Tuesday, 5 March 2019

The worst case scenario

Brexit has all but slipped off the agenda. Brexit fatigue has set in. We are winding down the clock until decision day and nobody wants to hear any more unless something is concluded. We are twenty four days away from Brexit and we still do not know the terms of our departure. Though there is a degree of activity still going on, activity is not productivity so comment seems wasted effort.

There is still the usual trench warfare going on over on Twitter, but none of it can or will influence the outcome. I tuned out of the endless bickering about customs processes some time ago. No doubt there are alternatives to what is on the table but it's a matter of political will (of which there is none on the Brussels side) and the question of what is practical in the real world. Suggested alternatives tend not to factor that in.

Meanwhile we are today getting a taste of what could happen on our side of the Channel if we leave without a deal. French customs officers are on strike to demand greater resources to deal with the impact of Brexit, resulting in snarled traffic for a second day, leading to queues of trucks measuring several miles. "Customs agents began their protest on Monday to press their demands for higher pay and demonstrate what will happen if greater controls are put in place once Britain leaves the European Union, planned for later this month".

It's unclear whether this is precisely what will happen given the measures taken this side of the Channel. The real problem is outgoing traffic and the the veterinary checks are yet to come. Until that operation is up and running, UK exports won't be cleared. Large numbers of orders have already reportedly been cancelled in anticipation.

The truth of the matter is that we don't know exactly what will happen. We can take a best guess and much will depend on how well prepared we are, but the obvious point here is that this little demonstration highlights just how vulnerable these supply chains are - which really ought to have been a registered concern irrespective of Brexit.

Should it unfold this way, there will be the obligatory told you sos from all directions. At last the media will have something to do. But then as much as the ERG will have some explaining to do, (and obfuscate they will) this will really be the failure of parliament as a whole. Just about everybody outside the bubble recognises that no deal is the default and the only sure fire way to rule it out is to do as instructed and agree a deal to leave the EU.

Ultimately it is those politicians with other ideas, who think there is still a window to remain who will tilt the balance. We are getting mixed signals from Brussels but without a purpose for extending, and without a signal from parliament that they will back a deal, there is little incentive to grant an extension. The smart money is now on no deal because it's always a safe bet to assume parliament will screw up.

This is a scenario I had hoped to avoid. I've been clear throughout that no deal is not desirable. But then in swoops Macron to remind us that it is far from the worst case scenario. Remaining in the EU has consequences of its own. The Lisbon treaty was never going to be the end of it, and now we see their ambitions aout in the open. As ever, their tone deafness is absolute. It is yet another call for "More Europe" right about the time when yellow vest protestors are burning EU flags on the streets of Paris.

As much as Brexit has revealed the inadequacy and dysfunction in our own politics, it caused the EU to come out into the open about its authoritarian destination - essentially taking control of the internet. I can think of nothing more chillingly Orwellian than a Europe-wide agency "for the protection of democracies". It's like Reinhard Heydrich running a diversity seminar.

Macron essentially buys into the comforting narrative that the only possible way you could find fault with the EU is because of foreign interference and falling under the influence of "fake news". How every convenient. It absolves them from blame and gives them a pretext for massive incursions on free expression. This is the next battlefield. Globally the progressives are losing and they will not let go without a fight. That is particularly what makes Brexit (partly) a culture war. No dictatorship ever goes quietly, not even a benign one. Between this and the upcoming Services Notification Procedure, there can no longer be any doubt. The EU is not a democracy and has no intention of ever becoming one.

Ultimately the EU is something I want no part of. The European project is the plaything of authoritarian progressives and for as long as we remain a member of it, we will be forced to pursue the kinds of policies that further entrench their power. It marks the death of British and European democracy. As worst case scenarios go, it makes a queue of lorries seem relatively insignificant. If no deal really is the only way we can leave - so be it.  

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