The European Union (withdrawal) Bill 2:- Power grab?

In the first article looking at the European Union Withdrawal Bill, we set out the principle behind it but pointed out that it was impossible for EU regulations and directives to be transferred verbatim onto out statute books. As an example, we used one of the shortest and indeed, most pointless of all Regulations,  the so-called “Cuddly Toy Sheep” Regulation 1462/2006.

The object of this regulation is pretty simple  – that the toy in question may be given the appropriate  classification code for customs purposes. If we were to use the same codes on Brexit and use similar customs checking processes, transposition of this law into domestic law ought to be pretty simple. We remove all references to the Commission, the Treaties and references to Member states, extract the important bits, find a new template, perhaps even using the relevant bits of a piece of pre-1973 legislation, change a few words here and there and Bob’s your uncle! All done.

Actually, no. The Regulation we have been using as an example cross-references another Regulation 2913/92. This reference will have to be changed. Then the regulation which is cross-referenced talks about the Community Customs Code. Even if we were to be as foolish as to seek some sort of customs union with the EU, which we argued was very unwise, this bit will need to be re-worked as the term “Community Customs Code” would not be appropriate to describe the customs arrangements of an ex-member state.

So it is quite apparent that even a simple piece of EU legislation which our Government may wish to retain in a way that it works after Brexit exactly as it did before will need to be re-written in places. Given that in October 2015, the EU acquis amounted to 23,076 pieces of legislation and has grown further since, it is very apparent that our teams of Civil Servants will have a massive task on their hands  if everything will be ready for Brexit day.

If this concept is relatively straightforward to explain, a more complex issue is concept of the superiority of EU law over domestic legislation.  Our accession to the European Union granted power to the EU to introduce or amend legislation superior over British law “without further enactment.” (These three words come verbatim from the European Communities Act 1972.) On leaving the EU, what status do EU laws have relative to earlier domestic legislation? This is not an easy question to answer, even if you are a lawyer.

The concern among both Opposition MPs and the devolved assemblies in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Northern Ireland is that a combination of the re-writing process and the complexity of any new relationship between legislation which originated in Westminster and that which was passed down to us from Brussels will actually change the make-up of our statute books without Parliament being consulted or even being aware.  In other words, the Government  will use the EU (Withdrawal) Bill as an opportunity to further its own political agenda without requiring Parliamentary scrutiny. It certainly does appear to  strengthen the hand of the executive, rather than Parliament, because of the delegated powers it contains.

At the heart of this so-called “power grab” is the use of the Statutory Instrument – a facility which, in certain situations allows the government to make or amend legislation without Parliament having he power to change or even debate it. Given that MPs are our elected representatives, the very existence of anything which allows the democratic process to be bypassed is unsatisfactory. There is, however, a certain irony in the loudest critics of the use of Statutory Instruments being europhiles – after all they support our EU membership which reduced the power of Westminster. Ken Clarke famously said in 1996 ““I look forward to the day when the Westminster Parliament is just a council chamber in Europe” so any new-found commitment to Parliamentary democracy is somewhat hypocritical given the real loyalties of Europhile MPs lie in Brussels, not Westminster.

There is no doubt that Brexit provides us with an opportunity to re-boot our complete democratic process and indeed, this needs to go well beyond giving Parliament greater opportunity to hold the government to account by strengthening its powers of scrutiny. Our democratic process should be re-vamped to give us, the people, greater power over the people we elect to represent us and ot hold them to account if they, individually or collectively, do a bad job.

But that is for the future. The immediate concern of groups like Unlock Democracy is that the sheer complexity of repatriating EU law is that some legislation derived from EU Regulations and Directives may be weakened or lose its force completely. There is another possibility that the amount of work required in re-working all this legislation will end up with ambiguities more by accident than design.

The Hansard Society has come up with three proposals which at least mitigate these concerns:-

  1.  The EU (Withdrawal) Bill should be amended to circumscribe the powers it delegates more tightly.
  2. A new, bespoke, EU (Withdrawal) Order strengthened scrutiny procedure should be introduced for the exercise of the widest delegated powers
  3. A new House of Commons ‘sift and scrutiny’ system – with a dedicated Delegated Legislation Scrutiny Committee – should be established for all delegated legislation

These are eminently sensible suggestions. The only problem is the timescale. We cannot afford to arrive at Brexit day with any gaping holes in our legal system. To take one obvious example – there will be little if any pre-1973 domestic legislation relating to information technology, the Internet or mobile phones. Massive developments have taken place in these fields since we joined what has become the EU. It is therefore very likely that most of the legislation regulation which govern them comes from the EU. If a given piece of EU legislation slips through the net, some important aspects of day-to-day life for many of us would be completely unregulated.

