The Brexit Dream Is Dying

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  • How Ireland Turned The Tables On UK

    A very clear and well thought out analysis of how events have taken shape since the 2016 referendum.


    The Brexit dream is dying because that is the stark choice. You can’t have full freedom and close trade ties, but one or the other. It is dying because the EU currently looks more likely to hold together than the UK, because the Prime Minister’s promise of frictionless trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland can’t be squared with the treaty he signed, and because you cannot reach a trade deal with the US if you threaten a bipartisan consensus on the NI peace process.

    This has been where the Brexit politicians have fallen down. The phrase "Cake and eat it" has never been far away from their charade of a promised land where Britain can simply wave the union flag and the world will drop to its knees and bow its head. The world just doesn't work like that any more. The only way to be a part of the world is to play by the rules of the world. There is no place for a maverick country such as the one that Brexit wants Britain to be, and is chasing a dream (or nightmare according to point of view) that is just unattainable.

    2nd snip

    Yet point out, as I did on social media, that the dream is dying, and you can expect to hear otherwise from the high priests of Brexit. They’ll say the UK regains freedom at the end of the year, and indeed we will no longer be directly subject to EU regulations and European Court of Justice rulings. But if we want agreements with others, that freedom can only ever be partial, because cooperation comes at a regulatory price. The UK faces a series of never-ending trade-offs, despite the 2016 promise that we would “take back control.”

    Again, it's "cake and eat it". To hear Brexiters talking about "All we're asking for is a deal like Canada has" is the talk of a forked-tongue because that is not what Britain wants. Canada has responsibilities and doesn't get all that Brexit demands. Britain wants to give nothing at all but take everything it can get and more besides (hence Canada+). Do they really think the EU is so stupid as to be unable to see the duplicity in British negotiations..? Or that they can trust Boris Johnson with his track record for lying, breaking promises and dirty double dealing...? And again, I can't re-iterate the point enough: Britain wants to have everything without giving anything in return. That is just not realistic.

    Final snip:

    Doubtless the online response would be even more vitriolic if one was to suggest the Brexit dream was dying because of Leavers’ own hubris. But if we think back to the naïve pre-referendum days, many Brexit advocates appeared perfectly happy to accept gradual changes and continued UK membership of the single market. They will state now that it was the EU’s intransigence that forced their increasingly hardline position, but that’s to cover up the failure to anticipate that Brussels would have its own terms and conditions—that we couldn’t just have what we wanted.

    And then the article moves on to compare Britain's (non) diplomatic efforts with that of Ireland's. The Irish have played a blinder. In USA they have got both Republicans and Democrats on their side. Britain has the support of neither. The Irish have managed to juggle trying to keep on good terms with Britain while at the same time reassuring EU member states that they remain committed to the European ideal. This is how diplomacy is meant to work. Britain's performance by comparison has been a multi train rail disaster.

    The whole article, taken in its entirety is a cogent, well thought out, accurate piece of writing which, if only the Brexiters could look past their own hubris, would begin to open their eyes to the mess they have made of the whole thing, and why the Brexit dream as they envisaged it, is as good as dead in the water. It cannot be attained.

    Where Britain goes after 1 January 2021 is anybody's guess. Downwards is certain. The only question is "How far...?"

    The dream is dying even if the dreamers haven't realised it yet.

    Old Boy said: "Britain will have a trade deal with USA by the end of this year".

  • Another tiresome Euro-centric post from you, Jenny. Nothing is falling apart - we haven’t even begun yet. If the EU is as good as you suggest, why does it not let its members leave? It’s like a monolithic version of Hotel California.

    You are raking over the same old coals and you’ve created another thread to tell us nothing new from your book of dystopia and ultimate doom.

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m not going over the same old arguments yet again. I will say only that I profoundly disagree with your attitude towards Brexit and I look forward to the day when you are proved wrong. But of course you will never acknowledge that, you will just move smoothly on to your next hobby horse.

    I want a better future for my children and grandchildren and I know that staying within the EU would have ultimately led to stagnation over the coming decades. The new opportunities that lie before us will transform our economy and we will find again that sense of optimism and can-do attitude that made us great in the first place.

