The Political Week Ahead (1)

May you live in interesting times…

The times have been very interesting in Britain ever since the Brexit referendum in June 2016.

And from this week they may be about to get even more interesting still.

On Tuesday, Theresa May’s successor as Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister will be announced. Boris Johnson, of course, is the hot favourite to win.

My preferred candidate was Rory Stewart. When he was eliminated I switched to Michael Gove, and when he went out, I plumped for Jeremy Hunt.

Once upon a time, I might have supported Boris Johnson. He wrote a good book about Rome and was a rather funny buffoon with an echo of Churchill in the way he looked. Then I grew up a little and he became a very unsatisfactory figure.

To be fair to him, he did reasonably well as Mayor of London (2008-16), and I have not heard anything against him as M.P. for Henley (2001-08) or Uxbridge (2015 – present) but I have not read anything good about him as Foreign Secretary (2016-18) and he has caused controversy in the past over things he has done and said.

Of course, I have to be careful here: who was it that told journalists that Johnson was a bad Foreign Secretary? Why did they tell them? I have to consider that it may have been people with an axe to grind. As for his various controversies – we are all capable of being stupid at one point or another.

That’s fair enough, but by the same token, we all have it in us to act intelligently and wisely, and in the Conservative Party leadership race, I just haven’t seen him do that. He has declined to appear in television debates, when he has spoken he has not been clear about his policies, he appears to have fallen back on his buffoon image to get by. This is just not good enough for someone wanting to become Prime Minister.

At the moment, Boris Johnson comes across to me as all image and no substance. It’s such a shame as he is clearly an intelligent person – his book on Rome was a genuinely good read. He needs to have substance, though, to successfully oversee the withdrawal of Britain from the European Union.

During the campaign, Johnson said that he would make sure Britain left the E.U. on 31st October come what may. I believe this means with or without a deal. I might have supported a No Deal withdrawal until I saw this video that Stewart made about it during the leadership campaign in which he outlined precisely what a No Deal would mean. Now, I worry about what might happen to the well being of the country in the event of a No Deal exit. And neither Johnson nor any other Brexiteer has stepped up to the plate and said ‘Actually, Rory Stewart is wrong; a No Deal exit will be good, and this is why—‘


Because I worry about the effect of a No Deal exit, I also worry about the Conservative Party. It is the only thing that stands between anything approaching sanity and the insanity of a Jeremy Corbyn led Labour government. Corbyn is not fit to be an M.P., let alone Labour leader, let alone Prime Minister.

Over the last few years – years! – he has failed again, again, and again to deal adequately with the anti-semitism crisis within the Labour Party. Again, again, and again. Reprehensible. Then there is the issue of his own past associations with pro-terrorist figures. But let’s say he met these people because somebody had to in order to help the such and such peace process. This, argument would be more convincing, however, if we had footage of Corbyn meeting British or American officials. He appears to be very selective, however, about who he will meet.


When the new European Parliament opened a few weeks ago, the MEPs from the Brexit Party turned their back on the E.U.’s anthem (Beethoven’s Ode to Joy). That was predictable and ignorable from a bunch of bores as them. At the same time, however, the Liberal Democrat MEPs arrived wearing T Shirts bearing the legend ‘Bollocks to Brexit’. The Liberal Democratic party is a mainstream party with deep roots in British politics. I expected better, much better, from their MEPs.

That’s been the problem with Brexit, though; it has made fools of so many people. Why? Because they want their objective to be met so much, so, so much. So, so much it has corrupted them.

What’s to be done? That is what Boris Johnson will almost certainly need to work out. Can he do it? Personally, I don’t think so; I don’t think he has the popularity or good will in Parliament to make it happen. I suspect we’ll be heading towards either another Conservative leader or, more likely, a General Election before too long. And God help us if Jeremy Corbyn wins.

God help us – prayers are all we have left right now

The Day That Didn’t Happen

Today was supposed to be Brexit Day. For now, however, the U.K. remains in the E.U. Unfortunately for her, the Prime Minister, Theresa May, has not been able to persuade the House of Commons to approve her Withdrawal Agreement (W.A.). Later today, she will commend it to the House for the third time.

Will it work? Reading political journalists on Twitter this morning, it seems the numbers are still against her: too many Brexiteers are remain opposed to the W.A. as does the Conservative’s junior partner-in-government, the Democratic Unionist Party (D.U.P). It looks like the D.U.P will definitely vote against the W.A. but maybe by the time the vote takes place those Brexiteers who are still against the deal will decide that the potential consequences of the deal being voted down yet again are too great to risk and come round.

It’s a high risk time. What would I do if I was an M.P.? I would certainly have voted for Theresa May’s deal. I voted to leave the E.U. because I don’t like super-states and don’t want to belong to one. I’m not concerned with immigration and I would be perfectly happy with a customs union.

