Dominic Raab and Theresa’s Cabinet of Misfit Toys

Anyone watch Peston last night? I sure did, though I possess nothing but envy towards you if it happened to have passed you by. Far from a relatively jovial evening of breezy political discussion with the always endearing Robert Peston, the experience quickly became akin to having a cheese grater forcibly scraped across your brain. This was largely thanks to the innately insufferable Nadine Dorries who, despite being ever indignant towards people questioning her intelligence, seemingly struggles with the relatively simple concept of not responding to questions that were asked of someone else.

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If you value your sanity, it’d be best you avoid watching on catch-up. Trust me.

Though to be fair to her, I can understand why she was eager to pontificate. The only card Dorries and her ilk have to play is to endlessly bemoan a perceived problem they don’t have any real solutions to – and with Theresa May finally having produced a draft of the EU Withdrawal Agreement, it gave her the perfect opportunity to express her self-righteous indignation while keeping the empty vacuum behind her eyes conveniently obscured underneath a veil of distraction.

Indeed, today’s inevitable ministerial resignations only serve as testament to such an approach not only being a prevalent tactic, but also one which has poisoned our parliamentary system, setting in a seemingly irreversible rot which precipitated today’s collapse.

There’s already been resignations aplenty, each one undertaken under the pretence of “principle” and accompanied with the sort of bitter sloganeering usually found in one of Leave.EU’s pathetic morsels of wretched propaganda.

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See? Right at home.

A significant portion of the resignees you’re unlikely to have heard too much of, having largely spent their cabinet career skulking in the shadows, periodically emerging with the occasional boneheaded, pro-Brexit soundbite or filling in if the government required a last minute stooge to suffer an avalanche of derision courtesy of the Question Time audience.

However there are two rather prominent Cabinet ministers who’ve also handed in their notice, though their prominence has only really been achieved by way of abject incompetence.

Obviously I speak of Esther McVey and, of course, Dominic Raab – a man who was ostensibly appointed our Brexit secretary in an move which can only be described as an act of sheer defiance against logic itself.

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I’d love to say I’m sorry to see them go – but that would be a lie. A massive lie.

The resignation of McVey was expected and nobody really seems the least bit disappointed to see her go. The only quibble anyone could really have with such a pathetically inept minister finally pissing off is that she’s managed to fashion her own exit; resigning over the supposed Brexit “betrayal” with assumed honour hardly befitting of someone who’s heaped untold amounts of misery upon the most destitute and desperate by way of Universal Credit.

As morally repulsive as McVey’s reign of ruination may have been however, she is but a mere pretender when compared to the dishonourable absurdity of Dominic Raab, our erstwhile Brexit Secretary.

Raab is a rather strange character, paradoxically bearing the demeanour of a lost and frightened child while sporting the receding hairline of a middle aged man. Though these are merely cheap shots at what is ultimately immaterial. To let a man of such callous ineptitude escape with a bit of shallow aesthetical ribbing would be letting him off far too lightly.

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Looks like young Dominic has been summoned into the headmaster’s office again.

It’s fair to say that not much was expected of Raab when he suddenly found himself in the spotlight as our nation’s Brexit Secretary. Our first attempt at employing someone with a semblance of nous had been an unmitigated disaster – and he didn’t even get fired; he himself having initially started the trend of running away the moment accountability drew near. So if he was shit, what could you really expect from his substitute?

Raab did indeed exceed expectations, though only by virtue of somehow making David Davis appear a veritable political titan by way of retrospective comparison.

Never once did Raab inspire confidence. While at times he did at least try to fashion his own style of aggressive negotiations, all attempts fell pitifully flat as each bluff was carried out with the expertise of a poker novice holding his cards backwards. In fact his chronic bumblings became so laughable there were rumours that he was in fact a hard Brexit sleeper agent, surreptitiously sabotaging negotiations from within. Whether there’s any truth in this only Raab himself will ever know, though it’s hard to expect such delicate subterfuge coming from a man who only realised that Britain is an island last week. Resigning in protest against a deal it was his job to cobble together is a move regrettably fitting of such a dubious intellect.

