Thursday, 20 October 2016

Breaking Brexit: FTAs, Infighting, Or Intractable EU?

Britannia stranded alone on a desert island cartoon by Wendy Cockcroft
I've been predicting for a while that Brexit will fizzle out and die whimpering due to the fact that the Brexit brigade had no plan for how to move the UK out of its union with Europe without upending our economy and our society. This is how it looks likely to pan out.

FTAs


We've got several of those on the go at the moment including CETA (this is at the ratification stage), TTIP (the US version) and TiSA, which is basically a banksters' bazaar. The latest news about CETA is actually quite encouraging. I've been blogging about it for 38 Degrees, when I wrote about the court case in Germany and how the judges had ruled that the temporary imposition couldn't go ahead without parliamentary consent. This is where we're up to now:

CETA on the brink of collapse


Tomorrow 21/10/2016, the EU Council is due to meet up to discuss how to move the ailing treaty on because the Belgian Walloons are adamantly refusing to approve it and the Romanians and Bulgarians are refusing to sign it off due to a visa dispute with Canada. Meanwhile, European Parliament President Martin Schulz is citing popular support among the left/liberals and says, "This is a new kind of trade agreement which is introducing basic social rights in our trade relations." If that were true we wouldn't be opposing it. But it's not, so we are. In any case the level of secrecy in which it was negotiated wouldn't have been necessary as only a fool would reject a trade agreement that was conceived with their welfare in mind, amirite? Oh, and our Parliament won't have a chance to debate it until after it's been signed. Can't have MPs poring over the text beforehand, can we?

Estonia has come on board but there's still widespread opposition. This is not helped by the fact that the much-vaunted provisional application terms are pretty vague. As the EU Commission continues to stomp all over democracy itself it's good to know that our MEPs have got our back.

Infighting


Our Glorious Leader Theresa May has apparently been slapping down her own cabinet members over immigration and other Brexit pain points. This is one of the stress fractures I believe will bring it crashing down; Brexit was predicated on "taking back control of our borders." Good luck with that. Meanwhile, the Three Brexiteers are merrily scrapping like cats in a sack. If May keeps handbagging and haranguing her own cabinet, expect mutiny and an early election that might possibly hand the premiership over to Jeremy Corbyn. I've noticed that the Labour bitterites have gone quiet lately; I can't help wondering whether or not their talk of continuing the fight is being tempered by the insinuation that Donald Trump is planning something similar if he loses the presidential election. A brief look at Congressional dysfunction in America is enough to tell me that people who undermine the unity and functionality of their respective parties and national institutions because they're bad losers cause more problems than they solve because the discord they sow is ego-driven and has little to do with principle.

The legal stuff


There's a major court case going on now to decide whether a Royal Perogative action by PM May or an Act of Parliament will trigger Brexit. This is because the Brexit brigade are terrified that Parliament might vote against it, and thereby vote against the will of the people but public opinion can change.
I can't help thinking that the depth and breadth of the mess will start to turn people against Brexit. The tabloids can carp and the broadsheets can thunder but even they will start to change their tune soon enough. And when they change, public opinion will follow.

Intractable EU


Misinformation about the EU was a driving factor in the Referendum vote to leave it. The worst (and most easily debunked) "fact" is that Europe is composed of hordes of obedient drones committed to ever-closer union and the usurpation of national sovereignty. Okay, the ever-closer union part is true (and I know people who are so bought in to the Kum-ba-yah promised by the federalists that it doesn't occur to them to criticise it) but the hordes are anything but drones, obedient or otherwise. Nationalism is threatening to break up the EU, which makes striking any kind of deal with it an exercise in futility. While the Brexit brigade insist that getting a favourable deal on the table is no problem, the EU wants to make an example of the turncoats lest the other members start to think that maybe they could break away too. EU dysfunction may prevent us from ever signing Article 50 but I doubt the Brexiteers will mind — it's a convenient fig leaf.

The social cost


My employers have dealings with companies in Holland and Germany. Brexit would impinge on that, but closer to home is my sister in law, who is married to a French man and lives with him and their two daughters in France. Would she require a visa to come here for Christmas and other family gatherings? What about Jean-Yves? What about the kids? They were born in Aix. I believe that as these truths begin to hit home a rash of court causes will be fought by people unwilling to accept their fate and when they do, our Glorious Leaders will hopefully pull themselves back from the brink of stupidity.

Honestly I don't think it'll be but one thing that breaks up Brexit; I think it'll be a messy Government, an early election, opposition to globalisation, and being willing to accept the aspects of the EU we don't like in exchange for remaining in it.

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