Saturday, 2 November 2019

I was unfair to Boris - an election is needed before Brexit

I now think I was unfair to Boris in my recent posts. He certainly wanted an election from the moment he became Prime Minister, despite saying he did not, and it might be that he could have got his WAB (Withdrawal Agreement Bill through Parliament), as Kenneth Clarke said, but it is also very possible that he could not have got it through intact. Philip Hammond in particular intended to sink it by amending the bill to require the UK to staying a customs union with the EU. James Forsyth, the very good Spectator journalist, wrote in this week's issue,
'...there were no better options for the Prime Minister. The alternative to this election was trying to pilot his Brexit deal through the Commons without a majority, having been defeated already on the timetable. His loss on the Brexit programme motion last week was a clear indication that he could not have got a clean bill through the Commons. If he had persisted down this route, he would have been left with the unappetising choice of either pulling the bill or accepting amendments that were designed to undercut the changes he had secured.'
Charles Moore thinks the same.

Had Sir Oliver Letwin, with typical clever silliness, not stopped the Prime Minister in his tracks and broken his momentum, the UK might indeed have left the EU on the 31st. This suggests to me that Boris is capable of being a remarkable Prime Minister, as remarkable as Tony Blair or Margaret Thatcher. But he now has to win an unpredictable election.

At least electors will understand why an election has been called, unlike in 2017. Unlike Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn then, Boris Johnson and Mr Corbyn are known quantities. But all will depend on tactical voting, of which I imagine there will be much more than ever before.

Three politicians have transformed the UK since 1945 more than any others, including Tony Blair or Margaret Thatcher. They are Edward Heath, who took the UK into the EEC, Nigel Farage without whom the Brexit referendum would never have happened and Alex Salmond who almost made Scotland an independent country. 

All political careers end in failure, as Enoch Powell famously said, because that is the nature of politics and of human affairs, but their careers ended in much greater failure
than most. Mr Salmond goes on trial in January for attempted rape. Mr Farage, by promising yesterday to put up candidates in every seat in the country unless Boris gives up on his deal, has become the Remain camp's last best hope.

Nigel Farage's proposal for a free trade agreement has much to be said for it but it would never get through any House of Commons one can imagine being elected. The UK does not have proportional representation in elections. The Brexit Party is not going to win even one seat , let alone 320, but it could prevent the Tories from winning and Brexit from ever happening.

Richard North explains Farage's stance is an example of 'groupthink', the subject of Christopher Booker's last book which he is completing.

'You cannot reason a man out of a view that he has acquired without the application of reason, as the aphorism goes (attributed to Jonathan Swift). Because Farage's views are not based on objective reality, no amount of objective argument will change them.'

The book on groupthink is badly needed now. Groupthink explains a great deal about the political obsessions about the danger to Europe from Vladmir Putin, climate change, transgender and a slew of other things. People who are convinced that mass migration from the Third to First World is a good thing for everybody do not do so because of any rational process, which explains why so many intelligent people do so (click here).

This really is the most important election since 1945 and the most unpredictable. Incidentally, Boris might become the first Prime Minister to lose his seat in Parliament and the first Tory leader to do so since A.J. Balfour in 1906. Jo Swinson, who has a very small majority, might follow the precedents of Asquith and Sir Archibald Sinclair in losing hers. 

Britain is, however, stuck with Jeremy Corbyn and Nicola Sturgeon.


  1. I think Farage is working on the assumption that Boris is utterly untrustworthy. That seems like a sound assumption to me.

    I have no time at all for Farage but on this point I think he's correct.

    1. What do you have against those two?

      Boris is a Churchill figure - a man entirely lacking in even the rudiments of morality. He's not even capable of understanding the concept of morality. And like Churchill he seduces people who see him as a loveable rogue, even as he's knifing them in the back.

      Farage is ruling class to the core. For him Brexit means Thatcherism on steroids. Which will be very good for his chums in the City.

      You have to remember that while I'm an extreme social conservative and I believe in the necessity of religion I'm no Tory. I have a certain respect for old school Tories but I despise the New Tories as much as I despise New Labour. The New Toryism is based on nothing more than greed.

      Boris and Farage are also both Atlanticists, which worries me a great deal. And they're both extreme social liberals.