My most basic feeling about the BoJo speech on the EU is: why do we need another one of these from a rogue cabinet member? Can’t the government just come up with a collective position and then announce it? How am I supposed to take the intentions set out in the Boris speech other than “what Boris would do if he was PM”? Judging it by that final yardstick, it is the usual pretty thin gruel from the Foreign Secretary.
In a Sun article this morning, which acts as what I imagine is a sort of trailer for the speech, Boris claims that he is trying to “reach out to Remainers”. Right, how do you think that’s going to go down?
There are many things I can imagine a Brexiteer saying to a more swing portion of the Remain crowd to try and change their minds; sufficed to say, BoJo’s speech falls extremely wide of the mark. Take this one snippet:
“It is only by taking back control of our laws that UK firms and entrepreneurs will have the freedom to innovate, without the risk of having to comply with some directive devised by Brussels, at the urgings of some lobby group, with the aim of holding back a UK competitor.”
There are so many assumptions baked into this sentence, it is hard to know where to begin. It implies that Britain has been hampered the last few years, unable to truly “innovate” due to the shackles imposed by Brussels. This runs against everything the Tories have tried to say while they have been in government: that unemployment is down, the economy constantly improving, all because the of policies pursued by the Tories over the last eight years (the fact that the first five were in coalition with another party now whitewashed from history). How is that compatible at all with the idea that Brussels has seriously dampened innovation during this period? The sentence also implies that somehow rules imposed by the EU are automatically less onerous than ones the UK government would apply. Besides this being not only untrue but not believed by many small business owners, including many of those who voted to Leave, one then has to believe that BoJo thinks that EU regulation is far more brutal to cope with than anything Corbyn and co would come up with. Try putting that on a Tory election leaflet in Uxbridge.
I could write an entire book tearing part this one sentence in Boris’ article, but I’ll content myself with one final analysis. It describes the very “aim” of EU regulations as “holding back a UK competitor”. This strikes at the heart of the Brexit paradox: is it about being more global or more protectionist? Why would UK firms supposedly struggle when faced with greater external competition? For the record, over the last 40 odd years of being inside the European market, UK firms have very, very far from struggled. This is high amongst the reasons that so many EU citizens wish to come here. Sounds like Boris is “doing down the country” to me….
This isn’t a speech to woo Remainers – it the precise opposite, a means by which to tell Conservative Party members that he is the one true keeper of the flame, the only man to deliver a “true” Brexit.