Cummings’ humility comes too late for Brexit Britain | William keegan
NOTo, “Eyetest” Cummings is not my new best friend. As compelling as his criticisms of the prime minister are, the tragedy is that the fallout between the two came far too late for the good of the country. It is not even enough for Cummings to say that we leftovers are “reasonable people.”
If only this spectacular explosion had taken place during their all-too-successful Brexit campaign. Alas, this was not the case and we are receiving more news of the disaster day by day. Sadly, the general public is understandably so concerned about the pandemic that the widespread appreciation of the damage caused by Brexit has yet to sink.
The Cummings assault last Wednesday developed slowly. At first he almost looked like Uriah Heep in his modesty. His manner evoking memories of David Copperfield, he almost said “I am very humble, Mr. Clark” to the impressive chairman of the Commons scientific committee.
Despite his image, he did not claim to know everything. Despite his assault on the prime minister, he too was wrong and made mistakes about the timing of the lockdown.
Without actually quoting Alexander Pope, he must have been tempted to remind us that “a little learning is a dangerous thing”. Nonetheless, regardless of Cummings’ avowed shortcomings, evidence is mounting that Johnson missed his Churchillian moment to proclaim a more timely lockdown, with the result that God knows how many more thousands of lives have been lost to the pandemic. . It is claimed that at a crucial moment the Prime Minister was absent of his own accord, belatedly writing part of a book that his anxious editors allegedly said would put Shakespeare in his rightful place.
However, I suspect that after his undeserved “vaccine rebound” in the polls, Johnson himself will be put in his place. A popular opinion is that it has “teflon qualities”, but in my experience, teflon does wear down kitchen utensils. Cummings is also right that there is something wrong with a political system where the choice in the last election was between Johnson and Corbyn.
Johnson’s Brexit is supposed to be about trade, freedom and liberation from bureaucracy. Our trade in goods with the European Union decreased by 23.1% between the first quarter of 2018 and this year. Small and medium-sized businesses across the country are burdened with costly filling out bureaucratic forms, and some are giving up on trying to continue doing business with our former partners.
Right now, freedom of movement across Europe is limited by the pandemic; soon the impact of Brexit restrictions will become more evident. Indeed, they are already affecting musicians and young people. Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry, headed by the execrable Priti Patel, arrests and expels European citizens who arrive at our borders.
So the immigrants “took our jobs”, right? Tell that to the many in the hospitality industry who say they are having enormous difficulty recruiting staff now that their European workers have returned home. According to the British Meat Processors Association, the supply of meat to supermarkets is slowing down as most of the qualified butchers are from EU countries and are leaving Britain. I don’t think vegan Britain was on Johnson’s referendum bus side. I also understand that some comfortably distant people who voted on leave even find it difficult to hire au pairs!
The stupidity of Brexit is now compounded by the stupidity of Lord Frost, our chief negotiator with the EU.
Obviously we need as good a relationship as possible with our former partners, but Frost is doing everything he can to upset them. The advantages of Brexit? Well, Frost recently told the oddly appointed European Commons review committee that the government was going to hire an outside adviser to identify ‘post-Brexit opportunities’. It seems they were so intent on closing the door that they hadn’t thought much about it.
Do not worry. Frost says, “We have high hopes of an outside contribution to this process.” Brexit was “a huge opportunity … to identify the opportunities”.
The best advice from an outside advisor would be to tell Frost to grow up and seek to regain as many of the benefits and privileges of EU membership as possible.
By the way, I laughed recently when, amid the fallout from the Martin Bashir scandal, Brexiters added accusations of pro-Remain bias to the BBC during the referendum campaign and after.
I must say: it escaped me. I’ve lost count of how often Nigel Farage appears – and I’ve never been aware of much BBC coverage on the benefits of membership. In my opinion, the BBC was well balanced.