Thursday, 24 November 2016

Remainers are playing with fire

Most of the prominent Leave figures went on record to say that it was not the responsibility of the leave campaign to have a Brexit plan. Repeat offenders include Gisela Stuart and Julia Brewer Hartley. Consequently Vote Leave has no post-referendum leverage beyond their wafer thin win margin.

Having failed to establish a coherent set of demands it is now left to the government to find a path out of the EU. Because there was no plan and because Vote Leave campaigned on a number of falsehoods and unrealistic assumptions leavers do not get to dictate the terms of our exit.

As each week passes, a new reality comes to light, further eating into the claims of Vote Leave and consequently the legitimacy of the vote is increasingly brought into question. Those who fought to remain are asking why we should commit ourselves to a massive undertaking with uncertain economic consequences on the back of a false bill of goods.

That brings to light another of Vote Leave's failings in keeping the campaign an insular Westminster club without acknowledging other leavers and other points of view on the leave side. They monopolised the campaign, quite deliberately, and now their central arguments are taken as the given reasons for leaving. They have painted us leavers into a corner. The longer this drags on, the weaker the Vote Leave case for leaving gets. Which way this now goes is uncertain.

Presently there are deep divisions in the Conservative party between hardcore remainers, hard Brexiteers and the lesser heard sane voices. Parliament could, if Mrs May loses her appeal, still rock the boat. This has many worried that Brexit may not happen at all. As my regular readers know I do not have a stellar track record when it comes to political predictions. My hunch is that after a lengthy period of bickering Article 50 will be invoked - but we should still consider the possibility that it will not.

Let's game this. Let's say Parliament manages to torpedo Article 50. Just imagine how loudly every leaver in the country would scream. The debate then goes nuclear, MPs get death threats and we see ugly protests outside the House of Commons. Leaving the EU then becomes a conservative party manifesto pledge. That much is not in question. The honour of the Tory party is at stake. We are so used to broken promises from the Conservative Party that our votes are only on loan to them for the purposes of leaving the EU. The only way Mrs May keeps those votes is to honour the bargain on the right.

That then sees the next general election becoming a re-run of the referendum. In this, all May has to do keep up a level of credibility to walk it. The Ukip vote goes to the Tories while the remain vote is split between a shattered and deeply pathetic Labour party and the Lib Dems - and let's face it, Tim Farron is a worm and everybody can see it. After that Mrs May will have the clear majority she needs. It may take a while longer to get the job done but it will get done.

But let us say for arguments sake that I am being overly optimistic and somehow parliament blocks Brexit and it loses all support in the house. That's our MPs basically saying "fuck off plebs, we're in charge". Well, that's "game on" isn't it?

We have the worst crop of politicians in living memory. As you know I quite like Mrs May. I have a real soft spot for her even though her policies are a bit stodgy for my tastes. I think she has integrity. But Tony Blair is right. She is a lightweight and it is starting to show through the cracks. We are getting subtle hints that she doesn't have a full grasp of the issues. She won't survive a leadership battle and the battle will be a fight to the death between the Tory right and the remainers. Let's say out of pessimism that the hard right loses. Brexit is dead. Ukip completely buried.

Where are we then? Imagine it. A House of Commons lead by remainers, entirely self-satisfied that they have crushed an insurgency, back to lightweight Blairite policies (with only half the political competence) in a country that utterly despises them, where the message has been received loud and clear that your vote means fuck all and voting cannot bring about change.

We will have witnessed the last hurrah of a spent, corrupt and failing parliamentary system. By now we have heard all the rhetoric about "the establishment" and the media has used up all its lines about political insurgencies. We will have arrived at a political stalemate not between the parties but between the people and their government. I think at that point, all bets are off. Parliament will have lost all of its moral authority and our continued membership of the EU (and any UK government interaction with it) would be viewed as open defiance of the people.

It is also worth gaming how the EU would react to continued British membership knowing that Britain is a member against the wishes of its people. It brings the whole EU into question. What we then have is a political and media class more despised than ever while the EU question remains an open, festering sore. And this is something remainers need to think about very seriously .

My previous post was chastising hard brexiteers, but the remainers are in fact their equal and opposite number. Neither have any intention of reaching a compromise or a consensus. While the hard Brexiteers would deliver an economic blow, remainers are paving the way for an era of the most toxic uncertain and turbulent politics imaginable.

Worse still, things do not go back to how they were before the referendum. Brexit is now a real word in the political lexicon and it does not go away until we do leave. It is always a spectre hanging over Britain and the EU and the EU itself cannot progress until the matter is resolved. In the meantime investment steers clear of the UK while there is an overall loss of confidence in Britain as a place to do business and as a democracy.

We then see a far right surge. There will be no Ukip-esque attempts to pass as moderate. It will be an unhinged Breitbarter party and ordinary people, out of disgust more than anything else, will vote for it. Last time around Ukip failed because it lacked ruthlessness and organisation - and because there were still people willing to give the Tories the benefit of the doubt. In this scenario, we see a badly burned electorate no longer willing to play by the rules, no longer bound by any code and not in the least bit willing to hear out the mainstream parties. And then there will be voters like me who simply elect to stay at home. I wouldn't vote for a Breitbart party but wouldn't be moved to try and stop them.

The choice before parliament is to try and hold out for a few more years in this countdown to extinction - or do as they have been instructed and negotiate a an amicable separation from the EU. If they opt for the latter then we can set about moving forward. If not then this forty year old dispute goes septic. In the end that sees British politics pushed to the point of no return and we leave the EU unilaterally. The hardest of hard Brexits.

There is only one certainty in this. One way or another, Britain will cease to be a member of the European Union. The establishment is already on thin ice and if our politicians choose to stand in the way then they are signing their own death warrants. They stand to do lasting damage and will harm us in unimaginable ways. Politics will never be the same again. That's what real "uncertainty" looks like.

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