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Saturday, 8 December 2018

Well, what a week!

It's been quite a week, and I haven't yet caught up on all the comment and analysis out there - and even when I do, I doubt I'll know any more than this; that Mrs May will lose her vote on Tuesday. My own view is that she'll be obliged to resign, thus opening up a high speed Leadership contest, remaining in post whilst this takes place. After that? No-one knows.

We enter the weekend perhaps a little calmer than we started the week, with Brexit paradoxically occupying less of the front page the nearer we get to next week's crisis. Clearly 'Brexit fatigue' is already a thing, but I'm waiting for this to become a bona-fide medical diagnosis like Brexit Anxiety Disorder, for which middle class social workers, teachers and police workers can be signed-off sick. 

Meanwhile across the Channel, today looks like being a crunch day for the most destructive of the French rioters. I'll be tuning in live again this afternoon - the benison of live-streaming means that none of us is ever dependent on a TV news editor to see what's happening, the downside means you need to watch three or four streams to get a representative picture. 

As for Vienna, hardly anyone is aware there's a Brexit crisis but security is tight, as everywhere in Europe. I'm now sated with oysters (Naschmarkt), warmed with a decent British Indian curry (Taste of India - really!) and with my Chrimbo food shopping done. 

And we've some big hitters to look forward to in the Sundays and on the box, and more saturation Brexit ... so back soon. 

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Brexit inquiry evidence now being catalogued

We haven't even managed yet to leave the EU - and may not do so at all - but Whitehall is quietly preparing for the inevitable inquiry into how it all became an almighty cockup. The government have screwed up from Day One - from May's throwing away the announcement of the start of Art 50 for a minor personal political advantage, to her refusal even at this stage to allow contingency arrangements for leaving without an agreement. Plus giving away all the significant advantages before talks even started, falling into trap after trap, allowing the EU to hold the UK to ransom over our territorial borders, and the deception and mendacity around May's parallel treaty, the Robbins Treaty, which, it is suspected, the EU saw before May's own cabinet. The entire process has been one of gross incompetence, crass maladministration and indictable misconduct.

Once the documents are sequestered, long interviews under caution completed and statements collected from all the third-tier actors down (and it's always the telling, detailed evidence from these people that sinks the big fish) the senior mandarins and May and her cabinet members will face their public grilling in the witness box.

This, I'm quite sure, is the motivation behind Oliver Robbins' leaked letter. Why write to the PM to tell her that the treaty was fatally flawed when both of them know that too well already? Robbins is getting his retaliation in first - in an effort to ensure May doesn't pass the blame to him.

We need to wait for the inquiry, of course, and it will be little satisfaction to those who have warned of May's malfeasance, incompetence and unsuitability for this critical role from the start. We all want the best outcome for our nation much more than we want to see Theresa May broken, humiliated and spurned. But this will come. I cannot see how she can escape formal national excoriation and dismissal to obscurity without honours. But again, let the inquiry do its job.  

Monday, 3 December 2018

More than quiddities from a lawyer's skull

In other circumstances I would be sympathetic to the government's argument that legal advice it receives is privileged. In most cases, neither the press nor public would be aware that the cabinet had sought or obtained such advice. But Brexit is different. This government, in concert with the EU, is asking the British people and British Parliament to sign up to a solemn international treaty whose terms cut to the heart of the solidity of our Union. For this there must be full disclosure, full transparency and absolute candidness. 

Poor Geoffrey Cox is in an invidious position. He faces being locked up in the clock tower for contempt if he refuses to publish the advice, and faces the wrath of Mrs May if he does. Personally, I'd take the clock tower. The cabinet as always is as leaky as a sieve; the Times already has a leaked extract (it's said that actual numbered copies of the advice document were handed out at cabinet and collected up again afterwards) and today there's a leak of a letter from Robbins in regard to his own treaty that expresses doubt over the backstop. 

On the latter point, I'd forget the lies coming out of Downing Street altogether. Please read Martin Howe QC on the Lawyers for Britain site - his view is not only in line with the leak published in the Sunday Times yesterday, but has also been subject to a half-arsed rebuttal from May's dags - which Mr Howe competently demolishes. 

On top of this, from the wings Bill Cash, himself a former shadow AG, opines that May's deal is unlawful on other grounds - that the Robbins Treaty is incompatible with existing law. Cash writes
Had the Prime Minister sought legal advice she must have been told that this mere treaty cannot override the repeal of the 1972 Act. This is a ‘manifest violation’ of our fundamental constitutional arrangements because Acts of Parliament take precedence over treaty-making prerogative.
So today, which should be 'money' day on May's grid, is actually Secrets and Lies day II. 

And no, don't even ask what Govey is up to because I can't even guess. The last time they hosed out his colon at the Mayr clinic, I guess they flushed away a part of his cerebellum by accident. He surely can't hope to come out of this well, can he?