Michael Gove, your country needs you!
Friday, November 16, 2018 at 9:57
Simon Clark

Despite everything, a lot of people are crediting Theresa May for her ‘hard work’, ‘grit’ and ‘resilience’.

Pity that hard work didn’t include making proper preparations for a ‘no deal’ scenario.

That should have begun even before Article 50 was deployed. The shocking failure to do so removed one of the UK’s strongest bargaining tools and weakened our position with the outcome we see today.

If deliberately undermining the two Secretaries of State she appointed to handle Brexit is evidence of grit and determination, so be it.

As for her resilience, I saw very little on the question of the Irish border. Neither Ireland nor the UK want a hard border. If unelected EU bureaucrats want to impose such restrictions that’s up to them. We should have challenged them to do so and be responsible for the consequences.

Ploughing on when it’s clear you’re not up to the job (the General Election campaign was a clue) is not a show of ‘resilience’, it’s pig-headedness.

The election destroyed her authority and it’s been downhill ever since.

I don’t doubt Theresa May’s sincerity. I do believe she’s doing what she thinks is right. But so did Chamberlain and, like him, her strategy is to kick the problem down the road while waving a piece of paper - or, in her case, a 500-page withdrawal document.

To be fair to Chamberlain, some historians credit him with buying Britain time to prepare for war and that ultimately saved us from invasion, but you get my point.

I don’t want to overplay the Chamberlain analogy (which I appreciate may be a little crass) but if May’s strategy is to play for time so we eventually get the Brexit 17.4 million people voted I’d have a bit more sympathy. But I don’t think it is. For her, this is it, the ‘best’ we can hope for.

Take back control. A clean break with the EU. That’s what the British people voted for in the referendum. And the prime minister, a Remainer, has not delivered.

Then again the Brexiteers have been a shambles, a disunited rabble with no clear vision torn apart by raging egos (David Davis, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, even Jacob Rees Mogg, to name a few).

Today, Michael Gove must resign and coordinate the resistance to this Whitehall/Brussels stitch-up. We need a genuine Brexiteer to mastermind a new agreement (which the EU will resist) or have the courage to walk away.

But Gove can’t do it alone. He needs Boris to stop hiding behind his Telegraph column and return full-time to the political fray.

Yes, I still think Boris is the man for the hour in terms of selling this to the British public with his optimism and quirky eccentricities.

In that regard he could probably do a better job as PM while leaving Gove, his deputy, to handle the details of our withdrawal from the EU.

Gove also needs every other leading Brexiteer to put aside their differences and line up behind him. And he needs to challenge the prime minister to a leadership contest.

What we don’t need, at this juncture, are the ‘sensible’ but dull candidates, the ‘safe pair of hands’ offered by Hunt or Hammond.

Nor is it the moment for the likes of Sajid Javid or Dominic Raab who may be the future but are inexperienced and are no political heavyweights (if such a thing exists in Britain today).

After two years of muddle and misrule we need optimism, a clear vision, and negotiators who believe in Britain, in Brexit, and want to achieve more than damage limitation.

Go, Michael. Your country needs you!

Update: Ten minutes after I posted this, the BBC reported ‘Michael Gove decides not to quit cabinet‘.

Another politician with no cojones. Sad.

Article originally appeared on Simon Clark (http://taking-liberties.squarespace.com/).
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