    I will not continue to debate the irrational fears of remainers and Euro-worshippers who believe the the EU is our great Apollo who can do no wrong and on whom we must all rely for our right to live free of persecution (from them, of course).

    Sorry, but I’m out.

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  • You're backing off because you know I'm right.

    Nothing in any post I've ever made has been debunked. All of it is true both factually and morally.

    Of course, I could throw the same slavish rhetoric right back at you. eg: I will not continue to debate the irrational fears of Brexiters and fascists who believe that Boris Johnson is a political colossus who can do no wrong and on whom we must all rely for our right to live free of persecution (from the EU, of course).

    Frankly, that's all you've got. Your messages have never been enlightening, challenging or backed up by any evidence other than the word of your discredited little tin god. And his word has no value for anything.

    You have bent the knee to a fraud, coward, liar and charlatan and I don't really believe you care about your grandchildren at all. I don't know their ages, but I'm hoping that by the time they are of voting age they will be free of your deleterious belief in extreme right wing doctrines, and are living in an environment (a university campus, perhaps..?) which will enable them to discuss freely with their contemporaries and make the sensible decision to reject your inhumane attitudes that see people as nothing more than factory fodder, whose only worth is the amount of profitable labour that can be extracted from them before discarding them as no longer economically viable.

    The Brexit dream is falling apart as we watch and yet you cling to it as a brainwashed cultist clings to its guru. i can believe that you'd take the Kool Aid if told to by Boris Johnson.

    But you're not going to reply to this anyway and that's alright by me. Skulk away into a corner, looking at the wall with your fingers in your ears as you hum to yourself and carry on pretending that everything is wonderful. i-see-nothing.jpg

    Anyway...... Thanks for all the motivation you have provided me with to keep going, and for all the material you've given me to pass on to others as ammunition against the pernicious doctrine of Brexit.

    Best wishes and good luck.

    Old Boy said: "Britain will have a trade deal with USA by the end of this year".

  • Another fluff opinion piece from Jenny

    The short bio of the author of the article referred to in the OP below:

    David Henig - Director of The European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE) is an independent and non-profit policy research think tank dedicated to trade policy and other international economic policy issues of importance to Europe. It is based in Brussels and was founded in 2006.

    Obviously he is entitled to his opinion but the UK just wants to Trade on terms that are mutually beneficial and friendly. A trade deal allows a reduction of bureaucracy for both parties and some friendly benefits and concessions. If the EU don't want that it will be WTO and we keep the fishing rights. This is the "at any price" bit the EU refer to. They would rather let the French Fishing industry go down the tubes than allow a trade deal based on access to UK waters. They want the access as a pre-requisite to any trade deal, it is their red line, it is ours that that won't happen. Something has to give.

    Celebrate it, Anticipate it, Yesterday's faded, Nothing can change it, Life's what you make it

  • The French and the Spanish will still have access to the Southern Ireland's fishing waters as Southern Ireland is still in the EU for now.. . No need for them to impinge on the UK's waters.

  • This is brilliant, if only for the final punch line.

    Don't worry, there are English sub titles for the parts where they have the effrontery to sing in their own language.

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    Old Boy said: "Britain will have a trade deal with USA by the end of this year".

  • My word, Jenny, you’ve got it bad! I suppose you have to milk it for all it’s worth now, before the reality sinks in that we are indeed leaving and we do indeed have a decent trade deal.

    And when we have shown how successful the new arrangements are in respect of our trade with the rest of the world, you will no longer have a single stitch of an argument to hide your modesty.

    That’s ok, I’ll look away....

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  • My word, Jenny, you’ve got it bad! I suppose you have to milk it for all it’s worth now, before the reality sinks in that we are indeed leaving and we do indeed have a decent trade deal.

    And when we have shown how successful the new arrangements are in respect of our trade with the rest of the world, you will no longer have a single stitch of an argument to hide your modesty.

    That’s ok, I’ll look away....

    Time will tell. So....... tell me about this decent trade deal you say we have. I've been looking around places for it and don't seem to be able to find anything that says Britain has a trade deal with the EU. Call me Little Miss Picky if you will but I kinda figure something like that would be reported in the press under....oh, shall we say..... "Britain signs trade deal with EU".

