Reflections on Johnson and Davis

As we learn that we have a new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (but not, as I write, knowing who), I wanted to reflect on the two most controversial appointments to Theresa May’s cabinet.

Either the appointment of Boris Johnson and David Davis as Foreign Secretary and Secretary of State for Brexit respectively is a stroke of brilliance or they will be an unmitigated disaster.

Davis wrote an essay on Conservative Home with his thoughts on how the Brexit process would proceed, which (unsurprisingly) differs from my own analysis.  I still stand over my opinion that free trade deals with the rest of the world are worth relatively little unless they work to the good of our exports, but his analysis on the subject of vehicle manufacturing ignores the fact that the EU being a bigger market, WTO tariffs will cost manufacturers more exporting to the EU than if they move production so that they export to the UK.

Johnson’s behaviour towards the rest of the world doesn’t need me to link any articles, but you could try Google. (Oh, all right, just the one.)

It all hangs on how things go for them.

Johnson may find his behaviour reined in by having to stick to the Government line, and not having the same freedom to write as he pleases in the Spectator.  It could, as they say, put some manners on him, or the restrictions that come with the role might be too much for him.  Either way, he is neutralised as a politician.

There are three possibilities for Davis, and only one is good for him: acquiescence of the EU to UK demands.  It is also by far the least likely, as I may have mentioned once or twice (EDIT: let alone the chances of International Trade Secretary Liam Fox reaching non-EU trade deals before Article 50 notice expires as Davis has so confidently predicted)

If he achieves a good measure of what he hopes for, he will have been a worthwhile appointment.  If he fails, getting pretty much what I personally predict, especially with regard to the non-negotiable nature of free movement within the EEA, his political career is over – and so will the Leave campaign.

And what for the Prime Minister?  She has effectively invited Johnson and Davis in particular to put their money where their mouths are.  Failure carries the risk of being dragged down with them in 2020 (we can probably rule out a snap election this autumn), but she may be banking on it being more likely that their success or political neutralisation will secure her place as Prime Minister.

A final word on the Conservative home blog.  Davis refers to consumer-led economic growth being built on debt, and he is correct that this is unsustainable.  The problem is that in the absence of consumer demand, economic growth is impossible: why innovate and develop products that noone can buy?  This dilemma is what gives the lie to “trickle down” theory, because while it promotes economic growth at supplier level, unless the trickle is big enough, stagnant consumer demand will kill growth off – and sustainable consumer demand can only be built with better wages relative to prices (a side effect of Henry T Ford‘s setting of wages to save money on staff turnover, recruitment and training) and thus better distribution of wealth.

Andy has a very wide range of interests including Christianity, Lego, transport, music, and computers. Anything can appear in a post.

Andy tweets at @andyboal

  • Kevin Breslin

    Oh please the majority of the Remain side didn’t take on the WW3 predictions. This was only a mere cabinet reshuffle, the fact is nothing has happened with any major consequence. This is mere circus, once Brexit becomes grounded action.

    As for Britain leaving the UK, certainly loading checkpoints and tariffs and public sector cuts as well as raising trade barriers between GB and NI based on migration control and Barnett equalisation.

  • lizmcneill

    Yes, but the little enclave doesn’t have a say in much that’s important. If it did NI wouldn’t be leaving the EU.

  • lizmcneill

    It’s not a case of “just” WTO rules, particularly in relation to agriculture and services:

  • mickfealty

    Although I accept the internet is full of such, we here at Slugger don’t actually have the cognitive bandwidth to entertain such obvious personal contempt.

  • AndyB

    As far as I know you’re quite right that TfL own the design, but I think TfL can therefore authorise Wrightbus to manufacture it for other bus companies.

    I cannot say for certain to what extent, but I know that Wrightbus were involved in the final design. I would though imagine that most of this was a matter of what chassis, electrical and mechanical systems to use to fulfil the contract and how that affected the body design, together with any impracticalities that had arisen in that body design.

  • Anglo-Irish

    But the Netherlands managed it?

