Skip to main content

Road to Brexit? It leads to Remain

Every step of the way, in trying to resolve the contradictions of the doomed Brexit project, Britain is being led along a path, where EU membership is the logical conclusion.

Let's start with the premise of the hardline Brexiteers' preferred outcome of leaving the EU and breaking off all ties - no EU membership, ending Freedom of Movement, leaving the Customs Union, leaving the Single Market.

Problem: at this point we'd have a hard border in Ireland. All sides have declared this would be unacceptable and would be a terrible step backwards for the UK and Ireland.

Solution: stay in the Customs Union, but outside Common Commercial Policy, allowing for an open border in Ireland and for independent trade deals to be pursued.

Problem: well, in theory we could pursue independent trade deals, but we will have tied the tariff rate for goods to the rate set by the EU. Most other countries will be asking for reductions in tariffs on goods, not deals on services (deals which are particularly difficult to get anyway).
We'd be in the same position as Turkey, following in the EU's shadow and often only getting worse versions of the same deal (because when the EU drops tariffs following a trade deal, Turkey has to follow even though they have yet to get a trade deal of their own, meaning that when they try to negotiate one they have little bargaining power).

Solution: stay in the Common Commercial Policy and benefit from the collective bargaining power of one of the biggest markets on Earth.

Problem: now, however, even theoretical benefits to trade from Brexit are gone. With no independent trade deals the only difference will have been to raise trade barriers with the EU as a result of leaving the Single Market. Even an EU-UK free trade agreement would not resolve this as it could never cover services to the same extent as the Single Market does.

Solution: stay in the Single Market.

Problem: the UK would be in a position where we would be taking on many of the same rules as EU members, including Freedom of Movement, but with only a very minor say on what those rules are. There would be a considerable democratic deficit.

Solution: stay in the EU and retain the democratic representation in the Council and European Parliament as well as our own Commissioner.

Bonus Problem: how to account for the 2016 referendum?

Bonus Solution: hold a referendum on the government's final Brexit deal.


Popular posts from this blog

Poison spreading: the conversion of the Conservative party to radical Nationalism

Cameron had to do it. He had no choice. UKIP had grown to a consistent 10% in the polls and looked certain to doom the Conservatives to another defeat to Labour, having only just succeeded in getting back into government through a coalition with the Liberal Democrats. 13 years in opposition would likely be followed by another 10 after only one stint in government. Something had to be done. And so in January of 2013, David Cameron gave a speech committing his party to an In/Out referendum on membership of the European Union.

That is the classic story used to explain why the UK held the 2016 referendum. It's useful for a number of interested groups. Those close to Cameron can portray themselves as victims of circumstance rather than instigators and agents responsible for their own actions. Nigel Farage and his acolytes can use it to boost the perception of their role and influence in British politics. And Brexit sympathisers across politics, the media and academia can use it to show…

A call for Europeanism

In the UK, advocates of the European Union have often spoken of the value of the Single Market, how our EU membership gives us a voice in shaping these regulations to the benefit of British business, that essentially whatever costs may be attached, it's worth it for the extra percentage points of GDP and employment figures. That argument has been done. I do not want to talk about that. Instead, I want us to take a step back and ask a deeper question:

What is our vision for Europe?

Our continent has long been wracked by war and violence, millions of bodies buried while we fought to claim scraps of land from one another. Our desire, one shared by all Europeans, must be to end this and to forge a lasting peace with democracy and liberty as the standard everywhere in Europe. This much is obvious, yet the question remains, how is this to be done?

The nationalism of the past and national independence did not achieve this. Nationalism's central achievement was to take an already conf…

The Tories are welcoming far-right politics

"Fury over billionaire's plot to sabotage Brexit"

"Man who 'broke the Bank of England' backing secret plot to thwart Brexit"

"Puppet master [...] track record for helping to overthrow governments is planning to halt Brexit"

"Soros' MPs"

Are these the words from online cranks, writing far-right propaganda for obscure websites? No these are the full headlines or extracts from headlines from the Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, The Sun and Conservative Home (in that order).

For years, the far-right has singled out George Soros, a Jewish Hungarian-born philanthropist, as the target of their anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. By attacking him directly, they can spread the same anti-Jewish conspiracy theories that have been around for decades but with a very thin veneer of deniability, saying that they are only attacking the man, not Jews in general.

It is deeply implausible for anyone involved in politics, political commentary or journalis…