Well that was dangerous – promising a post ‘later this week’! Now it’s next year and not even the first month of next year.
Not to worry, because a great deal has happened and then again, nothing has happened. For those of you living outside the UK I’ll put you in the picture. At this precise moment, David Davis (the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union otherwise known as the Brexit secretary) will present to Parliament today (Thursday 2nd February) a white paper on how we, the Brits, plan to leave the EU. So, in plain English, today, a policy paper will be debated by the Members of Parliament who, quite rightly, want to scrutinise the whole process. Remember, Theresa May wanted none of this. We’ve come this far, you understand, due to a recent High Court judgement ruling that Parliament has sovereignty over the Executive (the Government) and must debate the initiating of Article 50. But to be absolutely clear the ruling is about the initiation and not about the substance of the exit. The debate happened yesterday and the Government’s argument to initiate Article 50 was voted through overwhelmingly (461 in favour and 89 against) as in yes, we will be initiating Article 50, with that overwhelming majority being boosted by Labour MPs (many of whom personally voted to Remain) after being told by their great leader, Jeremy Corbyn, to toe the line and vote with the Government. After much thrashing around a minority of Labour MPs (23) voted to not initiate. That total being about the number who support Corbyn in Parliament (he’s leader because members of the party voted him in, not because the Parliamentary Labour Party voted for him.) But opposition we have none, in my view. Meanwhile, the white paper is an extra, so to speak. So, apparently, we are on target to activate Article 50 at the end of March – hopefully not on 1st April.
What a farce this Brexit is. One minute there are various politicians thundering away about a hard Brexit and then it is going to be, or was going to be, a soft Brexit – with colours, said May, of red, white and blue.
For a long time, the possibilities for Brexit changed every day with some politicians saying a complete break with the EU – a hard Brexit – is the only way. While others including our Boris (one of the deluded, fatuous 3 musketeers who are constantly alienating the EU bods) are all in favour of a soft Brexit with one option that the government might pay for single market access. As in, contribute to the EU budget in exchange for access to the single market. Not likely now though.
Let’s pause for a moment. Of course, you know, don’t you, that a soft Brexit is all about leaving the EU, but still having access to the 27 EU countries’ markets (with no new trading treaties) albeit, saying no to any free movement of people from the EU into the UK. The reaction to that from EU politicians has always been ‘fat chance, matey’. But it’s surprising how long that aspiration to have a soft Brexit lasted. But no, it’s a hard, hard Brexit which means, well, what does it mean?
To the many in the UK who voted to leave the EU, it means, as a fellow passenger on a recent cruise said to me, ‘well it’s all about bringing decision-making and control back to our Parliament’. (Btw, giving cruising a break for several years). Oh, my, word. Fancy that, that she actually believes that in this globalised world the UK would find its feet quickly and easily and be ‘in control’. Because a hard Brexit would mean, yes, having control over our borders, (and fewer EU nurses btw, for a start) but leaving the single market and therefore, having to negotiate independent trade treaties with the 27 countries within the EU, or if it is to be a UK-EU deal, getting the agreement of 27 individual countries. And that, the experts say (who I do value) will probably take around 10 years, not two, which would mean in the meantime having trading relationships with these countries based on World Trade Organisation rules, whatever those are – must find out.
But, according to May, and others who embrace a hard Brexit, we would also be a strong and independent, global (May is very fond of that word) country trading with others on the international stage with, of course, Trump and the United States, first in line to make a deal.
Talk about living in La La land. We are totally in the hands of others. And, we will have a hard time leaving. The cost may be extraordinarily high. Monetarily the figures of 40-60 billion Euros have been quoted with trade and other negotiations demanding an unprecedented amount of time and work from our civil servnts – ‘control’ won’t be got for many years.
But there are other costs. I strongly object to leaving and I don’t know why I should stop talking about this or go quietly into the night, because above all, I feel my identity has been stripped away and my country has changed to one I don’t recognise.
I wasn’t expecting this – and maybe I should have been more aware. Because, voting is no longer along defined party lines and the respective belief systems of the past. Instead it is about religion, resources and the economic realities of voters. It’s all about intersectionality, which I’ll write about anon. This is a new landscape of nationalism, isolationism and a drift to the right. You get the feeling that, at times, May understands this and speaks to the ‘just managing’ but in reality does nothing for them. Meanwhile, Labour exists in a bubble of delusion and will be decimated in any election whenever it occurs.
I’m just thinking aloud here. But is progress always incremental? Will there always be a better life for our children? Are liberal values always to be there? Do you think history is a continuous stream of values that you believe in?
If deregulation continues, if banks continue their practices, if the rich continue to enrich themselves, why do you think liberal values will continue? Liberal democracy is fragile and predicated on a stable satisfied workforce with institutions that are valued and trusted and with reasonable demands discussed and resolved.
Ignoring populations has its consequences, voting doesn’t go as you expect. Cameron, you idiot, where are you now? And the answer, of course, is on the lecture circuit. Amazing that people want to listen to him – because he’s a failure, big time.
And I now hear that today’s white paper will bring forward another separate white paper on the ‘great repeal bill’. This is legislation that will remove the European Communities Act of 1972 from our statute book and convert EU law into British domestic law. There are more details which I’ll write about at another time. But there you are. Papers are presented and words are spoken, but nothing concrete has happened re: our leaving the EU – yet.
2nd February 2017
P.S I haven’t referenced anything but I’ve read extensively albeit mainly from the Guardian and especially its weekly Brexit briefing, which I highly recommend.