Prime Minister should adopt no nonsense Thatcher-style tactics in her negotiations with Brussels

Why so timid, Theresa?

Tuesday, 7th August 2018, 1:22 pm
Updated Friday, 31st August 2018, 5:21 pm
Chris Moncrieff

Number 10 Downing Street wasted no time in demonstrating coolness towards International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, who accused the Brussels negotiators of “intransigence”, adding that the prospects of a no-deal Brexit were growing.

That is the sort of straight-talking language I believe the electorate are yearning to hear from the UK side, as the EU team continue to try to wring every penny and pound of flesh out of Britain, finding fault with any proposal that the Prime Minister puts to them. Yet despite this, Downing Street say they still hope to leave the EU with a good deal.

Since the softly-softly approach seems to have had little effect on Brussels, perhaps a little tub-thumping and hand-bagging might work. I am sure, had Margaret Thatcher been involved in these negotiations she would not have allowed our “opponents” to run rings around us. They would almost certainly have wilted before her no-nonsense rhetoric.

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Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher giving her famous Eurosceptic speech to an international audience at the College of Europe in the Belgian town of Bruges in September 1988. Photo: Rebecca Naden/PA Wire

It is now time - and there is not much of that left - for the Prime Minister to adopt Thatcher-style tactics to demonstrate to Brussels that we are determined to honour the wishes of the majority of the British voters at the referendum.

Beef it up, Prime Minister.

The state of the railways in this country - once the pride of the world - is now little short of a national disgrace and a scandal.

In the south, for well over a year now, thousands of passengers have had to tolerate the grim effect of regular strike action as the dispute over the plan to remove guards on trains rages on, seemingly endlessly.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, with French President Emmanuel Macron, left, and UK Prime Minister Theresa May in Bulgaria in May. Chris Moncrieff says: "The EU try to wring every pound of flesh out of Britain, finding fault with any proposal that the Prime Minister puts to them. Despite this, Downing Street say they still hope to leave the EU with a good deal" (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

And in the north of England ill-thought-out new timetables have led to hundreds of cancellations and delayed services.

Meanwhile the cost of train tickets goes through the roof while passengers have to fight their way on to overcrowded carriages.

Amid all this, Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary, remains aloof, at arm’s length from the chaos. People wonder why he does not get a grip of this shambles and crack down hard on those incompetent companies who seem to run the system for their own benefit, rather than that of the passengers.

If the Government can move in on the East Coast route, when Virgin and Stagecoach pulled out, surely Grayling could force his way into the shoddy running of the system elsewhere.

Quite a few Tories were against privatising the railways under John Major’s administration. And I am sure these people would be happy to support Labour’s pledge to renationalise the railways if they assume power.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt was in good company when he told a Chinese audience that his wife was Japanese when in fact she is Chinese.

Margaret Thatcher once publicly expressed her delight at being in what was Malaya when she was, in fact, in Indonesia (something her husband Denis pointed out to her on the platform in an unnecessarily loud whisper).

And whenever a previous Foreign Secretary, Sir Alec Douglas-Home alighted from an aircaft in a foreign land, his wife used to walk just behind him, chanting the name of the country at which they had just arrived.

She was only too well aware that Sir Alec was prone to such gaffes if left to his own devices.

It was inevitable, I suppose, that the ‘experts’ at Tatler magazine who gave us a list of the best-dressed people in the land, should once again have given Westminster a wide berth.

With a few exceptions, you would not notice much Savile Row influence on the inhabitants of the House of Commons.

However, you might have thought the Tatler judges might have at least given a nod to the Prime Minister. Theresa May’s attire is always truly British through and through: modest, impeccable, immaculate. ‘Understated’ is probably the buzz word for that.

Perhaps next year... that is, if Mrs May survives is still at Downing Street.