An Amicable Divorce

An Amicable Divorce

Stuart Millson gets the Government’s Brexit strategy

Speaking last week on the Today programme, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt gave an upbeat assessment of the Prime Minister’s Brexit strategy. He cited both her Article 50 letter to EU President Donald Tusk, and her speech last March on her vision of a sovereign Britain closely aligned to its former EU partners. That such a view came from Jeremy Hunt was encouraging, as this former ally of David Cameron campaigned for Britain to stay a member of the Brussels club, and even called – just after the June 2016 referendum – for a second vote, but on the final terms of our exit, not a re-run of the initial referendum itself.

On 28th January, the former Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers warned that the Government’s negotiating strategy – which has attracted criticism from Brexiteers – is in danger of creating a situation whereby Britain leaves the EU in all but name, but remains, to all intents and purposes, a participant with special status. She has a point. After all, we now know that despite the return of the old British passport, Britain may well be subject to the jurisdiction of the European Court for longer than was supposed – although the period will be (or so we are told) up to nine years. Just how extensive will the exit be?

All things considered, Brexit now looks like a gradual process of give and take – perhaps with more give on the United Kingdom’s part. But although, like many on my side, I hoped for a clean break from Brussels, I begin to warm to the idea of a long goodbye to our former partners in what began as the Common Market. And I do so because this will repair the divisions in our country which followed the referendum – creating a consensus between practical Brexiteers and rational Remainers.

For there are several types of Eurosceptic: for example, there are those who believe that Brexit may set an example to other European countries, increasingly anxious about EU domination of their affairs. Last weekend, President Macron stated in a BBC interview that in 2016, a French referendum on EU membership might well have resulted in another leave vote – evidence that it is not just the supposedly “inward-looking” British who resist a European ‘President’, emblem and anthem.

Likewise, there are also at least two types of Remainers: the supporters of our staying with Europe, but without the “barmy” EU rules and fishing quotas – and the minority element of unadulterated Brussels enthusiasts, often referred to as Remainiacs, or better still, Remoonies, who favour the virtual disappearance of Britain in a super state.

The Government seems to have calculated that most Leave supporters would not mind if the rules of Brexit were stretched – that in order to facilitate a comfortable passage out of our 40-year involvement with the EU, we softened our stance somewhat, with “interim periods” and a more generous “divorce settlement”. Ministers, too, are aware of the moderate, still-disappointed Remainers, who have nevertheless accepted the referendum result and feel that it would be in everyone’s interests to proceed as quickly as possible with this final full year of negotiations. If the Government can maintain the interest and allegiance of these two camps, Brexit will command real support in the country, isolating those for whom Britain isn’t good enough – the Euro-flag-waving metropolitans, obsessed with their emerald city of Brussels – and creating a positive vision among patriotic, but (culturally) European-minded voters of an alternative to “Europe” as presently constituted.

We now have until March 2019 to secure the trade arrangements and political settlement that will define Brexit. Like other great events in our island story, notably the creation of the Church of England, part Protestant, part Catholic, wholly Anglican; the constitution following the Civil War; and the Glorious Revolution, creating a sovereign parliament but adorned with a crowned head of state and the trappings of royalty – compromise will be involved. It is right that this should be so, as it would be a tragedy for any of us to feel betrayed – be they those who voted to leave the EU, a situation now past the point of no return, or the significant number who value an enduring relationship with our friends in Europe.

Stuart Millson “remains” QR’s classical music critic

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4 Responses to An Amicable Divorce

  1. David Ashton says:

    As I said in a “Daily Mail” letter, the Conservatives are hanging on to nurse, for fear of someone worse; no Thatchers, Powells or Churchills to replace the politically correct “Matron” May, only “Boudoir” Bojo, “Go-Green” Gove and “Monsignor” Mogg (a female “equality” enthusiast!) – a political Goon Show if ever there was one, among the Brexiteers. They have little electoral hope unless they can outdo Comrade Corbyn in promising to increase the reserves of nurses, doctors, teachers and police – and houses.

    What should be the long-term object of national statesmanship? Control over our own domestic affairs, and a moratorium on inward migration and settlement from Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The British are Europeans, not an Islamic or Chinese nation. Our roots were in Europe and our future cannot be detached from our region. In removing controls from bureaucrats in Brussels we should not instead kowtow to Beijing. The continued running of an efficient Dutch railway line is one thing; a nuclear industry in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party is another. Without a vision, the people perish, and we are already pretty close to that fate.

  2. Stuart Millson says:

    I favour a sovereign Britain in a Europe of nations – a free France, free Denmark etc. A Europe of many flags, not the conformist, replacement Euro-flag; a Europe of electorates and ordinary people, not the self-interested financial elites or the latte-drinking leftists of London – the dreary citadel of Remainders and Remoonies. Glad to trade with others – we’ve always been on the high-seas, with our merchant navy, East Indiamen, Royal Navy, traders and explorers – from Dampier to Drake.

    Brexit is really Brentrance – our opening to a new world, and a new Europe. Let us hope that the peoples of Europe follow our example, and rebel against the dark towers of Brussels.

  3. Stuart Millson says:

    The huge publicity given to the alleged plot to bring down the Government by billionaire Remainiacs has served the Brexit cause well. The Labour Party, with their views on offshore wealth and bankers, cannot like the fact that Soros et al are trying to interfere with the democracy of Britain. Even Emily Thornberry was saying how we just need to honour the referendum and get on with Brexit. I feel that’s the view of the majority – but of course, listening to most of the media – and all the pro-Remain plutocrats – you would think that we were almost on the verge of giving up.

    Although not a fan of Gina Miller (the determined lady who took the Government to court over the EU exit process) she has – or so it is reported this morning – parted company with the Remainiac group with which she was associated, saying that they were secretive etc., and that the people deserved to know who was putting up the funding etc. If that is how she feels, then she has risen, considerably, in my estimation. It really does now look like an unpleasant group of the very rich, thinking that they can use their wealth to get what they want – above the heads of the ordinary electors and citizens.

    The Daily Mail was quite right today: “they just don’t get it, do they?” And it was interesting that ‘Lord’ Malloch-Brown (Remainiac) likened the Brexit experience to a “rainy holiday in Cornwall”. Notice the sneer at a British place – the idea that we’re all parochial, staring sadly at our sandcastles – our outlook, bleak. Unlike Malloch-Brown, we can’t all jet off to a private villa in the South of France. But then again, why would you: give me Cornwall and King Arthur any day of the week.

  4. David Ashton says:

    George Soros. Say no more (for now).

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