When one looks at our present government’s composition, it is hard to imagine how this motley of second-rate individuals will be able to negotiate a Brexit which, according to them, will make Britain better off and in total control of its destiny. ‘Tell it to the Marines,’ is my immediate reaction for I fail to understand how a divided lot can reasonably cast away their personal ambitions to succeed Theresa May, whose tenure at 10 Downing Street is far from secure, and whose popularity is perhaps at its lowest ebb, and still be able to operate sensibly and without any ulterior motives.
However, a late notable exception is Philip Hammond who has so far been consistent. He has acted with conviction and refused to be bullied by members of the cabinet who expect him to toe the line irrespective of his beliefs, with a policy that will alienate the EU and leave us stranded, so to speak, in a wilderness which we can ill afford even to speculate. His courage to speak boldly to his colleagues and make his latest statement that it would be ‘madness’ not to seek the closest possible arrangement with the EU, are comments that appear to widen the gulf between himself and the Prime Minister over Brexit.
Mr Hammond, who flew to Hamburg with the PM for the recent G20 Summit, suggested that leaving the EU was a ‘political arrangement’ and stressed that the EU will remain our largest trading partner. His comments jarred with Downing Street’s outward-looking trade agenda and come as Mrs May uses the G20 to talk trade with leaders of the world’s three largest economies: President Trump, President Xi Jimping of China and President Shinzo Abe of Japan.
Mr Hammond, a former remain campaigner who favours a softer Brexit than Mrs May, appeared to prioritise the importance of keeping strong trading links with the EU last weekend without mentioning other major nations. He said those who voted like him to remain in the EU want to see a Brexit that looks sensible to them. He added that they want a Brexit which is focused on protecting jobs – business, prosperity, trade: A Brexit that recovers sovereignty for the UK, but recognises the reality that the EU will remain our largest trading partner and our nearest neighbour, and that it would be madness not to seek to have the closest possible arrangement with it, going forward. ‘To trade with them, to cooperate with them, but doing it as a sovereign country.’
Mr Hammond proved that he is a responsible politician who genuinely wants Britain to remain a major world power and gain its prosperity through trade and hard work. In the circumstances, we must applaud his dedication in securing the best deal for Britain and support him throughout this ordeal.
And as for Donald Trump’s promises to Mrs May, I would take them with a large pinch of salt. The special relationship is mere fiction.