This piece only scratches at the surface of the complexities our politicians and civil servants face. A huge task lies ahead of them and one which is even more critical than securing a trade deal with the EU.

However given we are talking about well over 20,000 items of legislation, are there some which are so obviously inimical to our interests as an independent, sovereign nation that they should be excluded from the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill altogether? We will consider this subject in the next article.

A reasonable divorce bill?

Mrs May, so we were told last Sunday, has decided to agree a £50 billion divorce bill with the EU, although the UK’s Chief negotiator, David David has denied this, saying that it was “complete nonsense”.

Accounts appeared in several papers suggesting that the government would be paying between £7 billion and £17 billion for three years after Brexit, but that payments would cease by 2022 – the year of the next General Election.

There is a sizeable group of Brexit supporters who believe that we should pay absolutely nothing to the EU after we become independent. “Not a a penny to the blackmailers!” says one comment to the article cited above. Others would not take such a hard-line position, maintaining that we should honour our obligations to the end of the current seven-year budget cycle, which ends in 2020.

Whatever, it is hard to justify the figure of £100 billion which the EU is demanding. Our current net budget contribution amounts to somewhere in the order of £10 billion and was not predicted to rise that much up to the end of the EU’s budget cycle or beyond.

Of course, the EU is not only losing a member state but losing a net contributor to the EU budget. In only one year since joining in 1973 has the UK received more money from the EU than in paid in. Günther Oettinger, the EU Commissioner responsible for the budget, reckons that Brexit could make a hole as big as €20 billion in the EU’s finances.

During the last round of Brexit talks, Michel Barnier, the EU’s negotiator, was distinctly unhappy with the UK negotiating team’s three-hour line-by-line rebuttal of the EU’s expensive divorce bill. There does seem, however, little justification for the figure demanded by the EU.

Perhaps the most sober estimate of a reasonable divorce settlement comes from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales. It has produced a report suggesting that the likely cost should end up somewhere between £5 billion and £30 billion. The most likely figure, £15 billion, would equate to be £225 for every person living in the UK in 2019.  This is roughly on a par with our net annual contribution to the EU budget – in other words, how much we pay after the rebate and agricultural subsidies are deducted.

The full report can be downloaded here. It includes spending which has been authorised but not yet incurred, which will be hard to avoid. ICAEW’s study puts this figure at £28 billion.

On the other hand, there are assets which we can cash in. We have a 16% stake in the European Investment Bank, estimated to amount to some £10 billion by 2019. With ownership restricted to EU members, our shareholding will need to be sold.

The authors also indicate that some additional expenditure will be needed to complete the Brexit process. After all,  for one thing, extra staff will need to be employed for what will be complex but one-off negotiations.

The report considers that the most contentious issue may be any ongoing commitment to infrastructure projects in the former Soviet bloc countries. After all, the state of infrastructure in the UK leaves much to be desired and given the claims that some UK workers, including teachers and nurses, are worse off now in real terms than they were five years ago, it would not be unwise for Mr Davis and his team to argue that charity must begin at home.

We have been somewhat critical of certain aspects of the government’s approach to the  Brexit negotiations recently, but when it comes to the divorce settlement, there is no question that it is the EU which is being most unreasonable in the sum it is demanding.

Photo by aronbaker2

Re-taking our place in the world

At least a third of voters always planned on leaving the EU and were not going to be persuaded otherwise. This didn’t happen on the back of something written on a bus. This was cumulative. For many the final straw was the Lisbon Treaty which was in effect an EU constitution giving it a legal personality in world affairs.

For something that so radically changed our relationship with what was (and still is) viewed as a trade relationship, it should have been put to a referendum. That our political establishment set about ratifying it, using any means at their disposal to dodge a referendum, was evidence of a political establishment which had long since given up any sense of obligation to seek consent when acting in regard to the EU.

What compounds that act was the fact that those who voted for it had very little idea what they were agreeing to. Remainers often complain that there was no impact assessment for Brexit, yet where was the comprehensive national debate over ratifying Lisbon?

