A few thoughts on Brexit

Everyone else is having their say, so why shouldn’t I?

Full disclosure, in case I’ve not made it clear: I think Brexit is a mind-bogglingly stupid thing to do. This doesn’t mean I see myself as superior to those who did vote for Brexit… hang about a bit, yes it does! I sympathise with anyone who believes that the EU has harmed them personally, but this does not give you the right to stuff it up for everyone else.I have slightly more sympathy with those who believe that the EU has harmed a majority of the UK – at least that is altruistic in aim, although it’s harmful in outcome.

I have no sympathy for anyone who believes that any group of foreigners – or even all foreigners – are bad or evil. Anyone who believes that is wrong and evil. And as for those who brought about Brexit thanks to attempts to solve problems in their own party party, may the fleas of a million camels eternally chew on your scrotum!

Rant over for the moment. Having said what I’m against, what am I for? That’s a difficult question to answer just now…

Setting the scene

I do not believe that the EU is perfect. With so many different nations, religions, economies and political beliefs involved, it will always be a compromise. For the foreseeable future, it will be continue on capitalistic lines. But it does have benefits, and I believe they are worth keeping. A major one of these is the peace in Europe that the EU may have helped keep. (Of course, this can’t be proven.)

Another major one is influence: members of the EU can influence its policies, improve its democratic processes, speak with a common voice, etc. I realise that this hasn’t helped with the migrant crises as much as most of us would wish. I think the only answer here is the long-term one of helping improve matters so that people don’t need to flee their countries. As Frankie Boyle put it

I’m totally pro-immigration. At the same time, I’d like to see a world where an African farmer can live and farm in Africa, and doesn’t have to try and cross the Mediterranean on a fucking punctured lilo, then dangle under a lorry for four days so that he can get a job handing out lollipops in a nightclub toilet.

Source: Scraps from the loft

So what I’d really like to see is an EU that works better to achieve more of what the world wants and needs, with the UK taking a leading role in this. In this context, it’s of secondary importance whether the UK remains as one nation, adopts a federal system or splits into two or more independent nations. What matters is what works, not political posturing.

What could possibly go wrong?

Apparently everything! As I see it, there are several options.

  • Undo article 50, and not leave the EU. A practical issue here is that it would probably need an Act of Parliament to achieve this. I’m not convinced that such an Act would get through the current parliament. Nor am I convinced that those who voted for Brexit in the first place would stand for this. In this context, it doesn’t matter that they are mindbogglingly wrong, or that the Brexit result was based on lies and other dubious activities that probably make the result of the 2016 referendum ill-founded. What matters is that there would probably be uproar, and there would certainly would be loss of faith in democracy.
  • Extend Article 50 until a solution is found. I’m not convinced about this either. For a start, I’m not convinced that a solution can be found. In the meantime, the UK will continue to materially suffer from uncertainty. However, I guess that the EU might support this, especially if it results in a softer Brexit or no Brexit at all. However, I think the EU nations are not likely to look Kindly on any calls by the UK for reform, more rebates or more special treatment.
  • Try for a Brexit that doesn’t involve the current set of red lines, especially those that make the much-disliked backstop (or a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland) less likely. I guess that the EU will look more favourably on this, even though it has said that there can be no renegotiations. I hope the unspoken part of this is ‘under the the logic of the UK’s decision to leave the single market and the ECJ’. However, in practical terms, who will attempt this? It seems very unlikely that Mrs May will. I doubt whether Mr Corbyn will – he appears to want to leave the EU, if not the single market. Even if either of these people are willing to try for this
    • There’s probably not time.
    • It seems unlikely that Mr Corbyn will become prime minister before 29 March 2019. Even if he wins it (which seems unlikely) t will take at least two weeks for his motion of no confidence to take effect, and another few weeks for a general election to take place. That would leave just a month to renegotiate.
  • A second referendum? (I do not like the title ‘people’s vote’. It implies that other votes weren’t made by people. Also, referendum is a better technical description.) I have some sympathy with the ideas that (1) we need to remake the decision in a campaign free from lies and other dubious activities; (2) that with representative democracy in paralysis it’s time to call on direct democracy; (3) now that more is known about Brexit, the dubious leave campaigns, and the electorate has changed, its view may have changed. Electorates are allowed to change their minds. If they weren’t, why will we have any more elections?

However, if a second referendum chooses Brexit as currently offered, it will have just wasted more time. If it chooses a softer Brexit, then I guess that is slightly better, but I don’t think we have time to renegotiate along these lines, unless suspending Article 50 is also chosen. If a second referendum chooses no Brexit, then I will welcome that result but 17 million people won’t. In any case, I think that the country will still be just as divided.

  • A people’s deliberation This might solve the democracy issues inherent in yes-no referenda, but there simply isn’t time for the UK to make its choice this way, then negotiate for such an outcome. (Or course suspending Article 50 might help here.) Also, how would we choose the form of deliberation? And how would we appease the millions who don’t like the result?
  • Crash out of the EU Please $deity, no! The trade deals with the rest of the world show no signs of arriving on the backs of unicorns. To the best of my admittedly limited knowledge, World Trade Organisation items are not helpful. If they were, there would be no need to try for trade deals. Unfortunately, this appears to be the only certainty in place.

Sidebar

It’s been suggested to me that Mrs may is playing some form of brinkmanship. That is, she knew how badly today’s vote would go, but chose to let that happen. Then she plans to produce some concession that is enough to get her deal through parliament. I wish I could see what that would be.

It’s also been suggested to me that Mr Corbyn’s tactic is to let Brexit happen, but ensure that Mrs May and her party get the blame. Being in a minority, of course he doesn’t have much choice as to whether Brexit happens. (It is theoretically possible that he could collaborate with other opposition parties to form a majority, but this seems highly unlikely.) So I don’t think he has a realistic choice about whether Brexit happens. However, if he is against the UK’s membership of the EU, he should come out and say so. And if he is also using this utter schemozzle to game the system and dump the blame on others, then he goes down very, very far in my estimation.

Conclusion

The only things that seem certain to me are

  1. The current governing party includes members who are too stubborn, too self-seeking, too dishonest and stupid to be in charge of tying their shoes, let alone be in charge of this critical process.
  2. The current opposition party isn’t helping.
  3. The current third party has only 35 MPs, and is at this moment espousing, probably for understandable reasons, a ‘kick the can down the tunnel’ policy full in the glare of an oncoming doom-laden express.

Graphic ‘bah!’

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