Re-reading my pre-Brexit thoughts…

When that Binary Choice was upon us – June 22, 2016

I did not need this referendum on the European Union. Not at this time. Not over the issues of immigration, the economy and red tape and not even over sovereignty and democracy, now that I’ve informed myself sufficiently.

I wouldn’t vote to join the EU now, not least because of the compulsory Schengen and Euro elements but that is not the choice we are making. I do understand the desire in trying to regain absolute self-determination but it’s quite unrealistic. The only way I’d entertain really going it alone – enough to vote for it – is if I truly thought there was no alternative for our well-being or perhaps if the rest of the world’s nations were isolating themselves, too. Albeit there’s been a rise in pro-secessionist regions, I don’t see all the world’s parts simply turning away from collective cooperation. I can’t see them deliberately choosing a self-ghettoising course and then making a success of it. Such a disconnecting seems a bit late in the day to be even possible; like not being able to unknow something.

I think being forced into making such a simplistic in/out choice over a jumble of complexities is an unnecessary and reckless distraction. I resent it. It’s having to pre-empt and then try to control not only what Britain and the European Union will look like in the future but the entire globe. We’re a small world, irrevocably intertwined and we are all dancing on a rapidly shifting carpet. There are conflicts at every turn, vital resource scarcity, environmental challenges and great shifts in individual and collective consciousness. No one knows how anything of the world will turn out, beyond that nothing happens in a vacuum and that there will be multi-dimensional consequences that will become tomorrow’s causes.

I know that Remain has played some aspects rather badly – many of my alignments have been coincidental and conditional and barely have my personal reasons been represented. But that Leave campaign: well, it’s all a bit much, really, isn’t it? To the Right we’ve got authoritarian Gove with his disdain for experts, IDS with his bulging hubris and record of contempt for the disabled and working poor and Boris who doesn’t give a fig for facts or accountability. Then we’ve got the likes of Gisela Stuart and Kate Hoey on the Left, who naively believe that everything will be alright because they are putting their trust in people voting sensibly and the possibility of a Labour government. And bridging the sides of Brexit, the hollow keystone that is Farage, with his shamelessly irresponsible propaganda and populist nostalgia. He started this reckless, ill-informed, pseudo-patriotic nonsense that has turned the country against itself.

Nearly every mess that Brexit wants to “take back control” over has been created by the socio-economic ignorance and injustice of our very own governments, not immigrants and the EU. They are our governments who have undermined good will, public services and vital infrastructure. And, just because a load of people are repeatedly proclaiming “take back control” doesn’t mean any of it will be given to the electorate, or that it even will be used in our interests. Just because they are promising to spend (the same) money on everyone’s pet projects while upholding, nay, increasing current funding levels in key services, doesn’t mean that they will be able to or always want to. Social justice? Simply look at the last few years.

Of course the EU and the Euro zone are both in need of reform. The Euro zone is in a sorry state but that’s because the same relentless, neoliberal, false economy nonsense has been meted out there as here and exacerbated by its currency union. But we’re not in the Euro. And we are not in Schengen. We have vetoes and protections; we have trading clout. We’re not even attached by land, except by way of the two Irelands on another island. No one in the EU is arguing against reform and neither are their minds solely and unanimously fixed on “ever closer union” as the solution. For Leave to say it is not reformable is disingenuous. Have our MPs ever seriously and earnestly tried to lead a proper, EU-wide campaign for reform of its institutions, structures and processes? Or even explain them? I’ve witnessed decades of them mostly carping from the side or flapping over relative mundanities. We could easily make a much more effective fuss about what we want and decisions we don’t like. We could even just refuse to comply when our interests are compromised. What would happen? A court fine? A meeting to plan a meeting to talk about sanctioning us? We could leave at the drop of a hat if we thought we were in actual danger. Despite effort, I can’t find a risk in being in the EU that Brexit’s champions would properly solve. And anyway, if a credible risk does ever present, enough to invoke a Treaty mechanism or to warrant immediate escape, then, THEN a referendum might be justified – if not already rendered moot.

Given that we appear not to have enough actors with the experience and capacity, let alone the integrity and wisdom required, what confidence can we have in their ability to untangle the political, diplomatic, legal and technical knots involved in leaving? All that while simultaneously trying to create new deals and relationships? While simultaneously managing the day-to-running of a country? And an impatient electorate’s understandable frustration and much incited but unrealistic expectations? Personally, I can’t afford another lost decade, especially after the last six years which have seen enough time, money and opportunity wasted.

Demanding people make an unnecessary, ill-informed choice, based on neurotic sections of the Press and the hyperbole of political fools and charlatans, likely undermines our already fragile democracy. The BBC should have commissioned an Open University series that explained the EU’s structure and processes and broadcast them on BBC1 at peak viewing time. That would have cut through a great deal of rubbish and provided a commonly known foundation for much better questioning. What we’ve had, instead, are historical rhymes and speculation, non-issues and appeals to baser instincts, little-challenged opinion-by-rote and facts either given erratically and too late to make an impact or flimsy find-them-yourself signposting.

But it’s too late, now: the binary choice is upon us and I have to hope that the turnout is high and that the percentage of whichever side wins is great enough to be considered definitive, otherwise the nasty divisiveness that we have already endured in our communities; the tawdriness that has diminished our social fabric and reputation: they will be mere prologue.

What is amusing, perhaps, is that, regardless of which side prominent people declare for, they can vote the opposite, once at the polling station. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Boris Johnson stepped into the booth on Thursday and voted ‘Remain’ once he’d got his little pencil out in private. I shall vote to remain. I want to wrest control from Brexit. I, too, want my country back.

