One of the more compelling arguments for Brexit was that our politicians had set upon a course of making themselves redundant, effectively abdicating the difficult business of structured governance and in so doing became a dismal band of prod-noses banning things and interfering with our lives in unwelcome ways, often taking on activities best performed by councils.
Now that we are leaving the EU they've had to drop their bicycle shed syndrome displacement activity and focus on the issues at hand. It's instructive just how ill-equipped they are for the task and watching them flail around further demonstrates why we needed to leave the EU. Institutionally we have lost the capacity for self governance. The experience and knowledge is no longer there.
That is not to say that we should not leave the EU. Quite the reverse. It just means that we have to go through the long and painful process of reacquiring that skill. But it's not just our politicians who have lost the knack for their trade. Our media is increasingly in the dark having thrown real journalism to the wolves. Instead all we get is self-serving sensationalist drivel. Ian Dunt again.
He notes that "In a speech at the Conservative party conference, May promised that Britain would now control how it labels food. But these rules have nothing to do with the EU. They come from a general code at the World Trade Organisation (WTO). For May to deliver on this promise, she would have to adopt the North Korean model of total isolation. She either didn’t know what she was saying was nonsense, or didn’t care".
What Mrs May has said on the matter is neither here nor there. Her ignorance is not in dispute but it should be noted that Dunt is no better. FAO Codex is just one of the many standards setting bodies in vast global nexus of such bodies of varying legitimacy. One of the reasons the investors are not worried about regulatory divergence is because there is no chance whatsoever that we will deviate from core industry standards, not least in energy and aerospace. They are global. I spent two hours in a company strategy meeting today, listening to the French owners very positive outlook and no mention was ever made of Brexit.
What Dunt makes no mention of in his self-serving rants is that UK membership of the EU neutralises our rights on all of these bodies and the UK decision is subordinate to that of the EU. We are therefore often forced to vote against our own interests to protect French and German defensive interests. They protect their manufacturing when we want to liberalise services. The model doesn't work for the UK.
In this, Dunt is absolutely right in that Brexit very much does shift the battlefield from Brussels to Geneva. And that is the whole point. For the first time in a very long time Britain will have a voice in its own right, and a right of opt out. We will be participating fully at the top tables rather than using the dysfunctional EU as a go between.
As noted at the beginning of this piece, while parliament has gradually abdicated its own responsibilities, the EU has over the last twenty years been doing almost exactly the same, with MEPs no longer able to make substantive alterations to standards, they themselves have taken to meddlesome virtue signalling displacement activity. In that regard the Parliament is more of a joke than it ever was.
Effectively the entire system of rules based trade has gone into autopilot with very little attention paid to it and virtually no oversight. That which does not come to us via the EU comes onto the statute book via Statutory Instruments, or hidden in global accords which our MPs never even read before ratifying. It is now the case that if business interests want to modify regulations and standards they send their own representatives to the global bodies and private regulators and sidestep the rubber stamping mechanism entirely.
That we have shifted the battlefield now brings to light a whole universe of issues once assumed to be an EU competence. Now it is in the light of day we see that the EU is but a political showman taking credit where none is due. This prompts us to ask what is the honest to god point of it? We increasingly see that customs cooperation is made up of regulatory mechanisms made over the heads of the EU and if the EU did not presently exist we wouldn't bother to invent it.
Though Dunt's misapprehension of who sets the standards is amusing, it is at least a crack in the dam. Sooner or later, we will have a long outstanding national debate about the nature of the laws we receive, who is making them and how we effectively scrutinise them. The horizons have lifted and dismal euro-parochialism is about to die a death. We will now start to engage in the world as it is rather than through the prism of the EU as the alpha and omega of imported rules.
That the Prime Minister is entirely ignorant of this is telling, and it is no surprise that headcase Brexiteers are still in denial over it, but Brexit above all properly contextualises the EU as a bit part, not the whole of the process. Throughout the politico-media class there is a sudden dawning that things might be a little more complex than they seem, and though Dunt is dining out on that meme he himself has a long way to go before comprehending the scale of it.
Dunt's modus operandi is to sensationalise Brexit complications as though there were no solutions, weaving in a hard Brexit scare because he knows his readers are just ignorant enough not to call him out on it. This kind of cynical opportunism I utterly despise. In truth it is a relief to see the system awakening from its four decade long slumber, and though it would be preferable if they would pick up the pace a bit, coming to terms with the issues is long overdue and very very welcome.
I expect it will take a long time for the government to get to grips with the issues but it seems the chief obstacle to this is the wastrels on both sides of the debate who seek to obscure the issues for their own ends. Call it what you like but it isn't journalism.
Dunt makes the case that our approach to WTO schedules means that we cannot trade in tariffs. Though he is right to point out that this stymies the delusions of tariff obsessed brexiteers (tariffistas as I now call them), he makes no mention that trade is geared to the removal of non-tariff barriers which still remain the key obstacle to African goods qualifying for export to the EU. Brexit gives us the scope and agility, and right of initiative, so that we can sidestep the EU and bring that about in ways the EU cannot, having fixated on big bang comprehensive deals like TTIP which are increasingly prone to failure.
Though Britain will never be entirely freed of external obligations we have at least gained the right to say no and the ability to act globally should we choose to do so. It will take a different form to that which the tariffistas envisage but Britain can very much administer a shot in the arm for global trade. As to the rest of of Brexit, it is mere administration. Yes it is complex, yes it has inherent risks, and you will get no argument from me that we presently lack the necessary competence. But that is the price we pay for letting our MPs put policymaking into stasis and shirking their responsibilities.
What that tells us is that the first order of business post-Brexit is a new constitution that prevents our MPs ever doing this to us again and a further examination of sovereignty issues to put proper oversight on the global nexus of rulemakers - and ensure we have a proper defence against it. Brexit of itself has opened up a far reaching debate about the shape and the future of our democracy which makes Brexit a good in itself.
Where trade is concerned, there is every advantage in being outside the EU and I still take the view that the short term losses can be compensated for and over the longer term independence, while keeping a high level of customs cooperation with the EU, will prove to be more valuable than EU membership. We may even stand a chance of having real democracy rather than the pastiche of it in Strasbourg.
Brexit to my mind marks a reawakening of grown up politics and though it is ugly, and at times tense, and at times intensely boring, we are at least starting to ask all of the right questions in areas where we have long stopped paying attention. The system has ossified and decayed and the state of our politics and media is very much a symptom of it.
It actually says a lot that a second rate thicko like Dunt is viewed as an authority in the bubble. I don't know what games you have to play or how low you have to stoop to make it in that grubby little London swamp, but if the sum product of such activity means becoming a manipulative worm like him, then it's certainly not worth it. The Brexit bloggers will have their day when cold, hard reality exposes these frauds for what they are.