    Off to Spain now Hasta La Vista senor.

  • NotNowJohnny

    The point is clear. Playing the ‘I don’t understand card’ is just silly.

  • NotNowJohnny

    No, I don’t understand what leaving the EU means. And neither do the Brexiteers which is why uncertainty has gripped the nation. However once the Negotiations are complete (you do realise they haven’t even started) we will know what it means. As I’ve pointed out to you previously, the new Brexit minister has previously expressed a preference for a single market arrangement and should this be the outcome then we most certainly will be paying into the EU. It baffles me why you think we won’t.

  • Chris

    I wouldn’t hold Northern Ireland up as a glittering example of PR working for the common man. The community vetoes ensure that nothing of substance gets done but it lets them pretend to be playing big boy politics and keeps the gun crime down so it does have an upside.

    I get what you’re saying regarding the will of the people but as imperfect as it seems FPTP does provide a degree of stability in government. I seem to remember the statistic from my political science days in the dim and distant past that since the war Italian coalition governments had a average lifespan of 11 months, maybe it’s improved since then.

    PR at a national level would not follow a cross community format and would give rise to the fact that minority parties with extreme left or right wing views may hold the balance of power. A plus point for Northern Ireland in that at least with enforced coalition the local headcases balance each other out.

  • grumpy oul man

    could i have a source for that quote please?

    Hold on I got it, it come from a site which promotes a conspiracy theory about the EU, Its content gets a bit weird like all conspiracy theory’s, ( I have lately had a exchange with Abucs, who has a wonderful conspiracy theory that “proves” Hitler was a left wing member of the PC crowd, so they can get very weird ) but the quotes was born on the site and never happened in the real world.

  • grumpy oul man

    Never the less, we did have a murder for political reasons,

  • Reader

    Pragmatism is always welcome, even in a politician. However, I don’t see what use Europhilia will be in the day job these days. Maybe he can use it as a hobby, when he wants to unwind.

  • Chris

    I must admit I did not check the veracity of the quote, I do quite like it though.

    I notice that the Germans are pushing forward for closer military co-operation. Got that from the FT. As members of Nato why would they want that?

    In future I’ll restrict my quotes to those verified from Pastor Niemuller

  • Kevin Breslin

    The fact is we live in a region where like it or not the Union Flag is the symbol of Bloody Sunday killers and so called Loyalist killers to many people… similar problems exist with regards to the Irish flag and armed Irish so-called republican killers.

    So too much jingoism is completely without benefits, even if it is only a hobby.

  • Reader

    I don’t think I ever heard of Villiers celebrating Bloody Sunday; or even copying Mo Mowlam’s pragmatic indulgence towards loyalist killers. So neither of those is an example.
    Do you have any *actual* examples of Villers’ jingoism?

  • grumpy oul man

    Oh i don’t know why the Germans are pushing for closer militarily cooperation, It is not a call for a one Europe army and they may well be concerned about Mr Putin who has his eye on EU countries which may not be covered by the NATO treaty, plus the Americans have cooled a bit on NATO since the fall of the Soviet Bloc.
    So perhaps closer militarily cooperation may well make sense.

  • Chris

    I thnk it’s interesting as the CFSP already provides for the EU to provide a role separate from NATO to deal with peacekeeping. What possible further roles do they need? Internal security? Protecting Finland and Sweden, the only two non Nato states without a buffer from Russian aggression? Or force projection, will we see Luxembourgs grand fleet patrolling the trade routes? As I said its an interesting one.

  • grumpy oul man

    As i said they could well be covering their backside from Putin, I think rumors of a European force projection are greatly exaggerated,

    The German people appear to have learned from History and are not interesting in military projection.
    The thought of a grand fleet patrolling the trades routes is as far as i know another one of those very unlikely scenarios that you find in conspiracy theory’s.
    If you could perhaps point us towards some reputable site or source (not the invention of a world government nut job like the last one ) containing some proof of plans for military projection or a grand fleet then, i might take it seriously, until then these are just what if’s and to be taken as seriously as, what if they plan to make us speak the same language and make us swear allegiance to the new order.

