Tuesday, 27 February 2018

How long is the horn?

Based on his speech yesterday, Jeremy Corbyn has clearly been taking lessons from Theresa May.  And fair play to him, why should it be the exclusive preserve of the Tories to make speeches in which they say very little but which the media portray as some sort of pivotal moment?  For make no mistake about it – despite the media hype, the detail of what Corbyn actually said (full text available here) was essentially the same as what he and the Prime Minister have both been saying for months. 
It’s true that he said that Labour would seek to remain in ‘a’ customs union, something which May has ruled out.  That certainly looks like a difference, but the devil is in the detail.  The Government have ruled out remaining in any sort of customs union on the solid and entirely accurate basis that any such union necessarily precludes individual trade agreements with third party countries.  They are demanding a bespoke agreement instead which provides the benefits of the customs union whilst also allowing the UK to negotiate other trade deals.  What Corbyn said was that he was quite happy for the UK to remain in a new bespoke customs union, but that such an arrangement “would depend on Britain being able to negotiate agreement of new trade deals in our national interest.”  That doesn’t look like a whole lot of difference to me; it’s just semantics.
It is, of course, in the interests of the Tories to pretend that Labour are saying something radically different so that they can portray them as betraying the will of the people.  It is in the interest of the Labour Party to pretend that they are saying something radically different so that they can persuade Remainers to vote for them in the general election which is looking increasingly likely.  And it is in the interests of the media to pretend that Labour are saying something radically different so that they have something to report.  However, none of this actually makes it any different in reality.  Using different terminology to describe a beast of fantasy doesn’t make it any less of a fantasy.
In the epic session at Chequers last week, the Tories managed to unite around the proposition that they want the EU to provide a unicorn.  I’m not sure that they’ve entirely resolved the enormously important theological questions about how long or what colour the horn should be, but they’re absolutely certain that any type of horse would be completely unacceptable, and a betrayal of the will of the people who, whether they knew it or not, demanded a unicorn in the referendum.  And, let me be clear (as the PM might say), the government is getting on with the work of delivering that unicorn in the negotiations with the EU27.  Corbyn and Labour, on the other hand, are now entirely in agreement that they are not going to demand a unicorn at all, oh no.  For them, a horse will be perfectly acceptable, just as long as it has a large single horn growing out of its forehead.  I don’t know whether they’ve got round to discussing the size and colour of the horn yet, but I’m sure that they will in due course.
Meanwhile, the EU27are doing a lot of collective head-scratching, wondering what sort of people can devote so much time and energy to debating the finer points of the appearance of a mythical beast.  For those who follow the true faith of Brexit, this insistence on ascribing the status of myth to their beloved unicorn (or one-horned horse if you prefer that term) is yet another example of the way in which those evil Europeans are determined to punish the UK for leaving the EU.
Now, let’s get down to basics.  Should the horn be smooth or spiralled?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You should keep up with fintan o'toole (irish times) analysis on brexit i.e. english nationalism by proxy. https://vimeo.com/247411379