Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Revoking Article 50 is not an option

As hopes for a sensible negotiated Brexit drain away, some are starting to ask if revoking Article 50 is the only option left. I don't think it's an option at all. Leaving aside the political fallout, it does not conclude the process. The matter has to be resolved so that the UK and the EU can progress. It is not sustainable for a country to be a member in open defiance of a democratic consultation.

As much as this is toxic to the UK, the EU then loses what little moral authority it has overseas. It's hard to preach the virtues of democracy when a major member is there by way of political connivances. If Britain is to be there then there needs to be a renewed positive mandate. That means another referendum at some point.

If that happens then there is a strong chance it returns exactly the same result in which case all we'll have done is prolonged the uncertainty and instability. Should it go the other way then it won't be by a particularly large margin. It won't be a positive mandate either. It will be a reluctant admission that we are essentially too incompetent to leave. The EU is then essentially a prison.

At that point British politics turns more sour than it has ever been. Something worse than Ukip of yore will sweep the boards at Euro elections and it is difficult to see how any government can ascent to further integration. Britain then assumes a role as permanent blocker to EU progress.

On the domestic front, we are then set for a decade or more of political turmoil. Brexit was a safety valve against a populist uprising but if we don't leave the such a political revolution is inevitable. Prior to 2016 Ukip existed only as a pressure group to chip away at Tory support in order to force their hand. All that time the Tory party was on life support and the referendum offer in 2015 is pretty much the only reason they are now in office. The Tory party was allowed to live on the proviso that it got us out of the EU. That deal is now off.

In many respects we'd be hitting the rewind button on politics to 2014 where all the popular resentment would be concentrated in eurosceptic parties, only this time there will be nothing on this earth that would tempt any leaver to vote Tory. Brexit then becomes a permanent feature of British politics and there is no political stability until the issue is resolved. We then have to go through all this again, only next time around there will be no Article 50 process. We'll just leave.

Revoking Article 50 is only a sticking plaster. A temporary life support machine for a politics in freefall. It is a mistake to assume that revocation brings us back to unity and political coherence. What existed before was only a veneer. A mirage. There is no going back. As Latimer Adler points out, "the coming realignment of British politics will not be class-based as historically, but along different fracture lines: London vs The Country, Meddling vs Freedom, Academics vs Workers, Meeja vs The Rest, Remain vs Leave". Brexit will be the festering sore at the centre of it all. It is a fundamental question of values.

By that point remainers have a serious problem. With the auto industry in a global recession and Brexit remaining a political artefact, we will gradually see a slowdown of investment and businesses quietly decamping from our shores. With Brexit an ever ready possibility and political instability being the new normal, most of what remainers said would happen if we left will happen anyway. This creates a problem for remainers in that the EU was supposedly the safeguard against.

What has made Britain an attractive proposition all these years is less the EU as it is the political stability. It's impossible to do business when you can't take any long term decisions. For as long as we remain in the EU, we are only one election away from a radical leftist or populist party, where even if we remain in the EU, the threat of tax hikes and political turmoil will lead to lukewarm investment.

Further still, Brexit has exposed a deep rooted political incompetence and now it's out in the open we will start seeing manifestations of it everywhere we look. Remainers are going to have to carry the can for that. The incompetents screwing up everything they touch will be the same politicians who connived to keep us in the EU. The culmination of all this only ends up back at the same old arguments, meanwhile, precisely nothing is done to address any of the drivers of Brexit.

When we voted to leave in 2016 the lines of British politics were redrawn for good. Remainers claim that Brexit won't fix anything but remaining in the EU definitely won't. Brexit is going to jam up the works here and in the EU and Britain is not going to be a popular member. Britain will have to veto any further integration and that will seriously sour relations. Leaving is the only long term path to amicable relations.

The only way I see us moving forward is by biting the bullet and leaving. There is a hell of a mess to clear up, especially if we leave without a deal but it does at least lance the boil. If Article 50 is revoked then we will be bogged down in Brexit indefinitely, going nowhere and tearing ourselves to pieces. MPs are going to have to face facts. May's deal is the least worst option.

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