The Brexit burden

I’m not a great fan of the Independent Group, but this speech from the ex Tory, Anna Soubry is really stirring stuff. (She must have been a good criminal lawyer.)

I wonder whether the Conservative’s Brexit dividing line is between those who are good constituency MP’s and those that don’t care. My entirely anecdotal evidence is that many of the ERG group for example, are quite difficult for their constituents both to contact and meet…

Perhaps as balance, look at Paul Mason’s latest article for the ‘New Statesman’ which, for those (like me!) seeking it, gives a little hope…


  1. Bill Hughes -

    Paul Mason’s New Statesman article is quite interesting and analyses the Tory Party quite well in a very amusing way but his advocacy of the Norway Option for Brexit is rather weak and means the UK is still bound by EU rules. Anna Soubry is excellent on Brexit but her vituperative attacks on Labour are not helpful. The only solution now is for Parliament to vote for an extension of Article 50 and adopt Tusk’s long term deferment of 21 months or so and for the UK to take part in the European elections in May and then work out either an acceptable leave deal or have a referendum and stay in the EU and pursue positive improvement to the EU via the Council of Ministers, EU Parliament, Commission etc.

  2. Geoff -

    Anna Soubry’s voting record speaks for it’s self. I’m a Remainer, I’ve campaigned from the beginning, joined RIFT at it’s inception and have been active in lobbying and letter writing to educate and engage with MP’s and MEPs throughout, with differing degrees of success.

    My problem now, almost three years on since the referendum, Is this:- I’ve become aware that most of the lessons learned from brexit have seem to have been learned on the European side. Their realisation and fear of contagion has driven the process for them and I believe there are now a growing number of MEPs who want genuine change to the European Project. I do not see that coming from the British side. At best our Parliament seems to want a return to the status quo, others are trying to use brexit to further their own desires and ambitions and there are too many who are unrealistic in their demands. I now believe it is not us who would be better off outside of Europe rather the European Project would be better off without us.

    If possible, and I don’t know if it is, I think a deal which gave us more or less the same rights and trading terms as we have now, so no UK MEPs. coupled with a period out in the cold but with the door wide open for reentry might just be the solution. The extremists will not be happy, but I think the country would be and it would allow those of us who are truly European to take stock, bring in much needed reforms to the EU and all without UK interference. Many of the Social Projects in the past have been vetoed by our MPs and MEPs, George Osborne was one of the worst offenders. Would this kind of agreement satisfy the winning Leave vote, I think it would. I would love to Remain but brexit has taught many lessons not least that Europe has several Trojan Horses and they are determined to destroy from within.

    1. Samuel Johnson -

      Much needed reform to the EU?

      Talk about seeing the splinter in your brother’s eye and not the log in your own!

  3. Geoff -

    Can I make a slight alteration:- not – “so no UK MEPs” rather “but with no UK MEPs”

  4. Graham -

    I haven’t listened to Soubry, because although she sometimes talks sense, like the rest of her group she and the other ex-Tories all voted for Tory policies.

    Mason is ok about the Tory Party but when he gets on to Labour and Corbyn his comments become risible. Labour too is in disarray, Corbyn has shown no leadership, he is ignorant of some of the basics about Scotland, he keeps changing his mind and he is fundamentally opposed to the EU in any case.

  5. Peter May -

    Have to say I agree with all the above comments. Which means we unfortunately have not too many MP’s who agree with us….

  6. Adrian Kent. -

    Paul Masons’ piece is pretty typical of him (and many pro-Remain ‘lefties’) in that it’s all rather short term. His New Statesman piece is bookended with two of his (and the Europhile left’s) most often proposed, but almost always unsupported arguments.

    Firstly all the Brexit outcomes are discussed in the immediate short term – that the deal made now is what we will have in perpetuity. He leads with the (as usual overdone) threat of a post Brexit UK necessarily becoming a crash-through-the-bottom, tax-haven, ultra-Singapore state with no evidence of any kind of electoral appetite for that in this country. That Brexit is a necessary first step to a potential economic and democratic renewal is not part of his consideration.

