This is another in our series of posts reviewing our comments on major themes regarding the European Union. Each brief comment is followed by a link to the post to which it refers. The linked posts are presented in chronological order of posting.
After much discussion and squabbling, the Cabinet published a White Paper in July last year on the expected outcomes of Brexit. We were not surprised that it contained much fluff and little substance and was largely a PR exercise. In her foreword Theresa May claimed much that was even then known to be untrue, given the mandate set by the EU for any negotiations. We assume that wishful Remainers believed it and, perhaps, a few Leavers were persuaded that a real Brexit was the Government’s intention.
As we expected, the ‘substance’ of the White Paper was quickly rejected by Michel Barnier on behalf of the EU negotiators and in conformance with the EU mandate. It also received much opposition within the UK, not least from Parliament. Mrs May promised that no deal would be agreed that was not in the UK’s interest, and quickly broke that promise with the draft Withdrawal Agreement.
The Exec Summary of the WP claims it will “deliver on” the result of the Referendum rather than simply ‘deliver’ the result. To deliver the result would be to leave the EU, what does deliver on imply? We think it means to deliver something that looks a bit similar to the Referendum result so might sneak past Leave voters while calming the fears of enough Remain voters to let the Government off the hook of delivering what it never wanted to do. Our critique explores how dissimilar the WP is from what the majority would have expected to be delivered:
Chequers White Paper (04/09/2018)
The Labour Manifesto promised that Britain will leave the EU, sort-of in accordance with the result of the Referendum, although their proposal to stay in the single market and some sort of customs union did not look much like Brexit to us.
There is about as much disagreement within the Labour Party as there is among Conservatives; some supporters want to remain in the EU, others want another referendum – so that ‘the people’ can get it right this time – a ‘People’s Choice’.
So we will leave THE European Union and instead join A European union which would be very similar except we wouldn’t have to participate in the useless European Parliament or the hopeless European Commission and we’d have no judges in the lawless European Court of Justice. We’ve always said we’d be happy with AN EU, just not THIS EU, but we hadn’t imagined anyone would propose a WORSE EU which is the SAME EU except with no UK representation.
In this post we reflect on Labour’s variant of ‘delivering on’ – it will ‘respect’ the result of the 2016 vote, mainly by running it again:
Leave’s Labour’s Lost (20/09/2018)
Matching our expectations, Mrs May agreed to a draft withdrawal agreement that conformed in every detail to the EU’s inflexible stance. We looked at some of the mistakes she made in the run-up to the capitulation that agreeing to such a withdrawal represents, ranging from triggering Article 50 without a plan to calling an election in which the Tories lost their comfortable majority.
EU nations have started to express their demands to eat into the UK’s ‘privileges’ as EU members; a bit like a family ransacking the house of a dying relative.
The Turn of the Screw (29/11/2018)
We followed up that fairly gentle critique of our Prime Minister with a more detailed review of her (lack of) achievements and capabilities. We concluded that she is not good at her job as PM and should leave it as soon as possible to get back to looking after the interest of her constituents. However, we are not thrilled by the alternative leaders who are currently trying to elbow their way to the top spot.
May (The Force is still with Us) (07/12/2018)
Continuing our critique of the Prime Minister, we compared the reactions to her performance in the job to a quiz show and a points-scoring pop-show; she didn’t come out well from either comparison. However, she won her confidence vote in Parliament even though ‘her’ withdrawal agreement was thrashed by MPs, including many from her own party. Again we wondered who might take over the leadership in due course and we set out some questions we would like to ask her or him regarding what they would do as the EU changes (as it will and must do).
No Confidence (15/12/2018)
Remainers wanting a second referendum, in the expectation that it would overturn the original result, argue that voters were persuaded by a lie (the big red bus with £350 million on the side). In the post below we compared misrepresentations made by both Leave and Remain campaigns, concluding that it is not possible to determine which was worse and whether either swayed the voting measurably.
We finished off the post with a variation on the lyrics of ‘Bend it!’ by Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick and Tich; their names are entirely apt for our present circumstances.
Gawd Strewth! (20/12/2018)
On the basis of the Referendum result both major British political parties promised, in their election manifestos, that Britain would leave the EU if they were elected. Since then many MPs, from both parties, have decided that Britain should stay in some form of union with the Union. The unions proposed take several different forms, which is why we see no agreement in Parliament and even a new party set up to represent, in general terms, some of those disparate views.
Momentum, and noise, are growing towards a ‘People’s Choice’ or second referendum, without much consideration being given to either the difficulties involved or the betrayal of promises that such an outcome would be.
In the post below we argue that MPs who have decided that they are not in favour of their party’s promises should first resign and give their constituents the opportunity, through a by-election, to support them or replace them. We don’t believe that many, if any, will take that honest chance, because they cannot be sure that their constituents have also changed their minds. We expect them to cling on to what they have got, rather than act in the interests of their constituents.
Resign You Cowards! (12/01/2019)
Next we looked more closely at the issues that a second referendum would create. We didn’t mention betrayal of promises again, as this is so obvious that it requires no closer look.
After the first Referendum some Remainers complained that the issues involved in Brexit had been too complex for ordinary voters to think through, and had been crudely simplified with a ‘yes or no’ question. But now that voters have given the ‘wrong’ answer Remainers insist that voters should be faced with the consequences and asked to vote again.
As yet we have not seen a positive case for the UK to remain in the EU; the case to remain seems to be based solely on the difficulties to be faced in leaving. Plus some – perhaps many – who mistakenly equate the reality of EU delivery with the vision and promises on which it is founded. Without an argument in support of the EU as it is, the Remainers’ case amounts to saying that Britain is not up to the task of leaving the EU and then fulfilling its voters expectations. Polling suggests that given a second vote citizens might now opt for remaining in the EU. This raises the question: Why? Is it because they have come to love the EU now they see more clearly what benefits it brings them? Or are they frightened to leave now that Project Fear has had nearly three more years to destroy their confidence? Surely the arrogance and bullying by Brussels can’t have endeared it to the public; fear seems more likely (or fatigue, or both). However, unless the EU can demonstrate a clear balance towards benefits the desire to leave will wax stronger again.
Off the Table! (20/01/2019)