The Triumph of Optimism

This article began in the pub. The sun was shining upon North Cornwall and Wadebridge was looking lovely. Jon and I were sitting and discussing the election of Boris as Conservative Party leader and, by extension, our new Prime Minister. And then, because he does this occasionally, Jon threw out a challenge: “OK, now lets suppose that the French have decided that they are not going to co-operate. They are not going to do as the Germans tell them, and they start making difficulties for the next two years. A lot of the dire forecasts of the government turn out to be true. At least 300,000 Frenchmen have left the City of London and gone back home. The price of property drops and this pub closes and we have to have this meeting in a years time in the pub opposite because this one has closed. What are you going to say now that will show, in a year’s time, that it was all worth it?”

After a long pause I said “Optimism”. Jon is nothing if not searching and was not going to let that little piece of wishful thinking on my part get away without challenge. “How is that going to help?” he persisted.

My answer, after a bit of rambling, was broadly this: If we cast aside any temporary economic difficulties and consider the reasons why the electorate voted to Leave the EU, it mostly seems to have boiled down to a desire to restore our sovereignty, encapsulated in the “taking back control” meme that stimulated so many people to vote. The potential economic difficulties were cast aside as irrelevant. What matters is that we regain control of our own laws again and that politicians are once again held to account; and cannot blame the EU and higher authority for a crass decision or unintended consequences of too much interference from Brussels. The mood of the British public to the constant onslaught of economic doom-mongering from the establishment is elegantly captured in Dominic Frisbee’s 17 million fuck offs.

In the end, it boiled down to the social, political and likely economic opportunities presented by the slow, systematic disposal of countless EU regulations. As Jon pointed out, these opportunities can only happen after we have left. It all depends upon Brexit having been finally and irrevocably achieved.

Meanwhile, the meltdown from the Left and from Remainer fanatics is almost complete. The Guardian, for instance, has this: “Mr Johnson’s victory is the culmination of more than two decades of Conservative folly, which began when the party embraced populist Europhobia 20 years ago.” Their headlines to this editorial describes the previous activities of our new Prime Minister as “a clown”. In this tweet from BBC Newsnight, Jonathan Freedland underlined the Guardian’s commitment to the Islington consensus:

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Meanwhile, Caroline Lucas of the Green Party doesn’t hold back when it comes to spitting bile:

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Naz Shah MP repeats what has rapidly become a leftist trope-of-the-day:

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Jolyon Rubinstein – a “writer and performer” gives it to us on behalf of the hipster class:


Whilst Owen Jones accuses the blue-rinsed, coffee morning organising, envelope stuffing, leaflet posting, street pounding ladies and gentlemen of the Conservative Party of exhibiting beliefs that would have done Heinrich Himmler proud:

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Meanwhile, Boris Johnson kissed hands with Her Majesty and arrived at the Downing Street lectern (so well used by Theresa May – I’m surprised she didn’t take it with her). Completely oblivious to the anguish which he has caused to a tiny, unrepresentative (but very vocal) section of our society, our brand, spanking, shiny, new Prime Minister cheerfully gave this speech to the country (h/t Guido Fawkes).

It is clear that there will be a complete change of atmosphere at No. 10 Downing Street. No longer will there be the same wading through treacle that we have witnessed over the last three years. No longer will we be reminded with regular lectern-moments, how the Prime Minister is “getting on with the job”. No longer will we have the same tired, weary grinding through EU ‘process’. No longer will there be a succession of useless and time-wasting trips to Brussels – only for our Prime Minister and our country to be humiliated by a bunch of corrupt, incompetent and unelected bureaucrats who view us with contempt. No longer will Angela Merkel, Jean-Claude Juncker and Guy Verhofstadt be dictating to us.

At last, the mould has been broken.

If Boris Johnson has any sense, all further meetings with the EU should be held in London. In the same way that Jean-Claude Juncker had to go to the White House for trade talks with Donald Trump in 2018, let Juncker (or his unelected replacement, Ursula von der Leyen) come to London. If they want to trade with us, then let them come to us with their proposals. No longer should we go to Brussels as pleading mendicants.

As I write this, Boris has just given his first statement to the House as Prime Minister and systematically demolished Labour and the SNP. Anna Soubry got short shrift.

But aside from Brexit, there are many things which have been set out which will help the country move forward in ways which are beneficial for the economy. Once again, Boris Johnson is supremely optimistic and confident of the will and ability of the British people to be able to respond to what is probably a remarkable turning point in our post-war history.

For example, the government response to the hijacking of Stena Impero by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards on Friday 19th July, whilst transiting the Gulf of Hormuz in international waters, has been chaotic and inadequate. The emphasis, under Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt as Foreign Secretary, was a strange and conflicting approach of rejecting the offers from the United States for assistance in escorting vessels through the Straits of Hormuz. This offer was countered by an aspirational attempt to engage support from the EU to help carry out this work – and which has so far failed to get any meaningful show of force. However, the current response seems to have altered in flavour, within hours of Boris Johnson walking through the doors of No. 10 and the appointment of Dominc Raab as Foreign Secretary. UK flagged ships will now be assembled into convoys and escorted by the Royal Navy. As has proved so often in our naval history, the convoy system allows a small number of warships to be used to escort a large number of merchant ships. HMS Montrose, a Type 23 frigate currently in the Gulf, will shortly be joined by HMS Duncan, a Type 45 destroyer. The long term development of this situation remains to be seen, but it is possible to detect a hardening of attitude in the government already.

Overall, the country seems to be entering a bullish mood, which started back in January of this year. A glance at the FTSE 100 index for the last twelve months shows a fairly sustained rise in value (and therefore confidence in) the top 100 companies registered on the London Stock Exchange:

Whether there will be a beneficent Boris effect upon the stock and money markets is, as yet, unknown. But conversely, there has been no sign of a run on Sterling or a crash on the stock market indicating a tremulous market susceptible to the predicted disaster of ‘crashing out without a deal’. The markets have remained remarkably immune to the loud but confected woe of the Islington chatteratti. The very clear and distinct warnings that ‘No Deal’ is now very much on the cards, has left the City of London unperturbed.

We do not yet know for certain how much of Boris Johnson’s enthusiasm and confidence will be translated into economic and social improvements for all of us. What is certain, according to one comment I have seen today, is that his performance at the despatch box has shown how appalling Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and Ian Blackford of the SNP really are. With the arrival of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister (and Jacob Rees-Mogg as Leader of the House of Commons) it is as if a much higher order of intelligence has suddenly been injected into Parliament. In particular, Rees-Mogg is a formidable intellectual match for the Speaker, who has got away with far too much over the last few years. Bercow will have to be careful from now on.

It is early days, but there is just a hint that the country is awake and bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at the prospect of a renewed sense of purpose in the nation. And it is all because of that indefinable quality that we might call ‘optimism’.

Meanwhile, for all those readers who are still in shock, or in tremulous forboding of the future and what it may entail, and who are in desperate need of a safe place and restorative therapy, here is a short film by James Robinson of Strickley Farm in Cumbria, walking his Dairy Shorthorns back along the lane for milking, just as generations of Robinsons have done before him. Some of his cows are from the same bloodlines as those kept by James’s great-grandfather. This event (and thousands of similar ones across the nation) happens twice a day every day of the year. Its intrinsic peace, rhythm and constancy serves as an allegory for the identity of the nation and our ability to thrive and prosper through the centuries, whilst preserving the best of our heritage for the future.


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