It doesn’t matter whether you are an arch-Brexiteer, a firm Remainer, still
uncertain, or just bored with the whole Brexit thing, I am – and you ought to
be – really very concerned about the UK’s future.
Whatever your views of the issues, the harsh reality is that ‘we are now where we are’,
and that is certainly a more informed and accurate statement than the fatuous ‘Brexit means Brexit’. This
means that we have a Prime Minister and a government which seems determined to
pursue a ‘No deal’
option. In truth, there is no such thing as a ‘No deal Brexit’; the current one deal with
the EU – which brings with it settled trading arrangements with most countries
in the world – will have to be replaced with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of
new deals, yet to be negotiated, on trade, migration, finance etc.
Let’s forget for a moment that Boris Johnson fronted all those bus-promises
on the NHS (and more) which could never, and will never, be kept.
Let’s put to one side his casual relationship with the truth and the facts.
His former boss – the Conservative Max Hastings – said that “Johnson would not recognise truth… if
confronted by it in an identity parade”, describing him as
interested only in “fame and
gratification… a scoundrel or a mere rogue”.
Even, when under the severest self- and external- constraints on his
behaviour in the last month, he was simply unable to stop himself dissembling.
In the Tory leadership hustings, he produced a kipper from under the podium.
Waving it in the air, he said that the kipper’s producer – from the Isle of Man
– was “utterly furious”
with EU regulations. “After
decades of sending kippers like this through the post he has had his costs
massively increased by Brussels bureaucrats who have insisted that each kipper
must be accompanied by this: a plastic ice pillow.” He went on
to say that once the UK leaves the European Union, the country would be able to
“take back control of
our regulatory framework“.
However, it was just another of those stupid and untrue ‘EU straight banana’
- the Isle of Man isn’t in the UK nor in the EU
- there are no EU rules on the transport of smoked
products, such as kippers, and
- food safety regulations in the UK are set by the UK
Food Standards Agency.
I have listened to, and talked with, thousands of constituents since the
Referendum. Overwhelmingly, those who supported Brexit have told me that the
two things that determined their votes were ‘taking
back control from the EU’ and ‘cutting
I have to say that I’ve never understood the ‘taking back control’ argument. How
does coming out of the EU, in which, as a member, we have a major influence and
say (and often a veto) and representation in the decision-making process, but
replacing it with the rules of the World Trade Organisation, in which we are
but a bit-part player with little influence, constitute ‘taking back control’?
As for ‘cutting
migration’, has no-one noticed that as soon as Johnson became Prime
Minister, he immediately dropped Theresa May’s ‘tens of thousands’ target and the manifesto
promise to get annual net migration below 100,000? As many of the countries
(like India) with which the new government has promised early trade agreements
require an increase in migration as a condition of a deal, Brexit voters look
as though they will be disappointed on this issue as well.
It has become absolutely clear that Boris Johnson and his supporters have no
alternative plan for a deal with the EU, nor do they have appropriate
contingency plans for a no-deal scenario.
A whole succession of the new government ministers have told us that ‘when the EU recognises we are serious
about the possibility of leaving the EU without a deal, it will be prepared to
make big changes to the withdrawal agreement so that a deal can be reached’.
The EU position isn’t being decided by EU bureaucrats; it is being
determined by the 28 heads of government who will act in what they see as the
best interests of their countries, and they’re not budging. As the Irish
Chancellor told the UK Chancellor Sajid Javid yesterday, Ireland has no
intention of removing the backstop from the Brexit agreement. They are not
being intransigent. They have consistently told us that, if there is a credible
alternative, they will consider it, but Johnson hasn’t got one to produce.
Then, last week, Johnson’s No 10 spin-doctors highlighted Donald Trump’s
welcome to Boris Johnson and his assertion that an early USA/UK trade deal is
entirely possible. As Trump has asserted time and time again, in his trade wars
with Canada, Mexico, China and others, that he is determined to ensure that the
USA gets what it wants from the negotiations and couldn’t care less about the
other parties, we ought to be wary about what the price of a deal may be.
So, for the realists, today’s statement by Larry Summers, who was Treasury
Secretary under Bill Clinton and Barack Obama’s Director of the National
Economic Council, is no surprise. Summers said that Brexiteers “…are delusional if they believe that a
“desperate” Britain can strike an advantageous trade deal with the USA”.
He said that Britain had “no leverage” in any trade negotiations and was
absolutely scornful about the idea that Trump would, or could, produce a
favourable trade deal for Britain. “I’m
not sure what Britain wants from the United States that it can plausibly
imagine the United States will give,” he said.
“Look at it from
America’s point of view: Britain has much less to give than Europe as a whole
did, therefore less reason for the United States to make concessions. You make
more concessions dealing with a wealthy man than you do dealing with a poor
man. Second, Britain has no leverage. Britain is desperate. Britain has nothing
else. It needs an agreement very soon. When you have a desperate partner,
that’s when you strike the hardest bargain. The last thing you do is quit a job
before you look for your new one.”
After saying it was “close
to inconceivable” that any agreement could get close to making up
for the UK’s loss of trade with the EU, he added “If Britain thinks that the American financial regulators
are going to come together to give greater permissions and less regulation of
UK firms, I would call that belief close to delusional.”
It is this set of circumstances that has led to a 25% devaluation of the £
since the referendum, with every prospect of another 10% devaluation before the
end of this year. The only people who will gain from this are the currency
speculators. It is no surprise that they have been Boris’s biggest backers.
Concerned about your future, and the future of your children and
grandchildren? You ought to be.