Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Behind enemy lines

This evening I attended a meeting of Bristol for Europe (BFE), a continuity remain campaign, featuring Jolyon Maugham and Dr Mike Galsworthy. First off the bat, BFE is part of a network of similar groups based out of major cities. 250 were in attendance, largely middle class and the well to do. Brexiteers have no equivalent. Their goal is unequivocal: stop Brexit.

As Maugham sees it, remaining is still a distinct possibility but only if a second referendum can be leveraged - requiring their campaign to play the long game - their biggest asset being the incompetence of this government. Meanwhile, he is exploring the possibility of a court case to carry over EU citizenship after Brexit for all living UK citizens.

Given the timescales I think he is grasping at straws and I don't think he has a hope in hell of bringing such a case. He is right in that government incompetence is their biggest asset but I think we're going to have to take the hit of a bodged Brexit before they can exploit that public mood. It will take a collapse of this government to bring about another referendum.

What I suspect is that we're in for a Tory self-immolation Brexit that will see the EU offer an association agreement in order to fix the immediate problems - which will be put to a referendum and it will pass by two to one. In the mean time, a lot of damage will be done and our new status will be worse than any relationship imaginable. The political cost will be high.

In that regard it is a mistake for continuity remain to push to overturn Brexit in that it only strengthens resolve among Brexiteers. The smart move would be to meet leavers half way and push for the EEA so we don't end up with a bloody nose.

On the whole I get the impression that Maugham is a Shanker Singham type - a fraud making a name for himself on the back of gullible devotees.  I don't think you can claim to be a democrat while engaed in malicious judicial activism. It is an affront to politics. 

As to Mike Galsworthy, actually a likeable and sincere guy, he acknowledged that a workable Brexit could be achieved but not under this government - and increasingly it looks like he is right. There is too much arrogance and not enough knowledge. What was interesting though was his observation that remain lost because the Stronger In campaign came out of nowhere, appropriating control of the agenda, squeezing out all grassroots campaigns while pretending to be an umbrella. This is why he set up Scientists for EU. The exact same reason we set up The Leave Alliance.

This actually tells us quite a lot about the state of politics where you have a referendum campaign appropriated by both wings of the establishment, each side having their cornerstone lies, talking about issues in abstract to what ordinary groups were concerned with, where the entire media debate happened in a parallel universe to the one happening online and in the pubs. This is part of the sickness in British politics which goes some way to explain why this government is singularly incapable of delivering a sane Brexit.

To his credit, Galsworthy remarked that the Brexiteers should be commended for our achievements in forcing this to the forefront of politics and giving everyone a real education in what the EU is, how it works and what it does. Something that has been buried for forty years. Lost on him, though, is the fact that should continuity remain succeed then everything gets brushed under the carpet and vital areas of policy go back on autopilot - while the morons presently incapable of delivering Brexit carry on making a pigs ear of everything else. The same people who sabotaged his and my efforts.

This is actually why I am still fighting for Brexit. This is more than about leaving the EU. This is about the reclamation of politics for the people. Remainers are utterly mistaken if they think that reversing Brexit will fix anything. The vote has exposed too many faultlines in politics which can no longer be ignored. To many these faults were already gloriously apparent which is why an establishment led remain campaign ultimately lost.

Ultimately Brexit has kicked off a long war - and though Brexiteers won the first battle, we have a long way to go and nothing is settled yet. Even if the remainers succeed, there can be no going back. We have certainly started something and it won't be resolved easily.

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