Sunday, 14 February 2016
Enough with the boring Brexit hysteria
I'm becoming increasingly irked with all this economics jiggery pokery. It's tiresome. Ukip have their demented fantasies about full separation and the Tories have their own equally risible fantasies that amount to much the same thing, but we're not likely to see an acrimonious separation for one simple reason. Nobody in power wants that. My money's on all parties taking the path of least resistance.
We don't want a messy arrangement like Switzerland and the EU doesn't either. More to the point, there won't be time. We will be looking at as much replication as possible of those arrangements that work which won't require revision at a later date. That suggests the Norway option straight off the bat. And there's a lot to like about it.
While the retention of freedom of movement as a necessary concession in this, given how little it has to do with our immigration problems, I'm not minded to lose any sleep over of it, and if I can at some point in the future take advantage of it, I will. I want to keep it. This will naturally enrage Ukippers, but that's actually what makes it even better.
But this is what makes Brexit wholly neutral economically. It is therefore up to business to explain why, when the regulatory regime stays the same and there are no new barriers to trade, why it is they think Brexit will have such disastrous repercussions. They need to be challenged directly.
It's no coincidence that their policy wonks and CEOs speak to us via the legacy media rather than directly through twitter. They'd be torn to pieces. In this regard, the economics need to be shelved except for the purposes of smacking those idiot hard liner eurosceptics with the reality that the WTO option is a crock.
Naturally, this will bring out the foamer europhiles saying we won't have a seat at the table and we will still pay into the EU budget. In both instances the answer is "so what?". Eventually we will pay less, eventually we will implement fewer laws and we get a direct line to the bodies that make the laws the EU adopts. We get our own vote in all the conventions that form the basis of EU law and we can stop pretending the presence of MEPs has any bearing on the shape of the laws we we end up adopting.
But we've been over this. The details are just petty problematising, and when we're in Efta along with Norway, we will have sufficient momentum to reform the EEA agreement if it be the consensus that we need to. And even that doesn't matter too much either. It's a good compromise and a good starting point in order to evolve out of the EU.
And that's really the point. There is no leaving the EU as such. We can only really evolve out of it in the same way that we evolved into it, maintaining cooperation in all the internal EU agreements as we go, using our external status to bring others into the fold. By evolving out of the EU and broadening the scope of pan-EU cooperation projects, incorporating UNECE we can, by stealth, turn the EU into what it should have been. We can turn it into pragmatic rather than dogmatic entity. We're not going to get that while we stay in the EU.
So really this is not just about Britain. It's about leading Europe and creating institutions fit for the modern world. What we need more than ever is a democratic forum for multilateralism where problems can be solved without going via a central entity that must rubber stamp everything after tedious consultations with unconnected parties.
When people say Brexit is not just an economic issue, they are right, but I would go one further and say it isn't even an economic issue. In that regard, when europhiles tell us that Leavers will never be satisfied with any "reform" on offer, they are absolutely right. Supranational subordination is never going to be superior to multilateralism. We are always going to demand that democracy comes first.
Moreover, if someone could conclusively prove to me that even the Norway Option would necessarily cause recession I would still say we should do it. If there is a price to pay then let's just pay it and be done with it, because we all know the EU is not sustainable and it isn't democratic and it isn't going to reform, so if there is a price to pay now, then we can only assume the price will be greater down the line when we are forced out the door in less amicable circumstances. The EU needs to go in a particular direction that we will never consent to so Brexit is inevitable if the EU wants to save its own skin.
In this we just have to be pragmatic. In the end, the banks and the corporates need to shut up. This is none of their business. It's not going to be the end of the world, it;s not going to see the collapse of the EU, it isn't going to see Putin rubbing his hands with glee and it won't see NATO weaken or any of the headache inducing bullshit we have seen up to press. Yes, all the EU alternatives are suboptimal, but then so is the EU. Even for a europhiles it's a throat clearing exercise to say that the EU has an unresolvable democratic deficit - and casually so, as though that were tolerable. It isn't.
Brexit is no silver bullet but it is a baby step in the right direction. It's a gesture that says the world is going in the different direction and the EU is welcome to join us. It's about making use of the global forums to do for the world what the EEC did for Europe when it was still relevant. Brexit is the beginning of a long journey toward a new model of world governance and domestic democracy that can properly withstand the negatives of globalisation in ways that the EU simply can't.
As much as anything, that's a new challenge for Britain and humanity in general. And that's what we need more than anything else. As I have previously remarked, if you have a dig around Hansard you'll see that the EU debate is almost identical in substance and rhetoric to 1975 and 1991. It is stultifying and it is murdering politics. We hear talk about uncertainly and I can't help thinking "yes please". The certainty on offer doesn't look all that appealing, and I don't know about you but listening to the eurosaurs droning on about their pet project (along with its whinging critics) is driving me to the edge of sanity.
If we vote to remain in the EU, it's not going to resolve anything. There's going to be no essential reform, the inherent problems will stay the same and the mechanisms will be just as unsuitable as ever they were and just as ill-equipped to address the problems of the ever evolving global political landscape. There's simply no good argument for persisting with something that doesn't really work for us. Why not try something different?
If anybody can break with the old successfully it's Britain. Fear of the unknown is not a good enough reason to remain and in any case, there isn't much that is unknown about this. There would be if we were going down the path as set out by the Brexit hardliners but their vision is so far fetched it's just not worth considering. There is no full sovereignty, there is no "making our own laws" nor is there any such thing as full border control. We won't be having any spending splurges either. They're just not serious.
Political reality means Brexit will be far less radical than anybody anticipated, it's not going to cause the sky to fall in, but it's not going to make us the New Hong Kong either. All it is is a political gesture to say that if there is to be a supreme government for Europe, then Europe is welcome to it, but we're not going to be ruled by it. We're saying we're happy to cooperate with it, we welcome it is a friend and ally but Britain's destiny is to be a bridge between Europe and the world. It's a procedural step, the first of many and there's nothing much to lose by it, so really, why all the fuss? This is getting silly now. Let's just do it and be done with it.