A Brexit that works for Britain?

The reason why there is so much confusion and chaos about what Britain should aim for in the Brexit negotiations is simple. Neither of the two possible types of Brexit is an easy option.

The stark choice is:

  • Either we leave the single market and the customs union, the dire economic consequences of which are becoming clearer by the day.
  • Or we stay inside the single market and customs union, but then we must follow their rules, on which we no longer have a say. We become a rule taker, not a rule maker.

This is an unpalatable choice. Postponing it for two extra years, by seeking to stay in the customs union and single market for a transitional period after Brexit, simply makes the consequences of that choice less immediate.

Brexiteers hope thereby to achieve Brexit before the public becomes sufficiently aware of those consequences.

They know that more and more people are likely to say that neither alternative works for Britain and to conclude that the only way to both avoid economic damage and keep our say on the rules is to remain a member of the EU.

Brexiteers speak loudly about respecting the ‘will of the people’ but do not want the people to have a chance to change their mind or to express their views on the final outcome of the Brexit negotiations.

And the government is doubling down on its determination to ignore people’s rising concerns as the facts become clear and as the deceptive promises of the Leave campaign are abandoned. It has responded to a petition with over 100,000 signatures by saying that it will only offer parliament ‘the choice to either accept the final agreement or leave the EU with no agreement.’

In other words, either accept its deal, no matter how bad it is, or face a chaotic cliff edge exit.

In no way is that a “meaningful vote”, as promised to MPs. Unless there is an option to call a halt to Brexit once the actual deal can be evaluated, if need be by calling a referendum on it, then MPs and our much vaunted parliamentary sovereignty will have been sidelined.  As will the people.

As Keynes said, ‘when the facts change (or become clearer), I change my mind.’

And as David Davis said, ‘a democracy that cannot change its mind ceases to be a democracy.’

Time to admit that those dictums apply here.

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8 Comments

  1. No way forward except with a 2nd Referendum with guidelines to ensure it is fact based rather than fiction or purely based on ideology. This should not only about in/out but about a new/pragmatic vision for Britain in or out + an inclusive process to get us there because this is about the future of the country and it is NOT acceptable that voices are excluded from this process. I’ve written about this some time ago in this post; https://goo.gl/NhGC61

  2. Thank you Richard. The major outcome of the referendum for me has been that politicians have continued to lie throughout the whole process to convince the general public that leaving the EU would benefit them. There appears to be no recourse, but rather it is accepted as part of the political structure of this country. The status of politicians appear to be at their lowest as each day more lies and deceit are uncovered. We can challenge them but we are impotent to change the system that allows this to continue. I despair for the country, the poor and the vulnerable on whom this tragedy will have the biggest impact.

  3. Your analysis of the situation seems absolutely correct to me. There is a right wing coup going on where the rabid right are using Brexit to grab dictatorial power in order to create a low regulation, low tax society (not unsimilar to the Koch brothers agenda in the US) which favours the super rich against the mass of people who will suffer with low wages and poor public services. Unfortunately the Labour parties support for Article 50 has helped them enormously in this endeavour. As a pro European Labour supporter, it’s time the party stopped being spineless and started to defend the interests of the many not the few.

  4. A regular reader of your blog, I think I know your opinion, which is very clear. But I am not sure I understand what the stance of the Labour Party is…
    Could you possibly explain us, one of these days?
    Thanks.

  5. The main difference between a right-wing and a left-wing Brexit is ostensibly that the latter will see the residue of a gutted economy directed for the common good; the Tory version is more Dickensian. Either way we shall escape all the economic, social and cultural benefits of EU membership. No champagne, thanks.

    Citing the ‘will of the people’ is not a self vaccination against political responsibility. Jeremy Corbyn’s meteoric rise is supported by a huge young fan base that regards Brexit as a spasm of the nearly dead, an insult to their cultural openness and a blot on their future. The best interest of the UK is to remain in the EU; the young who are our future desperately want that to happen. Can’t Labour join the dots?

  6. Hi Richard – hope you are well. There are only 3 choices – stay in the EU and that needs political courage to push through at this time but time is on our side as are demographics – remain in the EEA which I had hoped would become official Labour Party Policy – or just walk out of the lot and abandon all negotiations which is what the nutters, Nazis and UKIP want. Anything else in between is phoney. Currently the Markets (devaluation, productivity, GDP etc) are assuming option 3.

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