Friday, June 23, 2017
The Brexit we deserve
In a few years time, we will see Brexiteers writing enraged little screeds puzzling why we are still adopting EU law by way of statutory instruments and why we do not have sovereignty. They will wonder why we are on an EU leash, parked in a Brexit limbo, probably in a never ending association agreement, implementing ECJ and Council decisions. This is assuming they haven't packed up and moved on to blether about something else - having failed to even recognise that we have been shafted.
There will be a reason for this. None of them ever closely examined the options or explored the many nuances of sovereignty in this ever interconnected world. Mainly because they didn't want to know. They are not interested in details. We could have been out of the EU and in an EEA/Efta deal, evolving our way further out by using the country specific annexes within the two years. But no. That isn't Brexit according to the hard Brexit clan.
Instead we will dither without a plan, ask for an extension, and negotiate a transitional arrangement until a final trade agreement can be reached. This will be EU membership but without the bother of having to send MEPs to Strasbourg. And since it will take years to replicate a comprehensive agreement, the momentum of Brexit will have abated. The Tories will lose and election and a new prime minister will convert the status quo into a "special status" and most people will simply shrug and be glad to get on with something else.
Nobody will call this soft Brexit because we won't be in the EEA and we won't by name be in the EU - but that's what you wanted. But we won't be independent, we won't have sovereignty and in fact will probably have less power of veto than Switzerland or Ukraine.
It won't be popular but in the end the refusal to engage in the details and the realities of our predicament has consequences. They will complain bitterly but from the beginning they wanted no part of the grown up debate. They had no opinion on the shape of the referendum campaign, they opted out of the debate as regards to a plan, and maintained this binary Janet and John narrative that there is only the one true Brexit - all in pursuit of an intellectually stunted view of sovereignty - which exists nowhere in the real world.
The only way we will get a Brexit that satisfies the Brexit-o-mongs is one that sees us absolutely crippled, out on our ear on WTO terms, trashing all of our European exports - and more besides. Grown ups, however, do not want that. That is why there is an extensive debate about the shape of Brexit - which Brexiteers refuse to engage in on any adult level. They might, by accident, get the Brexit they crave, but by then the democratic "will of the people" will be to accept anything we are given to avoid it.
That will be the ultimate consequence of this boneheaded clamour to denounce a more considered Brexit as a "betrayal". You'll hate it, as will I, but ultimately it will be the "Brexit" we deserve. Never in the history of politics has a movement been so deserving of defeat.