Why we should all be concerned about the return of David Davis
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The return of David Davis spells more doom, says STEVE ANGLESEY.
Seeking the ideal gift for someone you despise? On March 10, leave a ticket for them on the door of Chelsea's lovely Cadogan Hall, and tell them you'll meet them inside. Then, from a safe distance of several kilometres away, sit back giggling as your foe endures Brexit Heroes Live, an evening with the Rod, Jane and Freddy of Euroscepticism, aka Nigel Farage, Allison Pearson and Mark Francois.
The blurb promises a chance to "celebrate the historic moment" we left the EU alongside the Three Fivers (they used to be tenors but, you know, Brexit) and 950 other like-minded folk. Never mind Live Aid, this is Leave Aid and as such we look forward to Nigel, Allison and Mark opening the whole thing by coming out clad in double denim under the banner of Reversed Status Quo and kicking off with (We're The Subject Of) Mocking All Over The World.
With tickets at a very reasonable £25 a pop, the event is organised by the Daily Telegraph but you can't help thinking they have missed a trick. Every great show needs its great showman, and just as Wembley '85 had Freddie Mercury, what Brexit Heroes Live is crying out for is a centrepiece appearance from a man for whom "Ayyyyy-oh, de-da-di-da-di-da-di-de-do" would count as one of the more sensible things he'd ever said. Step forward into the spotlight, David Davis.
Having roamed the political wilderness since quitting as Brexit secretary in July 2018, forcing Boris Johnson's hand and setting in place the series of unfortunate events which have led us here, this big beast is ready to roar on the biggest stages once more. Since getting snubbed again for a ministerial job by an ungrateful Johnson in his latest reshuffle, Brexit's John the Baptist is everywhere of late, like a coronavirus whose symptoms are an open-necked shirt and an air of blissful ignorance.
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DD's comeback tour has taken in the Mail on Sunday, the Financial Times, the Andrew Marr Show and just about everywhere they leave a light on for Brexiteers - LBC with Farage, TalkRadio with Julia Hartley Brewer, Today. Though not scared to try out new material ("allowing Huawei to provide parts of our new national telecoms network is the worst intelligence decision since MI6's recruitment of Kim Philby" was a decent joke), what makes him so right for Leave Aid is his insistence on playing the hits.
So Hartley Brewer was told pretty much what Davis said about a no-deal in 2016: "It won't hurt us anything like it will hurt them. And we have more money to deal with and we'll have other options to go to." And the FT got the old message that Britain would be given a favourable trade deal because of pressure from German car manufacturers: "The nickname in the German car industry for us is Treasure Island... we are a highly profitable, very important market."
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In which case, why has a deal not happened already? "Within minutes of a vote for Brexit the CEOs of Mercedes, BMW, VW and Audi will be knocking down chancellor Merkel's door demanding that there be no barriers to German access to the British market," Davis promised during the referendum campaign.
Alas, the CEOs appear not to have got the memo. Germany's Federation of Industries, which represents them, has made it clear that preserving the integrity of the single market is the top priority over any deal which allows the UK to flood the EU with cheaper products (from, presumably, our invisible army of car manufacturers, ready to strike at any moment).
But what about the idea that "the nickname in the German car industry for us is Treasure Island"? It's another Brexiteer belief, again dating back to the referendum, which turns out not to be strictly true. We did once have that nickname, but only in the days when German manufacturers and their UK distributors could charge lots more for their cars in Britain than in mainland Europe - so much in fact that some Brits decided to drive their newly-purchased left-hand-drive cars back from the continent and deal with the obvious inconveniences.
This loophole was closed in October 2002 courtesy of block exemption regulation passed by - you guessed it - the pesky European Union, Thereafter the Treasure Island tag fell into disuse, leaving a dismissive term as the sole remaining German nickname for us with 'island' in it. It is 'Inselaffen', which means 'Island Monkeys'.
Perhaps Davis should just steer clear of predictions altogether. After all, he is the man who promised in July 2016: "Be under no doubt, we can do deals with our trading partners and we can do them quickly. I would expect the new prime minister on September 9 to immediately trigger a large round of global trade deals with all our most favoured trade partners.
"I would expect that the negotiation phase of most of them to be concluded within 12 to 24 months. So within two years, before the negotiation with the EU is likely to be complete, and therefore before anything material has changed, we can negotiate a free trade area massively larger than the EU."
And perhaps DD should stay away from Treasure Islands altogether too. It may have escaped his notice, but in the 1950 film of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic the unfortunate first mate Mr Arrow, killed by Robert Newton as Long John Silver, is played by a Welsh actor by the name of… David Davies.
British negotiators turned up to the opening round of trade talks with the EU sporting their passes on Union Jack lanyards, having eaten what Brexit fanzine the Daily Telegraph called "a delicious patriotic breakfast of sausages, baked beans, bacon and eggs". The Torygraph also noted that this had been consumed at the "palatial British ambassador's residence in Brussels", which "is meant to have briefly hosted the Duke of Wellington before the Battle of Waterloo, although that is disputed".
Meanwhile the risible Express claimed the UK had already scored a "Brexit victory" because the talks will be conducted and written up in English… almost like Deontay Wilder claiming heavyweight victory against Tyson Fury because his costume was heaviest!
During a speech at US right-wing shindig CPAC, the nicotine-stained man-frog told the crowd that his Brexit Party "managed to get 50% more votes than any other party" at the 2019 European elections. Farage's party polled 5,248,533 votes, with the Lib Dems' 3,367,284 votes giving them 64% of the Brexiteers' total.
Farage also claimed "those with long memories" in his audience would "remember 1776, they'll remember being a put-upon colony", suggesting some attendees were around 250 years old.
At least this was more truthful than White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney's remarks to the same conference, in which he called coronavirus the "hoax of the day", suggesting the media were covering it only because "they think this will bring down the president".
"Farmers will be better off if we leave the EU" ran the headline on a Vote Leave leaflet during the referendum. Underneath, now-environment secretary Eustice, pictured, told the agricultural community: "If we have the courage to vote Leave and take back control we could achieve so much more for farmers."
Last week the minister refused to rule out imports of cheap American food including chlorinated chicken and hormone-injected beef, and this week it was revealed that not only was he cutting farming subsidies by between 5-25%, but that influential Treasury adviser Tim Leunig was arguing that Britain didn't even need a farming sector to begin with. No wonder they call him 'Useless' Eustice!
Bookies are offering 1,000/1 that the PM's new baby with partner Carrie Symonds - her first, his fifth or sixth but who's counting? - will be named Brexit. Others in the frame are favourite Charlotte at 6-1, Stanley at 10/1 and Winston at 12/1, with Priti Obvious Distraction Johnson a 10,000-1 shot.
A reminder, though, that MPs Andrea Jenkyns and Jack Lopresti initially nicknamed their baby 'Brexit' as he was born on the day Theresa May triggered Article 50. They later opted to call the tot just plain 'Clifford' after Ms Jenkyns' late father - although even naming him after Max Clifford would have been less embarrassing than naming him after Brexit.
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