There are raving lunatics on the the Brexiteer side. People who actually want a no-deal Brexit. Not ordinarily stupid people but ignorant of some key information and so poisoned by ideology they cannot be persuaded by reason.
I’ve written countless arguments as to why no-deal is insane but I’ve largely been wasting my breath. I fear they will get what they’re after but the point they continue to miss is that no-deal cannot be the settled status of UK-EU relations. No-deal can only be a temporary situation and thread by thread, a functioning trade relationship will have to be built from scratch whereby we have to confront all of the issues such as fisheries and the level playing field provisions that these negotiations have failed to resolve.
Crashing out, therefore, accomplishes nothing. Britain is then in a far weaker position while relations deteriorate, taking far longer to rebuild, and handing all our remaining leverage to the EU.
There are hard lessons ahead. Where the UK is not railroaded into adopting EU rules, while it may have reclaimed its essential sovereignty, power and sovereignty are two distinct concepts. The UK will find it us not powerful enough to assert its own regulatory requirements and though it can notionally diverge, in the majority of cases, it won’t in any meaningful way.
The Tories failed to grasp this from the outset and it has tainted every single decision since, and not it is not hyperbolic to say that Boris Johnson’s administration has been a national disaster. Though here I’m presupposing no-deal is the inevitable outcome, this analysis works either way since the conduct of this government in these negotiations made a viable deal impossible. Deal or no-deal, we face a long and arduous task rebuilding our trade and regional credibility.
Naturally this has some people now questioning the wisdom of Brexit. Brexit as a concept is really just a matter of preference based on value weighting. It just wasn’t a good idea to employ strategically shaved baboons to negotiate our departure. Though these fools have delivered an absolute trainwreck, all the essential complaints about the EU remain the same and as valid as ever.
This process more than anything shows how inflexible the EU is by design. It couldn’t compromise for the UK and didn’t want to either.
The mistake, therefore, was not leaving the EU. The fatal error was joining it to begin with, as were the subsequent steps to make the integration process irreversible – especially without public consent.
That our departure could have been handled amicably without smashing our exports is now something of a moot point.
The fact is, to do so would have required a intimate institutional knowledge of trade and the EU commercial mechanisms, and that was quite simply beyond the capabilities of our politico-media class being that trade and external affairs have largely been a function of the EU. This is why we have rank amateurs up against ruthless veterans.
In that regard, I see this process as a long overdue correction of an historic mistake, but one that comes with a price tag few of us ever bargained for. Now begins the long process of political reckoning, and national soul searching. One in which there are no guarantees we will ever regain our competence in statecraft – if we can honestly say it ever existed, that is.
To take us into a treaty construct that would inevitability result in this catastrophe is something only a band of boneheads would do. It is perhaps fitting that the arrogance and foolishness of our means of departure mirrors that of our entry. History may not repeat, but it does rhyme.