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  • Lawrence Bailey

Cummings and goings don’t add up to much



A big fuss has been made of the recent blood-letting in Downing Street. Differing opinions as to cause and effect range from internal personality clashes to preparing for the advent of a Biden presidency.


Overall however, I’d say that none of it adds up to much in terms of reality and most of it is unconvincing.


This is a government just a couple of steps from meltdown. Alarmingly, its running a country that is perilously close to going the same way. Ministerial accountability has become largely irrelevant because the official story changes on a daily basis.


Cheery announcements of a vaccine (sometime soon) have helpfully obscured stories of how billions purportedly spent on personal protection equipment has disappeared into the commercial equivalent of the dark web.


So what better time than to invoke the age-old political custom of throwing the hired help under the bus?


In this instance, the bus is a quite distinctive red colour with some writing on the side about £350 million and the NHS. Even so, the circumstances are no different from when Theresa May was forced to dump her two most trusted aides after the election fiasco.


Be under no illusion; this is no “reset”. Nor is this a return to so-called “One Nation” Conservatism. What’s been conjured up for public consumption are a couple of sacrificial sackings combined with some good old-fashioned diversionary window-dressing. Both in my opinion are short-term expediencies.


The usual approach, of course, is a start a foreign war but in these less familiar times a safer alternative is to take out your environmental credentials and give them a good public polishing.


Back in July, environmental groups were warning how £100m of taxpayer cash would be wasted on technology designed to "suck" carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. The idea was backed by Dominic Cummings but it’s surely coincidence that the proposal is part of the 10-point plan vaunted by a self-isolating prime minister.


Something to remember though is that this is a government that’s been dragged into court on successive occasions over the last five years to force it into meeting outstanding obligations on emission targets.


As for the 2030 deadline to stop the sale of carbon-fuelled vehicles in the UK, I think we can safely expect a few extensions, especially if Brexit timescales are any indication of past performance.

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The UK is dealing itself out of trade


It’s very likely that you’ve not heard of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). This was recently formed between ten southeast Asian countries, as well as South Korea, China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.


It’s taken eight years to complete and has created the world's largest trading bloc, covering nearly a third of the global economy.


Meanwhile, back in good old Blighty, the prospect of a ‘no deal’ Brexit outcome seemingly hinges on an argument over a fishing industry that accounts for about 0.1% of the UK's economy.

Britain is already regarded as something close to a basket case by its trading counterparts and this obscure sticking point does nothing to change that perception.


That said, unofficial briefings suggest an “accommodation” could be reached in a couple of weeks, although it may not be signed off until three days before the deadline. Impressive, eh?


The architects of our current woes – they’re called the government – once claimed that Britain held all the cards in these negotiations. At the moment, it increasingly looks like we’re about to deal ourselves out.


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