Out Of Touch
Posted on December 20th, 2017
by Rab Bruce’s Spider
Theresa May has made two statements in the past week which are so appallingly ill-informed and out of touch that they barely qualify her to be an audience member on BBC Question Time, let alone a Prime Minister.
She has told us that there will be no second Referendum on Brexit because that would be a betrayal of the British people.
Let’s consider how she might have arrived at that viewpoint by taking a look at some basic facts. First of all, the Brexit Referendum was not binding on Parliament, it was advisory. The result was fairly close for such a major constitutional issue, with a minority of eligible voters managing to come out on top thanks to many people not bothering to vote. It was hardly decisive. Nevertheless, May decided to go ahead and trigger Article 50. She also decided that she needed an increased majority in the House of Commons in order to strengthen her hand in the Brexit negotiations. As a result of the voter backlash in the General Election, she has ended up running a minority Government which is backed up by the extremists of the DUP.
This week, an Opinion Poll has suggested that a great many people have changed their minds in view of the shambolic negotiations and the realisation of all the problems Brexit has already brought and is about to create. Indeed, while Opinion Polls need to be treated with caution, the lead for Remain apparently now stands at 10%, which is significantly more than the 4% victory Leave won in the actual Referendum.
So who, exactly, would be betrayed if there was a second Referendum to confirm whether the UK electorate wanted to proceed with Brexit on the (yet to be agreed) final terms, to break with no deal, or to call off the whole stupid idea and stay in the EU?
OK, people like Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove would feel betrayed, as would the Little Englanders who detest foreigners so much they would be happy to see their country ruined as long as it kept foreigners out.
Other than that, it’s hard to see who would feel betrayed by having another choice in light of everything we now know but which was kept quiet during the Referendum campaign. EU residents who live in the UK certainly would like Brexit to be called off, as would most UK nationals who live in the EU. Most major businesses would like it called off, especially the financial sector. It’s not that many of us have much sympathy for bankers these days, but the impact on the UK economy of these businesses moving abroad would be catastrophic for the already sluggish economy. People who value the right to travel across Europe would be happy not to have visa restrictions; anyone who enjoys workers’ rights which are protected by the EU will soon come to realise just how much they stand to lose if Brexit goes ahead. Anyone in Wales or Scotland who appreciates the value of their devolved Governments must surely have realised the entire devolution project is now in jeopardy.
The list could go on and on, but the assumption must be that the people who have told Theresa May they would feel betrayed are people who have some hold over her. Step forwards the tax-dodging, multi-millionaire Press owners and wealthy Tory MPs who will be all right no matter what happens. Indeed, these people will be better off since the protections British citizens currently enjoy thanks to the EU will no longer keep us safe from the planned demolition of rules and regulations. If you thought zero hour contracts, a low minimum wage, and one of the worst Pensions in the OECD were bad, just wait until the Tories really get to town on dismantling the Welfare State.
So, if there is to be no second referendum, and the only choice Parliament will be given is to decide whether to accept the negotiated deal or leave the EU with no deal, is there any hope at all?
Well, of course, Scotland still has the lifeboat of IndyRef2, but it is yet possible that the UK could be rescued from the impending disaster because of May’s other statement.
What she said was that the UK will not remain in the Single Market or the Customs Union but that the ambition is that access will continue as now.
This is quite a statement, and reveals just how clueless May is. Several expert commentators have already pointed out that this is impossible.
The only way to have access is to remain inside these arrangements. The EU are never going to allow any country to have unfettered access from outside. If they did, what would be the point of having a regulated Single Market and a Customs Union? The idea that the EU will allow the UK the same rights and privileges as it now enjoys while remaining outside is laughable. If Theresa May really does believe what she has said, she is even more out of touch with reality than the Brexit negotiations have shown so far.
This means that reality will eventually bite. When the 27 nations of the EU dig their heels in, the UK will have no alternative but to back down, just as it has done on every other demand it has loudly proclaimed the EU will agree to until they actually sit down and face each other across the table.
And when the Tories realise that they either need to stay in the Single Market and Customs Union or face a hard border in Ireland, things will come to a head.
A hard Irish border will bring about the collapse of the Good Friday Agreement, potentially resurrect The Troubles, and possibly lead to the reunification of Ireland and the beginnings of a break-up of the UK. Even Theresa May must surely recognise this.
So the best case scenario (apart from cancelling Brexit altogether) is that the UK does indeed capitulate and decides to remain in the SM and CU. If that happens, some elements of the economic gloom will be prevented. It will not, of course, affect such things as Workers’ Rights or Devolution, but at least it will keep some businesses happy – unless it is too late by that time and they’ve already moved out of the UK. It should also mean that Freedom of Movement is retained since this is a prerequisite of being in the Single Market.
It should also mean the end of Theresa May’s inept leadership, since the hard-line Tories will inevitably replace her due to her betrayal because it is Freedom of Movement which really upsets them.
And, for Scotland, surely the prospect of having Boris Johnson as Prime Minister will be enough to swing the balance in IndyRef2.