Friday, 16 November 2018
The Brexit deal
So, after 28 months of wrangling, excitement, two dedicated secretaries of state to accomplish it, resignations, new appointments, secret briefings, an extra umpteen thousand civil servants at an estimated extra cost of £500 a week, thousands of hours of mostly ill-informed speculation on the media, and gallons of printed ink: we finally have the Brexit deal "on the table."
And, of course, it is entirely what was to be expected, and could have been predicted the day after Mrs May promised that "the referendum result will be respected," come what may (no pun intended) no "ifs" no "buts".
Mrs May's decisions, then and now, are perfectly logical. Her aim is to keep the Tory party together, if not exactly united, and it and herself in power.So, if "I respect the result of the referendum," but she knows as a Remainer on which side the nation's bread is buttered, then the logical thing to do is to leave the EU formally, but retain as many of the benefits of membership as possible by obeying most of its rules.
That, essentially, is what the proposed deal does.
There is therefore a sense in which Mrs may can be congratulated for sticking to her guns, but, as argued in an earlier post, this gives the UK the worst of both worlds: we remain tied to EU rules but have forfeited out tight to have any say in making them.
The whole Brexit fiasco has already done a great deal of damage to the UK. The pound, considered a symbol of national virility for most of my career as a teacher of economics, has already depreciated by 12%, so we are economically weaker. Equally seriously we have dissipated our international reputation for decency, political and diplomatic maturity, and constructive pragmatism. Most of our friends in the world think we have gone bonkers.
The fault lies not just with the Tory party, which has allowed itself to fall into the hands of a small group, probably around 50, of rich and delusionally nostalgic egotists who, supported by a biased and largely foreign-owned press, wish to feather their own nests in a deregulated neo-liberal "free for all, "but with an Official Opposition which has deliberately abrogated its duty to oppose.
This today from their 0n-line commentary:
". . . the Tory government fell apart yesterday as the Labour Party watched delightedly, popcorn in hand." (Labour List, 16the November).
This simply is not good enough.
If Labour is serious about defending the conditions of their key working-class supporters, as well as the UK's international reputation, we "demand better" as our latest Liberal Democrat slogan puts it.
At the very least we need the Official Opposition to come up unequivocally in favour of remaining in both the EU Customs Union and Single Market.
Better still would be an unwavering commitment for a "People's Vote."
But best of all would be for them to back a free vote on all options in the Commons, so that MPs on all parties can vote on what they know to be in the best interest of the country rather than their party, and put put to the whole Brexit nonsense to bed before Christmas