STEVE HILTON Britain needs LEADERS not idiots to sort out this Brexit deal and the fooling around must stop
There is no such thing as a 'soft Brexit' and 'fulfilling the vote' now requires preparing for a clean break and counteracting the inevitable short-term disruption, writes Steve Hilton
By Steve Hilton, Former Director of Strategy for David Cameron
29th November 2018
I HAVE a sticker on my laptop which was given to me by the founder of The Federalist, a Washington DC-based conservative website.
It says: “Consider the possibility we are led by idiots.”
This is what Theresa May, Amber Rudd and Philip Hammond would look like if there were dressed according to their current performances
When you look at the shambles Brexit has become, as far as Britain is concerned it’s not a possibility but a downright certainty.
Let’s review the idiocy.
It began with David Cameron stomping off in the biggest and most ruinous huff in history, leaving a sleep-deprived and shell-shocked Tory party scrambling to find a new leader overnight.
Then Boris Johnson and Michael Gove threw away a golden opportunity as potential PM and deputy to achieve the vision of a positive, outward-looking, go-getting, post-Brexit Britain.
David Cameron and Boris Johnson also played a role in the long Brexit 'idiocy' of the last two years
Over a bizarre few days they stabbed each other in the back, shot themselves in the foot and indulged in whatever other self- (and nation-) harming metaphor you can think of.
Their antics landed us with hapless and hopeless Theresa May, so desperate to prove she could deliver Brexit despite opposing it that she rushed into announcing the end-point without the faintest idea how to get there.
More misguided Remainer pandering came from then-Home Secretary Amber Rudd, with her ludicrous plan to force businesses to list their foreign workers.
This offensive announcement alienated Remain voters who might have given Brexit a chance and helped set in stone the horrible divisiveness of the past two years.
Theresa May took over as British prime minister after David Cameron resigned after the UK voted to leave the EU in 2016
As Foreign Secretary, Boris made one gaffe after another, starting with the most heinous: Sticking to his silly remark about having your cake and eating it — guaranteed to wind up the EU bigwigs and make them even more determined to give Britain a rotten deal.
On and on the idiocy has gone — from Philip Hammond trying to prove his discredited Project Fear predictions were right all along by being the most anti-business.
Conservative Chancellor anyone can remember, to Matt Hancock’s hysterical claims about people dying from a lack of medicines if we leave the EU without a deal. He is the Health Secretary, for God’s sake. Why doesn’t he get the medicines, instead of issuing stupid threats?
At least Michael Gove’s pitiful descent into Project Fear ignominy, with his own Hancockian warning about running out of drinking water, turns out to be fake news — or so I’m told.
And where has all this left us?
Britain's Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Michael Gove
With a Brexit “deal” that is not really a deal and doesn’t actually deliver Brexit. The transition period leaves Britain subject to most EU rules, and there is no agreement on what comes next — just an agenda for more negotiations.
How dare Mrs May say last Sunday, “The British people don’t want to spend any more time arguing about Brexit. They want a good deal that fulfils the vote”?
Her plan guarantees years more “arguing about Brexit” and obviously doesn’t fulfil the vote. I know politicians spin everything but this is in a different league. It’s not spin, Prime Minister — what you are saying is a bare-faced lie, and you know it.
It is also disgraceful that the civil service is helping push out this lying propaganda at taxpayers’ expense with its Cabinet Office “Project Vote” operation.
Chancellor Philip Hammond begged businesses to back Theresa May's Brexit deal
But we shouldn’t be surprised. The senior civil service has catastrophically mishandled Brexit all along, finally exposing as self-serving fiction the idea that it is the professional, reliable guardian of the national interest, there to save the nation from the half-baked schemes of here today, gone tomorrow politicians.
Yes indeed: “Consider the possibility we are led by idiots.”
But now what, you might say. It’s easy to criticise — what would you do?
Well, I’ve said it before (first in October 2016): Pursuing a “deal” with the EU is a waste of time. Of course you can’t stay in the single market but regain control of immigration. Of course you can’t stop paying membership fees but still set the rules. And as President Trump noted, of course you can’t strike new trade deals unless you fully leave.
Amber Rudd is back in the cabinet as Department of Work and Pensions Secretary
There is no such thing as a “soft Brexit”. There is Brexit, without adjectives — or staying in the EU in some form. “Fulfilling the vote” now requires two things: Preparing for a clean break and counteracting the inevitable short-term disruption.
Disgracefully, and cynically, the Government refused to prepare for a clean break over the past two years, so now we are behind. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do it — it just means an all-out effort must be made, and if necessary the exit date pushed back.
However solid the preparations, though, there is bound to be economic turbulence. But here too, we can be proactive. The Government could almost instantly make Britain the world’s top destination for business and investment.
Slash corporation tax and regulations. Roll out the red carpet for entrepreneurs, scientists, investors. Commit to building the world’s most modern infrastructure and best-trained workforce.
Boris quit as Foreign Secretary on July 9 in a killer blow to Theresa May's government
Business hates uncertainty more than anything. That is why Theresa May’s deal is a disaster — it prolongs uncertainty.
A clean break and a radical pro-enterprise agenda would end uncertainty and counteract the short-term shock of departure.
Once we have left, and shown how dynamic post-Brexit Britain can be, we will have much more leverage to negotiate a trade deal with the EU.
Objectors will say: This is fantasy — there is no majority in Parliament for a clean break. But there is no majority for anything else either, and in any case, with a clean-break scenario the EU Withdrawal Act does not require a vote that binds the Government.
Former PM David Cameron was the architect of the Brexit referendum but resigned after the country voted Leave
But perhaps the biggest question is: Who can make this happen?
My idea of bringing back Cameron went down like a lead balloon. After the Rees-Mogg rebellion flopped, we are stuck with Mrs May — even if she loses on December 11. No one can see a way out.
There is only one answer. Pro-Brexit MPs, inside and outside Cabinet, must develop a spine, step up and unite to offer a positive alternative. Unite to get rid of Theresa
May, then make the case with passion and conviction for a clean break and a radical pro-enterprise programme.
Right now, Britain needs leaders. Not idiots.