Yesterday, Theresa May delivered a letter to the European Union leaders informing them of the Britain’s intention of leaving the political union – Article 50, which starts a 2-year countdown to withdrawal, was triggered. Brexit is underway.
A leaked European parliament report seen by the Guardian accuses Britain of trying to “move the goalposts and do away with the referee” in the impending negotiations with the EU27 nations. This approach is not one that is going down well with other European leaders, especially given Theresa May’s. Senior figures in Brussels complained about the prime minister’s remarks regarding security, while critics in Westminster also piled in, arguing that the prime minister had issued a “blatant threat” and was treating security as a “bargaining chip” in negotiations. Chancellor, Phillip Hammond has also previously threatened that the United Kingdom could become a tax haven if it wasn’t given a favourable deal.
Both sides tend to speak of a “divorce”. Divorces are not pretty, and rarely go smoothly. Blows are often exchanged in the most brutal fashion, and I think we can expect as much during the impending negotiations. In fact, the mood is already hostile. A divorce is usually between two equal partners, but in this case it is the best interests of one nation against those of another 27.
We have been told again and again that the UK is going to get a fabulous’ cake and eat it’ deal and then lots of money will be available for the NHS among other things – we have been promised something that cannot be delivered. Theresa May has already clarified that the NHS will not get any extra funding, never mind the £350 million a day the Leave campaign promised.
So heads turn now to the negotiations which must follow. The Tories are trying their favoured divide and rule tactics, but in their sense of post-imperialistic self-centrism and vainglory they have misjudged the mood of the European Union. It makes no sense for them to give Britain exactly what they want.
May claims she wants security, free trade and liberal values. These are the things that ironically we are about to throw away. She promised a more secure, prosperous, more tolerant land – she will deliver the opposite.
Britain wants to remove itself from the free movement of labour, yet keep access to the single market and tariff-free trade: the EU see’s the two as interlinked. The two negotiating positions are completely incompatible. It is not in the EU’s interests to give Britain the cake and eat it deal they want. We have not taken back control, we have given it to the remaining 27 nations in the European Union – they will put their interests first.
EU leaders haven’t even begun to fight, and the UK is severely deluded about the strength of its negotiating position and about the goodwill it still enjoys in the EU: which is diminishing by the day due to the government’s attempted underhand tactics.
One might compare Britain’s current position to that of the England football team at a major competition, massively overhyped only to painfully crash out to a minor in the second round. The parallels are uncanny.
‘Two fifths of games companies based in the UK are considering relocating out of the country in the wake of Brexit’. ‘Lloyd’s of London will move jobs to New Brussels office’. These are recent headlines, and countless more have been reported. The EU is more important to multi-national businesses than we are as an isolated nation.
Once Britain has crashed out of the EU with a less than favourable deal, affecting families all over the nation, the red tape that Brexiteers talk about cutting are our employment rights, our right to sick & maternity leave etc – is this what the Leave campaign meant by taking back control? Taking control of ways they can allow businesses to exploit workers?
International action is also needed to address the issues of climate change, withdrawal from the EU, which is better placed than any individual nation to make change and has already for example cleaned up our beaches, may seriously jeopardise this.
The current government has no legitimacy. The manifesto on which David Cameron and friends were elected has been made irrelevant in a completely charged political situation. We are going to be stuck with the effects of their incompetence for generations to come. They are the ones that have caused the rising inequality and feeling of discontent that lead to the result of the referendum, not the EU, and once again scapegoating tactics have worked – the vested interests of the rich and powerful have prevailed.
Reality will bite, and it won’t be pretty. Brexit will not deliver the change needed to appease those in the country who felt left behind by the globalised model of capitalism, and hence voted for what they saw as change. If anything it will make their lives harder, they have handed more powers to those whose greed has affected the nation. It will most likely lead to the break up of the United Kingdom, as Scotland agitate and Northern Ireland and Wales hint at moving for independence. Our children, and generations to come, have had the carpet pulled from under their feet.
This is not a game. We are stepping into the unknown, likely taking a self-inflicted downgrade. With all this talk of taking back control, we should be aware of whom we are handing control to – and that should worry every single one of us.
In ten years time, we will likely be staring in a jealous hysteria across the channel at the economy of the EU nations, at their living standards, and we will be wondering how we were stupid enough to walk away from it.