Sir Vince Cable has just said that he believes that “Brexit should never happen”.... Sorry, I made a mistake there... Sir Vince Cable has just said that he believes that “Brexit may never happen”.
Cable was referring to what he called the “enormous divisions” in both the Labour and Conservative parties. He concluded that people may think again about leaving the EU. In his own words:
“I’m beginning to think Brexit may never happen.The problems are so enormous… I can see a scenario in which this doesn’t happen.”
Firstly, there are “problems” about all sorts of things in all British parties. Are the problems about Brexit truly “enormous”? Possibly. Cable, as a staunch fan of the EU, certainly hopes so. To quote the man himself:
“The Lib Dems had always been absolutely straight and consistent in support for the European project.”
In any case, what exactly does he mean by the words “I can see a scenario”? Again, does he hope there will be such a scenario? Any scenario can be imagined about anything.
Yet Cable certainly wasn't keen on Ukip not being in disarray about Europe, was he? And if the Tories weren't in disarray about Europe, would that make him happy? Of course it wouldn't!
Liam Fox has just said that the BBC would rather see Britain fail than Brexit go ahead. Two EU commissars have (more or less) said that they too would like to see Britain fail when it leaves the EU. And now we have Vince Cable, who believes that Brexit should be made to fail “by any means necessary” (not, of course, his own words). These people are so committed to the EU's role as Europe's political, economic and legal powerhouse that the success of Brexit - and indeed Britain! - pails into insignificance besides the EU's own far-more-important success.
However, Sir Vince is right about one person: Jeremy Corbyn. (Corbyn is, of course, Cable's main political opponent when it comes to taking over the role of Prime Minister from Theresa May.) Saint Jeremy is indeed a Eurosceptic. Nonetheless, Cable is wrong to conclude that young voters may stop supporting Corbyn because of his anti-EU position. Despite that, there are many staunch fans of the EU in Corbyn's Labour Party. Indeed some of them are even outright Corbynistas rather than “right-wing Blairite vermin” (as one pro-Corbyn t-shirt had it). However, most young Corbynistas are more turned on by the idea of Corbyn's extremely-radical socialism than they by the EU's.... what? Radical socialism is far more politically hip (or fashionable) than any pro-EU position. And young radsocialists place great emphasis on their being politically hip. After all, Che Guevara and “Jezzer” Corbyn t-shirts are far hipper than pro-EU t-shirts.
Cable, like most other Europhiles, concentrates entirely on economics. In so doing, he paints the usual nightmare scenarios about the - possible! - rise in unemployment and the decrease in living standards if/when we leave the EU. In fact Sir Vince seems to relish these possibilities. That's because anything goeswhen it comes to fighting Brexit.
This isn't a surprise. Cable is Homo Economicus. He was made Honorary Professor of Economics at the University of Nottingham. Before that, from 1966 to 1968, he was a Treasury Finance Officer to the Kenyan Government.
His economic fixations aren't just academic or political either: they're also financial and career-based. From 1995 to 1997, for example, Cable served as Chief Economist for the oil company Royal Dutch Shell in Nigeria. Indeed Cable's political – not economic - role came under scrutiny in that country.
As I said, Cable is Economics Man. And such men, nowadays, are also very keen on enlarging the political, economic and legal power of large institutions such as the EU and even the UN.
In parallel to all that, Cable - as usual - ignores the problems of European “open borders” and EU courts making British politicians and courts impotent against terror, terrorists and the refugees who aren't, well, refugees. He has nothing to say about the “democratic deficit” either. Nothing to say about political power moving away from the UK to Europe. Nothing to say about increasing EU bureaucratisation. Nothing.
Like a Marxist or fundamentalist free-marketeer, to Cable (to paraphrase Bill Clinton), it's all about the economy, stupid. But it's not, is it? Cable knows that. We know that. And Cable knows that we know that. Hence his happiness about the rival political parties are in disarray over Brexit.
It was said earlier that Economics Man pretends to see the whole Brexit/EU show in terms of economics and economics alone. Thus it's fitting to end with the words of Conservative MP Owen Paterson. He said:
“I’m afraid Vince is behind history. If we do not deliver a proper Brexit… there will be absolutely appalling damage to the integrity of the whole establishment — not just political, the media and the judicial establishment.”
True; though the EU is far more important to Cable than the “political, media and judicial establishment”. Worse than that, it's far more important than the 17.4 million people who voted for Brexit.
Is Sir Cable, therefore, truly a (liberal) democrat?