It is not, as a general rule, advised for internal political dramas to play out in public.
It is especially not wise for those internal dramas, rather appropriately described by Labour as “cats fighting in a sack,” to play out at the same time as the Government is (in theory) battling a global pandemic, recession, and impending changes to our relationship with our largest trading partner that will reshape our economy for decades.
But, alas, that is where we are.
The unedifying sight of the Prime Minister’s various advisers scrapping for influence has turned what could have been a good week for Number 10 turn into yet another debacle that rather begs the question of quite what is going on in Downing Street.
It does not inspire much confidence as the UK approaches Brexit, with just 50 days to go. David Frost and his team appear to be doing their best – we don’t doubt there’s a genuine desire on both his and Michel Barnier’s side to strike some kind of deal.
But as we alluded to earlier this week, it is time for both sides to be flexible. In particular, it continues to trouble the City – as assets are shifted out of the country just-in-case – that any kind of deal appears to be hanging on fisheries and access to international waters.
We do not have anything against Britain’s fishermen, nor the towns that they come from.
But the idea that we could allow our financial services industry to be potentially fatally harmed just to increase our cod catch? Politically that may be seen as sensible in the short-term; in the medium- and long-term, it’s self-defeating madness.
Bang heads together
It should not be beyond the wit of a functioning Government and civil service (‘best in the world’) to look at those towns who have seen their core industries wane and put in place specific, targeted programmes to get those people into other work.
And similarly in Europe, heads must be banged together. The City provides liquidity across the continent, in or out of the European Union. German SMEs, Italian manufacturers – they’re all tied up here in some way or another.
At the heart of Downing Street’s personnel brouhaha is a decision they seem unable to make.
That’s whether Boris Johnson’s government is to live in permanent campaign mode, or whether it is to govern.
It is a similar story on Brexit. Politics would dictate that the fish come before finance. Pragmatism would dictate otherwise. We await, with bated breath, the Government’s choice.