Hot on the heels of a blatant technocratic takeover of the Brexit “negotiation”, it is apparent that one lifer senior security officer now holds the reins of both the Cabinet Office and the National Security Council. He has just accused senior rivals of the Prime Minister of criminal leaking of top secret discussions about the risks of employing Huawei on 5G. Why?
Those of you paying attention will probably have noticed that we have (as a United Kingdom) already blown 8% of our allotted time of 204 days before the Brussels Bombasts come back to us and ask, “So then….yes or no?”
That might not seem like a lot. But bear in mind three things:
- Only 5 days in 7 really count. Perish the thought that Whitehall or MPs might have to work over a weekend
- Andrea Leadboots has already announced that there will not be any Parliamentary voting action next week either.
- Thus, on that timetable, by Sunday week next we will have just 102 working days left in which to sort out our act.
I realise there will be one or two Remainers reading this post, so I’ll make it double-dog clear. We will, by Sunday week, have half the real time left. Such are the ways of exceptional and exponential maths, the average human being always underestimates the time available to fulfil a task.
This explains Gallipolli, Dunkirk, HS2 and Brexit. The only thing that makes the last of that quartet the odd one out is that, in the first three cases, we were at least trying to win. When it comes to Brexit, the objective is to snatch vassal status from the jaws of national independence.
Were you employed as an EU Gauleiter, you could be forgiven for thinking that progress since the last Article 50 reprieve was somewhere along the all-in-due-course-to-Manana spectrum.
Nothing we were told by the media this week has done anything to dispel my sense of a Phoney War. Yesterday morning, Fatty Boulton on Sly News tried to lasso the ether that is Labour policy on Brexit going forward. Labour MP Barbara Keeley told him,
“Well, we’ve been very clear that we’re leaving all the options on the table.”
There is clarity, and there is clarity. When faced with a servez-vous buffet at lunchtime in the average French restaurant, all the options on the table is the very quintessence of clarity: I want a choice, and there it all is…on the table, where I can see it.
But to strain this parallel still further, in the twilight hours of à la carte, when the waiter appears and asks what you want to eat, he or she will be a tad irritated if a diner says, “Let’s be clear, I’m looking at all the options on the menu”.
We went through that stage before November last year. Now – thanks to Quisling Robbins & Partners – we have but one choice: the Withdrawal Agreement that Shall Not be Reopened.
The Corbynistas will not find it hard to get agreement in Brussels to their desire to hang on to a Customs Union, EUCHR support for their voters, and the entire Grab Bag that goes with EU Membership. But they are on the record as saying that the negotiating team should’ve done better, they’d like a People’s Vote on the final deal, they just might want a second referendum too…and in an ideal world, they’d like to hold a General Election and then have a referendum on Revocation of Article 50 versus something else that might emerge in the meantime. As La Keeley said, all the options in all the sizes and all the colours.
The second referendum option is especially amusing. Jeremy Corbyn faces a row this weekend about it, because a leaked draft of a campaign leaflet included no mention of any Final Say vote. The Cooper-Doopers are up in arms about the sin of omission; but the latest poll confirms what real people have known for months: there is no overall majority for Remain, and 1 in 5 voters are still utterly confused. Yes, Labour are split on a vote of No Consequence.
Yvette Cooper herself has helpfully reduced the only two real options to one: the choice we had was accept the WA versus No Deal. Thanks to Mrs Balls’s No Deal Not Allowed Act of triumphal arrogance, No Deal is now legally off the table.
I appreciate that readers of a more impatient bent will be on the point of yawning here, but this is the bottom line:
Labour sees a plethora of options on the table, but there is only one: the WA
Set in that context, the 102 days we have left are a relative lifetime. What they most clearly are not is a lifeline to something other than the Diktat we’ve already been invited to accept – or else.
As I tried to demonstrate in Part 3 of the Brexit Betrayal trilogy, what the EU 27 (aka Germany and France) offered Theresa May was another 204 days during which to browbeat UK legislators and voters into accepting a “Deal” they have made clear in Commons votes and opinion polls that they most emphatically don’t want.