    Only yesterday you were telling me I would be a rotten negotiator after I said Britain must give something to get something and within a couple of hours, the news broke that Britain was backing down over fishing rights.

    Britain Agrees To Allow EU To Fish In British Waters

    I've posted the link again in case you either missed it first time around, or are so upset by it that you're in denial. I suspect the latter.

    I also suspect this climbdown by UK has been on the cards for a while, but has been deliberately delayed for announcement until this time because right now everybody is looking at the US Presidential Election. A good day to bury bad news. Isn't that how the Tories do things...?

    I've never said there wouldn't be any trade deal and I challenge you to point to the post where I did. My position has always been that in order to get an agreement with the EU, Britain must give something to get something. Quid Pro Quo. It now looks as though the Tory red lines are slowly being erased.

    It is undeniable that Brexit has happened. That is a fact that we all acknowledge. But Brexit in the form you want it is dying. British supremacy was always a myth and that is being exposed.

    As for my modesty.... well, I can preserve that very well. You, on the other hand, seem to be succumbing to the ravages of old age. If you can't remember a post I made less than twelve hours ago, I'd get checked out if I were you. It's never too early to get Dementia diagnosed. Good luck.

    Old Boy said: "Britain will have a trade deal with USA by the end of this year".

  • What A Biden Administration Would Mean To UK

    This does, of course presume that Biden wins today. But if he does.................


    There's also another important political dimension to any deal with the US - the Irish border.

    Last year the UK and EU signed a deal, called the withdrawal agreement, which paved the way for Brexit to happen. It included a plan to prevent checks along the Irish border from January 2021, which is when the new UK-EU relationship will start.

    But the issue has resurfaced after the UK government said it wanted to make changes to the previously agreed arrangement.

    Mr Biden - a man with Irish roots - has made his position clear, tweeting that any trade deal with the UK must be contingent upon "preventing a return to a hard border" with Ireland and "respect" for the Good Friday Agreement.

    He says he wouldn't allow peace in Northern Ireland to become a "casualty of Brexit".

    Old Boy said: "Britain will have a trade deal with USA by the end of this year".

  • We will have a decent trade deal in the end. Obviously, it’s not quite there yet, but it now looks pretty well on the cards that this will at last materialise.

    I’m not sure what you are trying to imply regarding the fish situation. Of course I know about that, but what you and I don’t know is what this compromise entails. As long as a deal was forthcoming, the EU was always going to have a fish quota. So maybe we have agreed on a transitional period, or something like that, which would be acceptable in my book.

    My reference to your negotiation skills was a reflection of your apparent belief that we have to accept everything the EU demands. We do not want our cake and eat it. We just want a trade deal.

    The US position is hype. Of course we will get a trade deal and we will get confirmation of that shortly. That takes away the border issue with Ireland and any barriers to a trade deal if Biden gets in.

    Cheer up, Jenny, you are far too pessimistic.

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  • A thoughtful and intelligent assessment of why the Germans are keeping Europe solidly onside over Brexit.

    No Easy Way Out - UK Has Burned Too Many Bridges


    Germany’s Brexit strategy is fully backed by the German “Sozialpartner”, including its strong business associations and trade unions. German business can replace with other markets the possible and painful loss of the British market much more easily than the British can, whose economy is to be expected to be in real turmoil in the medium-term. At the same time, Germans remain supportive of the Scottish interests and its cooperative social traditions. The same sentiment is held for the Irish, who want open borders in their region. Germany is fully aware of the political and economic Brexit cost for Ireland and is ready to help out.

    For a while, the British held the whip hand in getting their message across and managed to stir up some anti-Brussels sentiment inside Germany. But that game has now been rumbled. as the article says,

    for a long time, UK public diplomacy in Germany had a particular reputation but royal glamour and smart governmental communication overshadowed a deep scepticism about the substance of British-EU politics. German stakeholders admired Westminster’s superior rhetoric against regulation “from Brussels”.

    But they've learned, and in that particular way of responding to challenges that Germans have, when they break something down to rebuild it, they invariably end up with a vastly improved model on the one they had before.

    British hopes that Brexit may be the catalyst for 'the beginning of the end' for the EU can now be discounted. It's not going to happen. The final paragraph makes that clear. Whatever happens in the Federal elections next year, Germany will remain strongly pro-EU.

