Although they won't all make sense without the context of the replies and what preceded them, this list of Emily Maitlis's questions and points from last night's Newsnight will give you a clear sense of the angles being pursued throughout.
The Robert Buckland interview
- I began by asking for his reflection on the Prime Minister's resignation.
- She spoke today about compromise and it is fascinating that half of your party think she compromised too much and half believe she compromised too little. What do you think she did?
- Do you think the next leader then should be more willing to compromise?
- So, as you will know, Boris Johnson clarified today, in his terms, we will leave on the 31st of October with a new deal or with No Deal. Does that sound like a man who's being realistic, who is telling the truth?
- So it sounds like you think Mrs May's red lines were drawn too early and too fast.
- But you see the candidates now. They are hardening behind No Deal. Should you be telling the country now we just have to get used to that?
The George Hollingbery interview
- I think very few people feel they know Theresa May all that well, and moment of the day was perhaps when her voice cracked, and we wondered whether that in or out of character for the woman that you know.
- What are the moments that really hit her soul most, because she does seems to have this extraordinary ability to just get up the next morning and carry on?
- She coined that whole phrase of 'the nasty party', and here it was being enacted over her and on her and, when you look at the way the Conservative Party acts, it feels like you knife all your leaders, whether it's Churchill or Thatcher or, you know, the bastards going for Major, what's happened to May. I wonder this is just all a pattern...
- What would she say is her biggest mistake, when she's talked to you about where things went wrong? Was it that she didn't compromise, that she drew the red lines, that she listened too much to Mark's group, the ERG? What would she say she did wrong?
- But you accept she was the one who put herself in a position with no majority and she didn't succeed on any of her goals?
- I mean, she has very little legacy to point to at all. She tried to talk of the seven things she wanted to be judged on, of those burning justices. She failed to make significant progress on any of her own goals. She even listed an enquiry into Grenfell as a triumph. I mean that's...
- But she doesn't care how she's seen?
- 0.27% of the electorate will be choosing our next Prime Minister. The average age is around 70. I wonder if that makes you feel good and democratic?
- Well it's not just a responsibility, it's your rules. You set these out, and we now have to see them enacted. 0.2% of the population. It's never been done before.
- Come on!
- Would they.command the confidence of the country? Would you encourage them to take this to a general election then to get that?
- Which is wishful thinking. But Helen, you know you could end up with a leader, I mean, this is exactly the scenario that we can anticipate, you could end up with a leader who is chosen by 0.27% of the electorate who does not command majority of MPs or does not command Parliament, and we could end up in a place where Parliament then has a vote of no confidence, and you've heard a constitutional crisis that brings them down.
- That's for the party, or that's for Brexit, but that's for a small wing of Brexiteers now, you know, people who say it's going to be a deal or no deal, and seem now to be finding their ground within the Conservative Party when they say that, and cabinet members as well.
The Mark Francois interview
- Mark Francois, your friend, Steve Baker, said that due to overwhelming support, he would run. He know has your support?
- Sorry, just to clarify. He is now running, so you are supporting him?
- He says he is. So he has your vote. You know that there is, erm, Steve Baker, Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab, all pretty much from the same wing of the party on this one, but you would choose him over Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab?
- So he's the purer...he's the pure one there? You wouldn't back somebody who folded?
- So would you argue that Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab, haven't shown enough backbone to become the next Tory leader?
- So where is that split now with the ERG, because that's going to be pretty crucial?
- They wouldn't want an unelected or unopposed Boris Johnson?
- What about the rest of the cabinet? You could say at this point, we don't need any Remainers or once-Remainers in the cabinet, so take out the Hammonds, take out Amber Rudd, take out Gauke and Lidington. Should there be a place for them in the next cabinet?
- What would you like to see?
- You would use the word 'execute'. You would accept it was your group, essentially, that knifed her, that got rid of her?
The John Sergeant, Jenni Russell and the John Crace discussion
- I'm going to start with you, John, because you saw Margaret Thatcher at her most vulnerable, literally placing the mic before her as she was coming to her end, how does that day compare to this one?
- Jenni, did you see this as a hounding or as somebody who had underdelivered and overstayed?
