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Wednesday 6 November 2019

With Parliament dissolved, the election campaign has official started, and it’s been a bad start for the Tories with the front pages (see below) attacking Jacob Rees-Mogg over Grenfell comments that have been badly skewed. On top of that, it has been reported that cabinet secretary, Sir Mark Sedwill has barred the Tories from publishing treasury analysis of Labour’s ruinous economic policies.

Labour’s economic policies are so intellectually bankrupt they don’t need the weight of the Treasury to say so, voters can see for themselves. Surely, the Tories have learnt from the dodgy forecasts they got government economists to cook up in 2016. Apparently not. 

Boris’s big piece in the Telegraph today, where he compares Jeremy Corbyn to Stalin has also come in for some slack although his assertion is entirely vindicated in our view.

The PM’s line of attack is entrepreneurial Britain must thrive if we are to pay for public services, Labour take the opposite view of course, stifle enterprise by raising taxes along with spending.

“When someone gets up at 5am to get their shop ready; when someone risks their savings on an idea or a new product; when someone has the guts to enter a new market – at home or abroad – we don’t sneer at them,” writes Boris.

“We cheer for them: because their success is our success; and the tragedy of the modern Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn is that they detest the profit motive so viscerally – and would raise taxes so wantonly – that they would destroy the very basis of this country’s prosperity. They pretend that their hatred is directed only at certain billionaires – and they point their fingers at individuals with a relish and a vindictiveness not seen since Stalin persecuted the kulaks [prosperous Russian peasants persecuted by the Soviet leader]. In reality they would end up putting up taxes on everyone: on pensions, on businesses, on inheritance, on homes, on gardens.”

Naturally, the Today programme felt Boris was coming on a little strong. Really? As we spelt out in last night’s newsletter Corbyn is a dangerous politican, a man who rubs shoulders with Hamas and Hezbollah, who favours a united Ireland and wished the Falklands had remained in Argentine hands. Boris is not dipping into hyperbole.

Frankly though, none of the above have much bearing on Britain’s future. For that, look no further than Michel Barnier’s announcement yesterday that an extension to the transition period under the May/Boris deal, currently scheduled for December 2020, will have to be extended.

The European Commission’s chief Brexit negotiator is angling after a Swiss-style arrangement that would Keep the United Kingdom aligned with EU rules and effectively retained within the Single Market.

“Our and the UK’s starting points are not necessarily the same. The UK may want to be able to diverge from EU rules in a ‘pick and mix approach’ by economic sector,” said Barnier at a speech in Portugal yesterday, adding that the EU would “not tolerate” British endeavours to gain a competitive advantage.

“The UK should not think that zero tariff, zero quotas will be enough,” he added, “The EU will insist on zero tariff, zero quotas, zero dumping.” 

“Summer 2020, in eight months, will already be a moment in truth on how far we have come and whether an extension of the transition will be needed.”

With the EU aims so transparent, it is incumbent on the Tories to respond by keeping No Deal on the table and ruling out an extension. A deal can be wrapped up in the space of twelve months. The UK is already in a deep trade agreement, it is simply a case of scaling it back and signing it off.

Encouraging therefore to learn that members of the ERG – who are also reported to be negotiating a pact with the Brexit Party – are pressing Downing Street for a commitment towards No Deal. The omens aren’t good however.

“Key ERG members have been lobbying Boris but Downing Street wants the focus to be on the wonders of the Prime Minister’s deal – they don’t want to be distracted or drawn into the previous arguments about deal or no deal,” said a senior Tory source.

“They want to say that the Conservative Party is completely lined up behind the deal, which has won the approval of Brexiteers and Remainers.

This is bad sign. While the Brexit Party remain firm, the Tories evidently feel they will eventually give in and stand their candidates down, which is why team Boris are softening their Brexit position in a bid to protect their seats in pro-Remain areas. It’s a very dangerous play.