Wednesday 19 September 2018

Friends, enemies - and Gove

With friends like Michael Gove, the Prime Minister really doesn’t need many enemies.  In his anything but enthusiastic support for the doomed Chequers proposals, he said at the weekend that it was the best arrangement for the time being but that any future Prime Minister could change it.  This can be interpreted at three different levels by three different audiences.
At one level, he’s merely stating the obvious; it’s a fundamental principle of the UK constitution that no government can bind a future government irrevocably. 
At a second level, the target audience is the Brexiteers who are being given a message that they can agree to anything now in order to drag the UK out of the EU by the Article 50 end date; it doesn’t matter because it can all be changed later.
But at the third, most damaging level, it is telling the EU that the UK isn’t really negotiating seriously and intends to renege on any agreement made as soon as the ink has dried.  But, from an EU27 point of view, what’s the point of putting time and effort into negotiating an agreement when the party with whom they are negotiating is telling them that they plan to tear up said agreement?  If this is Gove ‘helping’ May, wait till he decides to stop helping.

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