And still they fight, still they kick, gripping the bannister and screaming that no, no, no they are NOT going to go to school, are NOT going to eat their vegetables, are NOT going to bed.

Those of us who have been parents of young children know how it plays out, this sort of thing. They bite us, thump us on the chest, tell us they hate us and that we have ruined their lives.

We keep calm and quietly detach their pink little fingers from whatever anchor they have grasped.

Eventually — though with still much silent sobbing — they do what we have asked them to do because, in the end, there is no alternative. We are bigger. We are stronger.

Over the Bank Holiday weekend, members of our pro-Brussels elite had another of their spoilt-brat tantrums. 

Over the Bank Holiday weekend, members of our pro-Brussels elite had another of their spoilt-brat tantrums. This time, their front-person was Business Secretary Greg Clark (pictured)

Over the Bank Holiday weekend, members of our pro-Brussels elite had another of their spoilt-brat tantrums. This time, their front-person was Business Secretary Greg Clark (pictured)

Over the Bank Holiday weekend, members of our pro-Brussels elite had another of their spoilt-brat tantrums. This time, their front-person was Business Secretary Greg Clark (pictured)

This time, their front-person was Business Secretary Greg Clark, little-known to the public, but one of the Establishment’s more mellifluous schmoozers. Mr Clark, once a member of the SDP, is a determined Remainer.

On Sunday morning, with the approval of Downing Street, he appeared on television to re-ignite ‘Project Fear’ and predict thousands of job losses unless we subscribe to a version of the customs union after we have nominally left the European Union.

Within minutes, he was supported publicly by the usual suspects: the pro-EU Confederation of British Industry and the British Chambers of Commerce, former Home Secretary Amber Rudd, MPs Anna Soubry and Nicky Morgan, the George Soros-financed Best For Britain lobby, etc., all jumping to the EU’s tune. But please don’t suggest it was co-ordinated.

Mr Clark himself is a piffling figure. Let us not waste time by examining him, save to note that it is strange for a business minister to be such a plodder. Business fortunes are made by embracing opportunity and change, yet this Business Secretary possesses all the verve of a Fiat Punto driver pfaffing along in the middle lane of a motorway at 60mph.

More concerning is the fact that such an ardent Europhile was chosen to be the voice of Theresa May’s Government at such a sensitive time, and that he felt so comfortable spouting a line on the customs union that is so at odds with both last week’s decision by the inner Brexit Cabinet to reject it and with the political realities facing Mrs May.

Theresa May (pictured), or the Europhile advisers who surround her, must be mad to pursue their plan to shackle us to the EU with this back-door proposal for a customs union

Theresa May (pictured), or the Europhile advisers who surround her, must be mad to pursue their plan to shackle us to the EU with this back-door proposal for a customs union

Theresa May (pictured), or the Europhile advisers who surround her, must be mad to pursue their plan to shackle us to the EU with this back-door proposal for a customs union

She, or the Europhile advisers who surround her, must be mad to pursue their plan to shackle us to the EU with this back-door proposal for a customs union.

If they persist, they will bring about her destruction. The longer they continue to ignore this reality, the more her Eurosceptic colleagues will conclude that the benefits of getting rid of her could outweigh the dangers.

Greg Clark was supporting the idea — attributed to Mrs May’s senior Brexit adviser, a civil servant called Oliver Robbins — known as customs partnership.

This would force post-Brexit Britain to continue to collect import duties on behalf of the EU. It would be horrendously bureaucratic and would deter companies from doing business in an independent Britain.

The plan is opposed sharply by a large number of Tory MPs. They see it as both unworkable and unprincipled, because it would kill Brexit. (No wonder Labour goes along with the idea — for the time being. Jeremy Corbyn’s lot would love it because the Tories would get the blame for obstructing the democratic result of the June 2016 referendum.)

If Tory MPs did not know before last week that customs partnership would be fatal to their party’s future, they must know now.

Last Thursday’s local elections showed that Brexit remains a powerful vote-winner. Ukip voters migrated en bloc to the Tories because they see them as more Brexit-friendly than Labour.

The two ministers thought to be vulnerable to persuasion are Home Secretary Sajid Javid (pictured) and Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson. But both men fancy their chances as future Tory leaders

The two ministers thought to be vulnerable to persuasion are Home Secretary Sajid Javid (pictured) and Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson. But both men fancy their chances as future Tory leaders

The two ministers thought to be vulnerable to persuasion are Home Secretary Sajid Javid (pictured) and Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson. But both men fancy their chances as future Tory leaders

And yet the Prime Minister, while publicly reiterating her determination to leave the single market and the customs union, is prevaricating in private. She allows her Downing Street team, who for the main part were Remain supporters, to continue with their crazy appeasement of Brussels with this customs partnership proposal.

While it may be pointless to plead with politicians on policy grounds, we can surely agree that the one thing they really understand is personal self-interest. So from that vantage point, let us ‘wargame’ Mrs May’s options.

If she goes for the Robbins/Clark idea of a customs partnership, she would need to force one of her key Cabinet colleagues to change their mind.

The two ministers thought to be vulnerable to persuasion are Home Secretary Sajid Javid and Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson. But both men fancy their chances as future Tory leaders. 

If they did cave in to Mrs May’s pleas to re-think their position on customs partnership, they could immediately forget any dreams of being leader. The Tory Party in the country would never vote for such a person.

Even if Mrs May did manage to ‘fix’ the Cabinet committee to rethink its position on customs partnership, she would have to contend with her backbenchers. Uh oh. She would be slaughtered.

Scores of Tory MPs are far less polite about the Robbins/Clark plan than Jacob Rees-Mogg, who is their spokesman on this issue. And even the gentlemanly Jacob has called it ‘cretinous’!

Under Conservative party rules, it needs only 48 MPs to trigger a vote of confidence in Theresa May’s leadership. If she green-lights customs partnership, that will happen within hours.

I fear she simply has no idea how angry Brexiteers are about this plan, or about the Whitehall establishment’s continuing attempts to stymie Brexit. The mood is one of tranquil resolve: if the Prime Minister tries this outrageous anti-democratic move, it’s off-with-her-head.

Would any of this lead to a General Election? Until last week, I would have said no way. An early General Election requires a two-thirds majority from the Commons and, with hard-Left Opposition, I did not think the Tories would risk it. But the encouraging local election results might just tempt them.

The Opposition will always support a chance of unseating a Government, and pro-Brexit MPs know that an election would see off some of the leading Remainers. Ken Clarke would most likely retire. One hears similar rumours about Dominic Grieve, and Miss Soubry would probably lose her strongly pro-Brexit seat.

Yet that fine woman ‘Brenda from Bristol’ spoke for many of us last year by expressing weariness at the prospect of yet another election.

That is why Mrs May will surely take Option Two — which is the only option she should ever have contemplated — and accept that we will not continue in any form of customs union with Brussels after we have left the EU.

If Brexit is to mean Brexit, it must mean independence from foreign tariffs and taxes and blether and bureaucracy.

Stop this damaging and demeaning dither, Prime Minister. Put Greg Clark back in his boring box and set our economy free. It makes principled, electoral sense — and the alternative is too horrible to contemplate.

 

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