Having re read what I wrote yesterday about the problems that the Labour Party faces after the European Elections I feel I might have been a little harsh. After all there is no suggestion that the party is about to collapse into total anarchy as is likely to happen to the Conservative Party after the election of their new leader whomever he may be (I don’t think a woman has much of a chance this time round as the boys seem to be drawing all the attention – perhaps I will be proven wrong I hope so.) Yet Labour have huge challenges ahead none of which they seem to be able to take on. The greatest challenge is this – with such an incompetent Conservative party why is it that Labour is incapable of winning any national vote? I have no idea but clearly whatever Labour is doing isn’t getting through to the voters and I find this a real shame. It would be great to try something different which may not work but given the record of the current ruling party there isn’t a lot of success on the other side either. It just fills me with despair.
Enough of despair lets try and address the question in the title of this post – Then What? The Conservatives appear to be hellbent on selecting a new leader who is going fight the last battle – let’s call it the battle of Nigel – and are not interested in the future of their party let alone the country. But the 31st October 2019 isn’t that far away and as things stand we are going to leave the European Union (EU) without any kind of withdrawal agreement but then what? I have always assumed that in the short term companies that want to export to the UK from the European Union will still want to and so they will no doubt have come up with their own contingencies to get around the problems associated with having a hard border between the European continent and Great Britain. I have also assumed that the UK/EU southwest land border will cause all sorts of unintended and unknown unknown consequences some of which may well lead to violence. Just to illuminate this a little further Sein Fein have had a bad set of election result in the Republic of Ireland and any tensions along the border would be used by them to bolster their support. Again where this might lead is anyone’s guess.
However, away from all this you have to look at what the European Research Group (ERG) view of what should happen next – we should start to work on a free trade agreement with the EU who, after all, represent our largest external trading partner. Of course the first thing that the EU is going ask for is what they see as the unpaid bills of the UK – circa €40bn and are unlikely to budge until this dealt with. Then they will want to ensure that the UK doesn’t have an unfair advantage over working practice ie low pay and working conditions compared to the rest of the EU and of course they will want to ensure that the EU citizens that live and work in the UK are fairly treated. They will also want some form of judicial oversight of any agreement to ensure that both sides are playing fair. Oh one final thing there will need to be some form of agreement that ensures that any problems along the UK/EU land border are reduced to a minimum.
If any of this is starting to sound familiar well of course it is because this is what was negotiated and agreed between the UK government and the EU in the withdrawal agreement and it doesn’t matter whether Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab or Steve Baker is the new Prime Minister these are the same problems they are going to face and all the fluster of Nigel Farage won’t change any of this. However don’t expect any of this cold light of reality to enter into the ever crazier things that these people are going to say over the next few weeks. Whoever is the next Prime Minister he (see above for disclaimer on personal pronoun) will have a honeymoon as long as it takes them to finish their acceptance speech. They will have hard choice to make in very short order even if we leave the EU without a deal. (This is unlikely to destroy the Brexit Party as I am sure that Nigel Farage has already thought of this and will morph the Brexit Party into another vehicle for his political ambitions. You have to admire his political skills if you don’t agree with his political aims.)
This will require a politician of great skill and cunning to try and sort out. Which of the declared candidates have any of these skills? I suspect only one but that is a story for another day.