Saturday 26 January 2019
Say no to a Right Royal Compromise
In what is apparently her annual visit to the Sandringham branch of the Women's Institute, the Queen has extolled the virtues of compromise and "coming together to seek out the common ground."
Although she doesn't actually mention Brexit this is widely, and probably rightly, regarded as a not very coded message to our parliamentarians to bash each others heads together and come up with a viable deal.
As a dedicated Liberal who believes that our MPs should be elected by single transferable vote in multi-member constituencies, so leading almost inevitably to a balanced parliament with no single party with an over-all majority and therefore able to call all the shots, it follows that I must also be a believer in cross-party co-operation and, yes, compromise.
However, it has to be recognised that in some cases compromise can lead not to the best but the worst of all possible worlds. That seems to me to be the case in every possible permutation of Brexit.
One compromise with a good deal of support is the Norway Option. This would do the least damage to our economy becasue we would remain members of the single market and the customs union, so our advantageous trade position would be maintained. However, we should be required to observe all EU rules and regulations without any further say in making them, to respect the free movement of goods, services, capital and labour, remain subject to the rulings of the ECJ on which we should no longer be represented, and continue to pay a membership fee.
So this would square the circle: we should have left the EU, have retained al its economic advantages but remain subject to al its rules with no further part in making them
Compared with our present situation as members, this is simply foolishness. We gain nothing but lose a great deal - the worst of all worlds.
Mrs May's "Deal," which remains hemmed in by her "red lines" on which she appears unwilling to compromise, means that we shall leave both the single market and customs union but remain "aligned" to them. This means that, for the foreseeable future at least, we shall observe all EU trading rules unless and until some technological method as yet undiscovered is devised to enable the Irish border (our only land border with the EU) to be crossed without physical checks.
The advantage of this "alignment" is that we should be permitted to curtail the "four freedoms" (not least of labour - though we desperately need it) and make trade deals with the rest of the world, although there is as yet no sign of the promised queue of other economies desperate to make them.
This option requires us to take a great deal of optimistic speculation on trust.
In actual fact those of us who would like to see Britain as a fully-participating and enthusiastic member of the EU have already compromised.
We have opted out to the Schengen Area, within which passports and border checks are no longer required for people crossing frontiers, we have opted out of Monetary Union (the Euro) and are not required to join it (as would be any new countries joining the EU.) David Cameron even managed to negotiate us out of our commitment to "ever closer union": something to which we signed up when we originally joined in 1972.
In other words, those of us who believe that Britain should be at the very heart of Europe have already compromised and allowed us to be pushed gradually to the periphery - the slow lane.
Sadly, as both John Major and David Cameron have discovered, for every concession made the fanatical Brexiteers want more. They will not be satisfied unless and until every one of our ties with the EU is broken, regardless of the harm done to our political standing, our economy and our culture.
So sadly, Your Majesty,"thanks but no-thanks." I cannot see further compromise by we remainers to be sensible or in any way advantageous.