Monday, 15 August 2016

Ceding ground to the enemy

Reading around the remainer blogs and newspapers it is clear what their new angle of attack is. We are seeing a sustained campaign of problematising Brexit. They have a rich seam to mine when it comes to debunking bogus claims made by the official leave campaign. The rationale for Brexit looks shaky, the benefits seem slender and the gulf between what can happen in reality and that which was promised by Vote Leave cannot be bridged. This along with the fact that very nearly half the country did not vote for Brexit means they have something of a mandate to carry on with their campaign.

I sincerely doubt they will succeed. They can problematise Brexit all they like but that is still not a case for remaining in the EU. All it really does is spell out the gravity of the mistake we made by joining and if we have to take a hit to our economy by way of having less favourable trading conditions for a decade or so then that tells us we should never have let go of trade policy to begin with.

The response to this campaign by remainers, though, has been to deny any such complexities exist and to continue making bogus claims. Just today we have Suzanne Evans of Ukip telling us we can leave the EU simply by repealing the European Communities Act. To say that the leave side has a credibility deficit is an understatement. Our elites could very well put the brakes on the Brexit process for a time with some considerable justification by saying those on the Leave side simply don't live on this planet. If we are to suffer a lost decade then it really is up to us to continue to spell out why it must be done.

In some respects the Leave campaign can be excused. The reasons for leaving are many but they are dry, somewhat technical and intangible to the man in the street or the Fleet Street economists. The messages do not distill well into campaign mantras. Even the "take back control" message is deeply flawed. We are still bound by treaty obligations and international conventions. That said, to simply assert that Brexit is easy and leads to sunlit uplands is both dishonest and counterproductive.

The fact is that there are many complexities, some of which are ambushes that certain EU members are hoping we will walk into. At this point Brexiteers should be owning the debate, meeting problems with ideas and solutions. Instead the steady drip of remainer catastrophising is having an effect in the media. And it's our fault. Or at least the fault of those who continue to pretend that Brexit is a harmless process that we can sort out at the stroke of a pen.

But then the real problem is the unreality bubble that exists in media. It's not that ideas are not being presented. It's just that they don't want to know. Remainers don't want to see any credible rationale for Brexit and leavers don't want to put forth any solutions that run counter to the bogus claims made during the referendum. So in that regard, with no allies in the media, we have to watch powerlessly as our politicians fumble from crisis to crisis. I now fully expect that we will get a Brexit of sorts but the lost decade we will suffer will be down to an overall lack of competence in governance and a lack of direction.

Brexit needs leadership, but that's the one thing it does not have. We have an establishment that doesn't want to leave, doesn't know how and can't see any real advantage to doing so. And insofar as what is understood to be the benefits of leaving, I don't see it either. I now believe that we will have to endure the failures of our politicians and suffer the consequences.

What we saw over the last decade was a decade of stagnation as we recovered form the financial crisis, with the economy in stasis as banks built up their war chests but now it seems we will suffer a far more plausible recession caused by an overall lack of confidence in Britain. Governance will be in such a state of flux that we continue to get things wrong and big spending decisions will be put off if not completely abandoned.

But then that is where I see the advantages to Brexit. It is the process of rebuilding policy from scratch that we will start to reacquaint ourselves with what it means to govern. What comes out of that will be more responsive government simply because reform is possible where otherwise it wouldn't be. It may also mean that we cannot afford to pursue the vanity policies of politicians and their trainsets and tidal lagoons must be shelved. We may also have to re-evaluate our commitments to the growth killing junk science of climate change. I won't be shedding any tears there.

So really then it becomes a question of whether you think it worth the price. As it happens, I am a fundamentalist. I would pay any price and so you have to be your own judge but by that same token, I also think Brexit is inevitable. Britain has never been a willing EU member. At some point we would have to admit that we cannot travel the same road. So I guess if you have to pay a price then why not do it now?

The reason I continue my involvement is because I would rather avoid unnecessary pain and that at the very least starts with having a clue of what is going on. But if leavers are going to continue to deny reality, they are as much my opponent as the remainers who think it's all just too difficult.

In the meantime, if you are one of those who thinks it will be alright on the night, it is you who are ceding ground to those elites who would like nothing better than to derail Brexit forever. The Vote Leave campaign had a weak case for leaving and we leavers got lucky that the remain campaign was so odious. So we need a better argument now more than ever and we need credible solutions to those very real problems.

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