Wednesday 19 April 2017

The Brexit Election

One of the curious things about the UK's Brexit syndrome is the way in which at every turn  the things that were supposed to halt it or at least moderate it have been blown through without doing much to affect it, at least thus-far.

Firstly it was the people themselves who were supposed to vote in their own self-interest against a proposition that threatened such potential economic harm. Instead they voted, narrowly, to take the risk of leaving the European Union without any obvious commensurate gain.

Then it was hoped that the selection of a former Remain-supporting minister as Prime Minister might moderate the outcome. Instead Mrs May is pursuing what appears to be a Hard Brexit, with departure from the single market and the customs union on the cards.

Then, following a court result (one based on what I believe to be dubious reasoning), the government was forced to first get the consent of parliament before beginning the process of leaving the EU. Rather than the result being a watered-down Brexit plan, the government were handed a blank cheque by a stupendously supine parliament, with the opposition simply rolling over under Jeremy Corbyn's incompetent leadership.

Now, the one thing which we had been told wouldn't happen, but which many on the Remain camp believed last year might yet help avoid a Hard Brexit, is going to happen. Granted, it's not the second referendum some hoped for, but it's the next best thing - a general election. It is hard to believe this is so, but almost no-one really believes that this election will result in Brexit being called off. Even in the supremely unlikely event of Corbyn's Labour defeating the Conservatives, Brexit will still go ahead on what appears to be very similar lines to those proposed by the government.

At best what people now hope is that, with a larger majority, Mrs May will be better placed to make a compromise deal with the EU, and avoid a disastrous "no deal" scenario. This presumes that Mrs May actually wants to compromise, and that the new influx of MPs won't be dominated by Brexit zealots. Both are dubious assumptions.

For myself, my membership of the Conservatives expired last October - I could not in good conscience renew it after Mrs May's call for leaving the single market (which, with its four freedoms, was ultimately the only part of our EU membership that I actually cared about). In every election in which I have been able to cast a vote I have voted for the Conservative party, but I will not be able to do so in next month's local elections or in June's general election.

[Picture: some EU produce from here in Germany - I am presently enjoying a Frohliche Ostern in Cleves - which I intend to import back into the UK on my return!]