Although I may not agree all the politics, having personally met with Tony Abbott a couple of years ago as an invited guest at a House of Lords meeting I readily admit to having become something of a fan of the former leader of Australia’s Liberal Party and Prime Minister of Australia between 2013 and 2015.
Yesterday in an interesting if hardly surprising foray into the UK General Election campaign Tony Abbott campaign claimed that a Jeremy Corbyn-led government would lead to the disintegration of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance. Writing a strongly worded column in the Sunday Telegraph he said that under Mr Corbyn’s leadership “Britain’s economy would shrivel; Britain’s military strength would disappear and – except to a small coterie of left-wing cranks to whom it would be the veritable New Jerusalem – Britain’s soft power would be at an end.’’
Mr Abbott didn’t elaborate detail in regard of ‘Five Eyes’ arrangements but, as I had mentioned last week, for those who might not know this is primarily based on intelligence sharing co-operation between the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, New Zealand and Australia.
In his article Mr. Abbott stressed that: “the Corbyn platform of a crackdown on private schools, widespread renationalisation of industry, confiscatory taxes on the middle class, the effective withdrawal of Britain from NATO, and the disintegration of the Five Eyes security partnership – even though each of these are appalling enough – would not be the worst of it.’’ The worst, he said, would be “the effective sabotage’’ of the referendum result for the UK to leave the European Union.”
Mr Abbott, who was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford, studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics in the early 1980s, claims that Mr Corbyn’s “vague, cowardly’’ and self-interested positions on Brexit were a calculated distraction.
As had been very visible last week at the NATO leaders meeting in London, the British public is understandably sceptical of overseas politicians making their views known. Of previous note when this had occurred include former US president Barack Obama supporting the then Prime Minister David Cameron and the ‘Remain’ element during the 2016 Brexit campaign.
Both Mr Abbott and the Australian high commissioner to the UK, George Brandis, both spoke warmly in favour of Boris Johnson at the Tory party conference in October. Mr Brandis went one stage further referring to Mr Johnson as “cometh the hour, cometh the man’’.
In the Sunday Telegraph column, Mr Abbott wrote that Mr Corbyn desired to become prime minister by hook or crook and then wanted to oversee the transition of Great Britain into something like the old East Germany.
In the Sunday Telegraph article Mr. Abbott wrote that Mr Corbyn’s plans would be complete “with Stasi, anti-Semitism, and dreadful homemade cars’’. He went on to attack Mr Corbyn’s “nostalgia for the Soviet era’’ as “evidence of a form of intellectual and moral disorder’’ adding that “You can’t take anyone seriously as a potential British leader when his first instinct after the Salisbury poisonings was to believe the Russian dictator rather than his own police investigators.‘’
Mr Abbott also grieved for the mess of a Brexit deal that the previous Conservative government under Theresa May came up with – an agreement he suggested that would have made the UK a “virtual economic colony of Europe’’.
But he said prime minister Boris Johnson believed in Britain, will definitely leave the EU, and will then work to finalise free trade and fair movement of people between a fully sovereign Britain and the countries of the EU. Mr Abbott also remarked that there was much to admire in the Blair Labour government because it stood up for Western values abroad and moved the state towards being a purchaser of health and education services rather than just a near-monopoly supplier.
“Doubtless” that “Jeremy Corbyn is a nice enough man at one level; but, if ever given power, his ideas will debauch a great country.’’
Back in September Mr. Abbott had suggested that a trade deal between the UK and Australia should be “signed, sealed and delivered” within months. In a separate speech at the centre-right think tank Policy Exchange in London back then he said: “A full economic partnership between Britain and Australia – restoring the almost completely unrestricted commerce that we enjoyed for 150 years, and allowing Britons and Australians, once again, to experience each other’s wonderful countries and lives – would be about the best 2019 Christmas present either of us could have”.
While I do not necessarily agree with all the following comments made by Mr. Abbott he continued by telling his audience that Europe’s bloodstained history meant there were obvious grounds for a close alliance between one-time foes and said the old ECC – a European free trade zone promoting mutual prosperity between neighbours – made sense. But he said the trading bloc’s “evolution by stealth” had been planned by those who wanted to create a new entity that commanding more loyalty than its member states.
Insisted failing to leave the European Union after the country backed Brexit in June 2016 would be a “national humiliation” he said that “Remainers may concede that Britain will leave the political union, but all insist it must stay in the economic one, because, deep down, they fear Britain can’t cope on its own.
“Against Louis XIV, Napoleon, Wilhelm II and Hitler, this country saved Europe. This is the home of the mother of parliaments, the industrial revolution and the world’s common language. “No country should be more capable of standing on its own two feet. We must remember this, amid the diclinism and defeatism, because if Brexit fails, Britain fails.”
Answering questions from the audience, Mr Abbott said he was in no doubt who would prevail in an election battle between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn. He said: “I would think that the easiest election to fight and win is an election where you are saying to the people ‘I’m on your side’.
“So, if it an election that pits the Parliament versus the people and the people’s champion, well I know which side I’d rather be working for. The next few weeks he suggested will be full of political fury as ‘Remainers’ plot to sabotage Brexit or to turn it into a self-vindicating disaster. They will, he said “fail though because in the end there won’t be enough of them to usurp a democratic vote, to sacrifice their country for short-term political gain and to put Europe before Britain.”
Mr Abbott then quoted the Bible, saying: “As the scripture says ‘He who puts his hand to the plough and then turns back is not worthy of the Kingdom’.”
CHW (London – 9th December 2019)
Howard Wheeldon FRAeS
Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd,
M: +44 7710 779785