One man who most definitely is looking to collapse May’s Brexit deal (and indeed May’s premiership) however is the chronically displaced time immigrant Jacob Rees-Mogg, finally handing in the letter of no confidence we’ve all known was inevitable for at least a year.

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Having now seen what became of Walter the Softy, you can’t help but feel that perhaps Dennis the Menace had a point.

Naturally he wasn’t courteous enough to enclose a workable alternative, but that’s always been the problem with the hardline Brexiteers. Whether we’re talking about Dorries, Rees-Mogg or now Dominic Raab, their bluster and laughably ramshackle veneer of patriotic integrity is all they have. It’s the easiest thing in the world to rally against a proposal that is universally despised, but do they really have any better ideas? When you consider that, when pressed today, Rees-Mogg suggested Boris Johnson and David Davis as credible replacements for May – two men who have offered nothing but empty rhetoric for over two years – the answer can only be summed up with a definitive “no”.

So where does this leave us? The mere citizens helplessly chained to the roof of this runaway train as it hurtles ever closer to the ravine?

Well let’s see. A government collapsing in on itself? Check. An EU withdrawal agreement over two years in the making about to die on its arse in less than a day? Check. Michael Gove mooted as our next Brexit Secretary? Check fucking mate.

As much as the Mogglodytes clearly revel in boosting their own profile by way of political brinkmanship, it seems to overlook the fact that these are serious and needless risks that we’re taking – and the plebs are along for the ride whether we like it or not. Brexit has always been fuelled by unrefined ideology with feasibility not even reaching the level of a mere afterthought – and the fatal drawbacks of such a short sighted approach are becoming more obvious by the day.

Ultimately these calculated resignations are doomed to be an exercise in futility. They might very well oust May, but the ship will still be sinking with the antagonists short of actual solutions – and if we’re to learn from the lessons of recent history, Raab and the rest of the rats are going to flee before it finally goes down.

It’s just a shame they have to chew so many holes in the hull before they scarper.

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The Big Brexit Debate – A Rather Irreverent Retrospective

Poor Nigel. Old Leatherface Farage hasn’t been having the best of times recently. It now seems a near certainty that he’ll be facing an interrogation session or two courtesy of the NCA, owing to his significant association with poor man’s rich man Arron Banks and his ever spinning web of obfuscation. There’s also been whispers that the FBI are still sniffing around after the repugnant scent of this especially odious person of interest too. These are merely whispers of course, but it doesn’t look like Farage’s trousers are going to be a tint other than an ominous shade of brown for a while yet.

Not to worry though, at least he’s still on television – gurning away with all the innate charm of a long since discarded slab of ham that’s been rotting away in a septic tank for nigh on 20 years. The venue this time was Channel Four with their recently aired ‘The Big Brexit Debate’.

Nigel’s favourite topic, right? You’d have thought this a wonderful opportunity for Mr Farage to engage with the electorate and proselytise about the “proper” Brexit he claims they voted for.

Alas, it didn’t go quite to plan.

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If you think that smile seems insincere, just wait until you see his attempts towards the end of the show.

The premise of the show was fairly simple. Channel Four, in conjunction with polling company Survation, had carried out the largest independent survey on all matters Brexit in a bid to get some indication as to what the country currently thinks. Over 20,000 people from across all constituencies took part, so we’re talking pretty big numbers in terms of polling with all the relevant details being found here.

So what actually happened? What exactly was it that tripped the switch in Nigel’s brain, transforming him from your run of the mill, sleazy propagandist to a babbling loon who gave the impression of being only a few breakdowns away from Alex Jones?

Probably this:

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“Will of the people” you say?

This result naturally sent Farage into a full scale meltdown, offering up the frankly bizarre insistence that all this proved in his mind was that Leave would win a hypothetical people’s vote by a bigger margin than previously, before rounding off the night with a typically paranoid tirade bemoaning the studio being full of Remainers. An unhinged conspiracy which drew surprisingly loud cheers from Leave voters in the audience to say that they weren’t there.

