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Breaking the Brexit logjam

The fundamental problem of Brexit has not been that the UK voted to leave the European Union. The problem has been the fact that the vote was hijacked by ignorant, grandstanding fools who interpreted the vote as a will to sever all and every link between the UK and the European Union. That was then and is now a catastrophic policy. To default to WTO rules, when any member of the WTO could stop that policy was a recipe for the UK to be held hostage by any state with an act to grind against us. A crash out from the EU, without any structure to cope, was an act of recklessness that should disqualify anyone advocating it from any position of power whatsoever. That is now the most likely option because the Conservative leadership, abetted by the cowardly extremism of Corbyn, neither understood the scale of the crisis, now had any vision of how to tackle it.

Theresa May is a weak and hapless Prime Minster, and her problems started when she failed to realize that there was a compromise that would have fulfilled the referendum vote, but not totally alienated the 48% who wished to continue or even deepen the UK relationship with the EU. Her "Citizen of Nowhere" speech was a jingoist rejection of nearly a century of British engagement with Europe and showed a willful blindness to the social and economic changes that 40 years of EU membership have brought to Britain. Remain may have lost, but by a whisker and many of those who voted to leave, including Dan Hannam MEP, believed that EFTA and/or a single market were the most likely post-EU arrangements.

If seems clear that the policy of the Prime Minister: to mirror EU rules with sovereign British rules, while obtaining certain concessions on how the UK conducts trade policy, is close to breakdown. The Chequers agreement has, in fact been no such thing. The hardliners continue to reject it. Yet from the point of view of obtaining an agreement there is nothing else on offer. It's a very poor deal.

However a leader with vision would choose to avoid the crisis that a crash-out will create. That leader is not Theresa May. She has committed herself to exit/mirror and if this deal fails, she would have to go. The problem is that there is no other viable leader either. Corbyn is unelectable. Other figures in the Conservatives, such as Michael Gove are even more divisive than the hapless Mrs May. A second referendum is even less likely, despite the general support it now has.

So what is to be done?

The growing scandal around Aron Banks may yet persuade voters that a second referendum is now essential, but if it is not, then we need to think practically. The collapse of the government would need the Article 50 deadline to be extended. However the EU is only likely to agree this, if a viable policy emerges in London.

Unless the entire referendum process is discredited (which it may be) it seems unlikely that the Leavers can be reconciled to Remain, but equally Remainers cannot be expected to support the Hardline policy that is offered as the only option.

There is a compromise policy, and that policy is EFTA membership. 

A leader who has the vision to speak out for this may finally be able to break the logjam, end the uncertainty of a crash-out and begin to heal the fractured body politic that this whole tawdry affair has inflicted on our country.

Comments

Nigel Jones said…
I generally agree with this piece, but what a shame that it contains inflammatory language at the beginning which will cause most leavers to ignore what is written here.

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