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Brexit and the election

“It’s wrong to leave the European Union.” By the smallest of margin that is the view of the people in the latest poll.

And with Angela Merkel making it absolutely clear that whatever deal is struck the terms won’t be as good as what the UK has at the moment.

Undoubtedly Teresa May will use the German Chancellor’s remarks to her own advantage. “Look they’re all ganging up on us, so you need a strong leader to stand up to them.”

Strong or not, the 27 remaining countries in the EU are not going to give ground and having triggered article 50 the UK has very few negotiating cards in its hand.

Playing the nationalism card

May might say that “Every vote for the Conservatives will make it harder for opposition politicians who want to stop me from getting the job done.

Every vote for the Conservatives will make me stronger when I negotiate for Britain with the prime ministers, presidents and chancellors of the European Union.”

She is using the same phenomena that Mrs Thatcher used with the Falklans – nationalism.

It’s the plucky UK in battle against the rest of the EU. You can almost here the soundtrack of the Dam Busters march playing in the background. And of course if anyone does not share the vision they are “saboteurs.’ May’s election announcement bounce therefore has similarities to Thatcher’s Falklands poll bounce.

Not our call

But as the EU and Mrs Merkel made very clear the reality is very different. In the negotiations what happens is largely down to the EU, with the occasional choice for the UK.

But even these limited choices should be made by democratic means, and not by one person who has the interests of her party to worry about.

 Brexit hits economy

But opportunist May had to call the election now. For the negative impact of brexit are about to become very clear.

Today’s announcement by the Office for National Statistics that UK economic igrowth has slowed down sharply in 2017 adds to the nervousness of business. As it does to the City, which constitutes far more hundreds of thousands of employees than the small, avaricious band of bankers who made their notorious contribution to the financial crisis.

The impact on prices and real earnings from the collapse of the pound is daily  becoming more evident. And plans for major firms to relocate their investments to continental Europe will gradually be implemented.

As a musical hall magician would say “All will be revealed.” But not until after 8 June.

 Blair wants to stop a landslide

That’s why Mrs May and her friends in the supporting media are pushing for a landslide result. They know that they have a small window of opportunity to get us out of Europe before it dawns on the nation what a terrible mistake it has done. But by then it will be to late.

That’s why the Conservatives will focus relentlessly on Brexit and leadership. So is a wipeout for Labour inevitable? Not necessarily.

It is fashionable to ignore Tony Blair in Labour circles but yesterday he was right in saying the campaign slogan of Labour should be “no blank cheque.” It accepts the reality of the polls that May is likely to win the election. But at a stroke it shifts the attention from Corbyn’s leadership credentials and focuses more on the need to strengthen Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. Choices can then be made in the country’s best interests and not in the Conservative party’s interest.

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