We leavers warned that Lisbon would make EU membership all but impossible to reverse – and to an extent we were right. Brexit is no easy feat – and to do it properly will take more than a decade. Our main concern at the time was that the EU is a long term project which gathers its powers by stealth, creeping ever more toward a federalist entity.

Where possible I have tended to avoid the term “European superstate” largely because that kind of terminology lands you in kipper territory where that kind of hackneyed rhetoric is an instant turn off. But that is exactly what the EU is and though remainers can nominally say that we retain our sovereignty, the question is over what? – and for how much longer?

In that regard you have to look up the chain to see how this affects the UK. As we continue to argue, the centre of the regulatory universe is increasingly Geneva, not Brussels – where the WTO TBT agreement provides the foundation of a global regulatory union.

Critics point out that implementation of this is hotly disputed and that its installation is piecemeal and subject to a number of registered exceptions, but like the EU, it is not the status quo that concerns us, rather it is the direction of travel.

While I have always been opposed to trade being an occupied field, the nature of trade agreements is changing, encompassing ever more regulatory measures extending far beyond what we would traditionally call a trade barrier. In order to eliminate distortions in labour, for example the shipping industry using Filipino slave labour, we increasingly adopt International Labour Organisation conventions in trade agreements.

Superficially there is no reason for alarm but what this means in practice is that for the EU to continue with trade exclusivity it must assume exclusive competence over areas not traditionally concerned with trade. In order to tie up these loose ends and overlaps there will eventually be a need for a new EU treaty which involves another substantial transfer of powers. But in the meantime, the ECJ will be the instrument of integration, confiscating ever more powers by the back door.

The eventual destination in this is the deletion of EU member states as independent actors on any of the global forums, with access to them controlled exclusively by Brussels. We would no longer have a voice in our own right and being bound to the EU customs code we would cease to be an independent country in all the ways that matter. This, to me, is why Brexit is absolutely necessary and the high price is one worth paying.

Remainers would argue that we still maintain significant influence by way of being an EU member. Superficially this is correct and Brexit will, temporarily, lead to a loss of influence. But whose influence is it anyway? We are told that the UK was instrumental in pushing for EU expansion. That remains a bad idea and accession states will remain in a state of limbo until such a point as there is a major political or financial crisis – or they leave of their own accord.

But this goes back to the opening premise. It’s no good to say that we have influence in Europe if we have no influence over our government. What remainers say when they say “we” have influence, they mean our permissive, unaccountable, political élites have influence – but actually only in those instances where their ambitions are in alignment with the ideology of the EU.

As much as Brexit is about severing the political integration of the EU, it is also a slapdown for our political class who have never had any intention of seeking consent – and where the EU is concerned, will tell any lie to that end.

In a lot of respects the classic arguments against the EU are legacy complaints where the damage cannot be undone. Leaving the EU does not reverse or remedy what was done to us and for the most part the UK has adapted to the new paradigm. What concerns us is whether there are the necessary safeguards to prevent yet more sweeping changes in the face of globalisation.

We are told that trade liberalisation is good for us – and on a philosophical and technical level I’m not going to argue, but on the human level, it has consequences that directly impact our lives.  This is something we should have a say in, be it opening our markets to American agriculture or letting market forces eat away at our steel industry. There are strategic concerns as well as the economic – and a dogmatic adherence to the principles of free trade is dangerous.

In recent times we have seen EU trade deals derailed because of concerns like chlorine washed chickens, but one suspects this is largely motivated by an inherent anti-Americanism, and were these topics included in any other trade agreement, nobody would have ever uttered the phrase “chlorinated chicken” – and we’d already be eating it.

The fact is that too much is going on out of sight and out of mind. Brexit is a remedy to that. We have already seen a robust debate on the shape of a future UK-US agreement and I fully expect other deals to come under similar scrutiny. I know the powerful UK agriculture lobby will be watching very closely indeed.

As much as Brexit is necessary as a defensive measure against hyper-globalisation, it is also about restoring the UK as an independent actor. As far as most people are concerned, foreign policy is just who we decide who to drop bombs on and who to dole out humanitarian aid. This is what happens when trade, a crucial element of foreign policy, is broken out of policy making and farmed out to the EU. It leaves all the strands of foreign policy happening in abstract to any coherent agenda while removing one of the more useful leverage tools.

