Brexit’s promise of a packet of crisps
Things are moving towards some sort of crunch as various Brexiteer positions implode under the weight of their own contradictions or fall apart under painful contact with the brick wall of reality. Last week’s Chequers meeting seems like a very long time ago and most of the media have long since lost interest in the strategy of ‘managed divergence’ which is to be outlined by Theresa May on Friday but has already been rejected by the EU. She is being preceded by a series of ministerial warm-up acts; today it is the turn of Trade Secretary Liam Fox who will outline all the great trading opportunities around the world that a free Britain could get involved in.
Now and again, some bright mind sums up the Brexit debate with a single phrase. Sir Martin Donnelly was formerly permanent secretary in Fox’s Department for International Trade and he doesn’t reckon there are all that many trading opportunities out there. More importantly, he doesn’t think it is a good idea to leave the solid certainty of the customs union to go chasing them. Speaking on the BBC Today programme, he compared the situation to “rejecting a three-course meal now in favour of the promise of a packet of crisps later”.
Boris Johnson can also come up with memorable phrases. On BBC Radio 4 he suggested a frictionless border in Ireland could be like the invisible line between Islington and Camden boroughs in London. His point was that as Mayor of London he could oversee a system where congestion charges were collected by technology even though drivers were unaware of passing from one borough to another. We can’t wait to see that system operating at the bottom of the hill in Jonesborough.