    This, plus the removal of agitators like Steve Bannon, languishing in prison in the US and likely to be so for some time, added to the no doubt highly publicised problems that Britain will face from next year, should see any prospect of other countries wishing to depart from the Union wither on the vine.

    Brexit is failing in its aims in just about every respect except for the fact of it occurring at all. And only in the United Kingdom at all. Which is doomed to suffer the inevitable loss of Scotland and Northern Ireland in the fullness of time.

    The English patient is looking critical. The Brexit dream is dying.

    Old Boy said: "Britain will have a trade deal with USA by the end of this year".

  • On the news today, Boris Johnston is showing his true colours by giving in to the EU's dirty tricks dept. He isn't committed to Brexit and has no backbone to fight for the UK. Those of us who want to leave the EU are very disappointed.

  • On the news today, Boris Johnston is showing his true colours by giving in to the EU's dirty tricks dept. He isn't committed to Brexit and has no backbone to fight for the UK. Those of us who want to leave the EU are very disappointed.

    As is this Fish Merchant. And a lot of Cornish fishermen are now saying the same thing......

    Fish Merchant Who Voted For Brexit Says He Was "Brainwashed"


    A leading fish merchant who voted Brexit to “take back control of UK waters” says he was “brainwashed” after the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) unveiled requirements for exports from 2021.

    Speaking to the Financial Times, Ian Perkes of Ian Perkes Fish Merchants Ltd, said he “wish he hadn’t” voted to leave the European Union in 2016, adding that tariffs on exports would be a catastrophe for his business and the fishing boats that supply it.

    Old Boy said: "Britain will have a trade deal with USA by the end of this year".

  • I have no problem with the UK leaving the EU. But it has to be a complete separation. No EU meddling with our laws and justice system, no meddling with our immigration policies and no access to our fishing waters. The EU is a totally corrupt organisation and we should not give them an inch as their Dirty Tricks dept will try and punish us for leaving. I fear that Boris is not being strong enough in defence our interests.

  • It’s far too early to assume that a deal will not be done. The EU is well renowned for its last minute deals. I cannot believe that the EU would not want a deal itself, so I fully expect a deal to be done.

    As for Macron, I’m sure he realises that no deal means no fish at all!

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  • It’s far too early to assume that a deal will not be done. The EU is well renowned for its last minute deals. I cannot believe that the EU would not want a deal itself, so I fully expect a deal to be done.

    As for Macron, I’m sure he realises that no deal means no fish at all!

    I wouldn't say "far" too early. The time is getting much closer to when a decision has to be made one way or another. December 31 is less than four weeks away. That... if nothing else happens first.... will be endgame.

    I quite agree that there is the possibility of a late deal being made. Anything is still possible. Fish.... as has been pointed out elsewhere.... is really a pretty minor aspect in all respects for UK except for politically. It is much more important for the "fishing" states of the western coast of Europe, especially France.

    The British have painted themselves into a corner over this. To Britain, fish makes up only 0.1% of GDP and in any other world but Brexit, it would be something that could be used as a useful bartering chip which is what I suspect it was meant to be at first. Somehow, somewhere along the line it has morphed into something that for political reasons, Britain just can't concede on and therefore is useless to Britain for a trade-off, but is still extremely important to the fish states of the EU.

    Macron has, apparently, hinted darkly that if a deal is struck without fishing agreement, he will use France's veto... and this would render any deal useless. it simply wouldn't be ratified.

    Back to square one.

    Would he use the veto..? Time will tell. But in France, the fishing lobby is very powerful. And very bullish.

    As for a late deal, the issue of fish tends to have the sort of prominence that disguises the thing that matters most to the "serious" side of EU priorities. The Level Playing Field.

    The level playing field is vital to the security of the single market and customs union. Without an agreement on that, it is extremely difficult to see the EU agreeing to giving Britain tariff free trade. My assessment is that the EU will protect the SM & CU regardless of all other considerations.

    No amount of promises from Westminster, that they will play nicely once a deal has been signed will suffice now. The Internal Market Bill.... which is now with the international courts and undergoing due process - and could get very nasty for Britain - has wiped out any confidence in Brussels that Britain will honour any treaty that it signs. The EU want more than just words on paper now, which might have been acceptable as recently as this last summer..... but are now going to need the back up of lawful and legally enforceable penalty conditions that will see Britain subjected to punitive damages if we subsequently break a signed and ratified treaty.

