LEADING THE WAY OUT OF THE EU

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Tuesday 10 July 2018

Following Boris Johnson’s resignation as Foreign Secretary, the second major departure in twenty-four hours, momentum has finally slid back to our side.

The media say different, hailing Remainer Jeremy Hunt’s appointment as Boris’s replacement and pouring scorn on the former Mayor of London. Today’s Times editorial describes his departure as “neither unexpected, nor unwelcome,” while the Sun scorns the failure of Brexiteers in Cabinet to come up with a counterproposal to the dreadful “facilitated customs arrangement” forced through by the prime minister at Chequers on Friday.

Nice try, had Theresa May not closed out the possibility of border checks in Ireland with her equally dreadful withdrawal agreement with the EU in December, they may have had a platform to strike from. Instead, they did not.

Instead, the only course of action for Johnson, and twenty-four hours before him, David Davis, was to resign and fight from the backbenches. Davis had already been joined by DExEU minister Steve Baker, who in a Telegraph op-ed states unequivocally, under the Chequers plans there cannot be independent trade policy:

“The Common Rulebook would mean us adopting relevant EU law. And as I have seen this past year, the EU is not likely to allow us to implement their law or not as a matter of choice. They are likely to require a mechanism to bring EU law into the UK automatically…Under such a system, there is no realistic prospect of reaching trade agreements.”

Joining Baker, Davis and Johnson will not be Suella Braverman, as widely reported yesterday. Theresa May’s personal private Secretary, Chris Green will however.

In his resignation letter, Green borrowed Johnson’s use of the word “unambiguous” to authenticate what Britain’s direction of travel should be, compared to the disastrous course being taken by Mrs May.

“The British government has spent decades arguing against this or that EU directive, on the grounds that it was too burdensome or ill-thought out. We are now in the ludicrous position of asserting that we must accept huge amounts of precisely such EU law, without changing an iota, because it is essential for our economic health – and when we no longer have any ability to influence these laws as they are made,” complained Johnson in his resignation letter.

“In that respect we are truly headed for the status of colony – and many will struggle to see the economic or political advantages of that particular arrangement.”

It remains unclear how disruptive these men will be as they return to the backbenches. It is unlikely they will take the fight straight back to Number 10’s famous shiny black door until a leadership contest is in the offing, the source of Remainer smugness this morning.

The Conservative Party’s all-powerful 1922 committee met yesterday, but nothing has been forthcoming – the commentariat now claims Mrs May can weather the storm. Special mention to Andrea Jenkyns, who continues to impress after she signalled her intention to hand in a letter. Another 47 would trigger a leadership contest.

According to polling by YouGov, Jacob Rees-Mogg would win hands down in a run-off against any of the other potential contenders with the party membership. The difficulty for him will be getting onto the final ballot, he is still very much an outsider in Westminster. Nevertheless, his inspiring stewardship of the increasingly powerful European Research Group has burnished his credibility no end and he continues to toe a very clever line, criticizing Theresa May’s policy rather than the leader herself – no need for that until a contest is in the offing – peppering his polite speech with severe warnings.

Appearing on Newsnight, the Brexit hero advised the prime minister against relying on opposition votes to get her treasonous proposal through: It is very, very dangerous territory for prime ministers to rely on opposition votes,” said Rees-Mogg.

He has Nigel Farage’s support. “He could capture the public imagination,” the former UKIP leader told TalkRadio yesterday.