Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
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The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

Partygate: Mixed Feelings


The news is full of political parties at the moment - the drinking and dancing kind. No sooner did Boris Johnson decide to jump Parliament before he was pushed than it transpired one of the Privileges Committee himself attended a jolly during lockdown.

The Guardian's piece on Bernard Jenkin is uncharacteristically balanced, perhaps because of mixed feelings. On the one hand the impartiality of the Committee is further brought into question, which strengthens Johnson's furious objection to their verdict. On the other, Sir Bernard is a Conservative, so the Left must use the opportunity to humiliate him (new definition of 'abasement': Tory party venue.) Worse still, Jenkin is a staunch Brexiteer, the only one in Harman's courtlet - a point which must have complicated Boris' thoughts as he counterattacked.

Speaking of mixed feelings, the Guardian, usually so keen on #metoo, was reluctant to discuss its in-house groper (since retired), as was the FT and Private Eye. They pick their targets and angles. Little wonder that trust in the Fourth Estate is declining - along with confidence in institutions generally - just when we need it most.

A particularly brain-scrambling Guardian article was Martin Kettle's on Thursday, where he told us 'Brexit was Johnson and Johnson was Brexit. Now that he has gone, Britain must think again.' This is tendentious nonsense: Boris the would-be 'world king' is not a conviction politician, but has tremendous energy and put his shoulder to the wheel when it was clear that the people wanted out of the EU. Kettle wants to perplex us on a subject of historic and lasting importance by blending it with our sentiments about a notable but inevitably temporary political maverick. This is 'confusion worse compounded' and if we were shoehorned back into the EU on the terms it would demand we should suffer 'ruin upon ruin, rout on rout.'

This period is reminiscent of the long lead-up to the 1997 General Election, in which every slip by the Conservatives was seized upon and trumpeted by skilfully manipulated news media, building an unreflective tide swell of public animus so that the electorate could vote for The Other Lot in a spasm, only to repent at leisure. Come democracy, come the demagogue; the philippics of Demosthenes nearly got Athens destroyed. Put a lid on it, Kettle.

Mixed feelings… I remember when a teacher concluded 42 years in the profession, he told the staffroom 'I come to retirement with mixed feelings: joy… and sheer bloody relief!' That is much how I felt when we exited 'Europe' after a similar period. 

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Director : Robert Oulds
Tel: 020 7287 4414
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