When Brexit inevitably goes wrong, who should take the greatest share of the blame? Readers have their say.
Ian Dunt is right when he says “It is unsurprising that those who failed to stand up to Brexit are desperately trying to deflect blame when the damage rears into view”. However, I am not so sure that “no child would fall for this”. Brexit has happened because just enough voters fell for the lies of its architects. I fear that many will likewise fall for the lies being told now.
Those who wanted to “avoid ever-closer union” should have voted to stay in the European Union because that is precisely what was on offer.
The European Council meeting of February 18-19 2016 concluded with a commitment to revise the Treaties “so as to make it clear that the references to ever closer union do not apply to the United Kingdom”.
When historians set about to explain this period of British history, they will have in their sights the catastrophic failure of imagination and leadership of Johnson, May and Cameron in particular, and the lunatic fringe of the hard-right Brexiters in general. Widening that lens, Francis Beckett’s article rightly examines the role played by Corbyn and Labour and how their defeat sealed Brexit.
Corbyn will not come off at all lightly. His failure to get a handle on the thorny and difficult issue will no doubt give him a significant place amongst the guilty men and women of the Brexit debacle.
The analysis after the December 2019 election that came from Corbyn was breathtaking in its grand delusions. Remember when he said that “Labour had won the argument”? If he had, he would have been given the mandate.
How sad it was to read that Jeremy Corbyn refused to appear and speak at the People’s Vote march in March 2019 because he was afraid of losing votes “up north” which he lost anyway.
So having our cake and eating it, oven-ready Brexit, easiest deal in history, turned out to be untrue. Whereas project fear is upon us. We’ll survive but not in the way we intended.
Industries will contract, organisations will prioritise and go to the bigger market. We are no longer a big fish in a small pond, we’re a small fish in the big pond. The sooner we understand that the more likely we are to understand what it is we can and cannot do.
We still have great universities and English is a sought-after language. We have a strong rule of law and we balance it well with personal liberty.
The UK does still appeal to a global audience and we have a lot to offer the world. The government now needs to show it’s strategy for long term growth and bring it to life and please no more catchphrases, just do it.
Alastair Campbell, take a bow. His piece rightly calls out Boris Johnson as a con-man surrounded by yes-men “leading the UK inexorably to decline” on the back of lies, broken promises and his own “personal ambition in which the EU referendum served as a pawn”.
Power at any price, then, but one that is about to be paid by us in terms of inflation, devalued currency, rising unemployment and falling GDP (so less tax revenue for public services) as the UK leaves the EU and faces both economic decline and political isolation on the world stage (or even oblivion after the break-up of the Union).
But the worst of it is “how they keep on getting away with it”, thanks to a lame media, the blind belief of duped voters, and the fear of Remainers being labelled unpatriotic (or worse) that Project Power has instilled in anyone identifying the economic insanity of Brexit.
It is against such a backdrop that Johnson will look to sell us another pup by saying that the disastrous performance of UK plc in 2021 is all the fault of Covid and nothing to do with leaving the single market.
The Remain campaign failed because it didn’t articulate the economic ills of Brexit on businesses, savers and consumers; so let us be ready when the time comes to deconstruct Johnson’s grand conflation with Covid so that he has to reap what he’s sown and cannot sell the public any more oven-ready pie-in-the-sky.
It now looks as if we are going to have no deal and no one – certainly not the minority 17.4 million Leave supporters – voted in 2016 for no deal.
So, maybe – and this is if we really were a democracy – this hapless government should halt everything and call a new referendum. Question: do you want no deal, yes or no? If no, do we stop Brexit? Choice: A no-deal Brexit even the minority 37% didn’t vote for, or a new national mandate what to do next. Not just the say of the Tory 80-seat only in England majority – Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, need to have their say, as we all do. Otherwise, Johnson and his Brexit cronies are forcing through something that actually has no national mandate. Where is Labour on this? Stop no-deal.
Boris Johnson repeatedly comments that without a deal the UK would move to an Australian-style arrangement with the EU.
This is a highly disingenuous statement, as while Australia does not have a free trade agreement in place with Brussels, it does have a series of around a dozen agreements on trade and other areas.
It has, for example, agreements with the EU on the peaceful use of nuclear energy and scientific cooperation. The pair also have a “mutual recognition agreement” so there is acceptance of each other’s safety certificates and product markings. Australia also negotiated an agreement on the trade of wine, a huge Australian export, in 2008. Other arrangements are also in place to help combat crime and terrorism and to allow the exchange of classified information. The UK would enjoy none of these in the event of a no deal.
If there to be a new deal, the UK would wholly follow WTO rules, with all the challenges that brings. This includes tariffs being placed on many goods traded between the UK and the EU, in addition to some quota restrictions and customs checks.
Brexit is really very simple. We left the EU. The EU is under no obligation to give us a trade deal or anything else. If it is in its interest to make one with us, it will. If it isn’t, it won’t. The EU gets to decide what’s in its interest, not us. If only the UK government could have got its head around these simple facts, how much damage we could have been saved.
What puzzles me is why sovereignty has become such a big deal? As members of the EU I was never aware of any (genuine) rule changes that adversely affected us, or which we strongly disagreed with, indeed we had a ‘seat at the table’ and could argue our case for the rules that we wanted. We have given this up and now seem surprised that if we wish to have a ‘deal’ we should follow their rules – I’m sure we would expect the same if the tables were turned.
At a personal level, membership of society requires me to follow many rules that I do not set and have little influence over – my employment contract, the terms and conditions for my bank account, the highway code – and every time I use the internet I find myself having to give some sort of consent if I wish to use the website or app. It hasn’t seemed to be such a big issue to me. What does concern me is when I, and most of the rest of the population follow the rules, but others don’t.
Selly Oak, Birmingham
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