Brexit is a means of reintegrating all of these separate strands so that we can have an effective presence on the world stage without seeking a convoluted compromise through Brussels – assuming we can get permission to act at all. The best part of it is that it does not preclude close cooperation with the EU. Obviously Brexit does not give us a free hand and our legacy ties with the EU will be a constraint, but it opens the way for more imaginative approaches than cumbersome EU FTAs.

One overlooked facet of the Brexit debate is that it gives us the opportunity to reconfigure a lot of the agreements we already have via the EU. In most respects, carrying over EU deals need not be a great headache, not least since we are maintaining existing schedules – but it’s the extras we can reappraise. In the EU-Singapore agreement there is a dedicated section on renewable energy – largely reproducing WTO tract. We could either enhance or delete these sections, establishing new joint ventures and working parities, including a number of sectors not touched on by the EU.

This need not happen in competition with the EU, rather it can be a complimentary strategy where one of Europe’s trading powers is free to explore avenues which could potentially benefit all of the EU. Having a major trading nation not bound by the bureaucratic inertia of the EU could well be a secret weapon for Brussels. That would make future EU-UK relations a strategic partnership rather than a subordinate relationship. There is no reason why Brexit cannot be mutually beneficial. All it takes is a little bit of vision.

People Power

The word “democracy” means literally “rule of the people” – or perhaps more loosely, “people power”. Those of us old enough to remember the 1970s comedy Citizen Smith will recall that the favourite rallying cry of “Wolfie” Smith,  the young Marxist who modelled himself on Che Guevara and was the self-proclaimed leader of the revolutionary Tooting Popular Front, was “Power to the People!”

Wherever Wolfie’s beloved Marxism has taken power, however, the net result has been anything but power to the people. Indeed, the country where ordinary people really have the greatest power, Switzerland, has been for many years at the very bottom of the league of potential Marxist revolutionary hotspots.

Your author is an unashamed fan of Switzerland’s political system – its decentralisation and above all, its use of binding referendums to step in where the country’s elected representatives fall short, thus clipping the wings of excessively ambitious politicians. No fear of a Tony Blair ever becoming Prime Minister in this bastion of Alpine tranquility.

Why, oh why, has this well-run country not thus far inspired other lands to learn from its example – especially given that mistrust of politicians is so widespread  – and not just in the UK?

In Germany, admittedly, referendums have a bad name because of Hitler’s misuse of them, intimidating voters and rigging the ballot in a 1934 plebiscite which granted him supreme power. However, this is like saying that all cars are a bad thing because some lunatic caused a motorway pile-up by crashing on the M4 at 120mph.

In this country, we haven’t held referendums in this country until recently and some people don’t like them because they are not part of our historical settlement. Clement Attlee, the Labour Prime Minister from 1945 to 1951, once said, “I could not consent to the introduction into our national life of a device so alien to all our traditions as the referendum.”

Things are very different now, however. In 1945, politicians were not treated with contempt nor regarded with anything like the same degree of mistrust as they are today. It’s time for a re-think on how we are governed and as part of this process, the role of the referendum has to be given careful consideration. It may not have been historically part of our political system, but attitudes do change over the years – after all, representative democracy, which we now take for granted, didn’t have a particularly good press as recently as the 19th Century. The historian Thomas Carlyle believed that democracy was incapable of addressing the problems of poverty and a benign dictatorship was the only answer.

What is more, recent referendums, including both the Scottish independence vote in 2014 and last June’s Brexit vote, have generated not only a renewed interest in politics but a desire to have a say in shaping the future direction of our country.

At the moment, all we, the general public, can do is highlight issues of concern, either by writing letters to candidates or addressing questions to them in public meetings. It has been particularly striking how many campaign groups have been providing guidelines for questioning candidates on the particular topics of concern to them, be it freedom, the environment, development on the Green Belt, hunting or whatever. We in CIB have been producing questionnaires on the subject of fisheries and civil liberties – two of our particular concerns.

Pressure does make a difference. We have recently seen the Conservatives climb down on the so-called “dementia tax” because it was so clearly going to be a vote loser. However, once we get to 8th June, our influence on the political process diminishes dramatically. Whatever the victorious party has or has not included in its manifesto, there is very little we can do hold it to account and stop it breaking its promises once it is in power. We can’t kick out MPs who are not up to scratch, so we’re stuck with them until the next General Election.

