We are in this mess for three reasons.
The maverick Austin Mitchell writes pearls of wisdom, again. “Brexiteers have nothing to fear but fear itself right now”.
First, the inflexibility of the EU, which has refused to negotiate and insisted it can’t change any of its rules designed to further the interests of Germany. It has done this with consummate cleverness and real negotiating skill. I wouldn’t like to buy a used car from M. Barnier.
Secondly, it has been enthusiastically assisted by the British establishment. Our elite likes presiding over comfortable decline if it then gets a bigger stage on which to strut. Our media and pundits have a bias against their own country. Both are backed by the vested interests who benefit from membership and fear wider competition. Together they have whipped up fear, colluded with the EU to plot strategy, denigrated and discounted the vote and helped Europe to believe British opinion should be overuled for its own good in the EU’s usual way.
Lastly, our Government has negotiated with an incompetence which makes Chris Grayling
look like Metternich. It has thrown away its cards, argued on its knees and allowed itself to be trapped in a cage facing permanent subjection.
The combination of all this has brought total deadlock. The Government’s plans are unacceptable to any sane nation. There’s no agreement on anything else. The public is growing fed up. Parliament and Government are negotiating against themselves to an ever softer deal. So the question we Brexiteers face is: what now?
Remainers will play for deadlock in the hope that we’ll give up, go back, and put the people back in their box. Brexiteers who’ve not sold out have more difficult choices. But several are available with the will and the courage.
The best is to change Tory leaders. The EU would have to allow more time. That creates the opportunity for a new, firmer approach with new proposals for a better deal. British business, which is whipping up a frenzy of fear, would complain about continued uncertainty, but it is the only way of taking back the ground Theresa May has given up on being able to get trade deals outside the EU. That should now be the main objective.
We could play for time, dither, and fail to find an agreed approach in the hope of leading an overconfident EU to make mistakes. If it becomes impatient and intransigent, refuses to allow more time or make changes to get a deal which can pass Parliament – or tries to impose its solution – it will anger a nation which has been surprisingly silent so far. It would shift blame from British incompetence to EU intransigence.
Alternatively, we could simply leave when the extension expires. The vested interests are terrified of this and already whipping up fear by calling it “crashing out”. In fact, it would be leaving on our terms and would hit them where it matters by obviating their demand for £39 billion. The EU would be frightened to give up a market where it has such a huge surplus at a time when the Union itself is moving towards its own recession as the euro fails.
They’ll bluster and threaten, but the worst they can do would be to impose the Common External Tariff. This is easily overleaped by a devaluation which has to come anyway. Ninety percent of businesses don’t trade with the EU and if the French want to roast our lamb in the lorry, other ports are eager for the business. Any economic shock can easily be countered by subsidies and a Keynesian expansion. We have nothing to fear but fear itself.
That saying of Roosevelt’s applies to all Brexiteers. EU intransigence and Government incompetence have created a situation which looks so impossible that Brexiteers are being frightened into diluting objectives and climbing down. It would be disastrous to betray the cause the British people have voted for at this late stage. Escape is still possible. It requires only courage on our part and intelligence and guts from the Government. Neither is too much to ask.