The Friday Fizz is Not Enough Champagne's review of the week's news. Read previous instalments here.
One altogether unwelcome feature of the whole Brexit business is the continuing efforts of the right-wing press to quash any dissent or disagreement by anyone who queries how Britain goes about the process of leaving the EU. The Daily Mail has called judges The Enemies Of The People, just for doing their jobs. Later, it published a front page which has not aged well, saying that Theresa May was calling an election to Crush the Brexit sabateurs. This week it was the turn of the Daily Telegraph, who produced a handy guide to "The Brexit Mutineers".
On closer inspection I was disappointed to find that this was not a reference to a hardy band of pirates, but instead refers to fifteen Conservative MPs who object to the fact that Theresa May wishes to write into law the precise date that Britain will leave the European Union.
The Telegraph headline has deservedly sparked a substantial backlash. Perhaps people still entertain the thought that it's a serious newspaper, as opposed to the Daily Mail, which has always been on the wrong side of reality. Alternatively (and cynically) maybe it's because the political class get really cross if the papers start besmirching MPs as opposed to judges. Either way, these mutineers are absolutely right to vote against fixing the date of exit from the EU. It's such a stupid, wrong-headed move that some are speculating that Theresa May has only proposed it to try and sabotage Brexit, a line of thinking really does reflect the paranoid times we live in. Instead, the simplest solution would appear to be that this is just another of the stupid, destabilising, counter-productive moves Theresa May has made since becoming Prime Minister of courting the maddest Brexiter views. After all, they are the ones who could get rid of her as Prime Minister within the week if her position on Brexit softens one iota.
Incredibly, in the hours between drafting this Fizz before work and publishing it after I get home, it turns out that the government is now considering a climbdown on the issue. What a lot of wasted effot over a nonsense issue from a Prime Minister who does not have a lot of political capital to spend.
Old, New, Borrowed and Blue:
Old: I wrote a blog in January about triggering Article 50. Given the revelations in Parliament this week that MPs gasped when they realised Britain could leave the EU without a deal, it seems worth revisiting. It's clearer now than ever that the government should not have triggered Article 50 in March, without any clear plan of what it wanted to achieve or no preparations undertaken. It's also clear that Labour MPs should not have voted to trigger Article 50 without Keir Starmer's caveats to be taken into account. The ones I highlight in the blog were:
The publishing of a bill with a detailed Brexit plan.
Barrier-free access to the single market.
A guarantee that MPs will be consulted throughout the negotiations, not just at the start and the end.
Guaranteeing the right of EU citizens currently living in Britain to live here before negotiations begin.
I wonder though if had Parliament blocked the triggering of Article 50 that this would have led to Theresa May calling an early election to give her a mandate for that. It's an interesting counterfactual we will hopefully explore in the podcasts summing up the year in Brexit news.
New: I've been ill this week so nothing has come up on the site. Here's our podcast from last Saturday about the history of tuition fees as a policy.
Borrowed: The biggest international news is a military coup in Zimbabwe. A useful articles on that you can find here, and another analysis from an American perspective is this one. Also, regular listeners will know that we are fans of Stephen Bush and he has a typically interesting piece on the latest stupid things to come out of an MP's internet history. Emma Dent Coad.
Blue: We will be talking about the Budget on our next couple of podcasts. Here's an interesting take from a free market perspective about what Philip Hammond could do.
Pop Culture Recommendation
Now that Masterchef: The Professionals has started and there's a new Rick Stein series, my evenings are filled with Monica Galetti raising her eyebrows and the various expostulations of Gregg Wallace. We've also spent a lot of time watching Keith Floyd cooking in weird and exotic locations, particularly his series on Africa. You can see the episode on Madagascar here.
That's all for this week. We look forward to the budget on Sunday. Hope you listen then.