Friday, 16 August 2019

Brexit: the system has failed


Jacob Rees-Mogg tweets "The EU's reluctance to join discussions shows how one sided the proposed Withdrawal Agreement is".

This is standard fare from the Tories who are now bent on blaming this fiasco on the EU. The EU is not going to come back to the table simply because there is no point. The Tories are not serious about a deal. They want to remove the backstop but have no serious proposal as to what would replace it. Moreover, if the Tories were genuine in their insistence that there are alternatives then what's the actual problem with a backstop if it is never to be used?

Furthermore, the Tories are playing silly buggers and the EU knows this. It won't stop at the backstop. If talks are reopened then the Tories would be all over the shop, just as Mrs May was, trying to circumvent the sequencing. A strategy wholly at odds with reality. Yet again we'd see the Tories failing to grasp the fundamentals. 

We could easily spend another year going round in circles to accomplish nothing only to end up back where we are now with the ERG and the remainers refusing to ratify a deal. So this whole charade is pointless. There is no sincere effort to secure a deal. The Article 50 process is a write off.

The urgency of this situation will not be felt in Westminster. The Tories still believe the EU will fold at the last minute and come running after us, but don't really mind either way since they've convinced themselves that WTO terms is an adequate destination. Meanwhile, MPs are going through the motions to try and stop not only a no deal Brexit, but any Brexit at all. 

It is that which ultimately puts the kibosh on the whole proceedings. Remainer MPs have made it so the only way to leave is with no deal at all. That is now the most important factor in all this. Remainers have done all they can to deligitimise the referendum thus have a pretext for not delivering. They will only implement a vote if they like the result.

This was compounded yesterday with Corbyn declaring that should he manage to install himself as PM he would hold a rigged referendum, ensuring that the leave vote is split. This, though, is not going to happen since opposition parties are incapable of getting their act together. This proposal need not detain us. At this point I'm now thinking to hell with it. No deal is what it's going to be, and with things as they are, that's all it was ever going to be.   

This renders any further debate completely redundant. There are those still screeching from the rooftops about customs checks and all the rest of it but understanding has come too late. It wouldn't have done any good since remainer MPs would never bother to avail themselves of such knowledge since remaining is their goal and if they win then all these details go away and they can go back to banning things while Brussels gets on with governing.

This is the fundamental driver of the remain movement. Brexit is big, Brexit is change, Brexit is problems, Brexit is detail - and self governing requires a level of intellect, guile and hard work that our MPs simply aren't up to. They like politics as it is; a relatively well paid job for people of their minuscule abilities affording them prestige, status and a little bit of power to meddle. Once they're in they need not give their constituents a second thought especially in safe seats.    

This underscores better than anything the need for serious change. As much as these people believe they have a divine right to rule over us and second guess our votes, this whole episode demonstrates how manifestly inadequate our political system is. As useless as MPs have been throughout the Brexit process, this is just the standard level of uselessness that becomes more noticeable when applied to anything of national importance.

They say that were it not for Brexit we could be getting on fixing other problems but these people aren't going to fix anything. Nothing is going to get fixed with politics in this state of dysfunction and we can't rely on Westminster to fix the problem because Westminster is the problem. They're not going to upset their own applecart and they are not sufficiently interested in the real problems to bring about any resolution. 

In the beginning I believed a deal was possible. For a time it looked like the hard line fringe Brexiters were contained and outnumbered - and had parliament recognised that and exerted their collective authority then the ERG would have been an irrelevance. But through tribalism, jockeying for position, electoral triangulation and incompetence - all flowing from a singular refusal to accept the verdict of 2016, fate has made our choices for us. The system has failed.

But then say what you like about the Brexiters but they at least have an idea what they want. They want to supercharge the economy by way of deregulation, "fwee twade" and tax cuts. It might be issue illiterate dribble with no intellectual foundation but they at least have the future in mind. Not so remainers.

