The Ghost of Christmas yet to come: Looking ahead to the coming year(s) of the Brexit process
The full text of Sir Ivan Rogers’ lecture, The Ghost of Christmas yet to come: Looking ahead to the coming year(s) of the Brexit process, hosted by Policy Scotland at the University of Glasgow on 25 November 2019.
I’m very honoured to have been invited back to give a third lecture here today.
Given where we are now politically, still in the midst of much the biggest political crisis since the War, and arguably a major constitutional crisis too – I am going to talk today about the crisis that is likely to confront us at the Christmas yet to come – Christmas 2020. And when I came to think about it I realised that makes me the rather forbidding Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come – not silent, I’m afraid – or shrouded in a deep black garment – but pointing at a future which can still be changed but is highly likely to materialise if the message it brings is not heeded.
I make no apologies, as I am here today in the role of the Ghost pointing at what I think is the most likely future if nothing changes, for focussing today mainly on a future in which the Tories under Boris Johnson win a majority at the forthcoming election.
As a former civil servant, I long ago set aside the freedom to express personal political views, but I am as keenly interested in the possible outcomes as the rest of you. We can all read the polls, and follow the work of the many experts including from this fair city (even though some of them are down the road in another fine Scottish University), and as we sit here today the version of the future I will concentrate on is a very likely one if things continue on their current course.
1. The Ghost of Christmas Past
Let’s start though at the beginning, with the Ghost of Christmas Past who reminds Scrooge of some important moments in his past that have had a determining influence on the present. This ghost you may remember is a kindly one, and says to Scrooge “These are the shadows of things that have been, that they are what they are, do not blame me!”
Before the crisis which nearly brought Mrs May down at Christmas 2018, was the one that nearly brought her down at Christmas 2017.
There ought to have been a crisis at Christmas 2016 too, but…
Image: John Leech [Public domain]