To be fair to poor Nigel, his narrative had taken a bit of a pounding all night. Not only did the public seem rather more keen on free movement than his utterances over the decades might suggest (though as panellist Sir John Curtice pointed out, the semantics of the question often sway the answer), he also suffered the indignity of being a far less favourable option than his omnifoe Theresa May when it came to who’d get the best Brexit deal.

Though it has to be said, nobody else really fared much better. Even Corbyn.

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Anyone else starting to get the feeling that a “good” Brexit deal is simply impossible?

As fun as it is to laugh at Nigel for being a hapless tit who’s as representative of the British people as Prince Charles is of the working class, it wasn’t all joy for those cheering on Remain. Most strikingly, only 48% of 18-24 year old respondents signalled their intent to definitely vote in a potential future vote – not shifting one iota from the actual turnout of young people in 2016.

This left the otherwise composed Caroline Lucas somewhat dumbfounded, while giving those banking on the notion of a Brexit induced political awakening amongst the nation’s whippersnappers significant pause for thought. Perhaps a repeat of the harsh lesson struck on the morning following the referendum – there’s a myriad of differing perspectives outside the confines of your echo chamber from which nothing can be safely assumed.

This brings us onto undoubtedly the most striking moment of the night, courtesy of one Barry Gardiner.

Craftily planted alongside Tory Justice Secretary David Gauke, most of his evening predictably descended into a policy based dick measuring contest; the eternal rivals squabbling for what seemed like a century over which of their deeply flawed Brexit manifestos best respected 2016’s result.

However an evening spent picking apart the endless minutiae attached to the hopelessly nebulous ‘will of the people’ concept came to an abrupt whistle stop when the answer to the big question finally came, leaving poor Mr Gardiner looking as though host Krishnan Guru-Murthy had revealed himself to be a medium with Barry having been dead the entire time.

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Ever get the feeling you’re playing for the wrong team?

Gardiner’s potential moral quandary aside, the big question which still lingers is what does it all mean? And where does it leave the potential for a people’s vote?

Firstly, as satisfying as the outcome may have been for treasonous Remainer types such as myself, to use this as conclusive proof of a shift in the zeitgeist would be foolish on two counts. Not only does a gratuitous sense of self righteousness ultimately serve nobody, it would simply give rise to the same naive complacency which likely cost Remain dear last time out. Furthermore, it’s just a poll. As large as the sample size was and irrespective of how meticulous Survation were in their methodology, it ultimately can only serve as cautious insight as to what the prevailing mood actually is. Favourable towards Remain perhaps, but it’s still just a tiny glimpse into what might be out there.

As for the supposed necessity of a people’s vote, one of the best arguments for this arguably came by way of inadvertent implication – and it was all thanks to Harriet Ellis.

More commonly known as “the girl who rolled her eyes as Farage was talking”.

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I know how you feel. We all do.

She was assumed by many to simply be a Remain voter, understandably frustrated at yet more witless bloviations from Nigel Farage. But no, she actually voted for Brexit – and it’s her reasons for doing so which struck me the most.

Rather than adopting the assumed pro-Brexit stance of being against immigration, she’s actually in favour of it; viewing Brexit as a way of ensuring that immigrants across the globe get a fair chance to settle in Britain without priority being given to EU nationals.

An atypical stance indeed, but it’s this diversity of opinion which ought to define what a people’s vote should really be about. While many supporters of the idea are unsurprisingly weary Remainers who see it as a chance to right a wrong, it’d be to their great folly if they were to hold that up as the overriding motivation.

Brexit doesn’t mean Brexit. The public voted Leave for plethora of reasons, each specifically devised from their own individual convictions. Sweeping generalisations may be of benefit to simplicity but they stifle debate to the point where nuance becomes lost beneath the broad strokes of lazy categorisation.

I’m sure many Remainers will be heartened by the show’s outcome, but it’d be all to easy to miss the subtext beneath the surface. People by their very nature have a wide variety of opinions on this subject – and it’d be a betrayal of the very democracy Brexit was supposed to stand for to not ask each and every one of them what they think.

