Tuesday’s Child is full of grace, Wednesday’s child is fair of face, Thursday’s child has far to go, Friday’s child is loving and giving, Saturday’s child works hard for a living…..and so on but what will the children or our children make of the Brexit botch I wonder?
Not much I fear is the answer to that. Sixty or seventy years from now they will probably be amazed that as a small island race, dependent on the rest of the world for a very large part of what we consume, that there were still those that believed we could attempt to cut ourselves free of the EU without agreeing a deal that would allow strong individual or collective relationships to be maintained and that unwittingly or otherwise, also damaged the concept of the NATO alliance.
Hopefully that situation may not arise but the one thing for certain is that we need to settle this now before this nation of ours is so split that it becomes ungovernable. Uncertainty breeds fear, fear can so easily bring on the unknown.
I suppose that If the wretched Brexit process has proved anything it is that the United Kingdom is today less united than at any point in its long history. Never, in my lifetime at any rate, have I seen so many diametrically opposed views being expressed or fought out in public. Never before have I seen Parliament in such disarray with no logical basis of conclusion either evident or likely. Worse perhaps is that it is not the issue of our decision to leave the EU that is splitting the nation but moreover, how we should the EU and what our future relations should be. Never in peacetime has leadership and discipline across the political divide been so exposed and found to be wanting!
I may well be wrong but why is it that I doubt that there has been a time since the Bay of Pigs (the failed attempt by CIA backed forces to overthrow the Cuban regime of Fidel Castro) and the subsequent Cuban Missile Crisis in 1961/2 that we have been gripped with fear of the unknown. Events in Westminster and Whitehall are troubling and I am in no doubt that Brussels needs to make some concessions. Of course, back in 1961/2 the Cuban crisis was a global crisis. That is not the case now although troubling events in France, Germany preparing for what appears to be one of those generational leadership, the US in continuing process of political challenge between the White House and the Hill, India heading for a political crisis of its own as the Modi administration looks down the barrel of potential defeat, all this before we remind ourselves of Russia and China. But, here at home, one thing and one thing only dominates, a Brexit crisis which is after all a self-made crisis but one that has split the nation right down the middle.
All crisis create fear – fear of the unknown. As to our own, well I am certainly not going to join the throngs of those who think they know the answer or at the very least, claim to and then speculate what happens from here. True enough, part of my work is to understand the ramifications of what is going on in Westminster, Whitehall and Brussels and provide a view but if I am completely honest, right now I haven’t got a clue what the likely outcome will be. Neither am I going to stick my neck out and suggest what I would like to see happen for fear of having my head bitten off by those wedded to a rather different view and perspective.
Spare a thought for industry though and where the current impasse is nothing short of being a recipe for disaster. Who in their right mind would invest in the UK right now with their being so much political and economic uncertainty?
Without doubt, the Prime Minister made a correct decision to pull the vote when she did. That said, the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow was also right to rebuke the decision to pull the vote on the basis I assume that it showed a contempt of Parliament. The Prime Minister is now in the Netherlands meeting its leader before heading off to see Germany’s leader and the leaders of the EU in an attempt to gain something on the vexing issue of Northern Ireland if nothing else. We must allow her the space she needs before proffering any more criticism. Tory MP’s, whatever their view is and whichever side of the Brexit fence they happen to be on, should sit on their hands until Mrs. May come back to the House of Commons presumably on Wednesday or Thursday. Right now the worst thing that any of us can do is speculate. We need to stop trying to play out a blame game here and accept, whether we like it or not, whether we care for the policy that the Prime Minister is trying to execute or not, that all she is trying to do and achieve is to ensure an orderly Brexit.
Labour too should be more aware that it equally split over the issue and that it has so far come up with little that could make a bad situation anything other than worse. Incessant interviews with MP’s who command little more knowledge on the subject than the rest of us do and that lead to dangerous and sometime unpleasant speculation about leadership battles, virtues or otherwise of holding another referendum are unhelpful at this time. Next week maybe not, but that is for another day.
I am heading to Scotland later today so ‘Commentary’ will reappear on Thursday.
CHW (London – 11th December 2018)
Howard Wheeldon FRAeS
Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd,
M: +44 7710 779785