Geoffrey Howe on 13th November 1990 described negotiations on the European Monetary Union in his resignation speech as follows:
“It is rather like sending your opening batsmen to the crease, only for them to find, as the first balls are being bowled, that their bats have been broken before the game by the team captain…
…the time has come for others to consider their own response to the tragic conflict of loyalties, with which I myself have wrestled for perhaps too long.”
With that, he departed his position as Deputy Prime Minister and very shortly afterwards, his boss Margaret Thatcher (who held a different view on monetary union) followed.
I suspect Sir Ivan Rogers knows exactly how Geoffrey Howe felt when he “resigned” his position today as the United Kingdom’s leading EU diplomat a couple of months before the “negotiations” were due to commence. He had, of course, warned of the fact that trade negotiations were never going to be capable of being concluded within the two-year period from when Article 50 is triggered. Evidently his warning was either not appreciated or has been dismissed. After all, he is yet another “expert” and we all know what Michael Gove thinks of them.
We can make of the situation what is obvious. He has taken his leave and distanced himself from the fiasco. That, or our Prime Minister has shoved him towards the door for not stating what she (or the array of proponents of this folly) want him to say.
Nick Clegg was astute and quick to react and his words should concern us all, regardless of how we voted in the referendum:
“The resignation of somebody as experienced as Sir Ivan Rogers is a body blow to the government’s Brexit plans.
I worked for Ivan Rogers in the EU twenty years ago – then he worked for me and the rest of the coalition government several years later.
Throughout all that time Ivan was always punctiliously objective and rigorous in all he did and all the advice he provided.
If the reports are true that he has been hounded out by hostile Brexiteers in government, it counts as a spectacular own goal.
The government needs all the help it can get from good civil servants to deliver a workable Brexit.”
As I type sterling is heading pretty much due south, so impressed are the markets.
Earlier Farage wore his Union Jack socks on Good Morning Britain and humoured Piers to avoid a further kicking from Susanna, saying he had no idea that a senior aide had been committing serious crime and downplaying the plea bargained admission of wrongdoing regardless. A strange day indeed.