2018: Must do better

After a week’s break – well, sort of – it’s back to Brexit with a vengeance. The big hope for 2018 is that the government will finally get to grips with what is involved in achieving a seamless divorce from the EU.  At the moment, we seem to be heading for a most unsatisfactory “transitional arrangement” which will see us still stuck in the EU in all but name for a further 21 months.  We would not be able to restrict freedom of movement, we would not regain control of fisheries and we would be stuck with every piece of legislation the EU cares to throw at us without any say in how these laws are framed.

It’s hardly surprising that Theresa May’s popularity is plummeting and public anger is rising as confidence in the ability of her team to deliver a decent Brexit is falling.  A poll conducted by YouGov found that six out of ten think that ministers are negotiating with the EU “badly”.

Two Brexit stories did surface during Christmas week – the welcome return of our traditional blue passports in 2019 and the proposal to award a knighthood to Nick Clegg. Enthusiasm for the former has been dismissed as old fashioned jingoism, but this is to miss the point. The production of our own passports without any reference to the European Union will be a powerful symbol that we are once again a sovereign nation, deciding our own laws and no longer being shoehorned into a madcap project which can only end in a catastrophic failure. The colour of the passport is irrelevant.

As for Nick Clegg’s knighthood, while he did serve as Deputy Prime Minister, viewed from a broader perspective, it is a reward for failure.  After leading his party into coalition with the Conservatives, the Lib Dems were decimated at the following general election. He failed to achieve his great ambition of bringing in a new voting system and then found himself on the wrong side of the Brexit campaign, losing his seat as a result. For anyone who feels that a reward to such an individual is totally misguided, you may like to sign this petition objecting to it. At time of writing, it has already gained over 45,000 signatures.

In 2018, it’s also important for us ordinary Brexit-supporters to up our game. Our enemies are still scheming. We were recently sent this link which comes for a pro-EU website urging people to spend their money supporting pro-EU groups rather than Brexit supporters. Companies and individual on both side of the debate are named. So although we believe it’s time to move on from the divisions of 2016, in the face of such malice, perhaps it behoves us to give our support to the likes of Wetherspoons, Tate & Lyle and Dyson rather than EasyJet or anything connected with the Virgin group.

We also need to up our game in explaining the real reasons for the Brexit vote, especially for the young. The appearance of this piece on the Huffington Post website a full 18 months after the referendum is very sad and deeply concerning.  The author, who identifies himself as a “millenial” still sees the Brexit vote as driven by nostalgia – particularly among older voters. The message still hasn’t got across that it was about re-joining the world instead of being stuck in the myopic, misguided and failing European project. Beyond the EU, the project is viewed negatively in a number of other neighbouring countries – including in some accession states. It’s not just old-fashioned English fogeys who don’t like the idea at all; plenty of ordinary people around the world share their disdain for the project.

The writer enthuses about proportional representation. People like him need to be told that if we really want to update our democracy, the answer is not to change the means by which we choose our elected representatives but the degree to which we can call them to account. Significantly, the best country in Europe, if not the world, to offer us a model for an advanced democracy fit for the 21st century is Switzerland, where “only a few lunatics” want their country to join the EU.

The young will be the main beneficiaries from Brexit. They won’t have to deal with the problem which has plagued us for over 40 years. They will be the main beneficiaries from the cut in migration – which is already happening – as fewer foreigners entering the UK will reduce the pressure on the housing market. Above all, they will reap the financial benefits, which are for the long term rather than for the immediate post-Brexit period. Rather than voting Brexit for selfish reasons, the older generation sought our departure from the EU for the good of their children and grandchildren as much as for themselves. The challenge for all of us in this new year is to get this message across. We too need to do better.

On that note, we in CIB wish you all a Happy New Year.

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  1. Phil JonesReply

    John, I too wonder about the ‘transitional deal’ although on 29 March 2019 the UK will no longer politically be a part of the EU. Article 50 takes effect. The transitional deal to me is simply a temporary transitional trading arrangement. The political tie will be gone. So I’m not too concerned about it. But that would change if I saw some type of shenanigans to try and extend the political union. I don’t think May intends that but I’ll feel more comfortable when we get a better view of things. Certainly EFTA/EEA would represent a continuing poitical union, but I don’t believe May would go for that. It certainly seems that big business is now running the agenda rather than the people’s will to leave the EU as soon as possible. After all the threats and blackmail that we endured before the Referendum it was to me quite clear that the British public didn’t care if there were temporary negative effects on big business from leaving; but now that appears to be the only consideration on May’s mind. So I personally feel betrayed in a way by May in that regard. I would prefer no transitional period and the UK simply enduring some temporary negative business effects. That still may be what ultimately happens if the UK does end up walking away, though May seems to be desperately trying to avoid that scenario.

