This week in Westminster it was apparent that a small group of Remainer MPs wanted to make British Prime Minister Theresa May uncomfortable. George Osborne, the former Chancellor, signalled his comeback during a chat show on ITV, reminding Theresa May that she was unelected; he also wrote a piece in the Sun newspaper under the heading “George Osborne warns Theresa May she must work closely with Donald Trump to curb his disastrous ideas”. It says a lot about Osborne’s attitude to the US President-elect, but he also wrote that Hillary Clinton was “tired and boring”. It is believed that Osborne has collected a small group of former Tory ministers and MPs, including Nicky Morgan, Anna Soubry and Alistair Burt, to pressure Mrs May to immediately reveal her broad objectives for Brexit.
Andrew Bridgen, Tory Brexiteer MP, says, “There is a small group of ministers who lost their jobs after the EU referendum. They are bruised and they long for Brexit to be an economic disaster, they see everything through that prism of self-interest.” He doubts if they will get any traction, but Bridgen longs for a vote in Parliament to hasten forward Brexit. According to gossip in the corridors of Westminster, this is being mooted by some for as early next week to pre-empt the Brexit/Article 50/Prerogative Powers Appeal in the Supreme Court,
scheduled to begin on 5 December. The hearsay is that the motion would be something like “this House instructs the government to trigger Article 50”.
PM May gets the people’s dissatisfaction and the momentum for change as reflected in her speech to the Lord Mayor’s Banquet on 14 November. She said, “If we believe, as I do, that liberalism and globalisation continue to offer the best future for our world, we must deal with the downsides and show that we can make these twin forces work for everyone. Because when you refuse to accept that globalisation in its current form has left too many people behind, you’re not sowing the seeds for its growth but for its ruin.” Enter Nigel Farage, acting UKIP leader, who stole the thunder from this event with his surprise 50-minute tête-à-tête with Donald Trump. Farage tweeted, “The British government needs to mend fences to improve US-UK relations — I can help.” Farage had met the Republican nominee on the campaign trail in Jackson, Mississippi, where he shared the platform with Trump at a rally. Farage has since offered to be a de-facto facilitator for US-bilateral trade deals if No 10 would agree. The Prime Minister’s Office dismissed this suggestion. However, when George Kerevan, Scottish National Party MP, enquired of the Prime Minister at Question Time if it was possible that Farage might be awarded a peerage, May’s answer was uncharacteristically unclear: “Such matters are, normally, never discussed in public.” Farage said although it was not on the cards, however, if the President-elect offered him a job, he would “quite like to be his ambassador to the European Union”.
There is deep concern in Westminster about Iraq and Syria. The British forces have continued to conduct air operations as part of the Coalition’s air campaign to support the Iraqi operation to liberate Mosul. Missions have also been flown to assist the Syrian Democratic Forces advancing towards Raqqa. It is thought to be heading towards a double humanitarian catastrophe. President Barack Obama’s last stand to get the credit before January might be the push to Mosul, which is described as sacrifice either by siege or from above. Some question if this is necessary for Iraqi politics, as it will not be the end of Daesh. After Aleppo there is a fear that Trump’s victory will embolden President Putin with major consequences for NATO and the Baltic States.
Meanwhile, the best US post-election headline in the UK came from the Ellon Times in Scotland: “Aberdeenshire business owner wins presidential election”.