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Even Brexit can’t eat itself

Most Brexiteers are frustrated to find their designs meeting with constant and apparently unforeseen difficulties. Having purposefully narrowed, thickened, diluted and padded the national discourse with poison and wish potions; having pushed and pulled and bullied and blackmailed the agents until all available options are made completely unpalatable and untenable to all sides, they are all over the ether expressing their solemnities and indignations on discovering that their elastirigid red lines are, indeed, universally indigestible.

Many Brexiteers seem so frustrated by the complicated, expensive, risky, time-consuming nature of their futility as to be now acknowledging that the Brexit that they and the other seventeen point four million somehow indivisibly want is really not beneficially possible but, because they are wholly insistent that wanting it badly enough means that it surely must be possible, they still prefer to dig their heels in instead of sensibly addressing all of the demonstrable and connected whys it isn’t. This is because it would mean them having to not just give up, give over, give in but to openly accept and express that staying in the European Union and engaging in shaping it so that it fits and suits us better is not only necessary but pragmatic and even somewhat desirable‬.

The best way that Brexiteers could both save some face and save the UK would be for them to start acknowledging the democratic, no-brainer merit in passing the final say back to the people. Then, when tangible sense is returned and brightens our horizon, Brexiteers can pretend to be the vanquished valiant and spend their public lives saying “if” a lot or they can fade into the graceful obscurity that they will not have earned but that the rest of us will certainly deserve..

The Burden

It’s the normalisation of the base; a place
Made coarse, clothed with the crass.
It’s the lowbrow certainty; the sweep
Of false memory and a collective pride‬
That adds mass to need
In the voluntary stripping away of dignity
And a will to be less without becoming lighter.

 

[#notacult]

Right to Remain

Most Remainers would like to be wrong about Brexit. Wouldn’t they? Much as Brexit voters might find this a difficult notion to absorb. For all the scorn and horror and bitter resentment, most Remainers did not become so out of any great fondness for the European Union. Their lack of positivity and inability to make an enthusiastic, emotional case to stay in, during the referendum campaign, is often remarked upon. The official Remain campaign was dull, inadequate and complacent but Remainers, generally, were pragmatic about their EU-scepticism when they voted to stay in. They weren’t sold on the EU but they certainly weren’t buying the snake oil of Leave.

Not only was the EU not an important issue to Remainers but Leavers’ reasons were not even logical, unless they were framed as disconnected factors which, of course, is impossible. As is being borne out, Sovereignty, Democracy, Law, money, security, border control, etc, etc cannot be thought of and managed in isolation, as though they were simply independent of each other.

Project fear was and still is Leave’s automatic call and response to any awkward question and inconvenient analysis. And here, Leavers continue to miss the point: that Remainers’ lack of enthusiasm for the EU paired with a pragmatism that supports the EU would strongly indicate that Remainers were much more capable than Leave of being objective when interpreting the devilish details, choices and consequences. They still are. Remainers simply were not attached to an ideological outcome sought by tribal agendas. They were more attached to practical wisdom in a real-world setting. They still are.

If Remainers seem fond of the European Union, now, it is because, over the last two years, they have learned more about it and come to appreciate, value and respect its purpose and its import, not just to this silly little island outcrop but to the shifting body politic of the entire shrinking world.

If Remainers are wrong and Brexit really does become the huge success it was peddled as, it will be the result of a quite undeserved luck, being as far away from good sound judgement as it is possible to get. It will be a flaming miracle, in fact but, rest assured: most Remainers will breathe as big a sigh of relief and cheer as loudly as Brexit’s most prolifically vacuous leaders.

Plotters

Brexits think there’s a plot afoot
To scupper their long-held dream
But they forget it is they who won
And they can’t get over the fact that they won
And they have no faith in what they have won
So it seems…
And we who voted Remain:
Who are we to stand in their way?
Who are we to complain?
Poor lambs;
We must remind them every day,
EVERY SINGLE DAY
What they have done.

*~*~*

There’s no secret plot.’ – Democracy did not end the day after the referendum

Ian Dunt: ”The idea of an international elite secretly trying to thwart the people’s will is core to the Brexit narrative.”

James O’Brien: “Barnier is having to explain to the British people what the British government is doing!”

Bimble bumble

But faithiness was fact enough,
as brexiteers,
with zip between their tinnied ears,
did bimble bumble utter tosh
and bury Britain before she died
of scam so wide, so deep, so sly,
that some might call it treasonous.

*~*~*

’Just-in-time’: The production system Brexit is set to sabotage – ”Imagine the scenario where goods are waiting at port but are held up by protracted customs checks, compliance procedures, rules-of-origin paper work and the rest. Things could be held up for days or weeks.”

‘How shared regulation can help, rather than hinder, trade’ – Ian Dunt: ”Their (Brexiteers’) error here is a fundamental one and one that speaks to how heavily influenced they are by nostalgia. They think about trade as if it were the Victorian times.”

’Jacob Rees-Mogg is in line for a huge personal windfall when Britain exits the single market’ – But of course, he is.

Headspace #20—Crunch time on Brexit’ – Featuring John Curtice with a #finalsay appraisal and a glorious calling out of Gisela Stuart’s constant and ridiculous Brexit/Lexit hopium by Ian Dunt who knows a load of nonsense when he hears it.

In which ‘Greg Hands gets on the wrong side of exasperated Andrew Neil’ over single market and customs union during the two-year transition period. Eventually, an exasperated Neil asked: “Do you know what you’re talking about? Do you have any idea what you’re talking about?”

But, then, nineteen months after the referendum and nearly a year since invoking Article 50, Theresa May and her ministers still can’t agree because the Brexiteers still don’t know or even understand how what they want compares with what is desirable, sensible or even possible…