 

David Cameron – The Man that Time Never Forgave

There’s been an unmistakable change in the air recently. It’s true that, since the morning of the 24th June 2016, hapless confusion and the ever escalating acrimony of division have reigned supreme, but in recent weeks there’s been a new addition – a disconcerting shift in which a palpable sense of desperation has taken centre stage.

Time is running short on Brexit, the scarcity of which is only trumped by a potentially fatal dearth of solutions. The Prime Minister is faltering, the ruling party is at war with itself and nobody’s entirely sure at which point the apparently confused opposition will get around to landing their coup de grâce, finally bring this wretched omnishambles of a government to its knees. The country is in such a befuddled state of instability you could quite easily mistake our current reality for a biting yet somewhat over the top satire of actual satirical masterpiece The Thick of It – and that’s without even mentioning what is now a criminal investigation into potential subterfuge during the EU referendum campaign.

Yet what of the man who brought this all about? That most generic of Etonians with the face of a varnished ham? Whatever became of the deeply disingenuous psuedo-bloke who gambled in a bid to bring his party together, casually using the stability of the United Kingdom as his stake – and lost?

He scuttled away to hide in his shed of course; in a manner much more befitting a clumsy husband who’s just accidentally smashed his wife’s best crockery than a supposedly dependable Prime Minister.

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Nice fall-out shelter you’ve got yourself there.

Cameron’s retreat from politics has been a curious one. Not so much in terms of his resignation. He was the unfortunate face of Remain (“unfortunate” in every imaginable sense) and had effectively staked his premiership on the outcome of the referendum – with defeat damaging his credibility as Prime Minister irrevocably. He had initially indicated that he’d remain active on the Tory backbenches, though that lasted about as long as his support for West Ham.

Since then, he’s become a fairly reclusive figure. Dawdling away the days in his wooden retreat, scribbling down his memoirs in complete seclusion from the chaos his folly had sparked. Public statements from him were rare with actual sightings scarcer still – and when he was eventually spotted by the peons he’d left behind to wallow in the Cameron induced turmoil, the circumstances were often bizarre to the point that you’d think it a narcotics induced hallucination. Almost as if he’d become the political Syd Barrett – only rather than invoking a bittersweet sense of deeply felt nostalgia you were left overwhelmed by the urge to eviscerate his gonads with one swift kick to the crotch.

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This hasn’t been Photoshopped – no really, it hasn’t.

Though in truth David Cameron was always a politician with an air of the uncanny valley about him. He may have been long since surpassed in the ghoulish automaton stakes by a certain Mrs May, but the surreal, almost ethereal nature of his mannerisms and persona lingers in the darkest recesses of our memory still.

There was always something unconvincing about him, which stretched beyond the seemingly innate mistrust folk generally reserve for the political class. Appearance wise, he looked the part – eerily so. Almost as if Airfix had inexplicably brought out a ‘Tory Politician’ range. He had all the parts you’d expect: the immaculate suits, the slickly coiffed hair, that unremitting, sharp eyed stare which was paradoxically piercing while acting as a veil for the soulless husk that lay just past the sockets. Hell, he even came with your typical Etonian background, rife with Bullingdon Club japery, detailed on the back of the box.

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Reminds me of my carefree school days, only with everything being completely different.

The only thing our poor model politician David lacked was a sincerity simulator, which is perhaps why his attempts at schmoozing the proletariat with his “Call me Dave” routine proved about as successful as Toby Young attempting to pick up women by pretending to be one.

It seems that inbuilt sense of entitlement never truly left Mr Cameron. Not content with wagering the surprisingly important matter of a country’s future to get the Tory Eurosceptics off his back for two weeks, it’s now rumoured that actually, two years after his self imposed exile, he wouldn’t mind a go at being Foreign Secretary – with so much relaxed indifference you’d think he was asking to be the banker in Monopoly.

Perhaps fortunately, the reaction has been universally negative. Turns out there’s not much clamour for Dave to emerge from his shed anytime soon, if indeed ever. There’s simply no nostalgia attached to the legacy of David Cameron, as indelible as his mark on British and indeed European history may have been.

After all – The Black Death also echoes through the annals of history, but that’s not to say anyone’s yearning for a comeback.