The game we’re playing has not altered by a single iota. As Tinfoil Theresa would say, “Nothing has changed”.
What does all this mean?
Put simply, it means that some kind of massive sellout is a certainty.
Because the “Deal” nobody wants is it, period. Brussels will settle for nothing less….and is hoping for something even more Brino, along the lines of Cooperesque Remain.
Unless the Cooper Act is repealed.
That is only going to happen if the opinion of the House of Commons changes.
And that is only going to happen if we have a General Election in which tactical voting and popular sentiment join hands to reduce both Labour and the Conservatives to a rump.
The three-line whip above explains in full why the Government is not going to give us one. Because if they did, we would, so to speak, give them one.
But the Government might, as a result of spontaneous combustion, change itself. Thus far, although news anchors keep telling us how combustible the Conservative Party is, all attempts to burn Mother Theresa at the stake have proved as inflammable as rubbing two waterlogged sticks together. The rebellion fizzled out. Boris Johnson set himself on fire by mistake. And ERG turned out to stand for lots of Everlasting Risible Grrrr from Tories intent on gumming her to death.
The 1922 Committee did have a crisis meeting about how to end the Brexit crisis without causing a Party crisis last week. As predicted here, they were split against lighting the bonfire by 9 votes to 7. Today, the Daily Express has a story about ‘men in grey suits axing her within weeks’. Even if the immolation tactic has been abandoned in favour of decapitation, the Express has a story about the imminent demise of the Prime Minister pretty well every day of the week except Sundays, when she seeks sanctuary in her local Church.
It’s not clear exactly what these ‘men’ could actually do, even if they were to act. I’ve known Tory MPs for years, but never one that wore a grey suit. And a group of outlaws in Lincoln Green and tights would just be silly. If the 1922 won’t change the rules and the ERG lacks the spine to wield, say, a knife or a mallet or (if the worst comes to the worst) a lethal umbrella injection, then only one institution of government could rid us of this troublesome Priestess.
That organ is, of course, the Cabinet. But is continues to look decidedly limp: as Mrs May clings on to power with all the surefootedness of a pro-am tightrope walker, inside the Cabinet engorged egos are everywhere to be seen, willing her to fall. But the lady remains as insensitive to New Thought as ever.
So one question I’ve decided to address today is this: has somebody been giving the tightrope a gentle shake of late?
Recent events inside the National Security Council (NSC) might be instructive here.
Some of you may not know this, but we’ve only had an NSC for seven years. Introduced by the CamerClegg Coalition in 2010, it has no legal basis. No legislation created it: it was the result of an administrative act, which has even less constitutional right to exist than a statutory legal instrument. The power wielded by the attendees are totally prerogative. In short, any decision it make take of significant bearing would need an Act of Parliament…or be illegal.
Nevertheless, this body clearly does take actions, and they do not get discussed in the House of commons. Significantly, Theresa May has been on it since Day 1. And I think we can be reasonably certain that the Skripal Narrative was hatched at least in part there, using Bonker Boris as its distributor of both fog and amplification….or foghorn for short.
The NSC is made up of senior ministers, including the Prime Minister, who chairs it, and is served by a National Security Secretariat NSS) currently run by Sir Mark Sedwill. It is also attended by senior security officers and military top-brass. Significantly, the most influential of its sub-committees is chaired by the Chancellor of the Duchy of
Lancaster, Oliver Letwin, to oversee implementation of the strategy decided upon at such meetings. This is the strategy that is not discussed anywhere else, carried out by a committee that is accountable to nobody…..and chaired by a man in the habit of leaving Secret Papers in Bloomsbury park litter bins.
But here is perhaps the most interesting part: Sedwill only became the NSS two years ago. After Jeremy Heywood passed away, he took the role of Cabinet Secretary as well. For the first time, one unelected official combines the roles of both the political and security roles of Britain’s Chief Executive body.
