In recent weeks, the Brexiteer myth has begin to be written. We have Bozo Bojo telling us that realms of gold await just over the horizon if only we embrace “Global Britain” – but he seems to be about 500 years out of date if he thinks South America will yield the UK a golden bonanza. It is increasingly clear that the countries which are supposed to rescue the UK with trade treaties won’t be there for us. Donald Trump is slapping tariffs on the UK; Australia has started to negotiate a free trade deal with the EU; the Gulf countries are telling us that they need to see what sort of deal we do with the EU and Indian-owned Jaguar Land Rover is moving jobs out of the UK to Slovakia. Meanwhile inward investment to the UK in 2017 fell below that going into Italy.
Bozza then went on moan: “The risk is that [Brexit] will not be the one we want and the risk is that we will end up in a sort of anteroom of the EU, with an orbit around the EU, in a customs union and to a large extent in the single market.” Indeed, Boris! The problem with the Brexiteers is that they just don’t understand that in trade terms we are indeed in a lunar orbit around the EU. It’s not a matter of choice or policy either. As the EU is by far our largest market, taking 44% of our goods exports, whether we are “in” or “out”, goods and services exported from the UK will need to meet EU regulations or we won’t be able to sell them; and while the domestic debate has often focused on tariffs, regulations are ultimately more important – tariffs make exports expensive; regulatory misalignment makes them impossible. That’s why the Thatcher governments strove so hard to create the Single Market in the first place. This will be true, by the way, whether we are in the EU, in “the” or “a” Customs Union, in the EEA, in EFTA etc – no arrangement changes the basic fact, which was true even at the height of the British Empire, that Europe is our biggest and most vital market.
Because of that we have almost zero negotiating leverage and as a result, Brexit isn’t working not because it is being undermined, but because it can’t.
That’s not what you’re going to be hearing from the “Leavings” going forward. Instead, a totally new narrative is being developed, one with disturbing historical precedents. Some readers may recall what happened to Germany in 1917/18. Having defeated imperial Russia they launched a final offensive into France aimed at taking Paris before American soldiers threw their weight into the war. They came close, but they didn’t get there. Instead, German armies were rolled back towards the German frontier, with their key defensive lines smashed. The British blockade meant that many Germans were starving. Allies like Austria-Hungary, Turkey and Bulgaria were collapsing. The army and navy were in mutiny. German decided to surrender. It was a sensible and unavoidable decision, however painful. After the war, however, Nationalist politicians came up with a new story – the tale of the “stab in the back”. This story said that the German army hadn’t really lost but had been betrayed by Jews and Marxists and (in the warped eyes of the Nazis) other degenerates and cowards.
We are starting to see the Leavings creating their own myth of why Brexit failed. It isn’t falling over because it will destroy the UK’s position of geopolitical power, impoverish the country and potentially destroy the Union, no; it is being defeated by traitors from within – evildoers like our judges, the House of Lords, the Treasury, the IMF and other capitalists who think they are citizens of nowhere, British business, the Trade Unions, teachers, the civil service (who are trying to defeat Brexit from within) and, worst of all, Conservative members like those of us active C4B.
Guys and girls of the Leaving variety, I have news for you. If a Conservative policy is opposed by a majority of British business, entrepreneurs, scientists, financiers, Lords, teachers, the Treasury, the IMF and civil servants – then it’s not a Conservative policy. Together, all those groups won’t be stabbing you in the back but in the front, publicly and openly, as we work together to Stop Brexit!