Peter Kenyon explores the mysteries of Britain’s application to leave the European Union as the Tories prepare for the next round of talks
My formative years during the ‘Cold War’ were steeped in Kremlinology. A lack of reliable information about the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics forced us according to Wikipedia to “read between the lines” and to use the tiniest tidbits, such as the removal of portraits, the rearranging of chairs, positions at the reviewing stand for parades in Red Square, the arrangement of articles on the pages of the party newspaper Pravda and other indirect signs to try to understand what was happening in internal Soviet politics.
Understanding what Britain’s two leading political parties’ positions regarding Brexit are requires similar approaches. Unfortunately, the British electorate is way behind the curve in understanding the extent to which the Brexiteers are still seeking to confound and confuse in their efforts to pretend there is a better future for the UK outside the EU.
There is not. But the people have decided.
From an anecdotal point of view, I have heard more stories about people voting to leave the EU to kick Cameron’s Conservative government than actually leave the EU. But that is beside the point now. More important is what have we learned, or what should we have learned from the Phase 1 negotiations?
British Prime Minister Theresa May decided at the start of term to take the outcome of the EU Referendum at face value. Egged on by the Brexiteers she perpetuated the myths: in short a crock of gold at the end of the rainbow. Her chosen Secretary of State for Exiting from the European Union David Davis boasted breezily about deals to be done in Brussels and Paris circumventing Brussels. Her Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox has been clocking up Airmiles in pursuit of phantom trade deals with third parties, while Brussels has just been signing them. And her Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson continues to excel at making the UK a laughing stock in the world.
On Friday 8 December May made a pre-dawn flight to Brussels much to the annoyance of EC Commission President Jean-Claude Junkers to set out Britain’s ‘offer’ in response to the EU’s three preconditions for negotiating future trade relations. The manoeuvre was heralded in the Evening Standard as the ‘Deal at Dawn’. My take was ‘Fudge at Five’. I was not alone in taking a somewhat more sceptical view of what was actually offered by HM Government.
British nationals’ rights in the EU and EU nationals’ rights in the UK are not being properly protected. The financial settlement of between £35 and £39 billion to meet UK liabilities to the EU-27 (not a divorce bill) represents surrender on the part of the likes of Boris Johnson, and I quote “Brussels can go whistle”. As for the NI border issue, that is fudge made of the finest cream the Irish dairy industry can produce.
It is a crock of shite. Brussels was never going to let the EU-27 be cast as the ‘enemy’ preventing trade talks. Worryingly, Conservative electoral support and May’s political standing are on the up again (a bit).
What the Labour leadership must ponder is whether or not to engage in some forensic Brexitology and share their findings with the electorate sooner rather than later or twiddle their thumbs for the next twelve months until it is too late.
As matters stand the UK has already lost two valuable EU institutions – the European Medicines Agency and the European Banking Agency. They are irretrievable lost. British voters will not be electing representatives to the European Parliament in June 2019. The only trade deals likely to be considered by the EU-27 – Norway or Canada – will require the UK to be rule-takers i.e. we will have NO say in making future EU laws.
There is no escaping the conclusion NOW that the Conservative are surrendering UK sovereignty, squandering urgently needed tax revenues for public services on an illusory ‘crock of gold’ to leave the EU, sacrificing the human rights of millions of people, risking peace in Northern Ireland, pursuing phantom trade deals with third countries.
Is that what 17 million Britons voted for on 23 June 2016?
Welcome to the world of Brexitology.