There’s No Point Pretending, No One Knows What Will Happen

January 31, 2019

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In terms of refrains to live by, some choose the Serenity Prayer, others choose meaningless aphorisms from Twitter, others have religion, but perhaps the only useful motto to remember is ‘Nobody Knows Anything’.

It suggests an air of humility, and at the same time an air of weariness about the unpredictability and failings of humanity, but it also gives carte blanche to anyone happy to be wrong about whatever they say. With that last point very firmly in mind, let’s get speculating on Brexit.

Theresa May is currently locked in talks with the European Union over potential changes to the backstop, but she might as well be trying to teach a bowling ball the rules of chess for all the good it will do her – for now, at least. The EU have made it clear that they are not currently interested in budging on the Irish border backstop, but the EU has been happy to sell out member countries before in order to benefit the rest of the bloc. There are, though, rumours and whispers that a few countries would like to see Ireland pressured into a fudge.

The potential size of the fudge, both in Europe and at home, will soon be worth speculating on. Will it be fun size, or will we end up with type II diabetes, blind and in a coma? That depends largely on what the Conservative Party are able to back without tearing themselves apart.

A lot of very angry people who are on panel shows, did blackface for laughs, or write newspaper columns, like to pretend that Jeremy Corbyn, leader of a party not in government, can exercise much control over the process. They do this because the Labour party has been taken away from them. However, Corbyn can posture and complain, and little else. The truth is that Brexit is a process enabled and then supported by the Conservative Party, and latterly the DUP.

The focus for now should be on May, the moderates of a party who exacerbated death, poverty and illness in the vulnerable, and the Atlas Shrugged weirdos of the European Research Group. How they finish their own argument will determine how the next month or two plays out. Given this is a party that happily supported austerity, do not expect the public good to be anywhere near the discussion.

The first group argues for a soft Brexit. The freedom to move capital is at the heart of the moderate conservative, to pay lip service to the public good of capitalism while legislating to concentrate its benefits in ever fewer hands. Their cheerleader and totem is Anna Soubry, and the movement can be summed up thus: Are they against Brexit? Are they against Theresa May’s policies? Do they think this is all a disaster? Yes. Will they vote against their party in any meaningful sense to stop anything bad happening? Absolutely not.

The second group, the ERG, are likely funded by their own self-interest and [unfounded but obviously correct allegations redacted]. Post hard Brexit, Britain will not be an economic disaster zone but it will be immediately poorer. There will be bargains to be had by those with ready cash, tax obligations to be minimised, and workers and human rights to be eliminated. They are a mixture of granite-nosed cynics and libertarian buffoons, but both serve the same purpose – they make life worse for everyone else because they are rich enough to profit from it. A deeper reading on questions of sovereignty and the will of the people can be ignored, because if any of that mattered they wouldn’t be largely funded by the [still technically unfounded, repeated accusation]. These people are the winners of Brexit, because they will make more money in whatever form it takes.

And lastly, there are Theresa May and The Loyalists. They have shown in the past two years, with their bribes for the DUP and proposed bribes for Labour MPs in Brexit areas, that they are happy to cling to power whatever. Their only red line is to end freedom of movement, the only EU freedom that can be exercised by every citizen in the UK. This is, because of May now and before, Brexit has been defined by immigration. Change that, and everything else can change with it. But change that, and you have to start changing British politics to face reality, and nobody in power is willing to do that.

Nobody knows anything, though. It’s useful when making predictions to remember that. But it might be better to look at the massed minds trying to pull off Brexit and think, “Oh shit! Nobody. Knows. Anything.”

Find all your Brexit betting odds here

Author: Alex Netherton

Alexander Netherton used to be a writer

Twitter @lxndrnthrtn

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