- - Tuesday, August 13, 2019

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The weathervane above Downing Street has recently swung due west toward America, although the one above Parliament seems to be stuck pointing at Europe, so It probably needs some new parts to replace the rusty old ones. 

Britain’s new trade secretary, Liz Truss, has said, “Negotiating and signing exciting new free trade agreements is my top priority — and none are more important than with the United States.”

Those sentiments have long been shared by President Trump who stated, “We’re working already on a trade agreement and I think it’ll be a very substantial trade agreement.” 

Bi-lateral trade is predicted to increase by four to five times current levels and, unlike the very unfree trade deal that the EU has begrudgingly offered, the U.K. won’t have to pay £39 billion and give up control of Northern Ireland.

A holdup could be in the House of Commons where the government has a majority of just one MP, so Boris Johnson is wisely taking advantage of the summer parliamentary recess to organise his new team before the onslaught against them begins in September. 



Even the civil service, which previously endorsed Theresa May’s “cannot-do” approach with enthusiasm, has been ordered to get on side and top advisors have even been told to cancel their summer vacations.

The new prime minister has sent a letter informing them that, “We must restore trust in our democracy, and fulfil the repeated promises of Parliament to the people, by coming out of the European Union on 31 October … we will be leaving on this date, whatever the circumstances.”

What a change that is to the last three years of Brexit atrophy under Theresa May.

There is speculation that Mr. Johnson is letting the EU know he is not scared of leaving without a deal in order to get a better one when they start panicking.  

However, it could also be that he genuinely believes that “no-deal” is best for Britain, but he can’t say it yet for fear of upsetting the powerful “Remain” lobby

For them the EU is a benign institution working for the benefit of all. They dismiss its hardball tactics over Brexit as the inevitable consequences of Britain making a dumb decision. It is like an abuse victim saying, “I deserve it, I’m bad.” 

But compare the EU’s attitude to Britain’s at the end of its Empire. Those newly independent nations didn’t have to pay an astronomical divorce bill before they could join the Commonwealth. 

U.K. trade with its former colonies and dominions didn’t stop the moment they lowered the Union Jack flag. With the exception of America, it grew into a tariff-free Commonwealth preference system that only stopped after Britain joined the European Economic Community. 

Hopefully those Commonwealth friends will be more forgiving now than Brussels has been. 

The generous trading options with America and beyond have been there from Brexit day one, or at least since the Trump presidency, so why has it taken three years? 

Britain isn’t allowed to sign deals elsewhere until it leaves the EU and the Conservatives have been dragging their feet — after all, they were the party that took Britain in.

They even sacrificed their most successful peacetime prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, so that Britain could sign The Maastricht Treaty needed to further centralise power in the EU. Later, they resisted calls for a referendum on Britain’s membership and only reluctantly relented. 

Brexit scared them. No one in the U.K. government had any experience of negotiating large, independent trade deals, so Mrs. May spent more time looking for a new deal with the EU than around the world.

If the U.K. regains its independence, it will be in spite of the Tories — at least until Mr. Johnson’s tenure. The man who really deserves that accolade is Nigel Farage and to achieve it he has had to raise up not one, but two political parties.

As leader of UKIP he won almost four million votes, which frightened David Cameron into allowing the referendum to happen. 

Later, when the Conservatives seemed to be returning to their old ways under Mrs. May, he stormed back with The Brexit Party to put the electoral fear of God into them once again and that finally made them serious about leaving.

When Brexit is realized he will have peacefully changed the governance of the U.K. and saved it as a sovereign nation state — all without ever being elected into the House of Commons. There has never been anyone quite like him.

Boris Johnson is a good man. If he succeeds in getting Britain to leave the EU he will win the approbation of 17.4 million-plus Brexiteers and probably the next General Election. That would be a great moment to publicly acknowledge Mr. Farage for the enormous contribution he has made to this nation. 

• Andrew Davies is a U.K.-based video producer and scriptwriter.

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