Sunday, 28 August 2016

Marching orders from Mrs May

The word is that Mrs May has given her little troopers their marching orders. A Brexit plan we must have and we must have one soon. There is already grumbling on Twitter about the absence of a coherent position from the government and this is not something she can afford to let slide. Industry will be asking questions and the speculation is hugely damaging. This comes amid suspicions that the civil service will attempt to frustrate the process.

This is the foundation of an upcoming row. All the little Toryboys are salivating at the prospect of grafting their free trade fantasies on to the Brexit process without any real understanding of the technicalities or legal constraints. They think it's as simple as leaving a golf club where you give notice and stop all payments. Consequently anyone attempting to introduce them to reality is viewed as a "miffed" remainer creating problems where none exist.

The immediate problem here is that the Toryboys are absolutely correct. Most of the crowing from experts does come from remainers - and ones who are not taking the referendum verdict lying down. Even the most minor complication becomes an object of much hyperventilation - which on closer inspection proves to be no big deal. Then there are those with no critical faculties at all who incapable of distinguishing between political posturing and the real world.

In this, impartial views are few and far between. Leavers are grossly oversimplifying while remainers are unnecessarily problematising. I end up doing both depending on who I'm debating. There are those on the leave side who see the process as so simple we can hammer out a deal of over beer and sandwiches and on the flip side we have moaners who think it's all just too darn difficult. So in the absence of reliable and trustworthy expertise we are left to figure it all out for ourselves.

The problem for the Toryboys is that their vision of a buccaneering free trade Britain is not in any way compatible with reality. There may have been a window prior to the Lisbon treaty where the kind of withdrawal they seek were possible but we're talking quite a long time ago. Systems have bedded in, agreements have taken form and all the while the rest of the world has been catching up with its own patchwork of harmonisation agreements.

The Toryboys would like nothing more than to take a match to decades of established regulation, stick twos up to the EU and pretend the EU never existed. These seems to be an overall reluctance to admit that there is no WTO option and they will not let it drop. In this there are now glimmers of understanding that things are more complex than they seem but the complexities are viewed as peripheral to the main issues rather a major flaw in their thinking.

The danger of this is that without any kind of adult intervention they will freeze out all critics and label them troublemakers and then build their own parallel universe inviting those they agree with to reinforce their stupidity. It is entirely possible that they will convince themselves they have a working plan with which to go into battle and without any real injection of sanity this is what we will attempt to negotiate.

What we will find is that the EU is not so accommodating and that we don't have the leverage they thought we did and will have to go back the the drawing board halfway through the process - returning with what they should have had in the first place. That then means we are pressed for time and must negotiate an extension using our last remaining leverage. There is a very real danger that we end up with an agreement entirely on the EU's terms - the end result being the absolute opposite of what the Tory right had intended and in all probability a deal that is far worse than EU membership.

Since the opposition party are too busy obsessing over who owns the railways we cannot expect any sense from parliament. The most they know is that the single market must be protected but having taken the line that Brexit must be resisted at all costs they have forfeited their influence. Once again it looks like our relationship with the EU will be one decided for us - and once again the fault will lie squarely with Westminster. 

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