I’ve just watched the Laura Kuenssberg documentary – The Brexit Storm. Billed as her inside story. Well… hmmm…. maybe. Yes her face was the same as mine at the moment the count was delivered to the commons on the first defeat of the Withdrawal Agreement- I’d expected about 100 not 150. Her jaw dropped as mine did that evening. But I expect many of the cozy little chats with Boris in the bar and Jacob Rees-Moog before a broadcast interview were much more managed and scripted than they’d like you to think. Steven Baker almost crying as he decided to again vote against the deal was … well… marginally authentic. (No it wasn’t) Oh and another bugbear – again the leave means leave march to parliament on 29th March was shown but not the 1 million who marched the week before demanding the whole thing be overturned – not very unbiased frankly.
However – here we are April 2019. I should be living in a country now freed from the shackles of the EU enjoying some new marvellous future the leave campaigns have promised for years. Colours to the mast. I’m a left of centre liberal who was (and still is) a remainer. I honestly don’t believe the years of economic pain is worth going through and I’m highly dubious we’ll be economically better off anyway when we ever get through the chaos. Whilst many shout loudly for isolationist populist messages in many countries what you really see across the globe is a continue consolidation into large powerful trading blocks. Here is a map I’ve nicked from Wikipedia.
Note that there is very little grey – i.e. not in any block – a handful in Africa but including Yemen which is a non-governable warzone, Iran (ostracised by the world) Syria (see Yemen with a dictator that we really should have done something about ages ago…. ), North Korea (ostracised repressive regime with a dictator)… You can see where I’m going here. The UK will be in glorious isolation as the only democratic, developed nation outside a bloc. Whatever you feel about globalisation and loss of sovereignty with regard to trade and multi-national companies etc. It is a fact of life and arguably an inevitable consequence of the continued development of capitalism. Essentially the aim will be that all wealth and trade will end up in the hand(s) of the biggest, the largest, the most aggressive etc. Capitalism’s end state is a single corporation (World Inc) that has a total monopoly in ever market. Obviously anyone can start up new but unless you have a disruptive model like Amazon did 20 years ago good luck on beating World Inc.
Regardless of how foolhardy the UK government asked the people and narrowly the vote was to leave. Now… no one had actually thought about what that meant. The question just said
Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union.
So did leave mean join the EFTA (which we were in prior to joining in 1974?) and have a deal like Norway? I.e. we abide by the EU rules on trade, accept free movement of labour etc. Did it mean stay in a customs union… etc. Did it mean only operate on WTO rules (us and Moldova apparently, even North Korea has some trade deals!) Btw – how come WTO rules are all ok but the EU trading rules were unacceptable to us? But the EU has an elected parliament and a council of nationally elected representatives…. whereas the WTO?… To say I’m baffled by the arguments thrown about by the Brexiter champions is an understatement at times.
We didn’t know when we voted in 2016. It was one of my main reasons for immediately dismissing voting for that option myself – I had no idea what I would be voting for. It appears our representatives in parliament still are clueless as to what we actually voted for. Exasperation doesn’t come close to how appalling this situation is. Currently some of our factories lay idol since they’d planned a shut down in early April to avoid issues with no deal Brexit disrupting their supply chain. But we’ve not left however you can’t just change those plans they probably told all their suppliers 3 – 6 months ago of this decision. No doubt also placing contracts with others to do necessary maintenance or upgrades whilst the plant is shut. But now Brexit day is 12 April… or is it? What an utter utter mess. The CBI and TUC normally organisations at each others throats jointly wrote to the prime minister on 21 March saying.
Together we represent millions of workers and tens of thousands of businesses. It is on their behalf that we are writing to you to ask you to change your Brexit approach.
Our country is facing a national emergency. Decisions of recent days have caused the risk of no deal to soar. Firms and communities across the UK are not ready for this outcome. The shock to our economy would be felt by generations to come.
On Monday night there was a series of indicative votes to try to tell the government where to steer the negotiations. Of course totally ignoring the fact that the EU has said they are done negotiating the withdrawal deal on the table is the only one we can have. Something most MPs seem to totally ignore. I was bamboozled to see two options on Monday’s vote, so called Common Market 2.0 (looks like EFTA membership to me) or a customs union. I’ll spell this out so that MPs understand. Article 50 of the Maastrict treaty under which we can leave the EU makes it very clear we cannot negotiate a new trading arrangement with the EU whilst still a member. We have to leave (deal or not) before either of these options can be presented in negotiations for our future status.
Oh yes though of you reading from outside the UK – this is only the start. The deal we are agonising over and tearing ourselves apart constitutionally, politically and economically over is only to go to end of 2020 (end of current EU budget cycle), slightly more than 18months. In that time we are supposed to negotiate a far harder target – a new trading relationship. That took Canada 7 years and we supposedly (in current government policy) want a much more ambitious deal than Canada – sometimes call Canada++.
In watching repeatedly the government come back with it’s withdrawal agreement to defeat after defeat after defeat and to see no agreement on any practical way forward even wasting time on voting for situations that the EU would simply just wave away with a firm “NON!” beggars belief.
It all seems bizarre when you remember the leave campaign banging on about how we were going to “Take back control”. Frankly our parliamentary parties, MPs, the government and the Prime Minister have all collectively proved actually they are the last people to whom more control should be given.