Cure worse than the disease
Whatever you think caused politics to be turned upside down this year, it would be hard to find someone who says the answer is more backroom political deals. Unless you ask in Brussels, that is. The presidents of the Commission, Parliament and Council have asked for ‘priority treatment’ procedures for new EU laws and more use of private ‘trilogue’ discussions, so that proposals are signed off before they can be publicly scrutinised. In bemoaning this approach, it’s hard not to sound like a moleskin-wearing sixty-a-day-smoking friend-of-Trump who likes drinking Old Peculiar (or who is old and peculiar). But for anyone concerned about political unrest in Europe, politicians backing these ‘trilogues’ now is a bit of a facepalm moment.
One of the biggest threats to Theresa May’s Government is also one that receives least attention – that of her colleagues resigning, being sacked, or even defecting. It’s been a while since someone crossed the floor, but after Wednesday it’s not inconceivable that an MP like Anna Soubry could be tempted to bring May’s majority down a notch. As far as sackings go, Boris seemingly flew pretty close to the wind this week, too (although it can be helpful to a PM for a Minister to say something out of line but true occasionally, and Boris will be needed to sell May’s Brexit to Brexiteers in 2019). The biggest risk for May is a Howe-style resignation – and indeed, if Howe’s successor Hammond decided to walk for any reason, that would probably be the end of her.
Money where your mouth is
Despite Boris’s comments, the Government will establish a new working group with partners in the Gulf to look at removing trade barriers. Two things stand out here: first, it suggests May is more confident that trade improves human rights than that it discourages cyber security attacks; and second, it says something about what type of trade could be free of constraints post-Brexit (on that count, it’s also instructive to look at Fox’s recent travel itinerary…).
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