Well, well, well, - politically, it seems that it’s all ‘going off’ at the moment, what with one thing and another. For instance, I always keep a sort of running note of various political themes I want to cover in my Sunday politics column. Usually, my notes run to a few scattered scribblings in a small notebook which remind me off what I might write about when staring at my Bulletin deadline.
However, this week I seem to have filled page after page with random political events that have caught the occasional headline over the past week. In no particular order we’ve had the publication of former Premier, David Cameron’s, juicy political reminiscences that have combined low political skulduggery and accusations of gross disloyalty aimed at Messers Johnson and Gove. If that wasn’t bad enough, it appears that Cameron may well have upset Her Majesty the Queen over various indiscretions. As this was all ‘kicking off’ - the Supreme Court was in session attempting to judge if the Prime Minister acted unlawfully when he prorogued parliament (i.e. shut it down) recently as a political act. Without being contrary - and knowing very little about their Lordships role in all this, I am tempted to ask a number of questions.
First up - one of the complainants, former Prime Minister, John Major, prorogued parliament himself when the 1990’s ‘cash for questions’ became more than a tad embarrassing. Furthermore, although I have nothing against the lady - why is it that businesswoman Gina Miller seems to be a regular visitor to the law courts - trying, it seems to overturn the referendum decision of more than 3 years ago? Hey, just asking!
REPORTERS ARE SUPPOSED TO REPORT YOU KNOW
As I move onto another scruffy page in my notebook - I scribbled down a note regarding a certain Omar Salem, who confronted Premier, Boris Johnson, over his daughter’s treatment in their local NHS hospital in North London. Mr Salem, it seems, was very vociferous and agitated as he confronted Mr Johnson about his government’s supposed indifference to the NHS. So far, so typical, I suppose.
However, there is somewhat of a subplot to this story. Interestingly, the very angry Mr Salem is a committed Labour Party activist who has worked for Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornbury - and apparently is a member of the Labour fringe grouping Momentum. However, more bile was excreted when the BBC’s Political Editor, Laura Kuenssberg, pointed out these facts about Mr Salem in a news bulletin. Indeed, some very ugly language was aimed at her, for some would say…just doing her job. What next? Well, there was that business whereupon Canadian Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau, had to apologise for racism, when appearing ‘blacked up’ not once but three times at the turn of the century at youthful parties. I know that he is nothing to do with British politics per-se - but, what joy, when an achingly ‘right-on’ politico come unstuck in such a fashion.
COME ON LABOUR - GET OFF THE FENCE
Where was I? Oh yes. Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, is still grimly trying to sit on the fence regarding Brexit and suggesting that he would continue to stay neutral on the matter, or until the Labour Party Conference tells him what to do and say in a week or so. Worryingly for Labour, former Home Secretary, Alan Johnson, a sane and sensible advocate for a clear Labour policy on Brexit - has warned that Labour could be “steamrollered” in any upcoming general election, if it doesn’t, or can’t make its position clear to the electorate. Just hoping that Brexit will go away - is not a policy, but a “fantasy” he has warned members. Quite the opposite - seems to be the position of the Liberal Democrats at the moment. New leader, Jo Swinson MP, has boldly told anyone who will listen that her party is the only party of Remain and if she should come to power, all Brexit measures would be revoked and Britain would stay within the European Union. However, although her position is clear and unequivocal, if Prime Minister Johnson, does manage to do a deal with the EU over leaving - he will have effectively “shot her fox” - because, what will she do at the next general election…negotiate to rejoin the EU again - I don’t think so do you? Well, I suppose you never know!
WE LIVE IN INTERESTING TIMES!
This week, we are being told by commentators and government officials that the ‘mood music’ in Brussels is changing. Is it really I wonder, or could it be just senior EU officials making sure that if Brexit disintegrates - they can’t be accused of last minute intransigence? Either way, there has been a definite softening of the language of negotiation.
Confusingly, earlier last week the Prime Ministers of Luxembourg and Finland, apparently egged-on by President Macron, became a little hysterical and made all manner of accusations and implied threats towards Mr Johnson and the British negotiating team.
This was a little unseemly at the time and I noticed a great deal was made of it by committed ‘Remainers’ via social media - but, with due respect - an ear-bashing by Luxembourg’s PM ain’t in any way, going to be a game-changer. Moreover, those at the very centre of the negotiations, seem to be giving themselves ‘wriggle room.’
Sky News journalist - Sophie Ridge’s fascinating interview with Jean-Claude Juncker was truly surprising; opening-up as it did “compromise areas” that could be discussed in terms of the Northern Ireland backstop. I have mentioned this before in these columns - but, I genuinely think that British politicians have underestimated the solidarity of Europe’s 27 thinking perhaps that at some stage this togetherness would crumble because of self-interest - it hasn’t and I suspect that it will not. Unhappily, some silly ultra Brexiteers are already crowing about using No Deal as a threat has caused the EU to think again - even if it has, it is mostly juvenile and very unhelpful to make a point of it.
As I wind-up this glance at last week’s political happenings, I have this feeling that Boris Johnson could do a deal with the EU over Britain’s withdrawal. But, and it is a huge but - I have this nagging feeling that whatever he and his team and the EU come up with - it could well be kiboshed by, wait for it - elements of the ERG (European Research Group) and the DUP - who let’s face it - have never, ever, really wanted a deal anyway. We live in interesting times!