Sir Mark is no ordinary Whitehall official – as his career biography eminently illustrates: he joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 1989, and served in the Security Coordination Department and the Gulf War Emergency Unit, had various postings as a Second Secretary until 1994, then First Secretary for Political-Military Affairs and Counterterrorism from 1997 to 1999 in the Mediterranean theatre. From 2006 to 2008, he served as International Director of the UK Border Agency, having spent years as a counter-terrorist officer based in Pakistan.
My highlighting above is there to point up an obvious fact: Mark Sedwill is a top counter-terrorism spook. He is the first Cabinet Secretary in history with a career dominated by diplomatic and security work. He was Theresa May’s “one and only choice to replace Jeremy Heywood”. She has known him since his spell at the Home Office in 2013.
I wonder how many people out there are still laughing at my contention that the United Kingdom has undergone a silent coup d’etat?
The main reason we’re all aware of the NSC at the moment is the Huawei scandal. The nutshell on this one is that giving Huawei a key role in the development of 5G mobile phone networks in the UK (including the construction of transmitters) is thought by quite a few people to be less than wise. Setting aside the health scares about 5G itself, it is becoming increasingly obvious that China is now a leading cyber-war power.
The matter was discussed in the NSC, and a decision was taken to go ahead regardless. That decision was then leaked to the Daily Telegraph. The content of the leak did not put the Prime Minister in a very flattering light, but then very little does. More to the point, the MSM have assumed that it was a senior Minister who leaked the dirt, as a means to fatal destabilisation of Theresa May’s already highly wobbly position.
For the life of me, I cannot understand why the mainstream titles and stations have been happy to go with the assumption of a ministerial leak. I can ascribe some of it to their usual idleness and craven acceptance of every narrative they’re given. But part of me strongly suspects that there may be an even more sinister motive behind the leak….and the denials of Cabinet members about leaking may (just this once) be honest.
Politicians and media commentators are not the only ones doubtful about whether Mrs May is the full ticket. Apart from 53% of the electorate, there are also a number of senior military officers who are incandescent with rage at the ease with which the PM is happy to sign away our defence sovereignty….as revealed here last week.
Only last February, a defence and security think tank warned it would be “naive” and “irresponsible” to allow Huawei to access the UK’s telecommunications system – a claim dismissed by the Chinese embassy as “scaremongering”. The report (from the Royal United Services Institute) said that if the Chinese giant was allowed to participate in the rollout of the new 5G mobile networks it could install a “hidden backdoor”, giving the Chinese government access to the system. This is a view with which the Pentagon is known to concur.
The Daily Telegraph has always had better intelligence and military contacts than most other newspapers in Britain. A former senior military officer told me last year that it was a widely held belief in the senior British ranks that the EU “needs to shore up its security organisation, and scope out in more detail how to deal with an enormous influx of refugees beyond vague talk of measures to encourage integration”.
Sedwill himself is said to be “furious” about the leak, but then he would say that. His own specialism in border control and anti-terrorism centred around Islam may have convinced him that the EU’s migration policy is dangerously insane….and thus, we would be better off with another Prime Minister more dedicated to getting Britain out from under.
On the other hand, it could easily be that Sir Mark Sedwill fears the imminent demise of of Theresa May, on the grounds that a genuine Leaver might get the role….and then start asking awkward questions about how Civil Servants undermined the Brexit process – or (even worse) just say “No Deal” in short order, and ask even more impertinent questions about who is, in reality, running Britain.
On that basis, Sedwill had every motive for discrediting the Ministers he has fingered.
Of course, this is speculation. But for myself, I find the determination of the Secret Service to point the finger at politicians alone profoundly suspicious. The first rule of narrative control is to choose a starting point furthest from the Truth….and one’s own doorstep.
A hunt for the guilty now would be pretty pointless; the search for a fall guy in the wrong place would be utterly pointless. As both the MI and uniformed armed forces know perfectly well, that Theresa May has taken a potentially disastrous investment decision is now in the open. To assume that only the political class wanted that is naive: to drive it as the only possible answer smacks of psy-ops mendacity.
We shall see.