UK Ready For Amputation Procedure As Brexit Options Diminish

April 8, 2019

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There is plenty wrong with the European Union, and much of that will never be solved regardless of Britain’s membership or otherwise.

Because of location and culture, it will always serve Europeans first, often at the expense of its neighbours – some of the toughest places to live. It is an avowedly capitalist enterprise, with redistribution aimed to the East in order to bring its newest members into line in following capitalism, with all its attendant problems.

Because European elections feel secondary to most political decisions across every member state, there is a lack of direct representation between the voters and policies implemented. It is, though, still the status quo. The call for sovereignty is a valid one, but Brexit does not seem to embrace any potential benefits.

The status quo can often be inequitable and unpleasant, it can have drawbacks and advantages, but the only reason to attempt to change it is if you have a decent chance of bringing about improvement. We have seen that practically speaking, changing Britain’s status quo by leaving the European Union offers no serious improvement for the majority of the population.

Indeed, it will be the most vulnerable who suffer if hard Brexit is implemented, and probably if Theresa May’s deal is agreed with or without a customs union. The only right of use to almost every British citizen is the freedom of movement. That will now be ended unless there is a dramatic softening of policy in both the leadership of the Conservatives and of Labour. This will not happen, because ending free movement is the only thing that they agree on. Like capital punishment, it is a stupid idea with enough popular support as to make it truly dangerous.

That is not the reason while the most vulnerable will suffer, though. Should Britain leave in a No Deal scenario there will be immediate financial calamity, and damage done to those who rely on state services in various forms. And, if Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn can thrash out a deal over a customs union of some form, then ultimately Britain will give up some influence on trade deals in future, but give up much of the prosperity of a single market. Trade and services will both be hit severely.

At that point, the Conservative party will have a choice. Whichever of those two deals are agreed, it will make sense to hold an election before the turd hits the fan. Before the effluence showers the country with its full force, there is a decent risk-reward in going to the public on a bounce of relief that something has been agreed. Given the papers and the BBC find it impossible to serve the country well, their united distaste for mild social democracy gives May – or her replacement – a healthy chance of an improved majority.

Freed from the shackles of electoral consequence yet again, the Tory party will be able to exact vengeance as they see fit. Austerity can be aimed at public services. Welfare payments are already cruelly limited, but fripperies such as public transport and other infrastructure can be chiselled away. The NHS can be made more efficient by increasing private companies’ involvement, helpfully introducing profit as a motivator to somehow make things cheaper.

People may have the same amount of money in their pocket, welfare payments might even increase as part of the country’s budget as unemployment starts to rise in line with falling profits, but they will get less for it. Those at the top will still have enough money to insulate themselves from reality. The bet for the ruling classes is that things don’t become desperate so quickly that they will end up causing a serious revolt. Given the supine nature of much of the British, it is a reasonable bet to make.

Which means that the next week or two will likely be the dramatic denouement for the first act of Brexit. The political declaration will cause plenty of further squabbling, but that will last for years to come. The withdrawal agreement, though, is where we get the fun. The choice is between the hardest Brexit available, taken on by people who can gain the most from the absence of hope, and a customs union, a Brexit so hard that it was inconceivable to most Leavers in 2017, let alone before the referendum.

One of the few industries to flourish post-referendum in Britain has been the production of shit analogies to describe our lot. It seems fitting to finish with one, then: the choice this week is whether we would like to have both our arms amputated, or whether we might like to compromise and give up just the one.

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Author: Alex Netherton

Alexander Netherton used to be a writer

Twitter @lxndrnthrtn

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