Sunday, 8 September 2019

Wargaming Remain


I ask you to imagine the following. Imagine there's an election. There's no outright winner so it goes that Labour form a government under Corbyn in coalition with the Lib Dems - on the proviso that there is a new referendum. Let's forego any nuanced debate about what the real question would be and assume it would be the withdrawal agreement versus remain. John McDonnell has said no deal would not be on the ballot paper.

Leavers would call this remain versus BRINO. Many wouldn't even bother to vote, considering it a rigged referendum. As it happens, it is a rigged referendum in that the question conflates if we should leave with how we should leave. If such a referendum is held I reckon remain could win by a slender margin. Perhaps even by a larger majority than leave won in 2016.

We then see the coalition pull the plug on Article 50. What are the "optics"? A government with no outright mandate implementing the result of a rigged referendum. What then?

I can see it now. Jo Swinson, Caroline Lucas, Andrew Adonis and all the remainer deadbeats hailing it as a victory for democracy like an election in some African "democratic republic". It will ooze with self satisfaction and smarm. They will tell us how we need to "move on and reunite the country" and pretend the have the policies to do just that.

At this point the EU is mightily pissed off having been fucked around for so long, but also because no further business can advance in British MEPs keep blocking everything and there's no way any British government can consent to further integration when half the country still wants to leave.

Of course the "back to business" attitude of Westminster will soon hit the rocks when it becomes apparent that leavers refuse to accept the result. Why would they? Remain didn't and in this instance leavers have the betrayal narrative firmly on their side.

This is when remain MPs start complaining big time about the volumes of death threats and feeling vulnerable, having to double their home security, ensuring they don't go out alone. All the while the Brexit Party is surging, looking at about 20% of the vote where no Tory party of any kind can switch to a remain position without being wiped out. The flagship policy of HM Opposition will be to leave the EU. The debate will stay current and Brexit refuses to die.

At this point I don't rule out another Jo Cox style slaying. But there it will be a crucial difference this time. Nobody will be surprised and more than a small few will privately think that the establishment had it coming even if they don't say it. All the while violence kicks off in Northern Ireland demonstrating once and for all that the peace process has failed and cannot be attributed to Brexit, and we still hear noises from Scotland about independence. The future of the Union is still in question.

The incumbent government is then faced with the blowback from their own policies along with a visceral hatred from anyone who voted leave. The more sanctimonious the establishment gets the more hated they are. All the while investment in the UK does not return to normal as the political situation is still uncertain - anticipating hard left economic policies while a Brexit is still very much on the cards. Economic conditions worsen to the point where the coalition collapses, a general election is called and this time, the eurosceptics are in charge.

This time, there is no Article 50 talks. This time we simply rip up the treaties. No deal, no talks, no planning. Leavers won't give the saboteurs a chance to stop Brexit again. And then we're in a real mess. Again.

This is one possible scenario but in any scenario I imagine the genie does not go back in the bottle. We are looking at years of political instability, violent protest, fragile governments and a divided, fragmenting nation. Remaining brings no closure and is not a remotely sustainable answer to the current dilemma.

The essence of this problem is EU membership does not accommodate the diversity of ideas in the country. Continued membership ensures a large section of the public who have long felt disenfranchised and effectively have been by the social democratic consensus are told once again that their votes don't matter and if the establishment doesn't like the result of a vote then there are always workarounds. At that point you have no hope of a new consensus and the social contract lies in tatters.

Were MPs not blinded by their own respective dogma they would see that Britain needs a solution that brings about closure to this issue. That they have each fought each other to a standstill, each pushing for equally unavailable destinations, is a total failure of our political institutions for which there is no clear way back. Remainers want to remain because they think, or at least hope, everything goes back to the normal of 2010. But we are not that country anymore. That country was gone for good in 2016. Now we have to build a new one. And it can't be an EU member. 

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