It is looking increasingly likely that Brexit negotiations between the UK government and the EU will end in chaotic break down. A Merkel-Johnson telephone call has already triggered a blame game fueled by various unsourced briefings from Downing Street advisors. One would have hoped that recent judicial censure for misleading the Queen would have tempered said advisors’ enthusiasm for the ridiculous, but sadly not.
The Brexit Mad Hatters Tea Party remains shameless and determined to foist an alternative view of Brexit realities upon potential voters who at some point will discover they stepped through a logic-lite looking glass. Before then, one can’t help feeling that Brexiteers are faithful subjects of another Queen, the White Queen, who once confessed to Alice, “Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast”. Indeed, there could also be six impossible things to believe before Brexit. Here’s our six favourites.
- The solution to a hard Northern Ireland border is three borders: Difficult as it is to believe, the latest thinking from the Johnson brains trust is to put customs posts/stops at a polite distance on either side of the border thus creating “three” borders or if one were to be constructive a much wider border.
- Technology will ensure the seamless operation of two distinct customs/regulatory regimes: The tiny flaw in this solution is that the technology does not exist.
- The UK will avoid recession with government fiscal support: Profit warnings from construction sector bellwethers(SIG) and recruitment firms(Page Group) on top of the worst UK September retail figures since 1995 would suggest Brexit paralysis is already paralysing business and consumer spending decisions.
- A clean quick (no deal) Brexit will end this uncertainty and business paralysis: Perhaps the biggest lie of all. There is an assumption that the UK will immediately switch into the WTO trade framework and carry on trading with its largest partner, the EU. Think again. Trade agreements will still need to be agreed with the EU but in a post-Brexit world all the leverage will lie with the larger trading bloc as a country of 65 million subjects discovers its diminishing relevance in the global trade discussion.
- The Trump administration will provide a favourable trade deal with the world’s largest economy: The US Congress is not only about to impeach Trump but its leadership has been emphatic that any failure to honour the Good Friday Agreement will prevent any trade deal being done with the US and its highly influential Irish-American vote. Bonnie Greer on a recent BBC Question Time is worth a look if one needs confirmation of that Brexiteer pipe dream.
- Other People will fund the UK government’s fiscal efforts post Brexit: This column often writes about the folly of relying upon “other people’s money”. Britain’s public finances in a no-deal Brexit scenario would push UK debt to its highest since the 1960s according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies(IFS). Consider a likely drop in the GBP currency and a simultaneous spike in inflation before assuming foreign investors will commit funds to a country which has demonstrated unprecedented levels of self harm and delusion.
Irrespective of these impossible delusions the Brexit saga will drag on for a while longer and suck the life out of most sentient human beings. However, amid the paralysing uncertainty there are still a few certainties when it comes to the relationship between the UK and Europe. As tempers fray between the UK and EU, one can be assured of a generous supply of un-diplomatic soundbites plus the always reliable talk of surrender, the empire and plucky Blighty “taking back control”. Language will undoubtedly drift into dreamy wartime territory so it will be difficult to separate tragedy from comedy but, if it has to be war then we will leave it to Captain Blackadder to say it best:
“There hasn’t been a war run this badly since Olaf the Hairy, King of all the Vikings, ordered 80,000 battle helmets with the horns on the inside.”
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