June now seems like a distant memory, but the mantra “Strong and stable” from the General Election is still a very present one.
I often reflect on how hollow that slogan has now become given that the government seems to be lurching from crisis to crisis.
For example, the government triggered Article 50 without having full knowledge of the disposition of many of the negotiating partners and did not deploy it with a clear set of objectives in mind.
This is not a debate about a democratic decision taken on 23 June 2016: whether one is in favour of Leave or Remain, I believe we can agree that statements like “Brexit means Brexit” are not substitutes for having, for example, a plan for a new post-Brexit regulatory regime to ensure medicines are safe. In contrast, the EU 27 came up with a clear set of objectives quickly; what we are presently witnessing is the clash between coherence and chaos.
The case of Nazanin Zahari-Ratcliffe also highlights the current chaotic environment; it illustrates the danger of flippant actions and comments. She could very well continue to be detained: reports indicate her health has suffered dramatically due to her incarceration. Incoherence has consequences.
On November 29th, President Trump re-tweeted videos from Britain First; the killer of Jo Cox was ostensibly a supporter of this organisation. The provenance of these videos is suspect. To the credit of the Prime Minister and other members of the government, they did speak out against Trump’s retweets.
However, in the early hours of the morning of November 30th, Trump compounded matters by criticising the Prime Minister for daring to criticise him. Again, to be fair, Sajid Javid and others were appalled; however, the Education Secretary more or less said that we needed to get past this in order to maintain the so-called “special relationship” with America.
At the time of writing, Trump’s visit to Britain is still going ahead, albeit with a revised schedule.
If we cannot respond strongly in relation to Trump’s offensive tweets, we legitimise hate, Islamaphobia and racism.
Incoherence then moves from being worrisome to dangerous.
If Britain had a strong government, with a clear vision of the country’s place in the world, it would likely be able to respond more forcefully. However: in the absence of a Brexit strategy, the government has to rely on building up its relationship with America to preserve our economy.
I hope for many things in the New Year, but chief amongst them is that we can be a stronger, more purposeful nation, whose ability to act according to its core beliefs is no longer impaired.