Monday, 23 January 2017

The Telling Strangeness of Brexit

On the 23rd June 2016, the British people asked their Government to get them out of the EU. It was a non-binding referendum. If the Government didn’t like it, they could ignore it. After all, the French did in 2005: their rejection of the European Constiution was made to fade away like the morning mist.

But something strange happened. Everyone in the EU treated the British referendum as binding and final. The Liechtenstein Lush didn't call Cameron and say "You're going to fix this, right?" and go on his way with a smug, knowing grin. Nobody said "We must give the British time to come to understand what they might still do". Junk The Drunk did not behave like a statesman, but like a schoolboy who has finally got rid of the irritating kid in the class. The EU could not wait to be shot of the UK: they wanted Britain to trigger A50 then, in June 2016.

It was the British bien pensants who thought they could get round the referendum. Who thought that Parliament would debate, with the help of right-thinking mavens, the meaning of the vote and whether the British people had voted in thier best interests? Whether it would be the Right Thing to heed the vote and leave the EU, or whether they should set the result aside. It wasn't binding after all. Surely no-one would wrench them from the teat of EU subsidies and Erasmus scholarships?

The EU officials, the 27 heads of state, did no such thing. The British were leaving. End of story. They had it all worked out: they threw our clothes out of the window and changed the locks on the doors. The 28 became the 27 and they took schoolboy glee in excluding Britain from their meetings.

Snowflakes think of Brexit as a divorce, and saw the referendum as Daddy and the kids throwing another ultimatum at Mummy so she would quit drinking for a while. What Mummy EU was supposed to do, after a couple of months, was make a handful of serious concessions to Daddy, so everyone could go back to their dysfunctional family life again. This time Mummy shrugged and told Daddy to take the kids and spilt. That's what's upsetting the snowflakes: Mummy doesn't want them anymore. And maybe never had, for many years.

And it's all Daddy's fault that they found out. Mummy EU was a useful socialist counter-balance to the natural free-market, world-trading, worker-exploiting nature of much of British social and political culture. And now the snowflakes are stuck with life under Daddy: and because they know they don't deserve their grants and subsidies, they are scared Daddy will cut back. He will, but not as much as they think. Hence the wailing of the snowflakes, and their desperate signalling to Mummy EU that they love her still and will she please find a nice comfortable job for them somewhere? But Mummy doesn't love them, and hadn't done for a long time, and it hurts, hurts, hurts to find that out. Nasty Daddy!

Thrown into chaos, the Conservative Party huddled down to find a new leader. Then something strange happened again. Did they choose a clubbable Europhile with close relationships to the bureaucrats in Brussels, who might try to finesse the referendum? No. They chose a woman who had suffered six years at the Home Office being humiliated by the European Courts. They chose a leader who would not be accepted by the 27-Boys Club and who understands in her soul why the UK cannot not go on being over-ruled by a bunch of ideologically-motivated judges in Strasbourg.

Teresa May said "Brexit means Brexit" and to prove it in October the government said they would repeal the European Communities Act 1972. Brexit, it turns out, meant independence and sovereignty. The EU is such a totalitarian entity that everything else follows: if you don't accept its Courts and laws-out-of-thin-air, you can't dodge the 17% tax on shoes designed to protect the Italian shoe industry. Declare legal and political independence and you're back with WTO-based trade deals. Under the Most Favoured Nation rule, any concession the EU gives the UK, has to be given to every other WTO member. So Britain is effectively negotiating trade terms for most of the rest of the world. Those trade terms are the EU's raison d'etre, because it is there to protect the national interests of its members. Perhaps there are going to be more surprises in store: perhaps the EU will use the Brexit negotiations to change rules and tariffs it could not otherwise get past those twenty-seven sets of national interests.

This is a job for professionals who understand what's at stake. The rest of us can only cheer or jeer from the sidelines. In the meantime there will be a lot of posturing. Everyone will want to make it look like They Matter. Whereas they don’t. Not Nicola Sturgeon, not the MP for Lower Cokeatington. Angela Merkel and Victor Orban won’t matter much either. But they will all want to get their shots in. The saddest poseurs of all are the Remainers, deep in denial about the fact that the EU hasn’t wanted them for maybe a decade or more.

Those negotiations will be mostly sound and fury signifying nothing. Face-saving for EU bureaucrats. It’s got to look tough for the UK so that the minnows don’t think they can do it as well. I suspect the British team will play their part in maintaining the charade. I suspect that the professionals know most of the answers already.

When the memoirs are written we will find out that the professionals in the EU wanted the UK out, and the professionals in the UK wanted out of the EU. The catch was that there was no way of doing it that was politically acceptable. So when Nigel Farage turned up - a Euro MP who wanted out of Europe - and when UKIP got 13% of the votes in the 2015 Election, the game became playable. That’s the only explanation that makes sense of all the behaviour that looks so strange under the assumption that the EU and UK wanted to stay together.

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