Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Bitter pills

So I've been on the telly again. Gradually getting the hang of it. It is, though, a reminder that television is a poor medium through which to convey information. The parameters are already defined by the interviewer and you have very limited time in which to get over complex points and much of what needs to be said remains unsaid. That is why I will always be primarily a blogger.

Being that you never know exactly what will be asked, one has to rehearse a few points beforehand just to dredge it from the back of one's memory so to have instant recall if asked. The one thing I can't do, however, is communicate the detail. Presenters can't cope with it and will interrupt. This is why I have got elongated sentences without a breath down to a fine art. One has to make the best possible use of the time.

That said, it is interesting to hear the case without the detail and the nuances as it zooms out on the argument considerably. It reminds me that we can get too hung up on the details dispensing with the tolerable in pursuit of good. As I remarked, the withdrawal agreement, should it pass, is just the divorce papers dealing with the hangover issues of having been a member which will, over time, be of diminishing importance. If Brexit is an investment in the future then we should not get too hung up on the interim.

The ultimately folly of Brexit negotiations has been the attempt to find a perfect Brexit that pleases everyone. Such is not possible. Given the state of our politics there was always going to be a bitter pill to swallow. As I remarked on Sky News, though, all of this can be revisited in the future. Our relationship with the EU will be an ever evolving continuum. What matters is what leverage we have when the time comes. We must be in a position of relative strength.

This is ultimately why I believe every effort must be made to avoid a no deal Brexit. As stated many times, no deal cannot remain no deal and we will be in for far less favourable terms if we are n economic distress and out with the begging bowl. It is, therefore, strategically necessary to swallow the bitter pill for the time being.

Though some may rejoice that May's deal was rejected, I am now deeply concerned that it gives politicians a window of opportunity to make it immeasurably worse. Whatever transpires in the coming days and weeks, it will be necessary to remind our politicians of the ultimate principles of Brexit; the desire to be an independent country.

In respect of that, it is also necessary to be mindful that our objective was never going to happen overnight. Any withdrawal agreement should be taken for what it is. The formal treaty to end our membership of the European Union. What all that the hardliners tell us that the deal (in whatever form it may take) is not Brexit, insofar as international law and international perspectives are concerned, the UK will no longer be a member of the EU and will be treated accordingly. What matters is how we build on that.

For the time being we have an open door with Brussels to work toward a mutually agreeable relationship. All we need do is honour our political and moral obligations. In international relations this matters. Should we walk away from our obligation to resolve the legacy issues we cannot then expect the EU to be so flexible in the future. Nothing is served by creating an atmosphere of mistrust and antagonism.

It is a certainty that any deal will involve binding commitments, and redlines will be crossed. That is largely a consequence of our own political dysfunction and the intransigence of the Brexiters. That cannot now be avoided. If, however, there's a deal that allows us the time and space to get out without the drop off, then we are still in the game. We at least then get to learn how to walk before we start running. For all that the Brexiters want it all now (and I very much understand the sentiment) it's worth remembering that we have waited decades for our prize. A little while longer won't kill us.

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