- There are a lot of those phrase and I think John we didn't really know her character. She had been at the Home Office without anyone really knowing what she was like. You were the one who coined this phrase the Maybot. Was that something you thought would stick or was it something you thought was pushed too far?
- Sorry, do you think it occurred to everyone that it was meaningless drivel? Did we buy the whole Brexit means Brexit and no deal and a bad deal and...
- We did think there was a plan, didn't we?
- When she took on that job, we were just discussing, we thought before the referendum that, you know, being a member of the EU or not was a technical choice. It was about negotiations and trade deals. And now it has become identity-defining. It's become about moral values, about the purity...we heard Mark Francois talking about whether Steve Baker was more pure than Boris Johnson. It has become so defining.
- Do you think it became like that because of the way it was approached in those May years or do you think it was always going to be like that?
- I feel like touching wood at this point.
- I think that's really hopeful. I think that's really extraordinary.
- How many are we on? Four Conservative Prime Minister toppled by the Europe question. Can any PM survive this?
- I want to ask John, do you think she has changed the nature of what it means to be a Prime Minister, and whether people can learn something from it? That we got into that spin of the Prime ministers who had to know about popular culture, had to have a favourite band, had to know the X factor contestants. She just sort of said no, I've got an important job to do, I once ran through a field of wheat and that was it. She was very, very sure she didn't have to pander to that sort of side of personality politics. Was that a good thing or a bad thing?
- So does that mean that people will be happy to have somebody like Boris Johnson, with, you know, an exoskeleton, everything on the outside, we know everything we could possibly know, or think we do, about Boris Johnson already, and that will somehow be more acceptable to an electorate?
So, with Robert Buckland, the themes were the need for compromise, the character of Boris Johnson and the 'hardening' of the Tory candidates over No Deal. Note the Boris-bashing pull of her question here.
With George Hollingbery, the themes were Mrs May's character, the character of the Conservative Party, the need for compromise and Mrs May's lack of a legacy. That strange question - "She coined that whole phrase of 'the nasty party', and here it was being enacted over her and on her and, when you look at the way the Conservative Party acts, it feels like you knife all your leaders, whether it's Churchill or Thatcher or, you know, the bastards going for Major, what's happened to May. I wonder this is just all a pattern..." - provoked a couple of points in my mind: (1) Theresa May didn't "coin" the phrase 'the nasty party'. She said, "You know what some people call us - the nasty party. I know that's unfair. You know that's unfair but it's the people out there we need to convince" and (2) Churchill wasn't knifed out of office.
With Helen Whately, the overriding theme was the smallness of the Tory electorate and whether it's democratic for someone else to take over as a result. (Gordon Brown's ascent to the premiership anyone?)
With Mark Francois, the themes were who he will support, and whether he and his group are after purity in the cabinet (i.e. against compromise), and whether the ERG knifed Mrs May. Emily was, in my view, trying to paint him as extremely uncompromising (with a pun on 'extremely' intended).
With the panel at the end, it was back to Mrs May's character and her style of government, Mark Francois's pursuit of purity, what "We" thought about EU membership and how we should see our PMs. Emily was free with her thoughts here, openly disagreeing with John Sergeant's non-apocalyptic view of the true depth of the Brexit 'divisiveness' that Newsnight so often dwells on.
Perhaps the most striking thing Emily Maitlis said there was this - the "we" point:
Perhaps the most striking thing Emily Maitlis said there was this - the "we" point:
When she took on that job, we were just discussing, we thought before the referendum that, you know, being a member of the EU or not was a technical choice. It was about negotiations and trade deals. And now it has become identity-defining. It's become about moral values, about the purity...we heard Mark Francois talking about whether Steve Baker was more pure than Boris Johnson. It has become so defining.Doesn't that just crystallise so much about how "we" (Emily & Co.) think? From what she says, "we" never really considered the "identity" aspects of EU membership. Many opponents of the EU, for decades, have placed that - questions of nationhood and sovereignty - at the very front of their reasons for wanting to leave the EU, but Emily seems to have just become aware of such concerns, "now". Isn't that what she's saying here?
Yes Emily's been doing a lot of "we-ing" recently and it's been very revealing.ReplyDelete