ABHI Membership

ABHI Brexit Update: A Bit of an Ask

Happy Friday teatime everybody. Or maybe it’s happy hour with Mike Kreuzer in Catalonia, or coffee and doughnuts with Joe Gatewood and Ed Rosynski in Washington DC (is that what Americans have for elevenses?). Wherever you are it is good to know that you are there, and special thanks to the many of you who take the time to send kind words. It makes the compiling of this nonsense every week very much easier that it might otherwise be.

So, we will have to wait until next week to see if the highest court in London has overruled the highest court in Edinburgh. If it does, it might be something of a recurring theme in the months ahead. But the big legal brains in the Tory Party machinery will not get much of a rest. They will be focusing on working out the best way to break the no deal law whilst making it look like it was somebody else’s fault.

Speaking of which, David Cameron seems to have been working far harder than he ever did as PM. He has written a memoir and has been busy touting it about the place. My experience of Prime Ministerial memoirs is that they are not nearly as good as they ought to be. I was a big fan of Tony Blair, but I am afraid I did not get very far with him on “His Journey.” It was toe-curlingly awful, and I never even made it to the bit that got nominated for the bad sex writing award. From what I have gleaned so far, Cameron’s efforts have even less stocking-filling potential than Blair’s. Last weekend’s “big revelation,” wheeled out on the burgeoning number of political magazines that now encroach onto our Sunday airwaves, was that Cameron “had reached the conclusion that Boris only joined the Leave campaign to further his own political ambitions.” Really? I knew DC was not really that good, but jeez! “I have reached the conclusion…” Hands up anyone out there, who is not a former PM, or MP, or professional political analyst, that did not reach exactly the same conclusion the moment Boris did it. Thanks for the insights Dave, but your best bet is, as always, to take the advice offered to you by former England Hooker Brian Moore on his Twitter feed. As always, I cannot share the link on here, but you can probably guess, and I do wonder, mischievously, if one of the 13,000 likes the tweet attracted might just have come from the palace. 

Our weak, rudderless and incoherent excuse of an administration bumbles on, gaff prone. Nicky Morgan took the interesting approach with aforementioned Sundays to go on the record to say she would vote Remain in another referendum. She was, I think, trying to say that she was a democrat and would put her own beliefs aside to implement the democratic will of the people and all that. That Boris is an inclusive leader and, that despite signing oaths in blood to be hard leavers or euthanise themselves in ditches, the Cabinet was a broad church. The problem for the Culture Secretary was that all those pesky journos were interested in were the reasons why she would vote Remain. That is all they kept asking her. Repeatedly. And it was a line that her press team had clearly not prepared her for. (My, could have been, old mate) Steve Barclay got himself into a tangle. A new deal, he said, meant a new implementation / transition period, which could, in turn, see us following EU rules and regulations until 2022. Nobody seemed to know where that number came from. Downing Street quickly distanced itself. Poor old Steve, since Theresa May made him Brexit Secretary it has not been clear what he actually does. Others have done the heavy lifting and clever stuff and got to go on the Eurostar, whilst he has been left behind at No.9 keeping the kettle warm. Maybe he realises that this is as good as it is going to get for him and does not want the odyssey to end. Once Brexit is all done, that is the end of his Department, so he would actually like to see the period last until 2032. He should be be so lucky. There is trouble brewing in Finland. PM Antti Rinne also picked up on this blog when I said that the UK was not really taking anything new to the table. He has said that we must submit new plans in writing by the end of September or else, and given his country holds the rotating EU Presidency, his views kind of matter.

Possibly as a result of being an oftentimes tactical voter, I have long had a soft spot for the Lib Dems. I was pleased then to see them enjoying some rather unseasonably fine and warm weather in Bournemouth for their annual jamboree. Positively basking in it they were, and in celebratory mood too. They have found themselves another MP. The former Tory Minister Sam Gyimah, one of the 21 victims of Johnson’s temper tantrum the other week, was welcomed on to the conference main stage with a kiss and a hug by leader Jo Swinson. The moment was, to use the vernacular, a little bit awks, but that is 18 yellow rosettes in Westminster now, not, given the current arithmetic climate, a number to be sniffed at.

They have been producing policy too. The Lib Dems are now officially the party of Remain. I thought we had already established that after Uncle Vince’s wonderful “Bollocks to Brexit” manifesto for the European elections, but they had a vote anyway. I saw it on the telly, and nearly everybody in the room put their hand up. If they win the next General Election, they will revoke Article 50 without a second referendum, and we will go back to where we were. I love the new, bold, assertive Lib Dems, so at the risk of being churlish... The last time we saw a Liberal majority was 1906, and, despite their apparent resurgence, it might just be a bit of an ask. There is also the possibility that by the time I get to wander down to the Newlyn Fisherman’s Mission, ballot card in hand, Brexit may have already happened. What would the Lib Dems be then? The “Take us Back In” Party? It is a job someone has to do I suppose, because I doubt that Farage and the swivel eyed Tories would have gone quietly back whence they came had the referendum gone the other way, but it would be a rather long-term strategy. 1906 proportions long-term.

The Labour Party’s position on Brexit would give team psychologists nightmares. Deputy PM, Tom Watson, thinks they should be out there with the Lib Dems, but, for today at least, they are standing for a second referendum on a renegotiated deal or remaining. I think. But they have their conference to negotiate next week, and it does not always end well. Think David Milliband.

Many of you were with us on Tuesday for our excellent procurement conference. Our friends at Hogan Lovells told me that they were getting an increase in the number of enquiries from clients asking about labelling in the event of a no deal exit. Their Brussels based Partner, Elisabethann Wright wrote this blog considering the approach being taken in different Member States, which you may find helpful. And there is plenty more where that came from at our upcoming half-day on Brexit, not one you are going to want to miss.

This time next week I will be conferencing, but not in Brighton, rather in the US at the AdvaMed shindig and supporting our Mission to Austin with NHS Chair Lord Prior. Depending on the attitude of BA’s pilots and events here, you may or may not hear from me then.