The British Government’s Approach To Brexit Is Slovenly, Chaotic And Delusional

The rallying cry of the Brexiteers prior to the European Union membership referendum was “take back control”. This slogan resonated with those who felt ignored, not listened to and struggling to pay for the necessities of life. They wanted to deliver a slap in the face to the country’s elite who were urging them to vote remain. The leave campaigners managed to convince enough people that being in the EU is the reason for their misery.

With that, plus the promise of £350 million a week for the NHS if we left the EU, the Brexiteers won. However, the latest twists and turns in the Brexit negotiations have shown that the EU is in the driving seat and in control of events with Britain having to make concession after concession even before moving to trade talks. Britain is losing control. Extra money for the NHS, forget it; it is not going to happen.

And what about the thorny Irish problem? Britain has to find a solution that satisfies the Republic of Ireland and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). The Republic wants the status quo to continue, namely a frictionless border with the north and freedom of movement across the whole of Ireland. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) will not accept special treatment for Ireland; it wants whatever applies to Northern Ireland to apply to the whole of the United Kingdom. Let us not forget that the DUP is keeping the government in power following a bribe of £1billion.

The Republic of Ireland is strongly supported by the rest of the EU which will not accept any compromise that is not acceptable to Ireland. The Brexit Secretary, David Davis (he of the phantom Brexit impact assessments) assured the house of commons that Northern Ireland would not be treated as a special case and whatever arrangement agreed for Northern Ireland would apply to the whole of the UK. Does that mean the whole of the UK must stay in the customs union and the single market? Theresa May, however, has ruled that out in an attempt to placate the hard Brexiteers,

As I write this (8 December 2017) it seems that an agreement has been reached with the EU that no hard border should exist between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland; however, the devil is in the details. How that translates on the ground will be the subject of intense negotiations, spanning the British government, the EU, the DUP, and the Republic of Ireland. Good luck with that! What a mess!

What about the divorce bill? Remember Britain’s Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, told European leaders to “go whistle” if they expected Britain to pay. Now it seems the UK has agreed to pay a figure between £35bn and £39bn and with that the European negotiators agreed to move to phase two, namely, trade, which may take years. So on what basis did Mr. Johnson made his whistling remark? Did he not know that there are legal commitments binding on the UK to pay a substantial divorce bill? It is all indicative of the lack of foresight and the cavalier delusional mindset of the Brexiteers.

An objective observer will be at a loss to see what advantages Britain will be gaining on leaving the EU. Britain in the EU has had its cake and eating too, having all the privileges of membership and avoiding the two negatives by (a) not being in the Eurozone and thus in control of its currency and (b) in control of its borders by not being in the Schengen area.

It is now becoming blindingly obvious that another referendum on EU membership is necessary as the complexities and the negative consequences of leaving are mounting up. The Labour Party should now join forces with the Greens and the Liberal Democrats and demand another referendum prior to Brexit. Not to do so is a dereliction of duty towards the people of Britain.

Britain outside the EU will be losing control rather than taking it back. The misery that drove people to vote Brexit was not caused by the EU but by free-market economics and Tory-imposed austerity. This combination has seen wealth being siphoned upwards from the many to the very few at the top.

Adnan Al-Daini (PhD, Birmingham University, UK) is a retired University Engineering lecturer. He is a British citizen born in Iraq. He writes regularly on issues of social justice and the Middle East. Read other articles by Adnan.