Proroguish Charmer

On Wednesday I had the great honor of sitting in for a third day on America’s Number One radio show. I’d like to thank, as always, Mr Snerdley, Mike, Keith and the rest of Rush’s team for a grand old time. You can find a few moments from the show here, which began with a Hurricane Dorian update and ended with a listener suggestion that Trump ask Denmark if they’d be willing to trade Greenland for Puerto Rico.

~Just to expand on a couple of topics we touched on: Somewhere along the way I quoted Senator Sanders’ assertion that China has “made more progress in addressing extreme poverty than any country in the history of civilization“. Almost everyone on the right objected to Bernie, but many seemed awfully confused as to the precise grounds. For the first half of the People’s Republic, Mao moved a lot of people out of extreme poverty by moving them into the graveyard instead: it’s now almost universally recognized that he piled up more corpses than either Hitler or Stalin. For the second half of the People’s Republic, Deng Xiaoping managed to persuade America to outsource its entire manufacturing industry to China, and thereby enable the first economically viable form of Communism. That has certainly lifted many millions of Chinese out of poverty, and a select few (generals, Politburo members) into billionaire status. It may serve the needs of the US stock market – Niall Ferguson dubbed the arrangement “Chimerica” – but I am not persuaded that it is in the interest of the American people. Which is one reason why I am in favor of the current “trade war”, even if it totally collapses the chimerical “Chimerica”.

~Another subject that came up: The prorogation of Parliament in the United Kingdom. Shutting down Westminster until the Queen’s Speech in mid-October is designed to ensure that, one way or another, Brexit will happen. So naturally it has sent the Remainers (politicians and media) into paroxysms of fury. The questions barked at Jacob Rees-Mogg, Lord President of the Council, as he departed Balmoral after Her Majesty’s assent to prorogation, were particularly idiotic in their incoherent hysteria:

That clip leaves off the final question, when Rees-Mogg was asked by a reporter whether the Queen was pleased to see him. “You’d have to ask Her Majesty,” he replied, reasonably enough.

The problem for Boris’ many parliamentary opponents is that the Out-on-October 31st team is united and they’re not: The Stop Boris crowd is an alliance of convenience: hardcore Remainers like the Lib Dems, opponents of No Deal like the squishier Tories, and cowardly fence-sitters taking shelter under coy evasions such as a second “People’s Vote” like Jeremy Corbyn. They show no sign of being able to get it together sufficiently to prevent Boris taking Britain out of the EU by Halloween. Indeed, the only gift he was bequeathed by the wretched Theresa May was such a belated handover of the keys to Downing Street that the telescoped calendar made votes of confidence and snap elections all but irrelevant.

In that respect, I’m inclined to think today’s excitement confirms what I wrote a month ago. The goal was never a renegotiation with the EU, but always no deal:

Something of a similar head fake is going on right now. A threatened ‘no deal’ departure on October 31st is supposedly being touted by Boris just to force the EU into re-negotiating Theresa May’s floppo ‘withdrawal agreement’. So M Barnier and his backstop boy Leo Varadkar are insisting that’ll never happen, and it’s the May deal or nuthin’. Let them huff on. My view is that the whole re-negotiation thing is a feint, and Boris actually wants to leave with no deal. He wants a clean split – and the UK reborn as a sovereign nation, no ifs or buts. Whether he wants it because that’s his preferred public policy or because it cements his place in history is unimportant if you happen to believe, as I do, that that’s in the best interests of the United Kingdom.

In his first speech as prime minister, he referenced England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales and hailed them as ‘the awesome foursome’ – which is not a line Mrs May or David Cameron could pull off non-risibly. But apparently he means it: I heard from a mutual chum that he prefers the title of ‘Minister for the Union’ to that of Prime Minister. Which sounds faintly nutty – unless it’s a geopolitical extension of his Spectator impresario approach. But it suggests a man who grasps not only that, one way or another, Brexit has to be put to bed by October 31st but also that, if he can pull that off, normal politics resumes and the possibilities are boundless.

The Tory Party will lose any election if Brexit is not put to bed. No-Deal Brexit is the surest way of achieving that. And any deal will be better for Britain if it’s negotiated after October 31st than before. On November 1st No Deal becomes a far bigger problem for the EU than for the UK. The above-mentioned backstop boy Leo Varadkar gets that, which is why his general sneering and taunting of Number Ten has lapsed in recent weeks: A hard Irish border is an existential crisis for him, not for Boris. The prospects for German industry and French agriculture and the consequent political fortunes of AfD and Mme Le Pen should also concentrate Euro-minds.

~If you’re one of that small brave band that enjoys me on camera, I’ll be back with Tucker tomorrow night, Thursday. If you prefer me in non-visual formats, I’ll be here in audio only for another Clubland Q&A, taking questions live from Mark Steyn Club members around the planet this Friday at 4pm North American Eastern Time – that’s 8pm GMT, but do check local listings for your area. And don’t forget, for more audio delights, our ongoing audio adaptation of Climate Change: The Facts, every day here at SteynOnline just before midday Eastern. Our latest episodes feature one of the few sane politicians on this issue, Nigel Lawson.

~We opened The Mark Steyn Club over two years ago, and I’m thrilled by all those SteynOnline supporters across the globe – from Fargo to Fiji, Vancouver to Vanuatu, Surrey to the Solomon Islands – who’ve signed up to be a part of it. My only regret is that we didn’t launch it sixteen years ago, but better late than never. You can find more information about the Club here – and, if you’ve a pal who might be partial to this sort of thing, don’t forget our special Gift Membership.