Good sense prevails as Cabinet pulls together
COMMENT THANK heavens, sanity has prevailed. For weeks the Mail has been imploring ministers to put an end to the constant stream of briefing, counter- briefing and general bickering over Brexit policy and unite behind their leader in her mission to negotiate the best deal for Britain.
Since the trauma of the general election result, the Cabinet has been fractious and divided, with some senior members placing petty rivalries and personal ambition above the overwhelming national interest.
But now – and none too soon – we have an outbreak of common sense. In a very public show of unity Chancellor Philip Hammond, who campaigned for Remain, and Liam Fox, the Cabinet’s most ardent Eurosceptic, explained what Britain will look like after Brexit. And they did so with one voice.
In a clear, measured and resolutely optimistic joint newspaper article, they said unequivocally that Britain will leave both the customs union and single market in March 2019 – on the same day we formally quit the EU.
To reassure business there will be no ‘cliffedge’, they confirmed there will be an interim period to smooth the transition. But that period will be strictly time-limited and not ‘a back door’ to staying in the EU.
This is a crucial point. Just two weeks ago, Mr Hammond suggested nothing much would change after March 2019 and implied that the transitional period could last indefinitely. Yesterday the prospect of our being stuck in this kind of half-in, half-out limbo for years on end was banished.
True, we need more detail on how long it will be before we can start forging new trade agreements with the wider world. But this is a seminal moment. If the Government remains united, it could be the beginning of a great Conservative revival.
In a remarkable reversal of recent fortunes, it’s now the Labour movement which is hopelessly divided over Europe, with Jeremy Corbyn desperate to leave and half his MPs desperate to stay.
Former foreign secretary David Miliband became the latest big beast to enter the fray yesterday, describing Brexit as ‘an unparalleled act of self-harm’ and calling for a second referendum.
Mr Miliband now lives the high life in New York and – without any obvious embarrassment – takes home £460,000 a year for heading a charity dedicated to alleviating world poverty. He is the embodiment of the entitled, self-righteous political elite. Why on Earth should anyone listen to his pompous witterings?
A recent poll by the LSE and Oxford University confirmed that even among Remain voters, the majority now back a clean Brexit. So with their relentless pessimism and redundant arguments, it’s clear that Mr Miliband and his ilk represent only the past.
If they can maintain vision, discipline and above all their new-found unity, it’s the Tories who will shape the future. THE taxi firm Uber already stands accused of unethical lobbying, avoiding taxes and eroding workers’ rights. Now it has been exposed for failing to report sex assaults and other serious crimes committed by its drivers. The company claims it is the victims’ responsibility to inform the police. But if drivers pose a direct threat to customers, shouldn’t their employer show some concern? Has Uber any concept at all of duty of care? EARLIER this year, we revealed that the aid spending watchdog had denounced as corrupt a scheme which provides cash handouts to poor villagers in Pakistan. The scheme is funded to the tune of £420million by the British taxpayer. Now, more of your money is to be spent on a lavish dinner honouring the Pakistani MP in charge of the scheme – hosted in Parliament by Commons Speaker John Bercow, no less. Could there be a more vivid illustration of the Alice In Wonderland world of foreign aid?