    • Adam HileyReply

      there may not be a EU soon if the old Eastern block Nations get there act together and leave this sorry organisation

  2. John AshworthReply

    I agree Phil, the transitional period might never happen, because the EU has made it clear phase One has to be sorted before any transitional period allowed.
    It is the fact our government are considering such a route, which would be our worst 21 months of EU involvement, far beyond the present 44 years.
    If it did happen it would mean a treaty, and that opens up another can of worms in the grey area of international law. Can see Lawyers rubbing their hands with glee with legal challenges.
    What an unbelievable mess.

  3. Jason BReply

    We have three very interesting articles with comments to begin the year, ‘The financial settlement etc’, ‘Where do we go now’ and ‘2018 must do better’.

    They bring to mind the common saying “Time and tide wait for no man”. How true. In the given circumstances we are placed in, what would be the better route forward?

  4. david bartropReply

    UKIP are showing a presence in Nottingham on 13 th Jan to protest at the attitude of the pro EU MPs.We need to call for all the fishing back. and world trade rules like the rest of the “grown up” countries around the world, We need news of who wants to buy our goods and who wants to sell us the goods we buy from the EU . How many new trawlers we need and in the meantime because we can’t catch all the fish, how will stocks improve.
    We need to ask these questions of the MPs and leave the EU to flounder as they realise we don’t care if they go bust and we treat them like New Zealand was treated by us and the EU 40 years ago.

    • Adam HileyReply

      there needs to be a campaign to get these remoaning MP’s deselected no more Ken Clarke Anna Soubry or slimy Keir Starmer how great that would be

  5. Ken WorthyReply

    Very good article. It’s alarming that politicians seem to be taking Mrs May’s transition request as almost a given, despite the disastrous position it would put us in. There are two transition alternatives that would not leave us totally under the thumb of the EU, namely a transition under WTO rules, which Pascal Lamy says is quite feasible, or joining the EEA or EFTA for a strictly limited period.
    The WTO option would ensure that the UK and the EU both work under the same rules, instead of the EU calling all the shots during transition. Alternatively, EFTA has the choice of whether or not to adopt new EU rules, so we could avoid anything spiteful devised by the EU during transition to increase our punishment or help them poach business off the City. EFTA also has Special Measures we might use to limit immigration. The risk of course, is that the politicians might keep us there for ever, but that risk also exists for Mrs May’s option.
    This government seems to be an ideas-free zone, stumbling blindly on towards disaster.

  6. Gordon WebsterReply

    Happy New Year to you and the Team John. My prediction is, that we’ll walking the same walk and talking the same talk in January 2018. may was chosen by the Tory suits to keep us in for as long as possible, in the hope that we somehow forget Brexit, or give up all hope. The longer this goes on. the more Brussels will turn the screws, and the more likely it is that the Wimps of Westminster will scream in horror that Brexit must be reversed.
    If they had the slightest intention of leaving the United States of Europe, we would have been out long ago. As the man on QT declared forcefully, ” they think we are all thick up north.” The simple uncomfortable fact is, that both Labour and the Tories were fully committed to illegally shoe-horning us into Europe. Heath received Lord Kilmuir’s Letter, and Wilson must have been aware of it, and FCO 30(1048). He must have known that the Common Market was a smokescreen for a future United States of Europe – thus rendering the 75 referendum for staying in something the people never agreed to join, invalid due to fraudulent misrepresentation.
    Huffington Post? The last I heard, it had been bought over by one George Soros.

  7. StevenReply

    We DO need to change our hopelessly outdated electoral system because it is a system that effectively bans smaller parties so they never have a real chance to become large and influential. If we had had PR in 1970 I think even Ted Heath would have thought twice about getting us into the Common Market by stealth as the Tories would have probably faced a significant chance of losing many votes to their ‘Right’ over the issue. This isn’t to say we don’t need to exit the EU at all. Basically, to increase the accountability of politicians to the electorate we need BOTH.



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