Sunday, 28 July 2019

Borisconi is the real heir to Blair


Since the referendum there have been all manner of grassroots leave organisations popping up. I can't tell you for certain which of them are genuine and which are sock puppets with links to the Brexit blob. They're all singing from the same hymn sheet. The usual grunts about the WTO etc.

As a leave campaigner this leaves me feeling somewhat alienated. Though I think the UK should leave the EU and despise the politics of the remainer "progressives" there is nothing left in the Brexit movement I can support. I've started to hate each camp with equal measure - especially now that it's so polarised you have to be one or the other.

There are two central reasons I cannot call myself a Brexiter. Firstly, the destination is unsupportable. We're about to leave without a deal which will needlessly inflict major damage on the UK economy for no discernable gain. Brexiters have got it into their heads that a no deal Brexit means no ties of any kind; the "clean Brexit".

For instance, Fishing for Leave would have it that on Brexit day no foreign boats will fish our waters and all the catch quotas fall to UK boats. They're dreaming. Once we break out, what we will find in our relations with the European Union and its Member States is that we are then bound by international law, which in many cases will take the place of and, in part, replicate provisions of the treaties.

One of the main instruments, in respect of fisheries management, will be the United Nations Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and in particular the likes of the Straddling Stock Agreement. But also of huge significance may be the doctrine of acquired rights, which carry over rights acquired through a treaty to an indefinite period after the treaty has ceased to have effect. If the UK attempts to "take back our fish" we are going to be up to our necks in court cases. How we then go about selling fish to Europe remains to be seen.

It would seem to me that the average person cannot conceptualise the sort of damage a no deal Brexit will do since there's a failure to appreciate the extent of EU integration and also how international relations are now heavily governed by rules that complicate negotiations. By leaving without a deal we hand all of the leverage to the EU. It can and will exploit that position. With the US ever more hostile to the WTO and developing countries turning elsewhere, the organisation we're putting so much stock in is turning into the EU's poodle.  

We are, though, supposed to embrace exciting new opportunities instead. As yet I'm unclear on what these actually are since a no deal Brexit put us in firefighting mode where we are throwing money at problems just to stand still. Had we secured our EU trade through EEA Efta we'd have been able to gradually build on that, but now we'll be chasing any deals we can get in a state of desperation - if not for economic reasons then in search of propaganda wins.

But then, as any Brexiter will rightly point out, Brexit is not just about the economy. Again, this is where I part company with Brexiters. Politically we are supposedly turning over a new leaf. But as it happens, it turns out that the core of Brexiters never really had a problem with the establishment, just so long as the PM grunts right wing slogans and sloshes a bit of dosh in the direction of northern trains. Borisconi is the real heir to Blair in that his government looks to be exactly the same sort of command and control cronyocracy. It has a blue logo instead of a red one so it would seem Brexiters are happy. That's all it takes to buy off the likes of Brendan O'Neill.

On current trajectory, Brexit is going to turn into a giant wet fart. By way of having no coherent objectives the Brexit movement has allowed Tory predators to move in and take the grown from them. Never have eurosceptics had more influence in the running of the nation, when asked what they want, they mutter something about cutting foreign aid, cancelling HS2. Oh, and something about hospital parking charges. That's really it. That's what we campaigned for thirty years for.

What I don't see are any calls for real constitutional reform or any plan to usefully exploit any sovereignty gain, much less an idea of where we can exercise it. Instead, if there is to be any "reform", it will come in the form of a Dominic Cummings wrecking spree in Whitehall, while Borisconi attends to the usual public relations government that's been the norm since 1997. Though there has been a clean sweep in government, chucking out all Mrs May's grey suits, what we get instead are obsequious toads who utter the right slogans.

Depressingly, this is probably all it takes for Johnson to win an election. Labour is not going to unite the remain camp or show anything like leadership, nor is to going to usefully oppose the Tories. There is nothing to give Borisconi a run for his money. The Lib Dems can hoover up the centrist votes but apart from stopping Brexit, their agenda is to revive the corpse of progressivism right about the time when nobody wants it. These days it just means opening up the women's loos to sexual predators and something about solar panels.

Sadly the Brexiters aren't going to realise they've been had. They're cock-a-hoop. They're strutting around like the proverbial pigeon on a chessboard. But all they've really bought themselves is more of the same but with half the clout and no money to spend. It won't take long for those empty promises to evaporate. 

As far as the average Brexiter understands it, all FTAs are the same and they take between one to nd six months to sort out. Arron Banks thinks this and so do a number of Tory SpAds. There seems to be a view that sorting out our trade with the rest of the world just means a few days at the photocopier with a bottle of Tippex. They are going to learn the hard way that it's a long and delicate process and even in the best case scenario, including a deal with the USA, our best efforts go nowhere close to rivalling or replacing the single market.

Soon after, that regulatory sovereignty starts to look useless in that the more we dverge the more we destroy our export potential and since just about every regulatory system following a no deal Brexit will be a dumpster fire, any new ideas (of which there are none) will have to go on the backburner while the civil service gets things back on an even keel.

I was warning long before anyone on the remain side worked it out that Brexit was turning into a Tufton Street coup, and though I thought it had failed with the appointment of Theresa May, that coup has a second crack of the whip and no looks like it has succeeded. All the worst ideas from the Tory think tank sewer will come belching out. For the Tories, Brexit was never about democracy and sovereignty, rather it's just a window to put all their obsolete economic theories to the test. 

Pretty soon we're going to be looking at a new round of austerity - or massive borrowing. Tory free trade fantasies might have had a chance of working maybe thirty years ago but now global trade is now governed by an elaborate system of rules and and conventions specifically designed to curb unilateralism and anti-competitive practices. Free trade does not mean what they think it means.

None of this will register until it's too late. Such is Tory arrogance. Sceptics are told they are just not believing hard enough. Expertise of any kind, even from sympathetic corners is rejected wholesale. The levers of power now belong to the true believers. 

This is where I get off the Brexit bus. I do not think we should remain in the EU and botched Brexit is not reason enough to stay a member, and if we don't get out now then we likely never will, but I clearly have no place in the Brexit movement. That much is abundantly clear. I'm not salivating for the wreckage of a no deal Brexit and I'm not on board the Boris bus either. The sooner we are rid of this oaf the better - but the longer he stays the more futile Brexit looks.

Eventually it might dawn on the Brexit brigade that to make anything of Brexit they actually need to come up with an agenda for change but sadly, by the time they do, the momentum will be lost and Britain will have demoted itself in world rankings to become a squabbling ungovernable mess and we'll be back to winner takes all kleptocrat tribalism.

Insofar as what is understood to be a Brexiter, I no longer count myself among them. Brexiters are not interested in objectives, rather they are much the same as Corbynistas, always on the lookout for a hero to worship, be if Farage, Johnson or Rees-Mogg. They want to be led and they want to be ruled just so long as it's the right demagogue who grunts the right slogans. This is not what I signed up for.

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