Tuesday, 31 January 2017

A wasted opportunity

I have little to say about the Article 50 debate this evening save to say it was not a debate. It was a queue of people waiting for their turn to emote, rehash old arguments and raise alarm over subjects they have no knowledge of. What should have been an opportunity to assert itself, Parliament pretty much resigned itself to going with the flow. The government now has a free hand to make a massive pigs ear of it. So much for parliamentary scrutiny.

Hitherto now you will have seen me making dire warnings of what could go wrong, particularly with regard to the "walk away" option where critical systems stop functioning. If by now this has not dawned on you then I have no interest in your opinion.

I get the impression though that very few people understand the complexities of the system, and how much more complex it is outside the EU than in. They are set to rip the UK out of the EU, leaving the bleeding tatters of administrative systems which will no longer function - without the first idea of how to fix them. Even if we get a negotiated settlement we still have to devise our own regulatory systems and make them interface properly with those of the EU.

As much as regulations are specifications and standards they also grant rights and recognise various authorities. Behind that are elaborate systems of governance that protect against all manner of problems in supply chains from people smuggling to food fraud. This is why we should be extra cautious of blissfully ignorant Tory free trade mantras.

Worse still we have yet to even recruit key negotiators and understanding of regulatory systems is thin. Even if we avoid a cliff edge there is no way Brexit will be smooth sailing. There is major potential to do enormous economic self-harm. The complacency within government and industry makes that a near certainty.

Whatever happens though, our eventual settlement will be a patchwork of existing agreements because the people tasked with change don't want the system to change and in a lot of respects I don't blame them. Since Brexiteers refuse to acknowledge the difficulty or the complexity the entire debate over what form the new regime should take is very much in the hands of remainer technocrats. All the same people with all the same powers - just located in London rather than Brussels. Rather than simplifying the system, Brexit will likely make it more incomprehensible.

If there is to be a revolution in politics it will not happen by way of a renaissance in lawmaking or deregulation. More than likely it will come as an expression of public anger over an inept establishment which has avoidably made people poorer. Food and medicines are likely to be more expensive, energy projects will be delayed and public services will be hit.

The positives are to be found in the chaos and confusion it creates within government where it will be so swamped with major problems the day to day running of things will have to be devolved and the usual meddling will have to take a back seat. It's almost worth it just for that because it will badly taint the Tories. Especially when those free trade deals don't roll through the door. Don't get me wrong, there are upsides to Brexit - but you'll have to look hard to find them for the time being. Any economic advantages have been squandered by moronic Tory bigots.

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