Brexit? Time may be the healer yet.

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A parliament united by what it doesn’t want

Boris Johnson has finally admitted he has abandoned his “do or die” on October 31st Brexit policy, after MPs voted for the Benn Act to secure an extension to the Article 50 process from the EU and avoid a disastrous No Deal.

The Lib Dems and SNP  have tried to pass a People’s Vote in this Parliament, even as recently as last week when Labour refused to support the Liberal amendment to the Queen’s Speech.

But with Parliament gridlocked, and with Conservative MPs, a substantial minority of Labour MPs, and a handful of independent Conservatives currently blocking a People’s Vote as a means of stopping Brexit in this parliament, a General Election seems  the only other alternative route.

The Lib Dems, Conservatives, and SNP only seem united in  waning to sort Brexit by electing a new parliament where  a majority  can emerge to revoke article 50 , hold a People’s Vote or finally leave.

So it looks likely that everyone will agree to hold an election, even Labour who have announced they’d agree to a 12th December date.

Politicians have found some unity in recognising that dysfunctionality cannot persist forever.

What Europe wants

To date , most of us have assumed that what Europe wants is bad for Britain. The idea that what Europe wants is what is best for Britain and Europe is considered naive. Consequently, negotiations with Europe have been confrontational.

Europe clearly doesn’t want Britain to leave, in fact it still clings to a hope that Britain might stay following either a referendum or shake up in Government.

The French prime minister is the only slight dissenting voice in the European consensus. He clearly wants to move on and has rather recklessly contemplated a “no deal” to that end.

The extension of the deadline has been modified to allow us to get out earlier than the end of January, but no one seems to think this likely.

I’m not hearing many British people saying this, but Europe’s united approach and consistent wish to engage in a negotiated solution is in sharp approach to disunited Britain.

 

Will people change their minds?

The hope is that by rolling the dice with a general election, the British people will create a decisive government where a majority view can be created.

But this is an extremely odd way of doing things. The British electoral system can create massive swings based on the votes of a few voters.

A second referendum would at least test the views of the people on the central matter in hand – the reason that people want a general election.

But there is no certainty that any Government would be able to find a consensus to implement leave if the second referendum confirmed the first. It would of course be easier to remain – which is what Europe wants us to do.

The risk of remaining is the alienation it would bring of large parts of the electorate that voted leave not on intellectual but on emotional grounds.

While I think it likely that you could change the minds of the small number of leave voters who saw it as good for Britain in a cerebral way, the vast majority of voters , take big decisions which they cannot get their heads round, on an emotional basis.

I don’t think that enough people will reason for remain to counter those people who believe in Brexit.

This cartoon from four years ago is horribly prescient.

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We are stuck and that is bad

Where we are right now is “stuck”. We have just binned a hundred million campaign telling us to prepare for Thursday – 31st October. Those who did will now have to prepare for something else, though we don’t know what.

We are united in not wanting to be in this place, but we are in this place and the best we can do is to work our way out of the hole we have dug ourselves.

Conventional wisdom says that when you are in a hole, you should stop digging.

We are now so exhausted by all this  that we have lost all perspective on the matter in hand. I really think the best thing for our country would be to take a breather, a moratorium and ask for a further extension, perhaps for a year so that whatever we do, we do with a degree of national unity.

Because I sense that the decisions that will be taken in this current malignant atmosphere will be decisions that will not command any consensus. The purpose of the original referendum has been to clear things up, in fact it’s made things a lot worse. I can see no point in repeating the referendum, changing Government or crashing out of Europe in the current climate.

 

Time may be the healer yet

As we used to do at school, when there was a fight, we should all leave the playground, go back to class and sort this matter out when heads are cleared.

Perhaps the most difficult decision is the best decision . In this case, the most difficult decision is to put the decision off a year. That’s what I’d do if I had a way of doing it.

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About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen, Director of First Actuarial, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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2 Responses to Brexit? Time may be the healer yet.

  1. John Mather says:

    Brexit was the label on a box that no one opened until yellow hammer. It meant whatever the
    Individual thought it meant When the box was opened it was not what was promised

    In true Dunkirk spirit retreat can be both sensible and honourable. Let’s face it what was promised is not deliverable

    Revoke Article 50 and have a general election that keeps to electoral rules beef up penalties for abuse of those rules

    Our economy has been damaged by this clumsy attempt to hold the Conservative Party together. Our MP will not be re-elected in our 70% remain constituency. Corbin will not do well either in North London. Delighted to see Dame Hodge re-selected yesterday

  2. Nigel Hawkes says:

    For more than a generation politicians told us that the EEC/EC/EU was about trade. A few such as Enoch Powell,Tony Benn, Peter Shore and others warned us that we were to subsumed into a European superstate. With the implementation of monetary alignment(ERM), market traders being forced through the European court for selling bananas and sprouts by the pound and mass immigration it has become clear that economic benefits are being used as a ruse to hand over sovereignty to a foreign power without the consent of the British people.
    The growing realisation that Tony and Enoch were right and unelected unaccountable foreign bureaucrats are dictating UK laws and rendering the UK Parliament ineffective in dealing with such matters as immigration,state aid and animal welfare (and many others!) led to a rise in support for UKIP and their winning of the Euro elections in 2014.
    David Cameron promised a referendum and it become a manifesto commitment: the 2015 election was won on the basis of that commitment. Support for a referendum extended into the Labour party and the Libdems had called for a referendum as far back as 2006. MPs voted by 544 against 53 in favour of a referendum so it was never just a Conservative party issue as is so often alleged.
    David Cameron promised fundamental reform and treaty change but despite the EU27 being aware of the forthcoming referendum he was unable to change the VAT rate on tampons. The fag packet commitments he came back with are long forgotten: the comparison with Neville Chamberlain was obvious.
    The subsequent campaign was one of hope on the leave side and fear on the remain side. Does anyone remember any positive vision for remain? A 72% turnout saw the largest British mandate in history for leave. Oddly the Government did not seek any concessions at this stage for another referendum – or maybe they did and didn’t get any.
    So they have to leave having promised to implement what the people decide. But the withdrawal agreement – both Theresa’s and Boris’- had/has very little support. The reason for the low support is primarily the lack of clarity over the post Brexit situation giving remainers the opportunity to spread fear about the ‘cliff edge’.
    The cliff edge is a consequence of the EU’s sequencing of negotiations which was foolishly agreed to by the UK.
    Time will not heal this. As time goes by the public gets more disillusioned,distrustful and angry with politicians. The Brexit party is the largest party in the EU parliament and got more votes than Labour and the Conservatives in the 2019 EU election. This is not a good look for the UK and does not help the EU27 in their progress to ever closer union.
    An election now may break the deadlock in Parliament (or it may result in another hung parliament) and allow the withdrawal agreement to pass. But it will not end the uncertainty over what will happen at the end of the transition period and the atmosphere will remain toxic. The uncertainty is bad for all of Europe. The EU need to put their political objective to annex NI aside and be constructive about the future arrangements with the UK so that we all can progress.
    No one would save for a pension without any idea of when or if they could draw it or how much it would be likely to be. The UK can’t be expected to pay £39bn without a clear vision of what lies over the post transition horizon. Knowing this would be good for the EU too.

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