The rest of the Commons is devoted to stopping Brexit. That is the fullest extent of their ambitions. Beyond that there is nothing to evaluate or scrutinise or an alternative to Brexit. They're not even trying to persuade us. For instance, their first problem is how does any government rebuild trust in democracy when we're saying that your vote only counts if the establishment agrees with it. They've not given that one a nanosecond's thought. Do they think it all resets back to the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony? 

What they want is a return to normal. Their normal. Their business as usual where reality doesn't intrude, safely ensconced in the politco-media bubble without a care in the world, largely ignoring EU affairs while we are further subsumed into it with more powers being passed to Brussels all the time. Nothing less than the death of democracy itself.

I am of the view that a no deal Brexit will lead to a decade or more of economic and political turbulence the likes we have not seen for a generation. There is a lot of trial and error in front of us. Mostly error. The ideas of the free trader Tories will be put to the test n the real world and fall flat on their face. It will cost us dearly but that is all part of the process. Part of the problem is the arrogance of our ruling class and it's in need of a serious humbling.

What follows is anyone's guess but much of democracy is experimentation. Sooner or later we will happen upon a new normal. Change of itself will bring new ideas and new opportunities and to a point the Brexiters are right. We do need to believe in Britain a little more. We are a first world country of wealthy, educated people with a tradition of good governance and a public who won't tolerate anything less. We will find a way through it.

The alternative is is to remain in the EU with government on autopilot, crumbling from the inside out while the Coopers, Umunnas and Swinsons vacillate and preen. That provides only temporary respite but in the longer term puts us on a countdown to extinction. This dysfunctional Westminster morass would be tolerable were the fundamentals sound but economically, politically and culturally we are in decline and unless we reawaken real politics (as Brexit most certainly will do) then Britain is done for anyway.

All the remainers I know in the real world have one thing in common. Prior to Brexit they were all broadly apolitical, with middle of the road, but broadly progressive urbanite views, largely because they are socially convenient. Nobody wants to risk being called a bigot or a racist so they conform to sloppy liberal tropes without ever giving it any real thought.

This is decadence. It is non-politics, abdicating the citizen's obligation to seriously engage - to pick a side, to say inconvenient and potentially unpopular things; to risk disagreement. But we are used to an easy life free of conflict and free of consequence. We leave the politics to the politicians. That would work were our politicians not from the same stock, subscribing to the same centrist conviction free dogma, never saying anything that would prick the ears of a similarly decadent and conformist media.

That politics has it that the EU is essentially a liberal progressive democratic entity that gives us rights and freebies, whirring away in the background without the first idea what it is, what it does and the direction of travel. That is a society that has abandoned vigilance. Vigilance is not to be found anywhere in public life or in the Commons. The European scrutiny committee is one of the worst attended because it deals with detail - which MP's can't be bothered with. There's no political mileage in it for seekers of publicity.

The same is true of the media which seldom ever reports on EU affairs and to this day still calls EU Council meetings "summits". Hardly anyone can name their MEP let alone describe what one does or the extent of their powers. Consequently the parameters of our society are defined gradually and privately with no real public engagement and we don't notice what is done to us until it's too late. 

This we cannot afford any longer. We need the decision making back where we can see it and we need to re-engage the public. We need the public in charge because our politics is incapable of delivering. Of course there will be those who fight tooth and nail to avoid having to take up this responsibility, who don't want their self-indulgence and privilege disturbed - usually the liberal middle classes, but they're the ones who did this to us in the first place so we don't owe them anything.

If MPs had been sincere about wanting to avoid a no deal Brexit they'd have voted for the withdrawal agreement, but every time I catch an MP wailing about no deal, it's usually the ones who voted it down all three times. They've had every opportunity to organise and shape the process but since 2016 their whole runtime has been devoted to nullifying my vote. That situation is far more serious than a no deal Brexit. This is now a constitutional matter and we have to put these people back in their place - whatever the cost.  

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