Monday 27 February 2023

The Triumph Before the Tragedy

Rishi Sunak is probably the most politically flat-footed Prime Minister since ... Liz Truss. But not everything has to be 4D chess. Simple crudity can and does work. In selling his Northern Ireland Brexit deal, there were two very clumsy, clod-hopping moves that made Gordon Brown look the picture of subtlety. We had Sunak's address in the Commons this evening. Showing an uncharacteristic appreciation of his backbenchers and their peccadilloes, he sold his deal with the EU as an exercise in cutting red tape. The successful conclusion of the negotiations, he said, deleted 1,700 pages of EU law. That sounds good to them, and looks good if you want to style out the rest of this calamitous Tory government as something of a "reformer" who doused hundreds and hundreds of regulations in petrol.

The second was a bit too much on the nose, even for Sunak. We noted yesterday the aborted weekend meeting between the King and EU president Ursula von der Leyen, and how Brexiteers and the DUP cried themselves a river over it. Associating the King with the deal was an obvious attempt at emotional blackmail against two political tendencies who define themselves in relation to the Crown. It was therefore not enough for the tea and tiffin to actually go ahead this Monday afternoon. To almost dare them to vote against the deal it has now been christened the 'Windsor Framework'.

What a clunker of a strategy, but it seems to have worked. Most of the Brexity voices have made emollient noises, with the ERG promising to look carefully at the text of the deal. Even the DUP aren't united in intransigence. Boris Johnson, who kept the running sore of the Northern Ireland Protocol open purely for political posturing purposes has kept a low profile and chose to stay away from the Commons. He's decided not to lead an assault on the deal. With Labour and the Liberal Democrats, and perhaps the SNP all backing the Prime Minister, the Tory right, who've been flexing of late might not choose this as their hill to stand on either. Sunak, therefore, has the first genuine triumph of his premiership. And one that, ultimately, will do nothing to save his government.


Dipper said...

Brexiteer here.

This is an excellent deal. It delivers what we were repeatedly told was impossible, something that we were told the EU would never sign up to. It normalises relationships between the EU and the UK with the EU recognising the UK as a separate independent European nation. It's a complete win.

Re the previous post, it is critical to remember that the Letwin-Benn act (aka The Surrender Act) meant we could only leave on terms the EU approved, hence the NI Protocol. The Protocol was always temporary as it contained a clause that required a vote to maintain it.

Brexiteers were repeatedly told that the NI couldn't leave the EU as that would mean border posts. We consistently pointed out that in the modern world customs checks do not take place in a shed on the Newry-Dundalk road. And hey presto, NI is out of the EU with not a border post in sight. That's a complete win.

Anonymous said...

@Dipper. Take Sunak's **** out of your mouth for a second and you will realise that this is exactly what was proposed in (checks notes) 2017. Your fellow-loony DUP/ERG nutters have been the ones holding it up.

Nik said...

Not sure "almost as good as before - and it only took 7 years!" is quite the feather in the cap you make it out to be Dipper but whatever works for you

Dipper said...

@ Anonymous - can you reference that?

Anonymous said...

Let's see if the DUP and loyalists are as convinced as Dipper is that there are no border posts in sight.

Dave Levy said...

You focus exclusively on the Tories. This deal allows Sunak and the Tories to claim, they “Fixed Brexit” and if Starmer doesn’t respond may lead to the Tories being more effective advocates of good relations with the EU than Labour.

None of this addresses, lack of foreign investment, capital flight, food and labour shortages; next we need to fix the trade borders in Kent, and the other ports and even Starmer wants to sell the EU consultancy services.