Time to realise that the EU doesn’t need us

Tony Blair was last night speaking, very sensibly I thought, on the ‘Westminster Hour’ on Radio 4. He said the more and more he thought about Brexit the worse it actually got.

That opinion resonated loudly with me.

After pointing out that if Parliament prevents the UK government leaving without any deal in the sense of not signing any withdrawal agreement, then we do, of course, have to have a withdrawal agreement ‘deal’. But negotiating a withdrawal agreement that makes sense for both parties is likely to be extraordinarily difficult, especially since the UK government has already indicated it wants to compete with the EU by being more ‘competetive’ and with less regulation.

That is a scenario that is unlikely to please the EU and they may well conclude, entirely reasonably, that a bargain basement competitor on their doorstep is contrary to their own best interests and so decline to grant Britain tariff free access to their market, unless Britain adheres to the EU rules. Bear in mind that the UK will by this stage have left and be in time-limited transitional arrangements. The clock will be still be ticking in Michel Barnier’s memorable phrase, but Britain will have no negotiating power whatsoever.

In that case, what on earth is the point of leaving? We are back to Brexit in name only (so called BRINO), or crashing out.

In that sense Farage’s new found detestation of the Johnson withdrawal agreement, in favour of leaving without one, is entirely logical. As too, is the LibDem’s policy of no Brexit and withdrawing Article 50.

Britain imports half its food – most of it from the EU. It is trying to negotiate trade with a market around nine times bigger than its own. The EU doesn’t need us. So the UK either becomes fortress Britain and broadly self-sufficient, so it has no need to trade with its near neighbours – or the government must remind us all what exactly is the point of self-harming on the world stage?

As the whole idea of Brexit was half-baked and indequately formed, these ‘down the line’ ideas and consequences have only recently started to be properly considered. Therefore, in order to execute Brexit we must get Ireland unified and get to become a largely self-sufficient economy – a complete turn around from the thinking of the last 70 years – and all made even worse by the last ten years of austerity. This change in direction would be likely to require a generation (25 years) to complete – less, I notice, than Jacob Rees-Mogg’s forecast of 50 years to reap the benefits of Brexit. As 25 years is half the time I suggest to Mr Rees-Mogg that, in order to benefit from Brexit, preparation now, is well worth it.

I’ve asked before to what question is Brexit the answer? It becomes increasingly clear that when the fateful referendum question was asked it was probably just twenty-five years too early!

In short, logic dictates that we revoke, and prepare for Brexit.


  1. Robin Trow -

    My understanding is that the ECJ ruled that we could revoke Article 50 at any time up until we leave but the revocation has to be a genuine change of mind by the UK Government. Would revocation with a view to leaving at a better time in the future count?

  2. Peter May -

    Strictly it might not, but in 25 years time I doubt anyone would be able to prevent it!

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