Remain camp deploys secret weapon: a Cable and Rudd double act

时间:2019-09-08 责任编辑:苍瞿凝 来源:兴发娱乐平台 点击:190 次

It could have been the real threat of hypothermia blowing through the open factory floor. It could have been that the few dozen apprentices and employees of Aerospace had no idea why they were there or who was talking to them. It could even have been everyone was totally unprepared for a discussion about the EU that bordered on the intelligent and came with no promises of catastrophe. Whatever the case, there were few signs of life either during or after the visit.

Vince Cable and Amber Rudd aren’t exactly A-list politicians. Cable still looks shell-shocked to find himself both and out of parliament; and while Rudd, the secretary of state for energy and climate change, is one of the sharper minds on the government frontbench, she isn’t a household name and could easily pass unnoticed in the smallest of crowds.

Yet for reasons that were never made entirely clear Cable and Rudd were sent out as the remain campaign’s headline act for the day. It was almost as if everyone else fancied a day off. Having shuffled his way to his lectern alongside Rudd and the three CEOs of , Airbus and Siemens, Vince kicked things off, though it took a while for anyone to realise he had started because of the mumbling. His voice has become as dissociated as the rest of him. Where there was once passion and certainty, there is now only self-doubt.

“It’s good to be back here,” he said, though it didn’t sound like it. “There are clouds on the horizon.” And in the room. Vince struggled to regain his sense of self. “I was secretary of state for five years,” he continued, as much as an affirmation as information. It didn’t help. Neither he – nor anyone else – appeared any the wiser. He then tried to cheer himself up with a passing reference to Boris’s obsession with undersized condoms and straight bananas, but that didn’t work either. Lowering the tone to the level of his opponents was never his style.

Vince mumbled on about jobs being lost before fading out mid-sentence. The three CEOs were almost as downbeat about being upbeat as Vince was. They weren’t there to offer scare tactics or to tell people how to vote, they assured everyone. They were merely there to say that, on balance, the future of the widget on the wings of an Airbus A380 (extra-wide body) was better guaranteed by there being a single unified widget on the wings of an Airbus A380 (extra-wide body) than 28 different widgets on the wings of an Airbus A380 (extra-wide body). You could only admire the lack of hyperbole.

Amber Rudd made a passionate defence of the EU. Photograph: Tolga Akmen/LNP/Rex/Shutterstock

Sensing that the event was in danger of fizzling out, Rudd tried to up the tempo with a rather more passionate defence of the EU and the . But either she is not yet sufficiently on message or just has too much integrity to go for overkill. “The IFS, the WTO and the OECD,” she said stridently, apparently unaware that talking in initials and acronyms is not the best way to keep the attention of what was already a small audience. “So there we have it,” she concluded. “The right thing to do is to vote remain on 23 June. Now, do we have any questions?”

Silence. More silence. As much out of politeness as anything else, I put my hand in the air. “Yes,” yelled Rudd, ecstatic to have got a response. I felt like pointing out that if a sketchwriter gets the first question then a political event is officially dead in the water, but that somehow seemed a bit cruel. Instead, I asked about immigration. It hadn’t just been the lack of world war three threats that had felt out of time; the content had also been out of time. By about two days.

The leave campaign appears to have accepted it has lost the economic argument and has settled as its big vote winner. Given that the government has missed every immigration target it has set itself, how was the remain camp going to deal with the subject. “We are not complacent,” insisted Rudd. “David Cameron has managed to renegotiate some excellent terms with the EU.” So excellent that he hadn’t bothered to mention them in weeks. Still, there is always tomorrow.