David Frost cocked it all up, explained David Frost – but don’t worry, David Frost is here to sort it out

·5-min read

The day when its handling of the coronavirus pandemic was described as “one of the most important public health failures the UK has ever experienced” was certainly a good day to let it quietly but certainly be known that the government had done just as bad a job with regard to Brexit. In that sense, Lord David Frost did not disappoint.

Lord Frost – who is still described as the government’s chief Brexit negotiator because almost two full years after Brexit he is still negotiating it, and mainly with himself – flew to Lisbon on Tuesday to stand in front of some curtains, and, in front of fully 275 online viewers, gave himself an absolute kicking.

The Northern Ireland protocol, he explained, isn’t working. About this, he’s absolutely correct. At no point in the last three weeks has anyone in Northern Ireland had any problems buying petrol, which shows very clearly – more clearly than the government can cope with, in fact – that Brexit simply isn’t working there. Arguably, it’s not even happening there.

The whole point of Brexit is that the United Kingdom should be free to forge its own path in the world, under the watchful eye of the only government it’s ever had that has been stupid enough to want to do it. (And one that has felt the need to bring a very dimly regarded diplomat called David Frost back from semi-retirement at the Scotch Whisky Association in order to make it happen, but he hasn’t actually managed to make it happen, which is why he’s still at it.)

We must all Brexit together, as one nation. And the clear fact that Northern Ireland has not had its path forged towards the land where everything’s broken just won’t do at all. Northern Ireland also hasn’t had any of the food and fizzy-drink shortages that were the direct result of persistent CO2 shortages, because it’s still, de facto, in the EU’s single market, where none of those problems exist. And it is absolutely vital to the success of Brexit that Northern Ireland should go through the same misery as the rest of us.

To make this happen, David Frost had to give a very self-important speech, which began, for no reason at all, with a lengthy discussion of the titles he likes to give his speeches. They are all references to the writings of Sir Edmund Burke, the founding father of conservatism – who, were he alive today, would certainly have regarded Brexit as the single stupidest thing the UK has ever done, though Lord Frost is far too stupid to be able to work that out.

“People must be governed in a manner agreeable to their temper and disposition,” he said, quoting Burke. That he said these words on the day on which a government of which he is a member was found responsible for one of the worst public health disasters there has ever been is a measure of the man’s chutzpah, by which we mean ridiculousness. But further, larger measures would be poured shortly after.

He would also claim that “low taxes, free speech, and the maximum possible amount of economic and political freedom for individuals, are the best choices we could make as a country”. Again, he made these claims while being an actual member of the government that has set overall tax rates at the highest they have been for 80 years – and one that, on the free speech front, is introducing the most outrageous bans on the right to protest that any British government has ever dared to impose.

Naturally, that was only a warm-up for the real outrages to come. Frost would explain that he was setting out a brand new protocol for Northern Ireland, because the one he had personally negotiated, and signed, didn’t work. This was partly because it was signed “in haste” – which it was, and it was signed “in haste” because he personally and deliberately ran down the clock on the negotiating time available in the absurd belief it would put more pressure on the EU than it did on him, before ultimately caving in, signing something he didn’t understand, then flying to Lisbon a few years later to whine about the unfairness of it all. Whine, in short, about his own venal shamelessness.

That he expects the EU to be “flexible”, to be “creative”, to be “ambitious” about cleaning up his own mess is shocking, but not surprising. The tragic thing is, he is probably genuinely dismayed that the EU won’t behave in the way he wants it to, even though the fact that it never does was one of the primary reasons given by him and his mates for wanting to leave in the first place. That the EU will never change its ways was, once upon a time, one of the main reasons to leave it. And now, here we are, angrily demanding it be all the things it isn’t, to solve a problem entirely of Frost and Co’s making.

We are very much back to the Blazing Saddles phase of Brexit, the do as I say or I’ll shoot myself in the head phase, and hoping that the EU will not be too appalled by the blood spatter that may land on it to actually do as we ask.

There’s a chance, of course, that it might. But if not, well, don’t worry – Frosty will be along with some more drivel in due course. There’ll always be someone else to blame, as we all go gleefully down the Swanee together.

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