One of the more persistent memes since the referendum has been the regular claim that the government has no plan as to how it intends to negotiate our exit from the EU. We are now five months after the referendum and many of those who voted on the wrong side of history are still in a state of collective anguish. Conversely, plans are being made to subvert the will of the British people. Various people of stature – Tony Blair, John Major, Richard Branson and a host of acolytes are reputedly gathering funding and so on for a campaign to take us back into a wheezing, sclerotic EU before we have actually managed to leave it. But the principle charge still stands – that the Brexiteers have no plan. This couple of recent gems from Matthew Parris are good examples (my thanks to Andrew Atter and Marie Le Conte for bringing them to my attention):
And again, just to make sure that we get the message:
The fact of the government not providing a running commentary on progress, thinking and planning is provided succinctly enough by the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, David Davis here, from about 15.09 onwards, but especially from 15.12 onwards. From this we can conclude that David Davis is not going to tell us; whether we, or the Remainers, like it or not.
Not telling the opposition your plans in advance is generally considered to be a useful tactic, whether in playing chess, negotiating a business agreement or prosecuting a war. General principles can be established at the outset between the parties i.e. that you are going to negotiate an agreement or go to war with each other. But the detail as to how events actually proceed is down to planning and not letting the opposition know which cards are in your hand. Outcomes are also dependent upon how each party responds to the events as they unfold.
For instance, in 1933, the British government responded to Hitler’s getting power and then setting out an aggressive agenda, with caution. After the annexation of Austria in March 1938, there came the Munich Agreement on 15th September 1938. This was followed by the Sudetenland Crisis in October 1938 and the invasion of the rest of Czechoslovakia in March 1939. Until this point, appeasement was the plan – giving Hitler what he wanted in return for peace. Then on 1st September 1939, Poland was invaded and Britain declared war upon Germany. Note that there was no particular plan invoked up to this point by the UK, only broad principles which changed as time went on. The only tangible thing which happened was the quiet re-arming, which Chamberlain’s infamous ‘peace in our time’ speech gave us approximately 12 months to do. At the time none of this was evident to the public. After Poland fell to the combination of German and Russian invaders, the policy changed from ‘appeasement’ to ‘containment’. The British and French hoped to contain Germany, at least in the West. In the summer of 1940, this plan was also abandoned with the fall of France. From that moment on, the plan was ‘defence’, because that was the only option available to us. Only after the battle of El Alamein in October and November 1942 was the plan turned around from ‘defence’ to ‘offence’ and then total victory in 1945.
To ram the point home, the following is a summary of one of those wonderful wartime obituaries that the Daily Telegraph does so well. It concerns a young Royal Navy Commander – an engineer in peacetime – who found himself summoned to 10 Downing Street in early 1941. At this time, most of Europe was occupied: shipping was being sunk in the Atlantic faster than we could build ships to replace them; North Africa was in flames and Rommel was doing all the running; the Russians were retreating back to Moscow and Stalingrad; Singapore had fallen to the Japanese; and Repulse and the Prince of Wales had been sunk. The Americans had not yet entered the war. The young man (whose name I have sadly forgotten) entered the underground bunker of No. 10 and was brought into the presence of The Great Man. His future duties were outlined to him; whereupon Churchill, in typical stirring form, summed up thus: “Whilst all those around you are preparing for defeat, you are to go into a room and prepare for victory.” And so he did – into the blackest of the deep bowels of The Admiralty, and in the deepest of secrecy, he began the logistical planning for sea-borne landings onto hostile shores. This work was put into practice in Operation Torch in North Africa, the Allied invasion of Sicily and then Italy – and culminated in the biggest of the lot, in Normandy.
Once again, the point is that the plans were kept secret. In the latter case, even the principles of turning round defeat into victory was completely unknown to the public. For very good and obvious reasons.
So it is extraordinary that the Remainers should continue to demand that the government reveals their deliberations to the public – and especially to a group of people who have sworn to do everything in their power to overturn the decision of the British electorate.
But even if their demands were reasonable, which they are not, is there not also a case for demanding of the Remainers, what their plans are? The simple fact is that the European Union is not what it was even a year ago. It is increasingly apparent that the EU has become a burden to many of the countries who are members of it. Increasingly, the peoples of the EU are starting to wake up to the realisation that their political masters have some sort of agenda which does not include the opinions, needs or demands of the vast majority of the people who elected them into office.
Southern Europe – Greece, Portugal, Spain and particularly southern Italy, are economic basket cases. They have been driven to the brink of poverty by the economic demands of the ECB; which is run principally in the interests of Germany. Whether Le Pen is elected as president in France; and whether Renzi is thrown out and his banking reforms fail or not, is almost irrelevant. The fact is that a tide of popular protest is sweeping across Europe, driven by the twin toxic issues of the incompetence of the Euro and the huge dismay of untrammelled migration into Europe of an alien people, religion and culture. This last seems intent upon swamping a Judeo-Christian culture which has evolved over the last two thousand years. And the political class all seem Hell-bent on making this happen without the slightest courtesy of asking their own people if they want this.
In the light of all this growing chaos, my questions to those who would usurp the decision of the people of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland are these:
- How much is it going to cost us to bail out the EU banking system?
- How much will our continued membership fees rise by if we stay in?
- How many unwelcome migrants are we going to take in?
- How much is this going to cost us in terms of extra benefits, schools and hospitals?
- What will be the cost to society for the increase in crime – particularly rape and other forms of violence?
- What will happen to our Rule of Law – are we going to have one rule for the migrants and another, harsher, set of laws for the non-muslims?
So Remainers, what is your plan?