If I were answering, which I never will, the questions put to the
leadership candidates on the Beeb last night, I might be as blandly complaisant
as we heard, or perhaps, because I am seeking no favours and need take no
responsibility for my actions, I might say what I think, to some extent.
Q: If you become PM, you will have no mandate from the public. When will you do the right thing and call an election?
I do not intend to hand over to a Marxist nutcase when there is
no constitutional need. If I said it was shocking for Gordon Brown not to call
an election, that is something you are meant to say when in opposition and I
would have been shocked if Comrade Corbyn had not said the same this time.
Cal it hypocrisy if you will, but the Greek ὑπόκρισις just
means ‘play-acting’, and that is parliamentary politics in a nutshell.
Q: Would you commit to getting net carbon emissions down to zero by 2025?
Define ‘net zero’. If it
is a real reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, that is an achievement, but if
it is an accounting exercise achieved by buying papal indulgences in the form
of ‘carbon credits’ then it is useless, in fact worse than useless as the
emissions are not actually falling.
I want to get carbon dioxide emissions down rapidly because it is
a waste of resources as much as anything, but unless there is consumer choice
and freedom to innovate, it is not happening.
In the meantime do not trip over your own rhetoric: you may call this an urgent issue for today
and call upon science, but that science tells us that even if all the nations stop
venting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, it will still take two hundred
years to make any difference to the greenhouse effect and the temperatures
would keep rising, so if we are at a crucial point, we have already lost.
Q: I’m the imam of a mosque. I see the impact of Islamophobia. Do you accept words have consequences?
A single phrase may be lost in the wind, and a poor joke is no
more damaging than that and you can ignore it.
However a constant flow of conspiracy theories and anti-facts, like the
hatred-laden anti-Semitic conspiracy theories I have seen from Momentum and
even certain imams, will normalise the ideas behind them.
Silence has consequences too: greater harmful consequences come from a lack of words. If we cease to speak as we find, for fear of offence or retribution, then the speaker loses, the hearer loses and all of society clams up and becomes moribund. Furthermore, the silence does not stop the ideas behind the words – bringing them into the open is the best way to provide context, dialogue and a development of ideas.
You should not be easily offended by words. You should be aghast by lack of words and I would rather see an increase in public rudeness than a decrease in exchange of ideas.
Q: [To Hunt] And you have endorsed President Trump retweeting comments from Katie Hopkins.
No one is an enemy and no one is all to the bad. You must not turn your disgust at a series of
crass comments into a personal hatred. Trump
and Hopkins often say stupid things or things just to provoke, but that does
not mean you must disagree with everything they say – if Katie Hopkins says she
enjoys listening to jazz, it is safe to agree with her and that is no endorsement
of her provocateuse remarks.
Q: I have fostered more than 100 children. What would you do to reverse cuts that have affected children?
What cuts? Be specific
about the money you want to take from my pocket as a taxpayer. There has
actually been an increase in funds in many areas, but those who allocate them
might have made poor choices. I would
rather support fosterers like you to access facilities than pay wasteful local
bureaucracies, so I can look at the system but however high I get, the
decisions are made by groundlings. If we raise taxes to pave the streets of
social services with gold, they will waste it, as you know, and we will have
driven more families into poverty.
Q: I used to vote Tory, but now vote for the Brexit party. What is your plan to lift the tax burden on the working classes?
We must cut taxes for all, and not just the poorest. A shop assistant or a shelf-stacker or a machinist
or a B&B owner, or a hairdresser or any one of numerous jobs rely on one
thing: customers. If we do not cut taxes
across the board, including the taxes of richer people, customers stop spending
and those jobs shrink and there is no profit from which to pay wages.
Q: How would you solve the Irish border issue?
We will not impose a hard border. Everyone will be free to come and go across it. If the EU want to build a border, we cannot stop them, but it would be foolish to do so, and we will not reciprocate. I want a free trade agreement with the EU in any case, which does away with customs duties and checks, and to recognise EU standards, as they should recognise ours.
If the governing powers of the European Union refuses free trade, we will be forced to look at tracking electronically cargoes from outside Ireland, but if we do not have that infrastructure in place in time, that is the Treasury’s loss but will not hinder the open border.
There is no closure of the border unless the EU close it on their captive side.
Q: My husband is in the property business. Under no deal, he could lose his job. Why are you even contemplating no deal?
I do not want ‘no deal’ but how would that affect a property business anyway? Conservatives are not going to stop foreign investors, whether there is a deal or not. We don’t stop non-EU investors now so why should we stop EU citizens alone in the world? It would be worse to have a bad deal than no deal or to be stuck in the declining economy of Continental Europe when the world is much bigger.
Q: Would you definitely leave before the end of 2019?
Yes, and on or before Reformation Day, 31 October with no further
delays at all. Next?
Q: As a lifelong Tory voter, I voted for the Brexit party at the European elections. Can you guarantee that you will get your Brexit plan through the Commons by 31 October?
If the deal does not go through, we go out without a deal. I cannot guarantee that the Commons collectively will act in the national interest – Corbyn’s clique in Labour are set against the national interest in all things anyway – but we are out on or before that date with or without a deal.
It is not enough to “believe in the bin” as someone put it, but that approach shows a lack of imagination: you do not delay putting the rubbish out because it does not fit all in one: you use your loaf and take it to the council dump. It goes.
However, Brexit Day is not the end date for discussions. If there is no withdrawal agreement by that
date, then we withdraw, and there will be a post-withdrawal agreement, which
does not need Parliament’s approval.
Perhaps if the blockers in the Commons see that, they will be more
prepared to have positive engagement: so far they have been content just to throw
things to make vain political capital while damaging the nation’s interest. I would
welcome positive engagement, but if it is not to be, the Commons will be bypassed,
legally, in order to ensure that there is a deal.
I think that is enough to ensure that I could never get anywhere in national politics.