Dear Father Christmas... These are my Brexit wishes for 2020
PUBLISHED: 19:57 18 December 2019 | UPDATED: 19:57 18 December 2019
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ANDREW ADONIS writes his letter to Father Christmas with his wishlist for politics in 2020.
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Dear Father Christmas,
Please give me reasons to be cheerful in 2020. Despite Brexit I don't want to be Mr Scrooge, who "carried his own low temperature always about with him".
Could you start by making sure that next year Keir Starmer becomes leader of the Labour Party, Trump isn't re-elected, and Johnson does a decent deal with Merkel?
Brexit wasn't inevitable. It was the result of catastrophic political leadership by Cameron, Corbyn and Swinson. Had there been a referendum on Johnson's Brexit deal before an election, the same polls which predicted a Johnson landslide also predicted a Remain majority. But let's move forward.
With Swinson gone, it is a fair question whether the Liberal Democrats now have a reason to exist. If the party's economic liberals simply joined the Tories and the majority of social democrats were where they belong, in the Labour Party, we would have a more equal two party system instead of a lopsided one where the Tories are usually able to defeat two competing non-Tory parties.
The great 20th century political error was the collapse of the pre-First World War Lib-Lab pact which kept Asquith and Lloyd George in power. For as long as this operated, the Tories usually lost. Afterwards, the Tories usually won on a split Lab/Lib vote, with Labour always in danger of careering off to the far left as in the last five years.
Starmer looks to be the leader to reverse this. On the doorstep I found almost no-one who thought Jeremy Corbyn was fit to be prime minister. But I also found almost no-one who thought Starmer wasn't fit, and many said so without prompting. So please make this happen too then we can have a Labour opposition which is an alternative government for the first time since Tony Blair.
Removing Trump would be great too. It doesn't look as if impeachment is going to do it. The danger is that it strengthens him by giving him what he most craves: Wall-to-wall media coverage.
But the revival of Joe Biden's campaign is encouraging. It was fear of this folksy Democrat ex-vice president which led Trump into the Ukrainian affair and impeachment. Biden's appeal to the industrial - or rather increasingly de-industrial - Rust Belt is potentially lethal to Trump's re-election. So please, Father Christmas, grant him the best health possible for a 77-year-old.
Back home, 'Get Brexit Done' was the biggest con since the '£350m a week for the NHS' on the side of the bus. The long-term negotiations only start after the withdrawal agreement goes through parliament next month. Apart from the preliminary deal which in effect keeps Northern Ireland in the EU in perpetuity, we have little idea what will be in it.
But we know that Angela Merkel - whose longevity is another earnest Christmas wish - is an arch pragmatist. Under her leadership Germany and the EU will probably seek to safeguard free trade and free movement as far as possible. Almost certainly they will agree a longer transition period than one year, and Johnson's statement that he will legislate to prevent this is meaningless since he now controls the legislature.
So maybe 2020 won't be a catastrophe. Although I'm still applying for that Cypriot passport because I am lucky enough to do so.
It also looks as if HS2, almost the only good thing to have achieved cross-party support in the last decade, will go ahead. Its construction should now be accelerated by building from the north as well as London. Then it might open in the 2020s and help make us look like a modern European country even as we leave the EU.
My Irish readers have even more reason to be cheerful. Not only is Northern Ireland effectively avoiding Brexit, but the sensible SDLP and Alliance parties did well in the election at the expense of the bitterly sectarian DUP. It looks as if devolution will now be restored and the threat of renewed paramilitary activity is diminishing.
Let all these positive things happen so that peace and goodwill spread abroad and, at home, Disraeli's two nations of rich and poor don't become the story of the 2020s. For the most poignant image of the election - and for Christmas - was of the polling station in a food bank.
Away with you Mr Scrooge. And a Happy Christmas to all my readers!
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