Belfast Telegraph

It's a long shot, but we have to hope goodwill prevails in final analysis


Transport Secretary Chris Grayling is the latest whipping boy in the ongoing Brexit saga
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling is the latest whipping boy in the ongoing Brexit saga
Luciana Berger
Controversy: Christopher Chope

By Chris Moncrieff

The embattled Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, has become the latest whipping boy in the seemingly interminable saga of Brexit. He has been branded by Labour as the worst Transport Secretary in Britain's history, alongside inevitable demands that he be sacked forthwith.

His problems date from the moment he appointed a company, with no experience in this field and - worse still - the owner of no ships, to run a ferry service from Ramsgate in the event of a 'no-deal' Brexit.

Needless to say, he was mercilessly ridiculed for this. Now, that plan has been dropped amid cries of "I told you so" from his critics. But all that was merely just another twist in the Gordian knot of the negotiations as a whole.

So, what happens next, as the sorry story of Brexit grinds on? Which side will blink first?

Britain is hoping that at last the stubborn, greedy Brussels negotiators accept or promote a concession that will be acceptable to Parliament. Or is that just a pipe dream?

Brexit has not thrown up much goodwill over the past few months and it is probably too much to expect it now,

But we have to live in even the slimmest of hope that goodwill might at last prevail.

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It is a long shot, however.

The very idea that an MP should be bullied out of parliament by her own constituency party - or, indeed, anybody - is nothing short of monstrous.

Labour's Luciana Berger had the temerity to criticise the apparent anti-semitism in the party.

Disgracefully, this led to a motion of no confidence in her being put before her constituency party in the Liverpool seat of Wavertree.

This, if it had been allowed to go through, would have signalled the end of the political career of a hard-working, popular and highly effective MP.

Happily, common sense, not cruelty, prevailed and the motion was withdrawn.

Now, unsurprisingly, there are moves to wind up this party. But first things first. The party is now being investigated by the Labour Party as a whole.

So much for the often-repeated claim that the Labour Party is a broad church, which welcomes all people of a Left-of-centre stance.

But what a sad commentary on the state of British politics today that such savage and dictatorial action should even be contemplated.

No wonder people are becoming increasingly reluctant to enter the world of politics, if they are to be treated in this scandalous way.

Tory Sir Christopher Chope stands at the moment as the most reviled and vilified MP at Westminster.

This is because, in the Commons last week, he shouted "object" when a Bill designed to deal with the ghastly practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) was called.

If he had not intervened, the Bill would probably have gone through on the nod, but now it will probably be delayed for a long time before, if ever, it sees the light of day again.

This attracted a ferocious barrage of protests, not only from his political opponents, but from members on his own side as well, including Cabinet ministers.

But at the risk of being verbally lynched myself, I would dare to say that Chope is a principled and honourable Member.

No Bill, however important, should be allowed to leave the Commons without being carefully considered by MPs.

Otherwise, it is in danger of going forward, full of loopholes, which would trump the true purpose of the measure.

So, although his critics would never admit it, Chope has performed a valuable service in ensuring that the House of Commons does the job which it exists to do.

Some people certainly have money to burn - in a very literal sense.

An individual, who seems to have more money than sense, has just blown £2,700 on a 1943 cigar allegedly partly smoked by Winston Churchill.

How can he ever be sure that it is an authentic relic of the great wartime leader?

But, even if it is, so what? Does he put it in a glass case and proudly show it off to his less-than-impressed friends?

I can understand the keenness of some people to collect wartime memorabilia. But I would not put the stub of an 80-plus-year-old cigar in that category.

It is a bit like purchasing a bottle of Victorian wine, which may be full of ditch-water, because the purchaser will never drink it.

You cannot stop a man with money to burn. It is just that I can think of about a million other - and better - ways to spend it.

Belfast Telegraph


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