Going Global: Brexit, Again
Columns / July 5, 2017
I’m still pretty cross about it
Tristan Johnston, Coordinating Editor
The story of Brexit has been a sad and humiliating one for the Conservative Party, and a distressing and worrying one for myself.
My passport is about to lose 96 per cent of its citizenship value. In fact, the only reason I even applied for my bloodright citizenship is so I could live and work in Scandinavia or Switzerland.
Ever since the signing of Article 50 by Theresa May, the Brexit process has been a disaster. Negotiations are supposed to be completed within two years, and it seems unlikely that the other EU states would give them an extension. By all means, the EU wants to make leaving the union as painful and difficult as possible so as to make the idea unappealing to other member states.
To give you an idea of the absurdity of the U.K. thinking they could walk into a nice trade deal, consider that the Canada-EU deal took eight years to negotiate. The only hope in hell the U.K. has of keeping that is to keep other EU conditions, such as free movement of people and rights for EU citizens, in the United Kingdom.
Even then, the U.K. looks weak and pathetic. Article 50 and the vote have made many of the major businesses in London worried. Banks and large firms are making moves to Frankfurt, Brussels, and Paris, where they’ve made a perfectly reasonable conclusion that things will go to shit if they stay where they are. The situation looks especially bad when Lloyd’s of London, a 300-year-old insurance market, is in the process of moving to Berlin.
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has been nothing but irresponsible during this process. It’s somewhat to her credit that she wants to go along with what the people voted for, but the manner in which she has done it is sad. During the election, she boasted that she would get the “best deal” for Britain, which is odd because EU membership was the best deal, but I digress. She also added that she would be okay with “no deal” if she couldn’t get a good one.
The only reason her party called an election in the first place was to look stronger going into the negotiations, but several campaign gaffes and an above-average youth voter turnout resulted in a minority government, which could collapse if the rest of the House decides to conduct a vote of non-confidence. Should this happen, it would result in at least a month when everyone is busy campaigning and not sitting in parliament.
There is some hope for the situation. The Guardian reported last Monday that several opposition MPs from Labour, the Scottish National Party (Scotland voted 67.2 per cent in favour of remain), and others will be pushing for remaining in the single market, which is the bulk of “EU-ness.” Of course, this means that my citizenship would still enable me to live like a German in Germany, other than being able to participate in local parliament votes.
One should also keep in mind that not everyone in the Conservative Party wanted Brexit in the first place. David Cameron, the last PM, wanted strongly to remain in the EU, and a fair amount of the party still thinks that way.
Theresa May and the Conservatives gambled and lost. Her majority still had three years of life in it, but she threw it in the bin, and her satisfaction with “no deal” is pathetic, unambitious, and cynical.