To cut to the chase, the whole thing is very easy in the end: There is a special place in hell” for Brexit promoters. From the standpoint dependency of the EU, the negotiations have closed and there’s no reason to reopen them. It is a done deal and in spite of all the recriminations and finger pointing, it is time to move on and stop beating a dead horse.
Yet from that take on Brexit supporters, the EU is as immovable as it is evil: Unelected bureaucrats representing corporate interests who are on a never-ending taxpayer funded gravy train dictating their will to all of a disparate continent. The likelihood of these two groups reconciling is at best low and at worst, nigh on impossible.
How did we get where we are?
The EU should have seen it coming like a freight train, the UK referendum on whether it should remain in the European Union. Did they think they could get away with their salami slice approach of removing sovereignty forever? The ever closer union that they’ve been pushing for the whole EU is starting to face significant opposition.
Credit need to be given to a large extent to the malcontents within the Conservative Party and small “c” conservatives across the UK who built up pressure over 20 years and forced the government’s hand into promising a binding in out referendum on EU membership. There has also always been strong public distrust of the EU, call it xenophobia or what you want. Basically those who speak the English-language, or at least think they can were hesitant in getting in the same bed with all those funny foreigners, whose languages, legal and political systems they don’t understand, don’t want – and never appealed to the mainstream British public.
It is little wonder that The Remain campaign was never able to overcome this inherent disadvantage. No matter how many solid practical arguments it presented for staying in the EU, they were seen as unpatriotic, abstruse or nothing more than “trying to make the best of a bad job.” The Leave campaign had a much simpler message: “We have lost sovereignty over our own country, thus we have to take it back.” That message was much more resonant than one peddled by career politicians who love bureaucracy piled on thick.
These loathsome people are drawn to the EU like moths to a flame. They hate Britain and everything it stands for. George Orwell, perhaps Britain’s greatest writer noted that “It is a strange fact, but it is unquestionably true that almost any English intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during ‘God save the King’ than of stealing from a poor box.” With their disdain for Britain’s institution’s and their kowtowing to corporate interests, they rushed to defend foreign interference in Britain’s politics, legal and economic system.
People wanted to believe that leaving meant cutting immigration, knowing that freedom of movement between EU countries is guaranteed and that Britain had seen unprecedented levels of unskilled migration from poor Eastern European countries over the last fifteen years. The Leave campaign said they would achieve this by leaving the EU.
Although good for business, this has led to an increased competition for jobs for the British working class. Most immigration to the UK comes from outside the EU, any sort of exit deal from the EU will likely involve keeping free movement of people and both main parties have tacitly supported high levels of immigration for twenty years.
Following the vote, it became clear that Theresa May’s government would not do anything to reduce immigration and they have even dropped their commitment to getting annual net migration to “below 100,000”, a key policy of their manifesto, ignoring the wishes of those who voted leave.
People wanted to believe that the money the UK gives to the EU would be spent on improving things at home. The UK contributes £350 million a week to the EU budget and the Leave Campaign argued that this could be better spent on the National Health Service. . Following the vote, Theresa May’s government has offered to pay £40 billion to the EU to get through her pathetic deal, ignoring the wishes of those who voted leave.
The main benefit of EU membership is free uninterrupted trade of goods and service across the block as part of a customs union. The Leave Campaign argued that even if we lost this benefit, its consequences could be offlaid as we could go where we like with trade deals as the EU imposes tariffs on almost all imports and does not let its members negotiate its own trade deals. As the UK’s exports to the EU are shrinking and the rest of the world is growing, this made perfect sense. Following the vote, Theresa May’s government agreed to stay in the customs union until a replacement trade deal was negotiated with the EU. As the onus is on the EU, this will never happen meaning Britain will not be able to negotiate new trade deals with our own kith and kin in the Commonwealth which once again, ignores the wishes of those who voted leave.
British people now realise they have been conned by a government who promised to deliver Brexit but who are offering them Brexit in all but name. As the last few weeks to Brexit are counted down, many Brexiteers now hope and pray that the governments’ and the EU ineptitude will lead to a No Deal Brexit. Hundreds of thousands of activists wore out shoes and cried tears of joy fighting for Brexit as the issue was about the survival of their nation. If the Conservative Party will betray them then they will curse the day that they ever voted Conservative in the belief that the party was still Conservative in anything but name as the Brexit referendum was the most important battlesince the Battle of Britain.
