Thursday 1 June 2017

The Woman Who Would Destroy Britain

Brexit is calamitous and regressive. But do you know what would be even worse? Ignoring a democratic vote and staying in the EU. That is why Labour were absolutely right to ignore the siren calls of the hard remainers, and why it will oversee Brexit if we're able to pull off the biggest political upset since 1945. However, the polls are against us still so I want to concentrate on the imminent danger: Theresa May's approach to Brexit. Not because she won't get a better deal than Labour. It's far more likely that she won't get a deal at all and crash us out of the EU. A disaster that doesn't bear thinking about.

In her trailed speech today, May returned to the Brexit theme. Anything to put distance between polling day and her abject cowardice. She talked about the "national mission", of talking up the opportunities of Britain and seizing a place for it in the international firmament. This will be a Britain that matters again, a Britain free to make its own opportunities and its own success. In her usual projection tactics straight from the Tory playbook, Labour "haven't got a plan", "doesn't have what it takes" and, bizarrely, "doesn't respect the decision made by the British people". The Maybot is clearly malfunctioning.

May's speech was a word stew designed to make good gravy for the right wing press and shore up her fracturing coalition. Unfortunately, her hardcore vote would guzzle up the Brexit dumplings rather than choke on them. But, again, that ominous and moronic phrase - no deal is better than a bad deal - keeps getting repeated. Like so much of the Tory manifesto, she refused to put specifics and a cost on what this actually means when she faced Paxo on Monday. And it's this vagueness that is so dangerous and makes the possibility of crashing out more likely.

Want my workings? Here you go. Repeatedly, the Tories have shown themselves utterly unfit to be the custodians of the interests they represent, let alone preside over the rest of the country. Since 2010, for example, the Tories cut public spending when the economy was crying out for stimulus. That meant jobs lost unnecessarily, hard times inflicted on millions, and a further deterioration of Britain's competitive position in world markets. Then we had Dave gamble Britain's future on a minor threat to the Tories in a handful of constituencies - and lost. And now May and her car crash election, wasting Article 50 negotiation time just to wrack up a few score more seats in the house. Petty minded and stupid about sums this lot up. They are not to be trusted.

With 'no deal is better than a bad deal', May has painted herself into a corner. Consider for a moment, who gets to define what is a good or bad deal? One that sees Britain hand over an annual sub for tariff free access to the single market, plus cooperation on science, security, trading standards and so on seems totally reasonable to me. However, May and her ghastly Brexit team - Boris Johnson, David Davis, and disgraced serving minister Liam Fox, are operating according to a different set of stakes. Details of the negotiations are going to leak like Trump's White House and the government are in for constant badgering by the right wing press. As soon as costs come in, they will splash them, particularly if the sums are large - which they will be. Ditto with Britain's Brexit bill. May will be under constant pressure to reject them. Furthermore, as she has set herself up as a "bloody difficult woman" the temptation to grandstand the EU27 will be too much. Thatcher had her Falklands moment, and May is not averse to cast herself as the mother of the nation standing up for British pluck against the continental monster. Never mind that she can't even stand up to Woman's Hour on Radio 4.

The sad truth of the matter is all the pressures on May, all the political capital she can reap will come from refusing to sign a deal. What small details the interests of our people and the health of British capitalism are compared to favourable Daily Mail headlines and wrapping the Tory party in the flag of British intransigence. The additional danger is the stupidly bellicose rhetoric indulged by the government is setting up the same dynamic for the EU27 negotiators. If May is behaving like a petulant child, so the political benefits of collapsing the talks and booting Britain out grows. Here too, remember, for their own short-sighted reasons the EU were (and still are) happy to destroy Greece's economy even though the interests of EU capital-in-general was and remains in a speedy return to solvency, not eternal debt and austerity.

These are the stakes then. It's not inevitably, but the stars are aligning for the most ruinous of Brexits and no deal with the EU. That will damage economies across Europe, but would prove to be a catastrophe for our faltering recovery. A Conservative government led by Theresa May makes this all the more likely, and why she must be stopped.


Baden said...

The 'No deal' point is a very good one and undoubtedly true.
Tho there is a Slavov Zizek part of me (though I think he is to a large extent a charlaton) which thinks her doing it and the consequences from it will help shift the political spectrum/awareness of people in a way that long term will be positive.

Shai Masot said...

"... Labour were absolutely right to ignore the siren calls of the hard remainers..." For clarity: you mean Corbyn was absolutely right to ignore the siren calls of the Tory-lite New Labour dinosaurs and the #chickencoup plotters.

Jason Hill said...

Not all remainers in the Labour Party were Tory-lites. There were also left remainders like myself.

MikeB said...

By "hard remainers", do you mean people who argued post referendum that the UK should remain in the EU under all circumstances? If so, then I am with you. But I still disagree with the line that Corbyn took in failing to provide any tangible alternative to the accelerated hard Brexit line the Tories adopted.

When they feel threatened and afraid of the future, poor and powerless people tend to look for stability and predictability - even when they can see that times will be predictably hard. Colluding with an accelerated Brexit intensified the sense of impending threat and made May's "strong and stable" tagline viable.

Labour are doing better now partly because they are at last articulating a positive, concrete alternative to hard Brexit austerity (the neo-Blairites have shut up, thank ****), and partly because of the incompetence of the Tories and May in particular - she simply doesn't look "strong and stable" any more.

Shai Masot said...

#Jason Hill. I'm on the left of the party and I was a Remainer too. I do not support the New Labour dinosaurs and I did not support the #chickencoup. I suppose the point I was trying to make is that, if the #chickencoup plotters had got their way, we'd be polling LibDem numbers right now. We would be in Penistone and Stocksbridge anyway.