Fight back over Brexit, urges Chris Moncrieff
n The hard-headed EU Brussels negotiators are leaving the distinct impression - rightly or wrongly - that they are hell-bent on putting the UK through the mangle for having the temerity to vote to leave the EU.
The EU taskmasters are under the ludicrous belief that Britain should be punished over the clear referendum decision to quit. They are behaving like boa constrictors, determined to squeeze the very life-blood out of their prey. For instance, the idea that for a period, Britain should be subject to the rules and regulations of the EU, yet have no say whatsoever in the decisions taken at Brussels, is simply shocking. So are the eye-watering sums of money that over the weeks have been demanded by Brussels that Britain is expected to submit to for having decided to leave. This decision is not an excuse - or supposed not to be an excuse - for the rapacious hands of Brussels seemingly to bleed Britain dry.
The decision to leave was made in a referendum approved by Parliament, and for people to ignore that result is beyond comprehension.
I have noticed that even Tory MP Anna Soubry, a fervent Remainer, has warned fellow Tories that attempts to trip up the Prime Minister as the negotiations plough ahead will benefit nobody, least of all the UK. Let us, by all means, have tough-talking and even table-thumping at the negotiations, but not a situation where the UK is treated like the accused in the dock.
n It is little wonder that many civil servants are unsure how to deal with a Cabinet, so divided over Brexit, as the current one. Different messages are coming out, the valid ones bearing the imprint of Theresa May and other different ones, which seem to emanate from Chancellor Philip Hammond. How can the Brexit strategy possibly succeed if, as Tory back-bencher Bernard Jenkin, has pointed out, some ministers are fomenting trouble within the cabinet?
It might have been over the top for Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg to accuse civil servants of ‘fiddling’ the figures over Brexit, but it is undeniable that Whitehall is being fed with too many contradictory messages. It is time the Cabinet ended its damaging squabbling. Theresa May should read them the Riot Act and order them to rally behind her before it is too late.
n A bit of advice, patronising perhaps, for the right-wing, young fogeyish Conservative MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg: Go on an immediate diet – a diet of words.
Rees-Mogg, who bears an uncanny resemblance to the perpetual victim of children’s comic character Dennis the Menace, invariably has interesting and often controversial things to say. The trouble is, he says them too often.
You might not think that possible of a politician, whose bread and butter depend on talking, but you can overdo it.
Newspaper readers, I can vouch, are getting a little fed up with opening their papers every day and seeing Rees-Mogg splashed all over everywhere.
His trouble is that by seemingly never letting up, he is reducing the power of his usually very pertinent observations, people begin to turn over the page and ignore them. If he could spread his outpourings over longer periods with some gaps in between, I feel people would take much more notice, and he would himself benefit immensely.
n Is President Trump actually becoming calmer and more conciliatory? Don’t bet on it, but he had some very agreeable things to say to the Prime Minister in Davos the other day.
He underlined the great alliance between the UK and the USA and added that America would always be ready to help if Britain faced difficulties.
That was all very acceptable, but the trouble with Trump is that he is as volatile as an unpredictable volcano, liable to erupt without warning. Still, it was nice while it lasted.
If Trump comes here - and I hope he does - I trust Commons Speaker John Bercow will keep well out of the way. He played at least some part in scuppering the prospects of a state visit – I hope he has learnt some better manners since then.