None of us knows what Brexit will look like.
The referendum question didn’t specify any particular kind of Brexit. So we didn’t choose one. And apart from a few stupid promises, probably on both sides, no one seemed to give much consideration to how things would be if Leave won.
When the votes were cast and the scene was set, Maybot had a blank page to write on.
When asked what Brexit would mean for the UK and Gibraltar, she replied that Brexit meant Brexit, and a few days later she elaborated to tell us that not only did Brexit mean Brexit, but it was red white and blue! She seemed either disinclined or unable to put any more meat on the bones.
OK, so that was helpful.
If any words could most typically describe the British approach to the whole Brexit situation they would, in my opinion, be “chaotic”, “incompetent”, “ham-fisted”, “disorganised”, “unclear”, “muddled”, “embarrassing”. “Red”, “white” and “blue” wouldn’t make the top 50!
I have always been sure that, had people even started to understand the complexities of what was voted for, they would not have voted for it. Personally, I had little idea what was coming. Of course, I knew the £350 million a week was nonsense, and I also understood that if all the Europeans went home overnight (or even over a year) the country would grind to a halt. But I had no idea of the complexities.
Just after the referendum, I read Ian Dunt’s book “Brexit: What the Hell Happens Now?” .
Although I thought it might be a bit of an exaggeration and that worst case scenarii were painted, I was a bit shaken by how many normal everyday things would be affected.
Then I was introduced to Terry Entoure’s blog, and his forensic dissection of various aspects of the process, and I began to worry.
Both the Tory and Labour parties are split over Europe, and the message coming from them, despite Mrs May’s best efforts to threaten cabinet members with the sack, is confused and unclear,
Hard Brexit or Soft Brexit? Well, they argue about this back and forward but the simple truth as I can see it is that if we have a soft Brexit we will be in pretty much the same situation as we were in before. Simply put, being in the single market and the customs union may be essential for all our futures, but it will involve the UK in agreeing to the ongoing four freedom of movements: Capital, Goods, Services and People.
If we do that, we really won’t see any difference in our way of life. We will pay Europe to be part of the market, and the union of customs. Our good, services, capital and people will continue to move freely and all that will change is that we won’t have access to EU funding or jobs, and we won’t get a seat at the top table. So we’ll have to take whatever the 27 decide. All that is doable. I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong, but that is more or less what Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein have. (Switzerland seems to have a very complex treaty by treaty agreement. with more or less the same outcome.)
It is, in my view, the best solution. We’ll be worse off, but only marginally.
Hard Brexit is an altogether different prospect with our lives changing massively overnight, and a massive responsibility upon an excruciatingly incompetent government to get systems, regulatory bodies and trade deals up and running as quickly as possible. A recipe for disaster even with competent ministers.
Of course, the kind of people who in the days after the referendum were abusing anyone they thought looked or sounded foreign because…well, why weren’t they gone already? would never be satisfied, but, I thought, that would be a relatively small number. I mean what sentient person would want the alternative?
So I got a real shock when I saw this Yougov survey. Sixty-one percent of Leave voters asked if they would still vote for Brexit knowing that it would do harm to the economy, said “yes”. And 39% would still vote yes, even if it would harm their own jobs or those of their family.
Now I’m not convinced that that is actually the truth. A lot of them have just said that because they think that’s how they feel. However, I suspect that if the threat was actual, laid out by their own employers, leaving them subject to the tender mercies of the DWP death squads, rather than randomly proposed by an online, they would have run a mile.
But it shows a scary determination to pursue ‘Brexit no matter what’ path, of which I’m sure private polling will have already informed the UK government.
This doesn’t bode well for the future.
Those of you with access to second nationalities/passports for any reason (claims go back as far as grandfathers, at least in some countries) should be looking into the practicalities of it. Unfortunately, I have no such connections, but if I did I’d be on it like a rash.
Of course we could just vote for independence in Europe.