Friday, 3 May 2019

Brexit conciliation

The question of Brexit has proved very divisive and damaging to that feeling of unity and common purpose that carries a country towards progress. There seem to be two 'nations' living in one country, drawing apart in order to vilify each other. Most of the comment on social media is distastefully vituperative, scoffing, and exaggerated. Few participants seem to be aware that they will eventually have to settle down next to their fuming and mud-bespattered targets, to resume normal life; buying, selling, helping and being helped.

I am myself a natural Europhile, looking a little into the workings of the Union, at the Court, Council, Commission, Parliament, and Bank; wondering who was trying to improve its weaknesses; but generally pleased with its success in transforming and strengthening the Europe of which we are geographically and inevitably a part.

I noted two of today's tweets. Ash Sarkar (@AyoCaesar) bemoaned the lack of conversation and compromise, and asked whether Remainers had a plan for winning over people who voted Leave. Guy Dorrell (@guydorrell1), however, thought that the UK was now #Remain, what with the exploding of the £350m lie, and the introduction of 3-years' worth of fresh young voters since the 2016 referendum, not to mention unease about #darkmoney. No need, he thought, to change the minds of the ideologues. For Guy Dorrell, it would be enough to swing the opinion in the country to 51% remain:49% leave. It seems he would happily ignore the disappointed 16 million, but of course that would leave the country just as riven as at present, but heading in the opposite direction. Ash Sarkar (and I) would prefer a route that could be chosen by most or all of our 46 million electorate.

In the spirit of compromise and conciliation I tried to draft a few 'tweets' that might bridge the divide.
1. The idea that leaving the EU would save us £350m a week turns out to have been a deliberate lie; the truth is complex, what with Thatcher-rebates, EU-funded projects, grants, and collaborative research. Britain does make a small net contribution as Britain is of above-average wealth, but the intangible benefit is in bringing Europe towards a common standard; it is a laudable objective and it applies as much to Cornwall and the Scottish Highlands as it does to Romania.
2. We want the UK to benefit financially from the Common Market, buying and selling across frictionless borders. So, why choose to leave the EU table and lose the moderate degree of control that we are accorded by being a moderately large and moderately wealthy component of the EU?
3. We democratically elect members to the European Parliament, and this country elects its own representatives to Council and Commission. In terms of 'democratic control', the EU is not greatly different from our own government.
4. How could abandoning the regulations imposed by the EU benefit our citizens? That would likely lead to lowered standards of quality, and worker-welfare. It might enrich businesses, but impoverish our citizens.
5. UK retains sovereignty as long as, in the last resort, it can leave the EU. It has become clear that negotiating a sensible and orderly Brexit will require far longer that 2 years, even if we were all pulling in the same direction, and with enthusiasm. Nor is there a need for desperate haste, except in the minds of parliamentarians elected for 4-years.
6. Which of us realised that Brexit would mean severing Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom (leading maybe to a united Ireland)? It might be good for some and bad for others; but it was completely unforeseen.

Would it not be a sensible compromise to delay Brexit for 2 - 5 years, to let Parliament and the Civil Service think more about these complex issues, work out the costs and the benefits, and a plan of action?

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