Monday, June 04, 2018

Why Brexit is stalled - will the Civil Service save Britain from disaster?

Two years on and Brexit is stalled. By the time we reach the theoretical departure from the EU date of 29th March 2019, determined by the precipitate triggering of Article 50, there is no possibility that a proper deal will have been negotiated. In what continue to be febrile times  we just cannot trust our politicians to act responsibly on our behalf. Brexit has become a political football - used only to secure personal or party advantage. The hard core logic is lost in all this noise. There is no meaningful debate. The media is as polarised as the politicians. And so in these times you have to look to the Civil Service. This comprises our brightest and best. They have experience and intellect and, above all, an understanding of what is possible. And what is not. And they also have a public duty - to do what is right for Britain. They know that what the Government wants is impossible. Not difficult. Impossible. UK can of course leave the European Union. That has never been in doubt. But what cannot be achieved is a half way house somewhere between Full membership and non membership. A “Norway” type outcome, if you like. The reason is simple. “Norway” requires acceptance of Freedom of Movement (FoM). And that is one thing Theresa May and her gang (or Jeremy Corbyn and his for that matter) can never accept. The EURef outcome was primarily driven by a wish to stop EU27 citizen “migration” to the UK. Not concerns about “Sovereignty” , which most voters would struggle to define. Immigration (aka Freedom of Movement ). 

So the “negotiations” are so much nonsense. If you go to the table ruling out FoM there’s not much to negotiate. Maybe membership of the Customs Union, though without membership of the Single Market this looks pretty useless. No - the only Brexit available is a Hard Brexit ( no deal). Which brings us back to the Civil Servants. They know that to leave the EU without a deal cannot be in the national interest. It isn’t “right for Britain”. They are clearly telling the Government that reality. Hence the cleft stick that Theresa May is in. She has three options. (1) Stop Brexit . (2) Cling on to the delusion that a Soft Brexit is possible (a delaying mechanism) . (3) Accept Hard Brexit and risk defeat in Parliament and/or the country.