    Brexiters have to get this notion that you can just stick two fingers up at legally binding international treaties and tell those the British government has made them with to "F**k off, we're not paying" and think you can just walk away singing Rule Britannia.

    Few obstacles remain to getting a deal, but those that do are very difficult ones to get agreement on and the two sides appear to still be a long way apart on them.

    And as Michel Barnier famously said when Article 50 was first invoked: "The clock is running. Tick tock."

    Old Boy said: "Britain will have a trade deal with USA by the end of this year".

  • I have no problem with the UK leaving the EU. But it has to be a complete separation. No EU meddling with our laws and justice system, no meddling with our immigration policies and no access to our fishing waters. The EU is a totally corrupt organisation and we should not give them an inch as their Dirty Tricks dept will try and punish us for leaving. I fear that Boris is not being strong enough in defence our interests.

    But what about his "Oven Ready Deal" of this time last year...? Wasn't it all "in the bag"....?

    I get the feeling that you don't really spend a great deal of time applying critical thinking to anything that I presume you read in the papers. You just repeat Daily Express / Daily Mail / Sun rhetoric by rote....... cliches and parrot-fashion slogans instead of thinking for yourself.

    I've posted on multiple occasions about how the EU doesn't interfere with British law or immigration policies. Never has. At all times, Britain has retained full control of its borders. And if the EU is corrupt, what does that make the British government...? You either don't read what is written or dismiss it out of hand. I don't know which, but one thing is for certain..... you don't think about it.

    The EU is not "punishing" Britain. It is simply giving priority to its own interests..... which is precisely what Britain is trying to do. The difference is that Britain is much weaker than the EU. Britain doesn't "hold all the cards" and the EU doesn't need us more than we need them.

    The EU does want a trade deal with Britain, but not on the terms demanded by Britain, which is why Johnson's "Oven Ready Deal" was never anything more than just one more three word slogan for the gullible to swallow.

    And that's the trouble with being controlled by the Brexit press... which is what I think you are. if you are unable to pick out bullshit spouted by sleaze politicians and regurgitated over and over by toilet roll tabloids..... if you're unable to step back and critique what they put before you, then you will always be as misinformed, disillusioned and disappointed as you are now. Oh, you'll still believe in Brexit, but you'll never be able to figure why it just...... doesn't work.

    Old Boy said: "Britain will have a trade deal with USA by the end of this year".

  • LONG POST ALERT. (probably two posts worth due to the 10'000 word rule) I'm cutting and pasting this here just to cross the t's and dot the i's. It's being put around my various outlets and being discussed there. I expect it to be ignored here, but what the hell. I'll do it anyway.

    When the transition ends

    It’s now less than month until a massive change in the way that the UK trades with and relates to its own continent, and in many ways to the rest of the world as well. It is truly remarkable how the discussion has been has almost entirely focused on the ongoing ‘deal or no deal’ question largely ignoring just how much will change in either scenario, and what either scenario will cost. On that question, another week is ending with no answer and yet more speculation that all will be revealed within the next few hours or days. I’ve nothing to add to that speculation beyond what is in the last few posts on this thread.

    As for relative lack of public discussion of what the end of the transition will mean, the Covid crisis has obviously been a big reason for that, but there’s more to it than that. Some people actually believed that the UK left the EU immediately after the referendum. Many more will not have understood that when the UK did leave, at the start of this year, the transition period masked most of the practical effects of doing so. Johnson’s mendacious "oven ready deal" and "get Brexit done" slogans in the 2019 General Election contributed to that, and no doubt others have gotten so used to so many changing deadlines and postponements that they are ignoring this one.

    Everything will change, but still stay the same

    But there is a more fundamental issue than any of these, which is the way that from the outset Brexiters claimed, and many millions presumably believed, that whilst leaving the EU was a fundamental and vital change, in some paradoxical way most things would pretty much stay the same. That was partly to do with decrying claims to the contrary as ‘Project Fear’, but it was also to do with making positive claims about how things would continue as before.

