Thursday, 14 July 2016
David Cameron and I never met. Our schedules simply clashed and much as we would have enjoyed a jolly good natter over lunch and a fine wine, it was, sadly, not to be. I did, however, do as many did and acted as a sort of unpaid advisor during his premiership. And despite our occasional differences - we did fall out over the whole messy EU business, as he forcefully stood behind every diagnosis of post Brexit doom - he was still, for my money, the best PM since Thatcher and of the current and recent crop of British political leaders the only one who stood apart as a statesman. He used his last PMQs to remind us of what we'll be missing.
Yes, yes, yes, Eton, toff, blah, blah, blether and all that but, you know, breeding. It’s never bothered me where our leaders have come from and traditionally – and Britain is nothing without tradition – class has always been more important than some republicans have dared to allow themselves to believe. In the rarefied air of world politics it takes something extra, something more than most of us have, some special chutzpah to carry off those big state occasions. And yes, yes, yes, he has a big shiny face, but don't we all some time?
No, I liked the man and if that means you must hate me because your tribal loyalty demands it then it probably says more about you than it does about me. It remains to be seen how the new guard will compare with the old but at least for the time being if things get tough there will still be the Labour Party to laugh at. But there is business afoot.
Under Captain Slow’s new regime, Hammond has already shown his slowhand technique with the EU extraction deal. David Davis as Brexit Minister has also come out for a slow release, rather than the shock therapy that many Brexiteers would prefer. But is there some strategy in suggesting we won’t be out until 2022? It may well be that the EU as we know it won’t even exist by then; maybe the delay is not so much to allow negotiation as to avoid the need for it altogether.
But in these days when Smart phones are used in place of actual knowledge, when the experts are proved wrong time after time, especially on economic affairs and when the immediacy of feelings seem to have supplanted the certainty of considered judgement, ‘all-change’ is the only principal that still holds true. And the best way to deal with uncertainty is to look it straight in the eye and deal with what it brings you, rather than spend all your time explaining what you thought should have happened and why that would have been so much better and why your life is ruined as a result.
Whatever else the May days bring, if we can reverse the trend toward dependence in all matters and bring about a resurgent in British self-reliance and the stiff upper lip, they will have been a success. Foremost in the British values we must see restored is a robust sense of humour and in a move that suggests the previously unreadable Mrs May actually has one she has led the way. Only somebody with a deep and profound sense of fun could possibly have appointed Boris Johnson to head the Foreign Office.