A new drama around Brexit is now playing out, post-election. A member of the cabinet says something fairly obvious like, we’ll need to keep paying into the EU for a bit after we leave, or we’ll be under ECJ jurisdiction for awhile, at the very least in the transitional phase, and then a bunch of Tory MPs go a little doolally. All of which causes me to ask: if the Brexiteer hardcores are really that upset about the drift towards a fudge on Brexit where we stay in the single market, customs union, ECJ, Euratom, everything, then why not just really go for it then? Why not unite behind Fox and start going hell for leather? It seems like it’s all there for the taking, given the political instability of the moment.
Furthermore, I ask this because as I see it, there are only two realistic ways to approach Brexit. One is you figure out that leaving would probably be a disaster, so you fudge it by staying in almost everything – leaving in name only, in other words. You’ve technically fulfilled the remit of the referendum result, but only technically. The advantage is, all of your investment doesn’t flee and the country avoids massive recession, which is a pretty big advantage.
The other way is full on, bells and whistles ultra Brexit. You pull out of everything, right away. You go “no deal”, hard. This would mean lots of things automatically: you’d have to slash public services pretty quickly in order to drop taxation as low as possible. Freedom of movement would end, but xenophobes would be pining for it shortly enough, as immigration would have to be relaxed to allow as much foreign talent in as possible to grow the economy. You make Britain that low tax, libertarian heaven that a certain clique of the Right have always pined for. It might well be a total disaster, but it at least has a chance of working for some portion of the population and is identifiably workable as a way forward – what I mean by that is, you could actually make it happen as opposed to all of the fantasy versions of Brexit out there.
Like the idea that the EU is going to let us have better access to the single market than we have inside of the EU without either accepting freedom of movement or paying anything into the budget. The very notion that this was ever floated seriously as a concept is a grave insult to our public discourse. We really have two options: fudge or ultra Brexit. If the hard-right of the parliamentary Conservative party doesn’t want the fudge, now is the time to go for the ultra option or forever hold their peace.
Isn’t there a third option of just dropping back to EFTA membership?
Paul W says
I have thought for some while that Britain will re-join EFTA to manage its future relationship with the EU.
The electorate voted for a fantasy. Whose fault is that? Not that it matters since it appears irreversible as well as undeliverable.
Toby Fenwick says
Or contra your recent Radix paper, Nick, this could be the opportunity for some faction to stand up and say “Leavers were lied to; this is a shambles; we want to stay in”, and then either force a GE or a referendum to do this.
None of the leavers I know voted to make the country poorer, weaker or less secure.
Paul W says
“None of the leavers I know voted to make the country poorer, weaker or less secure.”
Of course not. These are straw man points. The Brexit vote represents a desire for a change in national political direction and greater self-determination. The same old, same old post-war Euro set up will no longer do.