    The most egregious of these lies have been mentioned many times here and elsewhere. One was the Vote Leave promise that, come what may, the UK would remain in a European “free trade zone” . Another was Boris Johnson’s airy promise that the Irish border would be completely unaffected by Brexit. A third was that the situation of EU citizens in the UK would be unchanged.

    There are many other more minor examples. One, which has come to prominence this week, was about the impact on British owners of holiday homes in the EU. The Daily Mail ran a story on this under the headline “Furious British expats blast restrictive new EU travel rules” and there was a similar piece in the Telegraph.

    Some may dismiss such concerns as those of the entitled middle classes, although the assumption that freedom of movement was irrelevant to working class people is stereotypical and outdated. Despite the 'prolier than thou' protestations of the populists, there are plenty of ordinary people who have saved up for, say, a holiday flat in Spain, just as there are plenty who live and work in the EU. The British people who benefitted from freedom of movement were not all privileged members of the elite, lounging around in French chateaux like, say, Lord Lawson.

    But that is a side-issue to the present point, which is that of course the complaints are nonsense. These are not ‘new EU rules’ aimed specifically at Britain, they are the old rules that apply to all countries outside the EU (and the single market). Their application to Britons now is a consequence of Brexit. And whilst those voters who did not understand that can be criticised for their lack of attention, the real criticism should be reserved for those Brexit campaigners, such as Michael Gove, who explicitly promised that there were ‘international laws’ which meant that there would be no such consequence. He lied. Again.

    The idea that ‘everything changes yet nothing will really change’ is an ingrained one, with the issue of freedom of movement of people showing some of the many forms it takes. Ending such freedom was foregrounded in the campaign and was undoubtedly the central factor for many leave voters. But the most galling and most common thing which almost all EU nationals in the UK will have experienced since is to be told by such voters ‘oh but we didn’t mean you’, as if individuals were not affected or, if they were, they shouldn’t ‘take it personally’ .

    Equally perversely, when the discussion is of UK nationals losing their freedom of movement rights in the EU, it’s common to hear Brexiters say ‘but British people worked and had houses in Europe long before we joined the EU’. The implication is that freedom of movement must be ended and yet … freedom of movement for us must remain unaffected. Of course it is true that British people did such things, and will continue to do so, but they will now do it with far greater restrictions and inconvenience.

    Years of false promises

    Nor is it just a matter of what was promised before the Referendum. Ever since, the Brexiters made repeated promises that there would be ‘frictionless trade’ and insisted that ‘we won’t be putting up borders, so if they go up it will be down to the EU’. Those who warned that this wasn’t true were pilloried, and the then head of the HMRC received death threats for explaining the costs of new border arrangements. So whilst some mocked the fish exporter quoted in an FT report this week for regretting voting to leave because he “never looked at the implications for the paperwork”, it would be far better to recall the false promises made to him over all these years. Even now, The Sun is still pretending that, if there is a deal, it will mean frictionless trade. It won't.

    In a similar way, in 2017 the then Brexit Secretary David Davis claimed that despite Brexit the UK could go on hosting the European Medicines Agency* and the European Banking Authority. It was patently untrue, and both have now left, to Amsterdam and Paris respectively. That may not have had much resonance with the general public, but for those directly affected it matters and, certainly, it damages the UK’s international role in those fields.

    Along with pretending that nothing would change, and making false claims such as Davis’s, Brexiters have refused to engage in any realistic analysis of the costs of Brexit, either denying they exist or saying they are irrelevant. Thus they have continually resisted the publication of impact assessments of Brexit, and rubbished those which have been published. It is deeply ironic that, now, some of the same people are calling vociferously for the publication of such assessments of Covid restrictions.

    Moreover, collectively, the British polity and media have persistently failed to take the opportunities to engage in a serious, public discussion of the practicalities of Brexit. That was not just the case during the Referendum campaign but also during the post-referendum but pre-Article 50 period, the 2017 AND 2019 General Elections, and the Tory leadership contests.

    How will people react when things do change?