Let’s say that Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement is voted down for a third time and, ultimately, Brexit fails. I would be very sorry for it but life goes on, and let’s face it, there are advantages to belonging to the E.U. and also other things in life that are much more important: doing good in one’s daily life, for example.

This doing good would have to include not being annoyed at the Brexiteer M.P.s whose actions ultimately killed Brexit off because it was never good enough for them. Of course, they have to vote according to their consciences but when they do I hope they realise that the world isn’t perfect and they will never get all that they want – or even half of it! For now, let’s see how they vote…

One of the reasons I started Sehnsucht and Wine

was so that I could talk about politics and religion. I haven’t discussed the former since my first post so let’s do so now.

My Political Background
The first thing I have to say is that when I talk about politics, I do so as an outsider. As I mentioned in my first post, I am right-of-centre and used to be a Conservative Party member. I let my membership lapse after a year or so. Since then, I have watched on as political events have unfolded from the sidelines.

As a result, I have not made much of an effort to really understand the whats and whys of those events. From now on, and so I can write slightly more knowledgeable blog posts, I am going to try and correct that. Goodness, we have a terrific resource in the BBC website and Guardian Online, which is free to read, and I have a subscription to The Spectator, which I rarely read, so I really have no excuse.

The Current Situation
It’s the morning of 21st March 2019. Britain is in a political mess; not generally, but in respect of Brexit. The Prime Minister, Theresa May, has been unable to win support from her MPs for her deal to withdraw the country from the EU. Last night, she gave a statement outside Number 10 Downing Street that, judging by the responses I have seen on Twitter, went down very badly. I didn’t listen to it but it seems she presented herself as the champion of the people against recalcitrant MPs.

Brexit Mess: How Did We Get Here?
Theresa May’s lack of a significant majority in Parliament. This has given power to anyone wishing to rebel against her authority in order to advance their own cause.

It may be that even if May had the same kind of majority that Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair enjoyed, the Conservative Party would still be riven but though I speak under correction I find that hard to believe.

Who Is To Blame?
On Twitter yesterday, a political journalist held a poll inviting people to say who they thought was to blame for the Brexit mess: Theresa May, the EU, MPs, all of the above. I think I would have voted for ‘all of the above’.

I respect the Brexiteers, Remainers and EU’s right to fight their corner but there does come a point where one must lay down one’s weapons and come to an agreement, and no one appears to have done this.

This, however, is not a thought I can dwell on because I don’t know in what spirit the various parties have pressed their cause. For example, perhaps the EU bent over backwards in order to meet Britain’s demands for the Withdrawal Agreement. I’d be surprised if they did as that would be bad diplomacy but I just don’t know. So far as is possible, I need to find out more.

Something I Do Know
Last night, Theresa May held talks with the various Parliamentary leaders; or, tried to; when Jeremy Corbyn realised that Chuka Umana, a member of The Independent Group had been invited, he walked out.

Reading the tweet on the left, I get why Corbyn walked out, and actually, I sympathise with him. What is one supposed to do if one feels like one has been taken for a fool? However, I don’t think he acted proportionately. It would have been far better – statesmanlike – if he had simply registered his disappointment at what had happened and let the meeting continue.

We are, after all, in a national crisis. The time has come for all politicians to swallow their pride and do all that they can to find a way through the mess. This especially applies to Corbyn because of the people he has been perfectly happy in the past to meet.

I had no expectation that Corbyn would accept he acted wrongly last night, but certainly didn’t expect him to make the statement recorded by Kevin Schofield in his tweet, below. At this point, all I can do is throw up my hands in despair.

So, what do I know? That on 21st March 2019, Great Britain needs statesmen, instead we have a Prime Minister who can’t lead and an opposition leader who is a rank hypocrite.

What Next?
Someone, somewhere has to give way. Ideally, some people from both sides of the divide should give way so that no one feels they alone have been forced to act against their wishes.

What shouldn’t happen is the revocation of Article 50 leading to the cancelation of Brexit. This would be a betrayal of the decision of the electorate to leave the EU and would make it impossible to ever trust Parliament again.

And neither should there be a second referendum. This is a tough one because it seems reasonable to ask voters if they are happy with Theresa May’s deal. But what if the choice is Yes – Leave; No – Stay in the EU? And the result goes narrowly in favour of No – Stay in the EU? The minute the terms on which we decided to stay changed, that would for fairness’ sake, require yet another referendum. And on and on it would go.

Politically, these are very exciting days. We are living through events that will be discussed in politics and history classes for years to come. If the story is to have a happy ending, though, our leaders needs to make a great sacrifice. Are any of them capable?