The British Fifth Column can calm down: Remexit is coming. The rest of us should start worrying now, because after March 2019 the potential econo-fiscal meltdown on the European mainland will be mixing unpredictably with chaotic political change in Britain.
I’ll start today if I may with a look inside the brain of the The Guardian Remaindeer. Clearly, they’ve all studied hard at the Adonis University of Leaping Melodrama. Yesterday, Simon Jenkins (a man I do like, by the way) had a temporary loss of reason when he wrote a piece for the The GormlessOne, in which the headline announced, ‘Hooligan Brexiters now offer a mad, dystopian future nobody voted for’.
The article suffered from the usual sins of omission and joining up of any dots relating to how we got to where we are – viz, by Whitehall and Parliament behaving like Remainers and Brussels refusing to make any real attempt at negotiation – but it was finally locating the comment thread (increasingly difficult at The Gargoyle these days) that reminded me of just how impossible the LibLeft tendency finds it to self-critique its “arguments” supporting, well, anything really.
This one, however, beat all the others by being so assumptively incoherent:
Well blow me down with a Polly Toynbee, a quarter of those entitled to vote didn’t turn up. Now that doesn’t usually happen, does it? Just imagine what would happen if we got that in a General Election; we’d have to declare it null and void, because it would be obvious that the result wasn’t really the Will of the People at all.
Furthermore, our threader really nails it by observing ‘these people still exist and have a right not to be ignored’. He’s right, you know: we can’t all swan about ignoring voters who don’t vote. I mean, where would it all end? We might get Transexual Lesbians Against Scumbigotnazism candidates winning in local elections.
And they still exist. Well let’s be reasonable, not all of them still exist for Heaven’s sake, that would just be silly. Some of them will have been suffocated as they sank further and further into the red leather-effect sofa, half-price in the DFS Spring Bank Holiday Monday Sale, 1994. But look, I bet some – what? – sixty to seventy percent of those who didn’t vote were victims of stuff like Tory cuts to disabled services, NHS staff falling asleep after three 27-hour shifts in A&E thanks to Tory cuts, Tory cuts to local bus services, and there having been a really good documentary about Hugo Chavez on Channel Four that night.
And the Leavers lied. Now there was a first – politicians lying during an election. And we didn’t really know what we were voting for. Uh-huh. Jeremy Corbyn didn’t try hard enough. The Russians led gullible and badly educated people to think that we’d be better off out. We weren’t ready. Best of three. I thought we’d win easily. It’s not fair.
On and on it goes, but I have news for Mr Jenkins and the Remorons: there is going to be a Brexit deal because the EU is even more frightened of No Deal than we are. In a sad but largely accurate piece two days ago, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard outlined why, and I spent a fair amount of yesterday Skyping around Europe to try and establish (albeit at my own limited contact level) whether sane, informed opinion agreed with him. It does.
The anti-Brexit scare-spin brigade are out in force again today (telling me I won’t be able to access my State pension among other nonsense) but they’re wasting their breath: there’s going to be a limited Brexit based on a slightly more disgraceful level of capitulation than the Chequers In-Out-Shake-it-all-about formula. At which point, Simon Jenkins will be right – we will face a mad, dystopian future – but not for the reasons he put forward.
Our future will be dystopian because:
- The coastal fishing and border control rights will be fudged
- We will remain overdependent on trade with an EU that has insoluble currency, fiscal, migration and economic problems
- The Brexit will not be sovereign
- England will remain divided and Scotland disgruntled
- Not enough effort will be put into an ex-EU export sales drive
- In the short-term after March 2019, Britain will be thrown into political anarchy.
Let’s briefly examine the last of those points in more detail.
Talk to senior, retired and politico-economic journalists, backbench MPs, the people around Nigel Farage and the better-informed thinkers on the European mainland or in Washington, and in one form of words or another, this is what gets played back by most of them:
“After March 2019, all bets are off”
For myself, I still think the Parliamentary plus “final say” approval could turn into a nightmare in and of itself. But on balance, regrettably I have had to conclude over the last month or so that – for all kinds of good and bad reasons – both “sides” in Britain are going to settle for what they can get out of the Brexit process. I do not see enough votes (or backbone) among the Rees-Moggers in the Commons, and I see little or no sign of the outcry I confess I was expecting among the UK electorate at large.
But after that, the following will be obvious:
- Theresa May will have outlived her usefulness. There is no way the Conservative Party’s backbenchers and grass roots would go into a General Election with her as leader.
- There is even less likelihood that the ‘social democrat’ wing of Labour wants to go into such an election being asked to support Jeremy Corbyn. Some of these (especially those facing deselection) will follow Frank Field’s example. Some of them will wind up in a revived ‘Centrist’ alliance in some form or another.
- Nigel Farage will return to front line politics as the head of a new anti-EU-cum-nationalist Party. He will hope for some kind of electoral constituency by constituency deal with the Tories. Without solid opinion poll evidence, he is unlikely to get it…but he will at least treble the independent UK franchise
- In the context of a Labour split, Labour weakness in Scotland, formation of a Centre SDP revival, and an obvious home for traditional Labour voters + disgruntled Tories in the Farage camp, mathematically Corbynista Labour has less than a snowball in Hell’s chance of winning any General Election
- The possibility of real Third World and EU deconstruction during 2019 is a wild card that could require firm and creative action by the UK by the end of the year. The fractured political landscape is unlikely to create the circumstances in which such action could be carried through
- A Labour defeat will hand the initiative to all the nastier elements within Momentum. There are going to be violent clashes between the extremes of Left and Right.
At the moment, Britain is rudderless. Be prepared for it to start firing torpedoes at itself after next March.