    The consequence of all these years of lies, avoidance, misinformation and misunderstanding is that the true implications of Brexit are going to come as a shock to many people. How that happens and with what effects is going to be a crucial political issue in the coming months and years. Of course much will depend on whether or not there is a deal, but either way how the public reaction plays out is difficult to predict. The political scientist Professor Rob Ford of Manchester University this week wrote an interesting Twitter thread suggesting that “strong Remain partisans” would be wrong to assume that it will lead to a widespread turn against Brexit. This attracted some adverse comment but I think he makes important points. So what is likely to happen?

    Firstly, as has long been obvious and has long occurred, all the adverse effects will be ascribed by the Brexiters and the government to EU ‘punishment’. Brexit would have been fine, they will say, had the EU been ‘reasonable’. They will also argue (despite their earlier claims justifying Brexit by saying that leaving would be easy because the EU is so dependent on Britain) that the fact that it is not easy is what justifies Brexit, by showing the EU up for the bully it is. And they will also say that, anyway, the problems arise because Brexit was not ‘done properly’ because of ‘Theresa the remainer’ and the ‘remain establishment’. All that script is already written, and many will believe it.

    Another script that has already been written is to ascribe Brexit effects to some other cause. In the past that took the form of, for example, arguing that the impact on the car industry was actually due to the collapse of the diesel market. Now there will be an easier line, which will blame Covid and, indeed, it will often be difficult to separate Brexit and Covid effects. That won’t work for some things, especially truck queues at ports and shortages, which will be obviously due to Brexit. Other things, like rising unemployment, will be more easily decoupled from Brexit. It speaks volumes that for all their promises, the question for the Brexiters now is whether or not the biggest economic contraction for 300 years will be enough to disguise the consequences of their policy. Sunlit uplands indeed.

    (continued in the next post)

    * Whilst on the subject of the EMA, a ludicrous claim was made this week that the UK had been able to approve the first Covid vaccine because it has left the EU. It was demonstrable nonsense of course. It would be easier to respect Brexiters if they didn't lie so incontinently.

    Old Boy said: "Britain will have a trade deal with USA by the end of this year".

  • (continued from previous post)

    Beyond that, there are questions about how visible the various effects will be and the extent to which they are seen as inter-related. On visibility, despite some misleading claims, the projected impacts on GDP are not of absolute falls but of reductions in growth that would otherwise have occurred. That matters in terms of prosperity and public services, but – as with the lost GDP growth that Brexit has already caused – not having what you would otherwise have had is very different to having something you already had taken away from you.

    The economic effects of Brexit may well continue to be a slow burn, or slow puncture, rather than a conflagration or a blow-out. That fate already seems to be unfolding for the City of London, centre of one of Britain’s most important services industries, according to a Bloomberg report this week. The same is even more likely to be true of the waning geo-political standing and influence of the UK – Brexit will be less like a ‘Suez’ moment and more like Britain’s gradual post-war decline.

    On stitching the Brexit effects together, the issue is that these will be felt by different groups of people and at different times. Tom Hayes of Brussels European Employee Relations Group has been writing for a while about the idea of "the Brexit of small things" – that is, the way that people will come to encounter inconveniences in everyday things they used to take for granted. Good examples include Green Cards for British motorists in the EU or the impact of dual nationality families (that is not a ‘small thing’ for them, but affects a relatively small number of people) which, like the holiday homes issue, received some media attention this week.

    Never-ending Brexit

    As people feel such effects they will realise that, indeed, Brexit has real consequences and literally none of them make life easier. But, precisely because they are ‘small things’ (or affect few people), experienced gradually as they arise, there may be no ‘moment of realisation’. Additionally, as a very interesting article by Sam Lowe of the Centre for European Reform explained this week, much will depend on how rigorously the rules that Brexit imposes on British people and businesses are enforced. There will, he points out, be much “accidental illegality” because of confusion and lack of preparation time. If all these are penalised from day one, the overt impact of Brexit will be more obvious.

    The idea that penalties for rule breaches might only gradually be introduced is part of a wider issue, as discussed this week by Jo Marshall of the Institute for Government. For whilst the end of the transition will certainly be a major watershed, he points out that many changes will be phased in over time (including UK checks on EU imports) with, depending on what deal if any gets done, different implementation periods for different aspects. Moreover, deal or no deal, there will be on-going negotiations with the EU about all manner of aspects of their relationship, very much in the way that Switzerland and the EU are in semi-permanent talks. That’s inevitable if only because of the economic and geographical facts of the UK-EU relation.

