Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Rebels Without A Clue: Brexit Baulks At Actually Exiting The EU

Cartoon of a well-armed sheep, by Wendy Cockcroft
In a move that was either flippin' stupid or political genius (you decide), our new PM Theresa May has appointed none other than Boris "BoJo" Johnson, the gaffe-prone former Lord Mayor of London, as our foreign minister and appointed leading Brexit campaigners to mange the UK's exit from the EU. Which sounds great in theory but in practice... Let's take a closer look.

Brexit Is An Unfolding Disaster

One of the hilarious takeaways from the story of Brexit so far is that people started to research Brexit after they had voted. Erm, shouldn't they have thought it through first before they voted? Oh dear Lord some of us are stupid! Well since "Leap first, look later" seems to be the norm over here it's hardly surprising that a) we voted the Tories in during the last election and b) the parliamentary Labour party is stuffed with neoliberals who aren't interested in meeting people's needs because people vote for party, not individuals. And thus it is that a red-faced Tessa May quoth:

...which can only mean they've not decided what they are beyond keeping the "migrants" out while swanning off to their countries and calling themselves "ex-pats." You couldn't make it up. Don't be too hard on May for being cautious, though — we've painted ourselves into a corner.

The "special relationship" has gone a bit sour

During a press conference with American secretary of state John Kerry, Boris found himself on the back foot as the press pack, many of whom are American, took him to task for some of the egregiously awful things he's blurted out over the years.

Johnson twice referred to the crisis in Egypt, but was believed to be referring to Turkey.

He came under strongest attack from American journalists, who asked him if he was going to apologise to world leaders, including Barack Obama, for his past insults, and whether other politicians could trust him. - Boris Johnson grilled on past ‘outright lies’ at uneasy press conference by Patrick Wintour for The Guardian

The BBC video shows him looking so uncomfortable I almost feel sorry for him.

Remember, this tousle-haired chump is in charge of foreign policy but doesn't seem to realise which countries the burgeoning crises are in. "Look over there!" isn't much of a response to the attempt to call him to account for his statements; his pathetic wriggling makes him look weak. How exactly can you misconstrue or take from their proper context the insults leveled at the part-Kenyan with the ancestral dislike of the British empire or the dyed blonde with the steely blue glare of a mental hospital nurse? Enquiring minds want to know.

It's worth watching that video a few times: John Kerry's amusement is plain to see, as is the fact that our "special relationship" with the US appears to continue to be "over a barrel."

Migration won't be capped

You do know that free movement of people is one of the cornerstones of EU policy, right? Any trade deal with the EU must allow it or the deal is off. Well, then, don't be surprised that after all the hullaballoo over taking back control of our borders from the evil Eurocrats... we'll be ceding control of them again in order to facilitate trade with our Continental neighbours. The clue is in this Telegraph article:

Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, and Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, suggested that Theresa May’s new administration will no longer set explicit targets for reducing the number of foreigners coming to the UK.

Ms Rudd said it was now the Government’s “aim” to reduce net migration to “sustainable levels”. - Amber Rudd and Boris Johnson signal Tories' migration target has been scrapped, by Political Editor Peter Dominiczak, Ben Riley-Smith, Steven Swinford, and Kate McCann for The Telegraph 

The walkback has begun. To be fair, this is the problem:

Britain won't be able to cherrypick the best parts of a deal with the EU for trading, we will have to take what we can get, and our trading partners aren't going to give an inch if they can help it.

Brexit is disuniting the Kingdom

Article 50 needs to be invoked before the process of leaving the EU begins, after which we'll have to carefully unpick the layers of treaties that bind us to the European Union. Our prime minister Theresa May is playing for time; per a BBC report we're not going to invoke Article 50 this year.


Trident renewal may well be the straw that broke the camel's back where the possibility of a re-run of the independence referendum is concerned; most Scots actually voted Remain. Their desire to leverage the benefits of EU membership is dependent on leaving the EU with the UK, winning independence and becoming a separate nation, then going through the application process, which could take years. In any case it's not likely to take place under this Government; the Prime Minister says they had their chance in the last election so that's it, game over.

Northern Ireland

It's no secret that the Irish have always wanted to reunify the country following partition in 1922 when the Protestant majority opted to remain part of the UK. Unionist MP Ian Paisley advocates getting an Irish passport. Others have gotten on board with this to leverage the benefits of EU membership and the possibility of Brexit resulting in a united Ireland has occurred to Taoiseach (prime minister) Enda Kenny. So far he's only thinking about it but a referendum isn't that far away, depending on the way the wind blows. While Brexit doesn't automatically trigger a referendum on Irish unity, it doesn't exactly leave it off the table either. The British and the Unionists aren't keen on this, of course, but I'd like to see the outcome of a referendum on the subject in my lifetime. Full disclosure: I'm Irish, and a Protestant.

Denialism reigns supreme

The pro-Brexit press are going nuts declaring it's all sunshine and rainbows on the Brexit front. Yes indeed, a date has been set: 2019, no less, and other countries are queuing up to strike trade deals with us including... Australia? It's part of the Commonwealth! So is Canada. We already trade with them, though it's unlikely that trade with them alone can make up for the losses of leaving the EU. Oh, and President Obama told us we'd be at the back of the queue where trade deals with America are concerned if we left the EU, so expect a lot of puppy-dog eyes to be made at leading politicians while they remind us that their hands are tied till we're actually out of the EU.

So there, in a nutshell, is the situation with Brexit at the moment. God help us all.

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