    Of more relevance to the comments here it seems, he finishes with the Remain and Reform canard, without going so far as to suggest what reforms might be necessary or, crucially, what the prospects are of any such progressive reform ever being completed.

    I’ve spent some time searching and asking for any kind of road-map to progressive reform of the EU and have drawn a complete blank (DiEM25 are fatalistic on this, Another Europe Is Possible refuse to reply, as do a number of their prominent supporters, The Greens have provided no numbers or strategy, my local MP Peter Kyle has none, neither do my MEPs, no #RemainAndReform hashtag user has provided anything…). I am as confident as I can be that there exists NO valid route to reform that takes into account the unanimity requirements of Article 48 in the context of the current electoral landscape across and within the EU member-states (in 17 of the 28 there’s pretty much NO radical/progressive left representation).

    @Geoff here above talks of a ‘growing number of MEPs’ who want a change in the EU – just how many are required? A clear majority? What are the chances of them all pulling in the same direction? Further than that, who are the key Commissioners who must be targeted, influenced or replaced? What do we do about the appalling corporate capture of the advisors to all the major institutions (notably the ECB whose approval is required for any finance-related reforms)? How do we time all of this to suit with the (again captured) rolling six-month Council Presidency timetable that has such a huge influence on what direction EU negotiations take at any one time? What is it about the Commission 2017 ‘Roadmap’ or ‘Structural Reforms for Economic Growth’ documents that might give progressives any reason for optimism? How do we ensure that ALL the memberstates ratify any significant reforms, because the ALL will have to do so? I could go on, but these questions are NEVER answered. If you’ve got any answers – or could point me to any – I’d be delighted to hear them.

    Lee Jones (of Queen Mary London) has been trying to get answers to similar questions since before the referendum campaign began and has similarly drawn a blank. His recent excellent Full Brexit analysis pretty much puts that matter to bed (read the section ‘Changing the EU: Mission Impossible’ if you’re in a hurry):

    A progressively reformed EU is not on offer and any suggestion that it is is a dangerous fantasy.

  7. Peter May -

    Interesting, Adrian. I suppose it’s a matter of degree. You’re prepared to endure what even Rees Mogg things will be 50 years of recovery from leaving the EU.
    In order to be ‘independant’ of the EU neoliberal ideas (originally imparted to them, let us not forget by the British in the first place) and something not on offer by our own government as of today. Whereas I want the, on offer today, relative stability of remaining attached to the largest free trade block in the world, and the world’s regulatory superpower, whilst having to admit it could be as much as 50 years before we manage to have substantial movement from the EU in a more radical direction. The EU don’t ‘offer’ progressive or unprogressive reform, the electorate have to oblige them to institute it.

    1. Adrian Kent. -

      Thanks Peter,

      What I was hoping to do with my comment was demonstrate the vacuity (as I see it) of those hoping to stay in a reformed EU – it’s an option that simply is not on the table. (I’m particularly irked by Another Europe Is Possible who are unable to engage with a question as apparently fundamental to their campaign as ‘How?’).

      I’m well aware who bears most of the blame – and I’m lay much of it at the feet of Blair, Brown and their generation of Thriday-way neoliberal-idealists/corporate stooges who knew that they were nailing in the neoliberalism when they ratified the Lisbon Treaty just as the EU was being significantly enlarged. It was probably around then that the electorate of Europe were finally disconnected from the path of reform.

      I think it will take us substantially less time than 50 years to recover from our membership of (as opposed to our leaving of) the EU, but that leaving is a necessary first step to start re-energizing our democracy, society and economy.

      I’d probably place those factors in that (decreasing) order of importance too by the way. The not-at-all-proven advantages to trade of our membership aren’t worth the cost to effective democracy or the degenerative mindset engendered by the SM (market fundamentalism, deficit fetishism, excessive financialisation, beggar-thy-neighbour wage and tax competition etc.)

      I can certainly see the benefits of the continuity option, but then I’m a pretty well educated, networked, numerate bod who last had to pick fruit in the late 80s. Come GFC2 the current ‘relative stability’ will be a distant memory and we’ll be much better off with a government able to respond without being hamstrung by the demands of the Four Freedoms.

Comments are closed.