Thursday, 30 June 2016

Now is the time for olive branches

Gove would be the ideal general to select if we were going to war with the EU. We're not though. We are beginning a new relationship with the EU. So the last people we need are people like Leadsom and Gove who are hostile to the EU. These are people who have already declared their opposition to the single market and freedom of movement. What we need is someone who will open doors rather than slam them in the EUs face.

Theresa May of all people knows the frustrations created by the EU but she also knows their limitations and she also knows ours. If she can get a worthwhile concession she will. What we don't want is people who will commit a singular act of economic vandalism on the back of a their campaign promises which were ill advised to begin with.

We could forgive such a stance if the mandate was to control immigration but it wasn't. The vast majority of leavers voted on the issue of sovereignty and the majority of remainers, by a wide margin, voted out of concern for the economy. And being that the leave majority was small, we want a compromise candidate who will be firm and make reasonable demands.

We do not want ideologues and zealots. We want pragmatists and we need an olive branch to the EU - as we will be seeking their cooperation to help us leave for the next two decades.

If we have a PM who privately wants to destroy the EU then we won't find much in the way of cooperation. Leave MPs have called the EU all the names under the sun which would prove a major liability for us in the same way that Johnson, as a Europhile, damaged Leave's credibility.

Leadsom et al, do not see any value in EU cooperation because they know so little about it. In that regard we cannot expect her or Gove to approach talks with the necessary maturity.

And as I say, these are not normal times. In any other times as a profoundly anti-EU conservative, to the right of the party, I would probably go for someone like Gove myself. But these are unprecedented circumstances and we will have to put our trust in a more moderate candidate who commands a good deal of cross party respect. That won't be anyone from the Tory right.

I am opposed to Gove and the likes not because they are different to me, but because they are like me. I want roughly the same destination as them, but I appreciate we won't get it all at once and we won't get it by adopting an aggressive approach. If we do it that way we likely won't get anything we want. That is why I am pleading for a bit of self-awareness from leavers and for a bit of maturity in who you side with.

I am not speaking here as a tepid leaver. I am speaking as a pragmatist who knows better than anybody the magnitude of what we are embarking upon and the risks it entails. I also know that politicians are only as good as their advisors. I have looked at these people very closely and what I see genuinely keeps me awake at night. You don't know them, but you do know me and so you know I don't say things without a reason. If I am concerned, you should be.

This isn't about what you want as a prime minister. It's not even about the leadership the country needs. It's about what a unique set of circumstances demand of us - and that means looking beyond base instincts or habitual preference. This has now become a managerial decision. When this is all sorted we can return to real politics and choose those who best reflect ourselves, but for now, we must choose wisely. There is much at stake. More to the point, when she doesn't get a concession on freedom of movement, she alone carries the can for it.

No comments:

Post a Comment