This is very unsatisfactory. After all, these MPs are elected as our representatives. We pay their salaries and what is more, after March 2019, they can no longer hide behind the excuse that such and such a course of action is not  possible because of our membership of the European Union.

It is impractical totally to replace representative democracy with direct democracy (i.e., referendums). Ancient Athens operated for a while as a direct democracy, but it was only possible because the franchise was confined to Athenian citizens who could spend quite a bit of time voting while the slave population kept the place ticking over. However, in the internet age, direct democracy has never been easier and Switzerland is proof that introducing a measure of direct democracy, far from being unworkable, destabilising or untenable without large numbers of slaves, results in a free and prosperous country.

Different people had different reason for voting to leave the EU. For me, not only was it a desire to rid my country of control from Brussels; it was the possibilities for change once this was achieved – including a much-needed reboot of the whole process of government in this country, bringing power closer to the people.

Of course, we’ve got to get out of the EU first and then we’ve got to elect politicians who are happy to do less and let us – the people – do more, but as a nation, for much of our history we have been up with the front runners when it comes to freedom and calling our rulers to account. Having slammed into reverse gear in 1973, we have a lot of ground to catch up. The federal Swiss model may not be appropriate in every detail for the UK, but it provides a good starting point for giving much more “power to the people” – in other words, capitalising on the renewed interest in shaping our political future which Brexit has created.

Photo by Wagner T. Cassimiro “Aranha”

The uniqueness of the breadth of anti-EU sentiment in the UK

Next Wednesday, Parliament will be dissolved in preparation for June’s General election. The final Prime Minister’s Question Time has already taken place and it provided an opportunity for retiring MPs to make their voice heard in the debating chamber for the last time.

Quite a number of MPs have already indicated that they will not be seeking re-election. Some, like Alan Johnson, who headed up the thankfully ineffective Labour in for Britain campaign last year, will be no great loss. His colleague Gisela Stuart is a different matter, however. One of the few solidly pro-leave Labour MPs, Mrs Stuart’s eyes were opened   when she was appointed as one of the UK Parliamentary Representatives to the European Convention, which was tasked with drawing up a new constitution for the European Union.

Another veteran pro-leave MP to be stepping down is Sir Gerald Howarth, the Member for Aldershot since 1997, with whom I shared a platform last May at a debate held in nearby Farnham.

These two individuals, from different parties but united in their opposition to our membership of the EU, epitomise the uniqueness of anti-EU sentiment in the UK and ultimately, why we were able to secure a sufficient majority to leave.

Historically, in most member states, anti-EU sentiment has been primarily a phenomenon of either neo-fascists or the political left. Jacques Delors’ “Social Europe” of the 1980s won round most Socialist parties to supporting the EU, including our own Labour Party. Sections of the Far Left remained irreconcilable and as Delors’ vision has faded with the EU gradually turning into a honeypot for lobbyists from multinational businesses, they have further reason for their opposition. In this country, even though left-of-centre anti-EU sentiment in the UK has never been as strong as it was in the 1970s and early 1980s, it never died out completely.

What marks out the UK as unique, however, is the strength of Thatcherite anti-EU sentiment. The centre-right Christian Democrat-type parties in the other member states are solid supporters of federalism. David Cameron’s pledge to pull the Conservative Party’s MEPs out of the European People’s Party grouping in the European Parliament, which includes Angela Merkel’s CDU and France’s “Les Republicains”, when seeking to become Conservative leader, was one of the reasons for his success. It was probably no great issue for the ideology-light Cameron, but many of his MPs were aghast at their colleagues in Brussels being bedfellows of unreconstructed federalists.

The Campaign for an Independent Britain has always sought to act as an umbrella group for anti-EU organisations on both the left and right of the political spectrum and by and large, we have found that the vast majority of pro-withdrawalists have been willing to work together, notwithstanding their differences over other issues.

Indeed, this held true during the referendum campaign itself. Some left-of-centre Brexit campaigners felt that Martin Durkin’s Brexit the Movie presented a vision of an independent UK which was too free market and Thatcherite for their taste and produced their own Lexit video to offer a more socialist picture of life after the EU. This did not preclude left- and right-leaning withdrawalists sharing of platforms, nor did differences in other matters obscure the considerable degree of overlap. Ultimately, the undemocratic nature of the EU and its progressive erosion of our national sovereignty is not an issue which is the exclusive concern of any one part of the political spectrum.

