Saturday, 20 August 2022

Brexit... what's nextit?

Sunday politics

EARLY on Sunday morning Ian McEwan and Geordie Grieg, after talk of books, sex and interviews, covered Brexit. McEwan and Grieg are both great lovers of the EU, so they were content in their Remainer dismay.

After lunch there was Michael Gove MP and BBC News chief James Harding talking about politics, Trump and the BBC.

“Shy bairns get no sweeties,” was Gove’s comment on his Times interview with Donald Trump — Trump being “a raging, remarkable force of nature” who answered cultural questions with cultural answers.

Turning to the UK, Gove admitted Jeremy Corbyn had “a degree of positivity and energy”. In answer to the one-word question “Boris?” Gove responded: “Yes is the short answer.”

Gove then asked Harding: “How true to life is W1A?” To which the answer was “I’ve seen relatively few because it is too painful — it is very well observed.”

Next up was a panel discussion chaired by the Daily Mail columnist Sarah Vine (aka Mrs Gove). In the week Baroness Trumpington announced her retirement from the Upper House aged 95, Vine showed that all is not lost.

Benjamin Wegg-Prosser said he expected Corbyn to be prime minister in the next 24 months thanks to his 30 years of organising and campaigning (NGO campaigns and marginal groups) and a “remarkable on the ground movement”.

Kwasi Kwarteng described populism as “an outcome you don’t like” and an accusation levelled at something for which one has “no response”.

Gove sees the UK as an outlier of the rest of Europe but better insulated, adding: “Politics is downstream of economics and culture.”

Kwarteng said he had always expected the current Brexit negotiations to include “standoff, drama, tears”.

Gove admitted to having read Neil Strauss’s infamous chat-up/courtship book The Rules of the Game, with regard to being distant but not too distant in Brexit negotiations, where “earlier [the EU had] seen [Brexit] as a feint and then the centime dropped”.

In answer to a question, it emerged that the panel (Wegg-Prosser and Kwarteng) thought Europe would have left us on the periphery regardless of Brexit, similar to the Ukraine or Turkey, and the huge significance of the UK not having joined the Euro was emphasised.

Gove answered a question by making a comparison of Brexit and the American War of Independence, whereby one group broke away from another administrative body after 150 years.

The Cliveden Literary Festival is back next year on October 6 and 7.

Rodolph De Salis

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