  • Kevin Breslin

    “There will be no customs checks, we’ll get a free trade deal” … No one else gets that from the EU.

    As far as I’m concerned that’s jingoism, 100% British nationalist ignorance when it comes to deals with other countries.

  • grumpy oul man

    No we wont be forced to give a open market to Europe, we will be asking for it,
    There are a lot of very big business (bigger than bus making) that have done very nicely out of free trade with Europe.
    Now Wright Bus for example has opened a plant in India to supply the Asian and Chinese markets, so a lot of that work will not get to Ballymena and if Wrights does not have free trade with Europe ( you do know they had targeted Europe as a major market) then why would they pay the bigger overheads in Ballymena and not move production to areas where wages and costs are more competitive, after all we will no longer be a route into Europe and profit comes first.

  • Chris

    Sorry to disappoint I have no access to the illuminati grand plan. Anyway here is a link for you to read, an actual link, didn’t provide one before so don’t know where you got that from. It’s Reuters hopefully falls within you’re remit of reputable.

    My comment was purely an interest in why the EU needs to up it’s military game if it is purely a benign organisation. You think it is I’m not so sure.

  • Reader

    Is Sturgeon a 100% British nationalist too? She believes there would be an open border between the UK and the EU.

  • Gopher

    Interestingly Sturgeons tone has moderated in the last 24 hours. The chances of another Scottish referendum succeeding is zero.

  • StevieG

    Fisheries! Is that it. The fishing industry is relatively tiny, you do not have fish that are British, and any significant increase in qutoas is optimistic at best. This falls into the category of propoganda by UKIP.
    LOL…how is freedom to remake trade agreements a beneifit when all current legal treaties are tied to the EU and there is no guarantee these will be improved, or offer anything resembling parity with now within 15 years. You like many are in the delusional trap of thinking you are free to do as you please and that this is a benefit. The UK always had sovereignty – the EU is a group of Soveriegn states, and parliament decides on what is best for the UK. Not in the referendum case, but this is Cameron’s legacy. So, the whole freedom thing is propoganda.
    The payment in/benefit out perceived imbalance is actually false. The UK has been sown to benefit and any independent study has shown the UK is better off as part of the EU. So this is a lie. I’ll happily come back with the relevant reports.
    You seem to be coming at this from a ‘believe’ perspective only. We are about to go out of the EU, and my view is this is particularly bad for NI, so bad in fact that I am making plans for my kids to leave. But the next best option I would support would be to now stretch out the Brexit over 10 years by executing the famous article 50 (2 years but from when), enter the EEA for 5 years (with associated restictions/benefits), then the Custom Union for 3 years, then full exit (hopefully at this stage we will maybe have another referendum about going back in but otherwise…).
    There is no way Davis and The Clown will find aby solution acceptable to all those who voted for Brexit by end of next parliament.
    My sources…the FT, Wikipedia, popular search engines, I also like the Irish Economy, and this site amongst many others in doing my research – I started out unsure about which way to vote and then came down to a clear remain when I relaised Brexit had not a clue about what woudl happen – proven true. I do not read the Mail/Express etc.

  • grumpy oul man

    Just read your link and i am curious where you get grand fleets or militarily adventurism from, quite a balanced article.
    It does give Putin’s Russia as the reason and if you look at his recent acts you could see the logic in getting ready for him.
    Really I asked for a link, i was hoping for something a bit more sort off proof, but I see nothing in it which makes me think European militarily expansion.
    Perhaps im missing it could you perhaps show me what in the article you find ominous.
    By t he way your first quote was made up by the author of a web site which is all about the New world Order conspiracy theory, and was falsely attributed to a senior EC official, I believe the man has also done some good work on Atlantis.

  • Gopher

    Tanks appear to be on the streets in Turkey

  • Jams O’Donnell

    On what grounds do you say that? Latest poll says Independence parties up, unionists down.

  • Jams O’Donnell

    “The French and Germans fear Boris”