Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Never mind a war with Spain, let's fight the battle for common sense.

The meeting between a former party leader and a microphone is seldom a happy one. If you don't believe me consider the case of Michael, now Lord, Howard.

On Sunday he told Sky News that, in his not at all humble opinion, Britain should go to war to keep hold of Gibraltar. Just to emphasize his point he drew compared the likelihood of the future of the rock and its monkeys with the Falklands war of 1982.

You don't need to be a psychologist to see where Lord Howard is coming from. He's reached the point in his political career where he has attained a certain level of prestige, but the power and purpose that made the job worth doing are a fast fading memory. What better way to grab a few moments in the limelight than by saying something controversial within earshot of a journalist?

So far, so predictable; the response though was as surprising as it was alarming.

You might have expected a little discreet eye rolling of the sort you get when an elderly relative says something inappropriate at a family gathering. Instead even though they didn't agree with him, publicly, the government didn't exactly slap him down either.

You could be forgiven for thinking that at some level Mrs. May and her cabinet like the idea of plucky little Britain squaring up to one of its oldest foes. Drake's drum is beating, the wind is full in the sails; let slip the dogs of distraction.

That, if we're honest is what this whole thing is, one big clumsy distraction. There is, of course, no likelihood of our going to war with Spain.

If the future of this historical and geographic anomaly enters into the Brexit negotiations it will be decided by just that, negotiation. Everyone's sword will stay sheathed and in all probability Gibraltar will stay British because that's what most people living there want.

Entertaining even for a moment an unlikely swashbuckling alternative serves as a wonderful distraction for a government that hasn't got a clue.

Last week Theresa May triggered Article 50 with indecent haste and nothing that resembles a plan. This is the biggest political event our country had faced since the war and the government are making things up as they go along. What could possibly go wrong; apart from everything?

If the UK is going to be a trading nation steering its own course through the world then we will need to make friends not enemies. Sadly that sort of common sense is missing from what passes for a large proportion of the government and media, not to mention the wider population.

Instead it is being drowned out by the din of patriotic music being played out of tune. People are being intentionally blinded with a rose tinted vision of a post Brexit Britain where all the passports are blue, the village clock is stuck at five to four and there is always honey for tea.

Behind it is a drive towards a hard Brexit led by the sort of right wing throwbacks who think the worst thing about zero hours contracts is that they're too generous. They will go to any length, even sabotaging whether we get a deal at all to further their interests.

Brexit is a reality, the people have spoken and their will expressed through the democratic process has to be respected. What we're going through has been likened to a divorce, unfortunately we seem to be being represented by a solicitor more used to doing a spot of conveyancing; who in turn has been landed with a fool for a client.

They say truth is the first casualty of war, it is starting to look like common sense is the first casualty of Brexit.

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