking exclusive ‘How to force turn off or power off your iPhone’ was not titled ‘How to SHUT DOWN your phone’!
IAIN DUNCAN SMITH
The former Tory leader revealed that while training as an HGV driver in the 1980s, his instructor ‘used to hit me over the head… and called me a dickhead every day’. Who wants to bet that this had nothing whatsoever to do with criticism of IDS’ driving?
But hang on, you say… IDS was a trucker? Well, not quite. He took his licence during a ‘get ready for Civvy Street’ programme towards the end of his career as an army lieutenant and after departing the services chose an executive job at Marconi over the open road and a CB radio. At the time, like so many other truck drivers, he was dating an heiress – in IDS’s case, the daughter of the 5th Baron Cottesloe of Swanbourne and Harwick, who he married in 1982.
His plan for a Brexit bridge between mainland Britain and Northern Ireland was skewered by a retired offshore engineer who pointed out that its route runs through a Ministry of Defence dump of more than 1.5 tons of unexploded munitions. In addition, because of the great depth of much of the 22-mile route, the project would require 54 support towers of heights never achieved anywhere in the world.
Another triumph for this latter-day Isambard Kingdom Brunel, whose bold vision for a bridge between England and France crumbled in January when experts said would have to stand at least 500m above the waterline to stop cargo ships hitting it.