The Brexit Party’s candidates list for the imminent General Election shows it means business. Phew!
Without Nigel Farage and co to hold his feet to the fire, it’s a racing certainty that Boris Johnson will let us down badly in a number of key areas.
Apart from the obvious – all that expensive and pointless climate change nonsense to which he is committed under his rubbish predecessor’s Net Zero carbon dioxide policy – there are two things I find most especially worrisome about this new administration.
First is its focus on the ‘backstop’. To listen to the way Boris’s ministers carry on about it – even really sound ones who ought to know better, like Jacob Rees-Mogg – you would imagine that the backstop was the only flaw in Theresa May’s otherwise marvellous Withdrawal Agreement. Given how tightly muzzled the Cabinet is under Dominic Cummings’s ‘One word out of turn from you, matey, and it’s piano wire time’ policy, it seems reasonable to assume that these public statements are part of a softening up exercise.
We – the malleable public – are being conditioned into accepting the government’s propaganda myth that once the backstop is gone Britain will have won a famous victory.
No, it won’t have. As Boris once said — when it served his interests to be more frank on the issue — Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement is a ‘polished turd.’
Brexit Party Ramps up the Pressure on Boris Johnson, Announces New Parliament Candidates https://t.co/G48UP8njKr
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) August 5, 2019
Even discounting the backstop — a fake problem scribbled by Remainers on the back of a fag packet in order to shoehorn the Irish Troubles into the long list of Project Fear pretend reasons why Brexit will be a disaster — the Withdrawal Agreement is effectively a capitulation to Brexit In Name Only.
As Brexit Party MEP Andrew England Kerr tells me: “It would be better if we remained in the EU than have to leave on Withdrawal Agreement terms. At least we’d still have our MEPs on the inside, fighting like stink. This is just surrender and I’m worried that Boris is going to get away with it.”
Well indeed. The Withdrawal Agreement — as Martin Howe QC argues here — would subject the United Kingdom to a legally binding international treaty which “would be detrimental to the UK and which would make Brexit illusory.”
Most offensively, for example, Britain legal system would remain under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.
So that’s one of my big worries.
The other is HS2. There are lots of key players in Boris Johnson’s “Ministry of Sound” cabinet — from Michael Gove and Priti Patel to Liz Truss — who know perfectly well that HS2 is a runaway train wreck of a disaster which will do for the British economy (and the countryside it is going to despoil) what the Tay Bridge did for poetry and rail travel in the 19th century Dundee region.
It’s a massively expensive white elephant, mired in dishonesty and maladministration, which will irreparably scar swathes of the English countryside to no obvious economic benefit. Already over budget, its costs, as Boris himself has admitted, will “probably be north of £100 billion.”
Yet Boris is minded not to scrap it because he likes big infrastructure projects.
That’s why, instead of appointing a genuinely independent review which would subject the project to a thorough (and much-needed) cost-benefit analysis, he has given the job to a long-time friend of HS2, one Douglas Oakervee.
According to the Telegraph, this appointment is the equivalent of “marking his own homework.”
Delingpole: Boris’s First Electoral Defeat Is Good News for Brexit https://t.co/i0DFksKWPa
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) August 2, 2019
None of this means I’m having second thoughts on Boris. As I argued in my first piece after he became Prime Minister, Boris will succeed in some areas and disappoint in others. But he definitely needs to be watched like a hawk if he’s not going to go all squishy on us.
I’m concerned to note, for example, that the European Research Group — the sound wing of the Tory party — isn’t feeling wholly comfortable about his direction of travel at the moment. By putting key members – notably Mogg – on the government payroll, Boris has made it harder for the ERG to resist, en masse, the threat of a watered-down Brexit deal.
It wasn’t a good sign when Boris lowballed the most robust and honest Brexiteer in the parliamentary party – Steve Baker MP – by fobbing him off with a meaningless non-job in his administration, which Baker had no choice but to turn down.
Baker himself is touchingly loyal to the regime.
He tells me:
“Boris Johnson is doing a fantastic job bringing dynamism to politics and reinvigorating the entire country.”
Well, I largely agree with that analysis. But I also think that the only way Boris is going to be persuaded to do the right thing if all the other options are closed.
“If he wants a working majority in the next election, he has got to do a deal with Farage,” insists Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen.
Let’s just hope hubris — and the siren voices like of commentators like The Sun‘s Trevor Kavanagh who seems to think that The Brexit Party’s fox has already been shot — doesn’t fool him into thinking he can go it on his own.
If Boris is to lead Britain to its own Trumpian revolution – and he can and he must – then the last thing he should be allowed to do is anything that smacks of centrist compromise. And Britain’s last best hope of stopping that happening is a powerful, uncompromising Brexit Party.