One of the most credible economic stewards to serve Britain in a long time is the inscrutable Philip Hammond who has done nothing but improve the UK economy since the day he was sworn in to the post. Which was merely an extension of him having been born for the job, it seems.
It’s not only that; Mr. Hammond’s word carries a lot of weight in foreign capitals, and in the EU his word is his bond. Soft-spoken, adroit and adept, Hammond is one of the darlings of financial capitals everywhere and it’s a great thing to see him in his element.
So began Prime Minister Theresa May’s summer vacation, where she and her husband (also named Philip) went off to Switzerland to take the mountain air and hold long and meaningful conversations at full stride up the Matterhorn.
Leaving the country in the capable hands of Philip Hammond must be a comforting thought for Theresa May as she and hubby blow past the tourists struggling to get to the top for a selfie. My advice: Just get out of their way or you’ll get run over. Seriously.
The Exchequer comments on post-Brexit Immigration
However wonderful it is having a powerful Exchequer, there is the temptation for them to overstep their bounds and cross over into the areas of responsibility reserved for the Prime Minister.
And just as predictably as that; Before Theresa May had gotten her first alpine air, Hammond told reporters, “there should be no immediate changes to immigration or trading rules when Britain leaves the EU in March 2019.” (Sky News)
It’s forgivable, and probably wise for Conservatives to be seen voicing the concerns of voters on both sides of Brexit. However, Exchequers should stick to their primary interest (the economy!) and let others, whose direct responsibility it is, to hold forth on immigration issues.
With Theresa away, the Remainers will play
While Theresa May gets some mountain air, the Remainers in the Prime Minister’s cabinet are clearing the air by presenting their side of Brexit — and that’s fine. But let’s make certain that fair play rules are enforced; Which means that cabinet officers publicly comment only on their primary area of responsibility. Only the Prime Minister has the authority to publicly comment on all matters, otherwise it looks like a circus.
Every misstep is celebrated in foreign capitals. People in the EU who may be opposed to Brexit are incredibly strengthened by each implied criticism directed towards the Prime Minister by members of her cabinet.
The entire period of Brexit is a highly unique time, a time where all Britons must pull together and come to the realization that many in the EU are fighting for a ‘Win-Lose’ outcome, an outcome where Britain loses vis-à-vis the European Union.
Meanwhile, the best of the Brexiters are fighting for a ‘Win-Win’ outcome where both Britain and the EU win. And those are the people I’m putting my money on.
Clear Lines + Clear Thinking = Positive Results
There’s nothing wrong with MP’s on both sides of Brexit informing the public about how they would proceed on any matter — as a sort of trial balloon to gauge public mood. That can be useful moving forward by keeping those who voted Remain interested and engaged with Brexit, and there is every opportunity that Remainers may come up with excellent ideas related to soft Brexit implementation within their field of expertise.
But greater care must be taken to avoid strengthening the hand of anti-Brexit forces in the EU, now that Britain has finally! asserted her rights.
Government ministers must draw the distinction between legitimate discussions about how Remainers (read: Soft Brexiters) or vocal Brexiters (read: Hard Brexiters) would handle any Brexit issue — and how the wrong sort of discussions or even the wrong tone of discussions could work against Britain in foreign capitals. The wrong public discourse works against both versions of Brexit.
Let’s not be naive. Each misstep by anyone in the UK government is celebrated at the EU Parliament and certain EU capitals. Whatever is going on behind the scenes within the UK government, a unified face must be presented to the world in order to obtain the best Brexit result.
Controlling the Narrative: Job #1 for Every Prime Minister
UK government ministers, and possibly even the Prime Minister herself may not yet realize the extent to which the world now sees the United Kingdom as a completely different entity. The UK no longer exists as only one of 28 EU members, and what the UK will eventually become, is unfolding every day like an onion being unpeeled.
Is the UK destined to become a nation of cross-talkers, mixed messages and unreliable partners? Or is Britain starting with a clean sheet to become all that she can and should become in the 21st-century?
Only the Prime Minister knows, as she’s the one holding the pen. Let’s see what script she writes.