You’re pointing your Brexit blame in the wrong direction.
It’s unbelievable how UK is being held as a pariah for the way we are to leave the EU. Time to step back, look at the facts (yes, that’s a little joke) and reconsider who is really to blame for this Brexit mess. It’s Article 50.
At no point, no point, have I ever seen proper due discourse and consideration for the proximate cause of the mess that leaving the EU is. I am of course talking about the EU itself — and I include the UK in that. The Lisbon Treaty. The contract that overwrites all treaties before it, including those within which democratic plebiscites ceded power from sovereign states to pooled sovereignty within the EU’s institutions.
Lisbon contains, of course, the now notorious Article 50. In that one-tiny page — which is a mere snippet in the tome that is this treaty, rests the fate of the UK and indeed any other state that wants to leave the EU going forward. I think it’s fair to say, the process is a vacuous shambles.
Much as no one voting to stay in the EU had any idea what manifesto of so-called progressive legislation they were voting for next, every single leave voter had no idea how Brexit would be undertaken. What they voted for was red line.
The UK has invested a huge, vast, sum of capital into membership of the EU and as you can see — it doesn’t always get a defined parity back. Obviously the membership brings virtual benefits — of that there’s zero doubt. Talk about a reward for paying your dues? Nothing. Uncertainty.
It isn’t fair on the UK that the exit process is so purposefully ambiguous. We’ve earned more. Even if you don’t like Brits — you can’t deny we don’t honour our word. It’s just not fair to blame the UK for this.
Plus, if i’ve helped build something, but I move on to other things — I should still get a preferential right to it, above third parties that have never so much as spent a cent on it? That logic is irrevocable. This isn’t a golf club, this is a club of nations. Even if we breeze out of the building, we are inevitably going to deal with the club we helped BUILD in its modern form. (I’m sorry: but it’s a FACT. [Enjoy vid])
Let’s talk about unfair, then.
It isn’t fair on the 3m EU nationals in the UK, either. It isn’t fair on the holiday makers that travel to Greece and Spain. It isn’t fair on the German Carmakers. It isn’t fair on the French Winemakers. It isn’t fair on the Irish peace process. It isn’t fair on Italian fashion houses. It just isn’t fair on anyone that isn’t employed by the EU. It’s instability for all with a side of uncertainty.
Why? Because Article 50 isn’t anything. It’s designed to protect the EU by being so empty of certainty no one would ever dare vote to use it. It is empty on purpose. Firstly because hubris is the order of the day in politics these days — they never thought anyone would use such a doozy! Secondly because they didn’t want anyone to leave in the first place — especially not someone who’s paying the tip. Then again, lock all the doors and you can sing what you like on stage, right? Ignore the hecklers — they’d have to refund their ticket, refuse to watch any other shows, and pay everyone else’s drinks if they wanted to leave early…
Bearing in mind the EU is supposed to be an institution that was designed to foster peace, empower democracy underpinned by liberal and progressive values; it baffles to frustration that its Council of ministers would not stop to consider the cancellation clause in more detail. You can only truly conclude that they laughed as one and signed the page off without further ado.
Think about that again. There’s a clause designed to govern a state leaving the EU. Someone had the foresight to insert it into the treaty (I think you’ll find a British lawmaker wrote it — that smarts) and yet the entire council of states failed to adequately stress test it. Even the slightest scenario or exercise testing the A50 activation would have found massive flaws.
We don’t need to game this, we have a real life example. The UK. We’re now experiencing the incompetence of the Lisbon Treaty’s creators and who’s getting the blame? Who’s the scapegoat? 52% of the British population, and the poor government who has to executed the democratic orders. Whether you’re red, blue or any other political colouration, this was a toxic, impossible task.
Considering that much of the Remain vote is of a so-called self-titled “liberal” leaning, one wonders if the A50 trap is something they would have suffered for their own personal contractual considerations.
Consider LBC’s anti-Hopkins, James O’Brien. He’s fairly against Brexit. Incredibly damming of those who voted for it and now undertake it. A man so wonderfully awkward he would probably have refused an “A” in his second name if it was offered; that kind of populism doesn’t appeal to him at all. It’s odd — as a journalist who is constantly reinforcing the obligation to offer facts, and balance — he’s not really done so. He harps on about the UK now exploiting the 3m, using them as bargaining chips; the foolhardiness of leaving this stable institution for the mire of a swamp of uncertainty and cliff of doom. But he directs it not at A50, rather the UK and those who voted for the process. How curious.
To understand him, I have to put myself in his shoes…
What about his employment contract?
Would he have signed his deservedly-good LBC contract with equally ambiguous exit terms? No. Because, he thinks unfair contracts foisted upon the victim are unfair. Rightly so, we can’t let bad deals stand. I think that’s why many people did vote to leave the EU.
This is another thing that should resonate with protest-loving socialist, liberals or any other political leaning (and I do personally agree with the right to protest!). The UK very openly sent a shiny PM to negotiate some new terms. This contract just wasn’t working for one of the biggest donors. What happened? You know. The board laughed him out of the room.
Is it really any surprise then that 52% of votes said: enough is enough. No. They did so in spite of the shambles that was Lisbon’s Article 50. Fools? No. Braves. If it’s noble of a protestor to take the day off work — or even strike — potentially damaging their personal economics; even risking the sack (define: Cliff Edge), why can a democratic vote not be of virtue in this context?
The EU’s workers — those that generate its revenues are citizens of nation states. And those nation states sign the treaties on behalf of citizens. In this contextual world, the UK has basically been given no rights. It’s on the state-equivalent, in terms of unfairness and ambiguity, as a zero-hours contract. The ambiguity being that whilst a worker can leave an employer and never work for them again; when it comes to working together and the fact economies need open links to let their constituent parts — from business, tourism and food to love and fun — flow freely together, there’s never going to be a clean break, is there?
Any competent individual could have foreseen this. Most of the Council of Ministers are running countries — by logic they must be at least vaguely competent at lawmaking and politics. Did they all seriously miss this? No. They can’t have. It’s notorious how long it takes the EU to agree anything complex! Did they just get tired and bin off for Thursday night Claret plucked from the fabled EU wine-cellar?
Consider the alternative, the quite feasible alternative: certainty. An Article 50 that outlines exactly what happens to EU-nationals in a post-EU state. An unambiguous taper of the economic barriers that must be raised — unless agreed to be more lenient during the exit talks. A timeframe to allow the state to join the WTO. Transitional trade deal frameworks with non-EU trade deal states — like Switzerland and Canada. A clear ledger of contribution and benefits — to allow for simpler “divorce” terms to be drawn.
This is all complicated. But that’s what you do when you’re negotiating a treaty that’s going to be enshrined in your sovereign country’s law and indeed supersede prior agreements and laws. You take the time to hammer out the what ifs. You stress test the assumptions, you game the scenarios. Why?
See Brexit for details and, if you’re the narrow-minded blaming-is-constructive type, then revisit who you really need to be blaming.