Diary Day 656: my part of the world wakes daily to the same blue sky, dry air and heat. Not having changeable weather is the change. We are not used to knowing there is no need for a jacket and umbrella in case it turns chilly or wet. The World Cup football tournament drags on interminably. These things benefit beer sales but a shortage of carbon dioxide to put bubbles in lager and fizzy drinks worries the hospitality sector.
Politically there is a curious absence of things happening. There is just waiting. We wait for the Prime Minister and her rebellious rabble of a Cabinet to meet for a blood-letting at Chequers. We wait for publication of the long-touted White Paper which is to set out the Government’s positions on Brexit.
EU officials are rumoured to have seen a draft and already rejected it as “cake”, a word that is now a portmanteau expression for any unrealistic or far-fetched demand. As before, essentially the UK Government seeks to get the benefits of three pillars of the Single Market without the fourth, namely freedom of movement for people, and without ECJ supervision.
It is all cake, the whole Brexit concept that was sold to the British public for decades by the ill-informed, intellectually lazy, ideologically obsessed Tory Right. Admittedly at the time when the narrow majority of British voters bought this dodgy product they were assuming that they would have someone rational in the White House in Washington DC to negotiate a free trade deal with. But that has turned out to be cake as well. Donald Trump’s idea of America First turns out to be to pick fights with America’s allies, such as its loyal friend and neighbour Canada, start a trade war and force the Wisconsin motorcycle maker Harley Davidson to move manufacturing for European customers to Europe. His attempts to divide and rule the EU were crass. The prudent response is to do what the EU is doing – stick together and face down the bully. All except for the UK. It’s not looking good for the little UK on its own after Brexit.
The Electoral Commission has not yet announced findings that Vote Leave broke the law when it passed £600,000 to BeLeave, but the Vote Leave Director Matthew Elliott, now of the propaganda outlet Brexit Central, has gone public with the Commission’s initial findings before the Commission had finalised its work. The best form of defence, he doubtless thinks, is to get his attack in first. Well, he knows a thing or ten about unfair tactics. In September 2016 I saw him smile impassively when accused by a roomful of journalists of selling a pack of lies in the Vote Leave campaign. Which of course he had done. He’d be an interesting psychological case study.