Wednesday, 12 June 2019

The crushing sound of inevitability

It looks like the Tories are dead set on foisting Boris Johnson upon us. He claims he is aiming to leave with a deal but in the same breath declares that it won't be the deal on the table. For all that Johnson is capable of oafish behaviour, lacking all attention to detail, it cannot have escaped him that the negotiations have ended, Brussels has made its position abundantly clear and all the diplomatic signals on Twitter indicate that the EU is assuming no deal as the most likely outcome.

Consequently any attempt at renegotiation with the EU will be Johnson going through the motions, putting on the theatricals for the benefit of the media and his formless supporters. He can at least then say that he tried. About as cynical and dishonest as you can expect from the man. But then this is far from a new trick in British politics. (See EU renegotiation/Phantom Veto).

At his campaign launch today the media was typically distracted by trivia but neither the journalists present nor the ones in the Radio 4 studio ever thought to ask the man or his entourage of apologists how he intends to get a new deal in the face of what Brussels has said. Being that the British debate is wholly self-absorbed and insular, Brussels once again ceases to exist.

But then this is not limited to Johnson and the media. Parliament is again living in a world of its own, seeking to take control of the parliamentary agenda believing no deal can be stopped by way of legislation. Though the motion was defeated it's difficult to see how it makes any difference either way. Parliament does not seem to have grasped that its best chance to avert a no deal Brexit was to ratify the deal on the table. They might well have blown their chance save for a vote of no confidence.

For all that we can fairly accuse Boris Johnson of insincerity, those MPs now hyperventilating about the prospect of no deal have been playing games of their own. Taking no deal off the table is really just a smoke screen for stopping Brexit. Both sides have played a game of double or quits and one side had to lose. Having failed to ratify the withdrawal agreement it looks like it is they who have foisted Johnson and no deal upon us.

With the situation now taking on a depressing air of inevitability it seems we are all now to become victims of our politics. We've had a change of government in which we had no say taking us down a path with no explicit mandate to appease less than a third of the population. When Johnson says he can unite the country, he can certainly unite us in the view that we are not by any measure a functioning democracy.

At this point further Brexit debate is largely futile. The no dealers have convinced themselves that we can leave, plough £39bn in to public services (despite all evidence to the contrary), arrange an Article 24 transition and leave with a series of mini deals. This tells you one thing. The propaganda has worked and cool headed factual argument never stood a chance. The WTO option has become a wishing well and there's still the bizarre expectation that the EU will come chasing after us. What we're looking at here is a full blown psychic epidemic where we will all pay a heavy price for the education of the few who think that all we have to do is believe hard enough.

There is still the outside chance of parliament getting its act together where they could somehow bring down the government and force a general election which would likely result in yet another hung parliament but this time very possibly a Labour/Lib Dem coalition that spells the death of Brexit. From there on the corpse of the Tory party limps on for a few more years with the Brexit Party eating away at the base, while the left try to airbrush Brexit from history.

Here I'm left wondering which is the more dangerous path. I fully expect, should we leave without a deal, the economy will take a pasting, and soon enough we'll be grovelling back to Brussels for any deal we can get which will likely include an Irish backstop, resulting in a national humiliation and a rout of the new right. That at least lances the boil, and the issue one way or another can be put to bed.

If, however, we do remain then we actually get the opposite of the promised revolution, with a broadly europhile progressive government that will end up writing blank cheques for any madcap climate scam in order to rebuild Britain's "internationalist reputation" followed by a series of patronising bribes as a sop to those whose votes have been nullified. Nothing is resolved, establishment politics returns to business as usual and the resentment reaches boiling point. All we'll have done is to kick the Brexit can down the road and into the long grass. There it will not stay.

The more sensible path was always an orderly Brexit but neither side wanted that. Both sides retreated from reality to play their own cynical tribal games, and neither had any concept of the national interest let alone a desire to put the national interest first. Whichever way this plays out now there is only one unarguable fact. Our politics has utterly failed us. In the state it's in, it was never likely to get it right.

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