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Matthew d'Ancona: Hammond pilloried for daring to look at the Brexit small print

As it happens, I believe that May's public readiness to countenance a "no-deal" outcome reflects a strategy rather than a secret yearning. She calculates that the EU will not negotiate fairly unless its 27 other member states believe we are ready to walk away without an agreement. But, as the months pass and the talks stall, I also sense that a growing number of Brexiteers see "no deal" not as a threat but as an objective. Before the election one cabinet minister close to the talks told me that "life under WTO rules would be perfectly OK, you know." Really?

At the same time, to take a specific example, there is serious talk of shifting from the jurisdiction of the European Medicines Agency to that of the US Food and Drug Administration: the FDA may be in Maryland, but at least it is not subject to the European court of justice. Again: is this truly what Britons were voting for in last year's referendum?

For daring to look at the small print of Brexit and failing to declare the whole process "doubleplusgood", Hammond is now pilloried by the faction within his party that, whatever its numerical strength, shouts loudest. A senior Tory told me recently that what the country needed was not a new centre party but a proper Conservative party. His point was that the Tory movement, once remorselessly committed to the business of government and the hard realities of office, had sailed off into the seas of ideology, captured by a gang of pirates seeking the imagined treasure of Brexit Island.

[Emphasis mine]

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Oct 16th, 2017 at 10:08:12 PM EST

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