    This will serve to dilute some of the impact of the end of transition, but it will also mean that the consequences of Brexit will never be very far from the headlines for years to come and perhaps even longer. It’s worth thinking about this and, more generally, about the bigger and more long-term picture. For even if the Brexiters manage to disavow blame for the immediate disruptions of ending transition, they will not be able to escape responsibility for what they have done.

    The failure the Brexiters made of their success

    Crucially, despite their trumpeting of Brexit as ‘the will of the people’, the reality is that it has never been a truly popular cause. Before the referendum EU membership was barely an issue for most people. Since, opinion polls have rarely shown majority support for it and that has now clearly disappeared. Stripped of ‘don’t knows’, the latest poll shows some 57% now think Britain was wrong to leave the EU and only 43% think it was right (these figures become 50% and 38% respectively if don’t knows are included). Since June 2018 there has only been one poll (March 2020) when more thought it right to leave than wrong.

    All this is before many of the concrete impacts have been felt. Having squeaked a victory in the Referendum, Brexiters have made no attempt to build any consensus for Brexit in general or for the way it is being done. In this, they have not only treated remainers with contempt but also leavers, for deal or no deal Brexit will not be anything like what was promised.

    Of course Brexiters would say that all that matters is the 2016 vote and in one, extremely important, sense that is true. But in the longer run things are more complex than that. To undertake so major a change without widespread and deep popular support, and not just failing to build such support but actively promoting division, is profoundly dangerous. Where that danger leads is unpredictable, though is unlikely to rebound on the Brexiters in moments of public shaming and with justice meted out. Still, it’s already clear that few will celebrate Brexit and, as time goes on, those who most assiduously promoted its cause may find their reputations most tarnished by its consequences.

    In the meantime, rejoiners could learn some lessons from how Brexiters conducted themselves since 1975 and, especially, since the 1992 Maastricht debates. It will require a monomania and a ruthlessness of purpose. The very first challenge will be to be supportive, rather than disdainful, of those individual leave voters who come to regret their vote. Some rejoiners will find that an impossible challenge but, if so, it reveals elevating personal feeling above the rejoin cause and in that sense a lack of ‘monomonia and ruthlessness of purpose’.

    What Brexiters could learn from remainers

    To put all this another way, it is a very legitimate criticism of pro-EU British politicians and commentators that they did virtually nothing to promote and build consensus for it in the decades of UK membership. Even in the periods when it could most easily have been done, they, at most, presented membership in instrumental and transactional terms, and by the time of the Referendum the case for remain had no deep roots and it was far too late to develop them. By the same token, Brexiters now face the challenge of embedding Brexit while it flounders and fails.

    Whatever else changes at the end of transition, the traction of already shop-soiled slogans such as ‘taking back control’ and enacting ‘the will of the people’ have already disappeared. It will no longer be enough to be ‘against’ EU membership, for that will be a thing of the past. Nor will it be possible for them for long to blame the EU for all Britain’s ills. It will be necessary for Brexiters to show how being out of the EU translates into some positive and popular vision of post-Brexit Britain. If they fail to do so, they, too, may one day find themselves having to argue a case in the few short weeks of a referendum campaign that they had never bothered to make in the years before.

    I suppose that that might sound like an optimistic scenario for rejoiners, but the real kicker is that, when it comes to pass, many of those who voted for Brexit will be dead and the UK will probably have ceased to exist.


    Everything in Brexit's favour has already happened. From here, it can only go down. There are no sunlit uplands just around the corner and promises of 'jam tomorrow' will wear thin over time. The Rejoin campaign, in the embryonic stage at present, has yet to even become properly organised let alone funded, but whereas the genesis of Brexit allowed it to acquire the momentum to see its own fulfilment, the tide of history will, with every failure of Brexit to deliver, turn in favour of the growing rejoin movement.

    Brexit has already had its day.

    Old Boy said: "Britain will have a trade deal with USA by the end of this year".

  • The EUs nasty Dirty Tricks dept is at it again. This time it's Germany's main collaborator France jamming a spanner in the works. France has a history of subservience to Germany even as far back as the early 1940's. They are definitely not to be trusted.

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