This is because the scale of revulsion over the EU’s intrusion into the political process in our nation is born out of something which transcends party politics – our long-standing tradition of freedom and our mature democracy. This is without parallel in most other EU member states. Only the Netherlands and the Scandinavian countries can begin to compare with us in this area.

And thankfully, this deep-seated loathing of foreign interference in our affairs was sufficient to bind an otherwise disparate group of MPs and activists together and secure the magnificent result of 23rd June. To all those departing pro-leave MPs who are bowing out:- Ladies and Gentlemen, enjoy your retirement and thank you for your efforts. We owe you a great debt.

Why Herr Steinmeier is so wrong about Brexit

Last Tuesday, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the newly-elected President of Germany, delivered a very outspoken message to the European Parliament, highly critical of the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

“It is wrong to say, in my conviction, that in this world a single European country standing alone and without the EU can make its voice heard or assert its economic interests”, he said. “Quite to the contrary.” He called last year’s Leave campaign “naive and irresponsible” and strongly attacked the concept of taking back control. “Take back control is a strong slogan that we hear everywhere. Nationalists are unable to deliver it and if it can be delivered at all, it is something we can only do together. It is irresponsible to lead people to believe that, in a world that is becoming more complex, the answers are becoming more simple.” He dismissed our desire to return to being a self-governing nation state and called those of us who voted to leave the EU “bitter”.

Earlier in the day, Manfred Weber, a fellow-German who leads the European People’s Party grouping in the European Parliament said that “Some of the politicians in London have not understood what leaving the European Union means. It means being alone.”

It is very apparent than many on the Continent still feel very uncomfortable about Brexit. This is not going to make the already complex task which our negotiators are about to begin any easier, but this does not alter the fact that we were right in voting to leave the EU and regain our sovereignty.

Herr Weber’s claim that we will be alone is a very myopic, Eurocentric view of the world. On leaving the EU, the UK will still be a member of the G20, G8, NATO, the Commonwealth, the World Trade Organisation and a host of other international bodies. We will regain the ability to arrange our own trade deals with other countries. Places at our universities will still be in demand worldwide. London will still be a magnet for tourists – and a global financial centre to boot. Hardly a picture of splendid isolation.

It must be conceded that a change of mindset will be needed in both Westminster and Whitehall. Our politicians and civil servants will need to adjust to the hard truth that the buck will soon stop with them and no longer with anyone in Brussels. This is hardly a bad thing, however and is after all, the norm in the 160+ countries that are not members of the EU.

More importantly, however, Steinmeier’s defence of pooled sovereignty is an anachronism. It goes back to the immediate post-war period when politicians and bureaucrats between them were seen as the answer to all the issues facing the world at that time. Seventy years on, politicians and bureaucrats have instead become part of the problem.  Only a handful of anarchists and libertarians believe that mankind could one day manage without any government, but there is a very convincing case to be made that we need a lot less government and such government as we do require needs to be a lot more accountable to us, the voters. The EU’s institutions, notably the unelected Commission, are far more accountable to lobbyists and big multinationals than to the voters of the member states.

To suggest therefore that an organisation with as serious a democratic deficit as the EU is necessary to solve the world’s problems is quite frankly laughable. The EU’s track record in addressing issues in its own back yard, such as the migrant crisis, is hardly impressive and it must bear much of the responsibility for the catastrophe which has engulfed Greece in recent years.

Meanwhile, non-EU Switzerland and Norway seem unpeturbed by their seeming economic impotence  Both the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank reckon them among the top 10 wealthiest nations in the world.  Leaving the EU is not going to result in the UK shooting up the rankings as soon as the Brexit deal is signed, sealed and delivered, but it will at least set us up for a longer-term recovery from the long, wasted years of subservience to Brussels.

In short, Herr Steinmeier’s criticism of Brexit voters as “bitter” is complete and utter baloney. There may well be a few bumps on the rocky road to Brexit, but the underlying reasons for wanting to leave this club of failures are sound and sensible. After all, is it really “naive” or “irresponsible” merely to wish to re-join the rest of the world whose nations seem to manage remarkably well without being members of the EU?