It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And Parliament Feels Fine)

The mess that is Brexit has been evident for months. As TNB has chronicled, different factions in Parliament, angling for political gain, have decided that compromise is less desirable than working toward a total victory.

There have been a few possible outcomes, and all of them have their supporters: No-Deal Brexit, Deal Brexit, Re-Vote (strongly anticipated to be anti-Brexit), and Remain.

Their squabbling has resulted in Parliament members (MPs) shifting over to new parties being formed, in cabinet members leaving their posts. and in seemingly endless maneuvering and “What might happen now?” articles in newspapers and web sites.

There are two old sayings at play here: one is “they can’t see the forest for the trees” and the other is “remember the boy who cried wolf.”

Addressing the latter first, it is worth recognizing that the UK Parliament has been acting as if they hold all of the power in this negotiation, whereas in fact they do not. If the EU decides to hold them to their Brexit date – the most current of which is April 12, a few days from now – Brexit will occur. The “No-Deal” faction will have won, and the political wrangling by the Labour party and its allies in Parliament, by which they repeatedly rejected the negotiations by UK Prime Minister Theresa May and the EU, will be a direct cause of it.

The hope for many is that the EU will grant another extension. To that end, May is meeting with the heads of two of the most influential EU countries, Angela Merkel of Germany and Emmanuel Macron of France. Both of these leaders are people with whom she has had extensive friendly dealings, and Merkel has become her biggest supporter on the international stage.

The head of negotiation for the EU, Michel Barnier, however, is using the continued delays to ramp up pressure upon May. He is strongly suggesting that the EU will consider another extension only if May supports the UK remaining in a customs union.

Currently, the “Deal” Brexit is focused primarily around the Irish “Backstop”, which is to say whether a hard border would need to be enacted between Ireland and Northern Ireland. What seems like a minor thing is actually key, however, because the negotiations involved would provide the EU with some level of influence over UK trade.

Despite all of the other myriad complications which may arise from Brexit, the ones that the Parliament and political leaders seem to most care about deal with trade… because that is where the money and power lie.

Backing a customs union instead would be a major concession to the EU, and would deal a heavy blow to the “No Deal” faction. The notion is aimed squarely at the “Deal” faction, hoping that they are afraid of the many minor complications (such as personal travel and medical access) to a degree where they will concede that key point.

Not seeing the forest for the trees is the other point, however. A key promise of Brexit was that the newly independent UK would be able to maintain economic strength by forging a preferential trade deal with the US, a long ally with whom it has the “special relationship”. Such a deal, viewed as probable under any Republican President, would give better trade to the UK than to the EU and thus make the UK a valuable trade hub through which EU countries would want to operate.

The history of President Trump’s foreign policy, particularly trade policy, should be a wake-up call. It is not, primarily because the constant daily stories about Brexit which flood the UK news have focused attention on minor details, leaving people to assume that the big picture hasn’t changed. In reality, little about Brexit remains focused on the original concerns that triggered the vote.

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About AlienMotives 1991 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.