All the news programmes here are predicting a general election here soon. It’s quite perverse, because Boris Johnson is now saying he wants an election. The reason? Because he won’t get anywhere with the current numbers in parliament. Conversely, the opposition parties, who you’d think would always want an election, are wanting not to trigger an election. At least, not until the no-deal option is taken off the table.
I have to say, I’m with them all the way. I speak as somebody who supported Brexit, as somebody who still supports Brexit. A very soft Brexit which reflects that 48% of us wanted to remain in the EU, that, actually, a lot of things we have taken from the EU, like standards, are good things. Of course, we will diverge over time, but certai ly in the first weeks and months it should not be possible for anybody to see the difference.
Having decided to quit the EU, I wouldn’t have objected to a process in which we gradually split apart, in a managed way. That would have taken as long as it took to keep control of events. But no, the ideologues felt it had to be sorted within a couple of years, so triggered Article 50. So I’m quite sad that that chance to keep control of events was missed.
I’d also go so far as to say that it should have been announced that there would be some form of deal very early on. At that stage, terms would still have been negotiable, but it could be a declaration of intent. The question you tackle first is the future of immigrants in both the EU and the UK, to provide certainty. If you are a government, your people are your main priority. So I’m quite sad that that chance to secure people’s futures was missed.
Businesses. Probably a bigger subject altogether, but again, the goal should have been certainty. So I’m quite sad that that chance to firm up our trading relationship was missed.
I have to say, though, that it is not just the UK side which made me sad. Does anybody remember the £39bn? What was that for? At the time, nobody knew. Nobody explained. Was that for outstanding commitments? If it was, fair enough, but that was never explained to us. And our House of Lords seemed to think we didn’t actually owe anything. You know, you wouldn’t even pay your hotel bill without knowing what you’re being charged for.
So, to agree an amount, with no detail about what was, this was almost as though a number had just been plucked out of the air. For which the EU is equally culpable. Both parties must agreed this number, after all, and agreed to make it public without a word of explanation. So I’m quite sad that that chance to inform people what the money was for, was missed.
Maybe the sum was just monies owed? If so, wouldn’t it be a good idea for the EU to amend its rules so that countries could only leave at the end of a budget cycle? Another chance missed. On the same kind of thing, wouldn’t it have been a good idea for the EU to understand what had caused Brexit in the first place? To hopefully head it off when the Italians, or the Greeks, decide that they want to come out? Chance missed.
And then the events of last night. Dare I say it topped the lot? I couldn’t say I particularly give a monkey’s what the Conservative Party gets up to, but even I think it is madness when you end up suspending two former finance ministers, plus many former cabinet ministers, over this issue. For a guy without a majority in the first place…how did Johnson think it would end?
I despair. I feel let down, although I’m not really surprised. I suppose I’m not really in any different a situation to all those people who saw their futures inside the EU. I’ve got no problem with politicians’ final goal to be outside of the EU, but this whole exercise could all have been done so much better. It’s not unreasonable to start to wonder about Brexit itself, not because it’s a bad idea, just for the inability of the politicians to get the job done.
I realise that this post is something of a rant, but that’s exactly what I feel I need to do right now.