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Rafa de Miguel: ‘There is a kind of pact of silence to put the Brexit nightmare behind you’

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Last Thursday, Rafa de Miguel, EL PAÍS correspondent in London, met with a group of newspaper subscribers to analyze the open fronts of the Boris Johnson government. Northern Ireland’s fit with Brexit, the question of independence in Scotland and the final phase of Elizabeth II’s reign were some of the topics discussed. The virtual meeting is part of the exclusive EL PAÍS+ activity program and was moderated by journalist Andrea Nogueira.

The PM has survived a no-confidence motion giving him a year to win back support. “The atmosphere isn’t good, but I think that even though it looks like he’s on the ropes from afar, he still has a little way to go,” estimated De Miguel. In his opinion, the MPs who voted against Johnson are the so-called backbencher because they sit in the last benches of Parliament, they have no concrete plan for impeachment.

The correspondent explained that many of them, without government posts, were “deeply irritated” by the Downing Street party affair, the so-called party gate, because these MPs visit their constituents every week and hear their grievances first-hand. “But they don’t have coordination like the group that ended Theresa May might have,” said De Miguel, who also introduced the lack of a clear leader to replace the current one.

Its stability now depends on several issues, such as the results of this Thursday’s local elections or the release of the Parliamentary Privileges Committee’s report at the end of the year, which will determine whether the prime minister has been despised by lying about the parties.

But the Conservative Party is also very aware that the President is taking on his challenge to the European Union with the Brexit protocol for Northern Ireland. De Miguel recalled that this section is crucial in the separation agreement between the two institutions. Eurosceptics accepted that Northern Ireland would remain part of the EU customs area but were ‘never, never’ convinced of that option. The country faces millions of dollars in sanctions if it unilaterally changes that treaty, but De Miguel has no doubt that Johnson will continue this ordeal to the end because it is the way to guarantee his political survival. The correspondent predicted two futures: “This could turn into a trade war with the European Union, which could be disastrous for a country already on the brink of recession, or it could also, as on many other occasions, be the end the European Union shows a small dose of flexibility, they sit down to negotiate and as Lampedusa said in his novel, everything changes so that everything stays the same.”

The depth of Brexit on the streets, two years after it began, has sparked much curiosity among subscribers. De Miguel shared that society is fed up with a problem that has plagued it for years and that it wants to consider closed, at least for now. He pointed out that it was also a flag in political life that the Conservatives were only willing to hoist on certain occasions, such as the Northern Ireland problem. What is undeniable, the correspondent stressed, is the economic fallout as predicted at the time by the Bank of England itself. The journalist gave the example of airlines having serious problems hiring foreign staff, to which they now have to add inflation. “The reality is that Brexit has severely affected this country’s economy, but there is some sort of pact of silence to put this nightmare behind us.”

Subscribers were also interested in Queen Elizabeth II’s anniversary, the celebrations and her absence as the monarch was unable to attend major events due to her mobility issues. “No one is bitter about a party, and especially after two years of a pandemic,” he appreciated De Miguel on citizen participation. As for the Queen herself, she acknowledged her continued support from the British, for whom she has been a benchmark for stability for 70 years. “Many people have never met another person at the head of the monarchy,” he testified. He also described the transition process that the monarchy is experiencing as “very humane”: “You don’t expect him to abdicate as such, but he’s putting his son Carlos more and more in the foreground.”

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Source elpais.com

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