Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Letter to a Sanguine 'Leaver'

Dear Max,
You have a very clear head. What you say sounds perfectly straight-forward and, once it is said, it sounds obvious. Brexit terms ‘should’ end up as 'zero tariffs both ways, free movement on reciprocal bases, co-operation on police, security and intelligence'. But:-
[1]  It is largely true (is it not) that the big “Leave” voices have disappeared or gone quiet (Gove, Farage, Leadsom, Boris). We are left with Remainers trying to implement (gestate) the other camp’s baby (May, Hammond, the Civil Service). And why is that??

[2]  It is unfortunate but true; the terms of Brexit will be at least partly determined by the 27 and not by us. So it is reasonable to fear that the Junckery-type people (who were our bogeymen in the first place) will see their job as 'preventing exit from being beneficial’ (in case Europe unravels). (It is a pity we did not have the foresight, force of character, or interest, to curb these people when we had the chance. Whyever is the head of the European Civil service called a President? )

[3]  We look back with pride and astonishment at the first two years of WWII  alone against the fascists. We remember a Commonwealth extending round the world. (People born in New Zealand still referring to Britain as “home”, selling us butter and lamb and buying our cars). But some of this will not come back, because the world has moved on. Some of our capital is spent, some of our coal and oil burnt. India, Brazil, China and the Far East,  have developed. But we also ‘remember’ the long hot summers and the crisp snows of our youth, even though the meteorological tables accuse us of misremembering. 

[4]  Europe took it into its head to include the ex-communist states of eastern Europe and the ‘sunny’ states of southern Europe. We were perhaps doubtful, but saw them as possible markets and went along. The time to object to the extension of Europe to the east was back then, but we missed our chance. They are of course a burden and a problem to which the remaining core states of Europe are bound and with which they are lumbered. We now opt out of Europe and its burdens. But the 27 will (probably) not let us compete using both hands when they have one tied behind their backs. There is (I suppose) an honourable side to trying to weld a cultural entity at considerable personal cost, but the practical English do not see it that way; they see only the costs. And I suppose we on our island never did have to rub shoulders with the Balkans in the way that Austria, Germany, Italy and Poland have been doing for 2 millennia. 

Though I voted 'Remain', I was not over-enthusiastic about remaining in Europe and hope not to lose friends over Brexit. I expect there will be some compensations to counter the loss of influence, status, and wealth that will result from opting from a trading bloc of 360 million to one of 60 million with a GDP resembling the assets of a middle sized commercial company. There is a whiff of excitement, as on beginning any new relationship. But I do not expect the 'long hot summers' that some leavers have been dreaming of. 

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