DAVID Cameron’s bilious memoirs in this historic week remind me of an early manifestation of Tory polarisation over Europe. I refer to the Westland affair.
Early in this preposterous and hypocritical episode I had a run in with Leon Brittan, then Industry Secretary, who was trying to uphold Government policy in the face Michael Heseltine’s rebellion.
The Government thought the Westland helicopter company should find its own salvation – as it did with Sikorsky – but Heseltine was demanding it merge with a non-existent European consortium of his imagination.
Brittan understandably got so fed up that he demanded Heseltine’s sacking. Mrs Thatcher called me into the crisis meeting for advice. It was not to Brittan’s liking and he had a mild tantrum compared with that when I moaned: “God save me from these warring tribes”.
Brittan, entirely erroneously, thought I was casting aspersions on his Jewish race. He had to be calmed down. Subsequently, Sir Robert Armstrong, Cabinet Secretary, often asked me if I had encountered any more warring tribes.
My honest answer now would be “Every day”.
The Tory Party has become a passable imitation of Shakespeare’s Montagues and Capulets – all played out against a cacophonous background formed by the other unprincipled parties bent on combining with Remainer Tories to frustrate Brexit.
Now that the Supreme Court is dabbling in politics – and effectively putting government in the hands of disputatious lawyers – I assume we shall see our PM sent to Pentonville to conduct affairs of state by smuggled mobile.
Otherwise, nothing has changed unless Boris Johnson really did make progress in pathetic Luxembourg on Monday. I shall believe the EU has had a “bellyful” of Brexit when I see a deal.
Where do we go from here? Well, Boris Johnson is required by Parliament to write to Brussels seeking yet another extension of our membership – a move he has sworn he would prefer to die in the ditch than perform. But No 10 says it obeys the law.
I would advise Boris Johnson eventually to obey but with a side letter making absolutely clear that as PM of the British Government he does not agree with it, intends to ignore it and that unless the EU comes up with an acceptable agreement we shall leave on October 31 with our £39bn.
Since David Cameron demonstrates how out of touch he was in believing the UK would vote to remain in the referendum, the current PM might usefully explain why he was wrong. I cannot put it any better than Margaret Thatcher in her Bruges speech on 1988: “We have not rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain to have them re-imposed at European level by a European superstate run from Brussels.”
Of course, our deceitful politicians, elected on a promise to quit the EU, could then seek to defenestrate Boris Johnson for disobeying the House of Commons. I would not put it past Speaker Bercow to incarcerate him in the Tower. That, at least, should do tourism – and our trade balance – no end of good.
But it would not solve the problem since we cannot have a general election because of Cameron/Clegg providing for fixed term Parliaments.
In short, we are up a gum tree. There is no prospect of an end to the chaos unless we quit or our politicians and Brussels recover their sanity, agree a deal, make Halloween 2019 an historic day in British annals and then have an election.
I fully understand why Jeremy Corbyn, after demanding an election roughly once a week, has suddenly run away. He knows that, in the face of his palsied Marxism, Boris Johnson cannot lose either way – in or out – provided, of course, he does not extend our membership.
He is the People’s PM. Whatever his past and his wayward nature, he is the only person likely to lead an independent Britain to success and, as he has already shown, try to remedy our many national ills.
Voting for the present Labour Party is to ensure our rapid decline into an impoverished wreck without the slightest influence in the world. Voting for any other party will manifestly make Britain Jacob Rees-Mogg’s vassal state in a failing and fractious EU.
The next election will be a fine example of Hobson’s choice if we Brexit. If we don’t, Private Fraser would for once be accurate: “We’re doomed” – either to penury or powerlessness. We’ve been going west since Westland.
Canada, Australia and New Zealand beckon. I shall go fulminating to my grave.