Sunday, 30 July 2017

Is Brexit Breaking Up?

Britannia surrounded by sharks, a cartoon by Wendy Cockcroft for On t'Internet
The backlash I've been predicting since the referendum has finally begun in earnest; the right wing press have at last accepted that it was never going to work because the Leavers never had a plan beyond their misleading talking points. Let's take a closer look.

There are four main reasons why Brexit is a farce and a failure. They are:

  • Right wing hubris
  • Ideological deadlock
  • Inconvenient truths
  • Incompetent leadership

Right wing hubris

The first place to look for where failure began is on the right, where most of the Euro-skepticism is. As I pointed out in my last post, the Right is collapsing beneath the weight of its hubris. They thought we could just muddle through on the WTO as if the tangled layers of treaties we've signed up to can be blown away by the application of the Repeal Bill. If you read the BBC's take on it, you'll find it's not that simple.

No-nothing arrogance

They thought they could force this on us by pretending that the advisory referendum is legally binding. It's not, though many Brexiters seem to believe it is. Besides, many of them have now changed their minds. They gave little consideration to the rest of the Union, and none at all to my native Ireland. Their arrogance towards their European counterpart is staggering; they seem to see them as an obstacle to route around, not business and political partners they are effectively divorcing. If that's not bad enough, consider this: they plan to replace a union of nations with a series of free trade agreements that will hobble our ability to regulate the food we import — and they're cheering that on! And that's just the tip of one ugly iceberg of stupidity.

Ideological deadlock

Again, as I pointed out last night, political tribalism is keeping us stuck in this see-saw situation when we could easily leave it at any time. When parties exist but to oppose each other, they're no good to the rest of us.

On the right

Those right-wingers who cling like grim death to a kittens and rainbows future post-Brexit seem to honestly believe that the great god Capitalism will see them through to a great and glorious future. Basically, they're unable to learn from the past because they're focused on the future. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, etc. This iteration of capitalism has no time for the vulnerable, the weak, or the poor and woe betide anyone who shows compassion for these people since they're just enabling a life of dependency. This is the "global socialism" they intend to stamp out and Brexit is considered a tool for the job. That is what it's for; it's the shock required to force us to accept the new status quo.

On the left

Jeremy Corbyn is a man of principle. However, there's a problem with this: his misguided determination to respect the referendum result would create the exact same problems that the Tories' version would. The one thing he actually gets about Brexit is that it's supposed to be about changing a system that basically screws workers. I think we can all agree that the unfettered capitalism demanded by the Right is the actual thing that screws workers, not immigrants, per se. However, Corbyn is stuck between a rock and a hard place where Brexit is concerned; his principles demand he represent his people, but they're divided. The smart thing to do would be to convince them that Brexit is unworkable without applying a carefully thought-out plan. However, people want change now and believe that Brexit is the vehicle to deliver it. That they believe this is down to Corbyn's own skepticism over the EU and his servant leadership model. Until he takes the reins, he'll be going where the horse wants.

Inconvenient truths

While the falling Pound has made it cheaper to trade with us, British residents travelling abroad are finding their money doesn't go as far as it used to. Growth has also fallen.

Trade deals

If you thought we were going to "take back control" you know sod all about international trade: basically, FTAs demand that non-tariff barriers be removed; i.e. kiss the ability to regulate goodbye. What control? As the differences between remaining and leaving kick in, the inconvenience of the truths becomes more pronounced. Do you know that America has almost five hundred pages of EU consumer protection regulations it wants rolling back in the run-up to that much-vaunted trade agreement? Oh, and there's this:

Enjoy. Meanwhile, vacuum inventor chappie Sir James Dyson has shifted production of his appliances from Malmesbury to South-East Asia. The man believes in Britain! And farm subsidies, apparently. I wonder what he thinks of deregulation? It enabled the spate of acid attacks we've been reading about by making it easier for nutters to get hold of the stuff.

Incompetent leadership

All of this leads to my final point. How in the world can we expect our leaders to be competent if they believe that accepting the facts of the matter is optional? They have no plan because they honestly believe they don't need one. They will whistle Rule Britannia while invoking the Dunkirk spirit even as the country falls down around our ears. It doesn't help that the best coverage of Brexit is from foreign sources; our own don't want to know what's going on in case they have to deal with it.

Needless to say, the British press is getting fed up with it. Tellingly, the Express led a Brexit story with some random LBC caller hailing Brexit as an escape from a trap, followed by an admission that all is not well in Brexitland, actually. The Telegraph and London Evening Standard both report that there's no cabinet agreement on free trade. Basically, Brexit means Brexit but they can't agree on what Brexit actually means. I can't have faith in leaders who are basically rebels without a clue.

Is Brexit breaking up? I flippin' hope so, since its success appears to be contingent on ignoring negative news about it. We just need to get the rest of the right-wing press to accept this.

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