Tuesday 13 September 2016

Growing absurdity

The near farcical chaos around Brexit intensified this week. Yesterday, David Davis admitted that the negotiations to leave might be “the most complicated in history”. True enough, but during the referendum campaign the leave side – including Davis – insisted that it would be easy, shouting down those who voiced caution. Today he has gone further, saying that a trade deal may not even be possible, again repudiating the claims made in the campaign. At the time, the repeated claim was that the UK would stroke a quick, easy and advantageous trade deal.

Of the other Brexiters, Liam Fox has gone to ground after his weird attack on British business, and Boris Johnson has given his support to Change Britain, the inheritor of the Leave campaign, in pressuring the government for ‘hard Brexit’. Is this the first time that a government minister has associated himself with a group to lobby … government ministers!? Within this, it is almost unremarkable that the leave campaign’s fraudulent promise of £350M a week for the NHS has been formally abandoned by Change Britain.

Meanwhile, the realities of what leaving the EU might mean in terms of restrictions on the travel of UK citizens are finally being realised and discussed, with Brexiters fulminating that such restrictions would be unacceptable and spiteful, as if it were the EU that had decided to expel the UK rather than the UK deciding leave.

The situation is now becoming absurd. On the basis of a close vote on the back of a campaign to leave the EU that has now been pretty much disowned by its leaders, an essentially impossible scenario has been enshrined as inevitable. But we are only at the beginning of what has the potential to be a calamity. On the other hand, precisely because of the chaos of the situation it may be that unpredictable outcomes are possible.

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