Politicians are accused of lying because they say one thing and do another. When you have to deal with the real world, that’s the only choice you sometimes have, regardless of what you might want. The UK government took blatant deception to a whole new level. The UK’s laws about fraud and misrepresentation do not apply to statements made by politicians. When politicians admit their whole campaign was complete fiction, as the government should, it’s about time they did.
The Brexit vote has been a defeat for the so-called European Union, a mess of states, many of which have a hard time even being able to call themselves nation states and are as much in disarray as is the EU as whole. Not a very democratic organization and just the opposite if one is willing to tell the truth. I know Brexiteers who love to refer to it as the EUSSR and their tongue and cheek comment reveals much.
Presidents of the European Commission and European Council Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk are like many other EU politicians. Unelected and unaccountable ideologues who are pursuing an “ever closer union” for a federalised Europe. Consequently, they want the United Kingdom to be punished as harshly as possible for its deviation from their plan.
Having its entire economy regulated by bureaucrats from 27 other countries who do not work in the national interest cannot possibly be worth tariff free access to the European Single Market which shrinks in size every day when compared to markets in the developing world.
Another major concern of the British public is the astonishing levels of corruption and unaccountability within the EU. The EU has a tendency to rewrite its own rules to suit its agenda. As the economies of Southern Europe during the 2008 recession faltered, their banks required bailouts to prevent total economic collapse.
To persuade countries to join this monetary union and adopt the euro, it was guaranteed in the Maastricht Treaty that no nation would be liable for the debts of another. Yet this rule was ignored by the EU to maintain its ridiculous currency union to the great expense of Northern European countries. Older voters are more inclined to support Brexit because they can remember these catastrophes, can foresee more disasters and know that EU membership is a liability.
A fantasy that has been overhyped by the EU and diehard remainiacs in Britain is the ridiculous prospect of a hard border in Ireland. The United Kingdom and Ireland have both guaranteed that they will not implement a hard border. A border could not even be enforced during The Troubles when a large contingent of British soldiers were station in Northern Ireland to police it. There are already rumours in the Irish press that the only possible hard border is one that will exist in Calais.
The EU however has shown nothing but contempt for Britain during negotiations. Juncker has a tendency to stumble around drunk and insult his counterparts. There was a big dispute in the British press over whether Juncker had called Theresa May “nebulous” during a dispute.
Juncker is not the only EU autocrat to have disreputable manners. Several weeks ago Donald Tusk declared that there was a “special place in hell” for Brexit promoters. With such immovable, uncompromising and disrespectful leaders, the European Union as an institution is demonstrating its failure to unify a continent.
The EU is indeed a deeply sinister institution. Very few people know who really runs it, and some of its organs meet in secret and base their binding policy decisions on evidence people are not allowed to see or know the existence of. It has also created as many problems as it has solved, if not more, by its geopolitical activities, such as its “us and no one else” ultimatum to Ukraine, all of which seem designed to create a European superstate few actually want and no one could hold accountable.
There are so many reasons to leave the EU that if a developed Western European nation would never consider joining. It’s the last thing on Swiss or Norwegian voters want. Britain joined the EU in the early 70s when its economy was failing and it had lost its empire.
It was a nation at its lowest ebb. It’s decision to remain in the EU after a referendum in 1975 was only made because of Britain’s weakness. The EU has brought no apparent economic benefit as it has devastated the British agriculture and fishing industries whilst also and failed to prevent British industry from moving overseas.
We are now seeing that MPs are trying to sabotage the process of withdrawal, even though they still have be accountable to the public. This will only lead to further distrust and alienation from the political classes. Nonetheless, due to the immovability of the EU the most likely thing to happen to Britain will be its crashing out of the EU without a deal. This may have some short-term economic consequences but the British public are by and large prepared to suffer if it means they can get the hell away from Europe.
Some might remember what happened to an entity called the Soviet Union, USSR, when it stopped working. Dozens of nations rose from the ashes of that superstate, landed on their feet and some of them developed in modern countries almost overnight. Britain with barriers removed to forming trade deals with the BRIC economies, Brazil, Russia, India and China as well as its former colonies, has the potential to rise like a phoenix and leave the EU in the dust.
However, all we have now is unknown territory, and the biggest unknown of all is who will benefit, if anyone, from this historic vote. It is possible the Brexit vote may eventually lead to the entire break-up of the EU as an entity—and that will be the GREATEST accomplishment of the Brexit vote.
It’s also entirely possible that Britain will be prevented from leaving the EU and will suffer from the dogmatic loyalty to the EU of its political class. All will become clear in the next two months as the clock is ticking on this geopolitical time bomb.
Henry Kamens, columnist, expert on Central Asia and Caucasus, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.