Next week’s vote in the House of Commons to either accept or throw out their Lordships’ amendments to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill has all the appearance of being the defining moment for what type of relationship we are likely to have with the EU.
As is usual with everything to do with Brexit, to have any sense of what is at stake it is first necessary to strip away the falsehoods, scaremongering, and self-serving bias that wraps such a fug of confusion around the issues.
It was with incredulity that I read the mayor of London’s plea in yesterday’s City A.M. for MPs elected on manifestos of leaving the Single Market and customs union to support the unelected Lords amendments that break constitutional convention and turn democracy on its head – but then drowning politicians clutch at any straw to save their careers from sinking.
I cannot state it any plainer than to write that, taking account of all the political developments since the British people voted to “take back control”, the greatest threat to economic success and prosperity for the City, London, and the UK is no longer Brexit.
In descending order, the real threats to London and the UK are: Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister with John McDonnell as chancellor; Sadiq Khan’s failure to deal with “Lawless London’s” crime wave happening on his watch and trashing the city’s reputation; and a bad Brexit that satisfies no one and leaves the country as rule-takers, still dictated to by politicians and courts outside our nation.
The problem with regional politicians in the UK who have a good conceit of themselves is that they neglect their day job while pontificating on the national and international stage.
As education and health deteriorates in Scotland and crime escalates in London, the likes of Nicola Sturgeon and Khan – as well as Corbyn, Tony Blair, Nick Clegg, and Andrew Adonis – actually make a bad Brexit all the more likely.
Every time these Remainers meet Jean-Claude Juncker or Michel Barnier, they undermine the case for what they claim they want: a soft Brexit.
Some are blatantly seeking to overturn the peoples’ decision by forcing a second referendum, others claim that they simply wish to keep us in the Single Market.
So long as special pleas are made to Brussels, Barnier can put his feet up and hold back from negotiating.
In a revealingly partisan interpretation, Khan alleges that the Tories are working for a hard Brexit – when it must be apparent to everyone except him that it is Theresa May who has made all of the important concessions: offering £40bn for nothing in return, agreeing to a transition period that may yet be extended further, embarrassingly going back and forth between Brussels and London after not consulting the DUP – then blinking first by accepting a needless backstop about Irish border arrangements.
The EU has been in the driving seat since May lost her majority in last year’s election – and since then Khan, Corbyn and the Labour party have had the scent of her blood in their nostrils. Now they contort themselves into any Brexit policy change in an attempt to bring the government down.
Last September I wrote in these pages that Labour had more positions than can be found in the Kama Sutra. Nine months on, Corbyn is into his second volume. The Joy of Brexit it is not.
Talking London down and suggesting cataclysmic job losses predicted by doomsayers should be beneath the mayor. I do not believe that seeing London prosper under Brexit is his top concern – winning a second mayoral term and being well-positioned to replace Corbyn if there’s a vacancy is the priority.
To see London prosper, I prefer the work of City economists Gerard Lyons and Roger Bootle – and others like Paul Ormerod and Graeme Leach – who have looked at the opportunities as well as the risks and regularly explain how the capital can do very well out of Brexit, so long as open and liberal policies are pursued.
When we look at the evidence of job creation and investment against what the scaremongers were telling us, the optimists have been closer to the mark.
Our MPs must look to their manifestos and remember what they promised – to do anything else is to reward the fifth columnists who work for Brussels, not Britain.