Sunday, 22 October 2017

Brexit Is A Disaster: Let's Stop It Now

Brexit farce, a cartoon by Wendy Cockcroft for On t'Internet
Law expert Jo Maugham QC has got hold of a report from the Treasury, and it makes for sobering reading. Basically, if we're stuck on WTO (world trade organisation) rules, we're screwed. This contradicts the right-wing position that we'd be fine and shouldn't worry our pretty little heads about it. Given this, shouldn't we be putting the brakes on and trying to reverse Brexit? It's not that simple.
There are four factors to consider before attempting to even discuss reversing Brexit:

  • The right wing press
  • Political ideology
  • The legal implications
  • Public opinion

Let's take a closer look.

The right wing press

The right wing press is fighting a rearguard action on Brexit. Whereas they had formerly crowed that we had trade deals in the bag and the world was forming an orderly queue to agree them with us, they now describe the EU as punishing and fining Britain and are gearing up for a no-deal scenario. I'm not even joking, they're like spoilt brats who can't get their own way.

The Express

The Express, which memorably whined that we were being "stripped" of EU institutions (entirely forgetting that they've got no business being in a non-member nation), is now declaring that one in four Remainers would now vote to Leave because "They're sick of EU tactics." They also talk about "opportunities" without specifying what they are, like a used car salesman wibbling on about the shiny colour of the vehicle while he nudges you away from the bonnet because he doesn't want you looking at the engine.

The Telegraph

The Telegraph is gamely playing along with Brexit, claiming that French businesses are trying to seduce British ones into relocating in France. That's in the free-to-view section. Behind a paywall, though, is an article stating that the EU have had to rescue embattled PM Theresa May because she's the least horrible one to deal with. Oh, and they don't want us peons knowing what's happening behind the scenes.

The Mail

The Mail drips with poisonous bile about the overbearing EU demanding money with menaces and Johnny Foreigner being very rude. It also talks up the "benefits" of a no-deal exit.

What this means

Every person I know who has voted Brexit reads one of these papers and takes it seriously. It's usually the Mail. The steady drip of anti-EU sentiment comes with an added dose of ignorance; people are voting with their feelings, not the facts. I'm not saying these papers control public opinion but they sure as hell influence it. Achieving a reversal will be difficult if they're not on board.

Political ideology

When your ideology depends on delivering a favourable result inconvenient facts get kicked to the kerb. This is true whatever the party. The right wing of the Tories want to get us out of the EU, deal or no deal. Labour want some kind of deal but are committed to delivering the democratic will of the people. And the Liberals are campaigning to end Brexit. Each party deems itself within an inch of getting what it wants; whether or not this is actually true is up for debate but the evidence favours the Remain side - which I daresay is why it's being hidden from us.

The legal implications

The right is pushing a no-deal scenario as if it's a good idea. It's not. Given the complexity of the situation it seems a transition will be effected to keep things as they are until we're ready to move forward. The length thereof is up for debate but if this happens it's likely that the proverbial can will be continually kicked down the road until somebody blinks. Right-wingers say that going on the WTO will be just fine but they evidently haven't spoken to exporters. Basically, all they have to offer is "potential" and "opportunities," which is Tory for "We have no clue."

Key policy areas

Politico's list of key policy areas affected by Brexit is worth reading. The ones that get my attention are the rights for EU citizens and the Irish question (which isn't mentioned in the article). The point is, every Leaver I know either hand-waves any concerns away or hasn't bothered to consider them. Bloomberg's take on Brexit's impact on business is not Project Fear but sober reality. My employers have frozen hiring — and my pay. Stuff you, Brexiters! I blame you for this.

Public opinion

A brief search on "public opinion Brexit" shows a divide depending on who carried out the polls. The left-liberals believe that public opinion has swung to them while the right wingers believe the public is on their side. We can't get anything done without public opinion on side. Whether or not the public is as thick as custard is not the point; if we reverse Brexit (or try to!) and they're not on board, we're screwed. Remember, the Leave side's victory caught everyone by surprise.

It's not that simple

While it's possible in theory to write a letter rescinding Article 50, effectively saying sorry, we made a mistake, in practice even a second advisory referendum might not be sufficient to get us back in before the club stamp fades from the backs of our hands. It's possible that lawsuits and other efforts to derail Reverse might be made and if that's the case we'll be stuck in limbo for years.


I am all for stopping Brexit in its tracks but I'm a realist: until the right wing press admits we're better off in (at least for the moment), it's unlikely we'll be going anywhere. In case I'm wrong, it's worth joining in the Reverse efforts in the hope of effecting change for the better. If that makes me a saboteur, so be it.

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