Robert Harneis –TDO- A concerted campaign is underway to weaken the resolve of the British government in the Brexit negotiations and if possible create a situation where Britain in reality never really leaves the EU. ‘Remoaners’ as they are labelled by ‘swivel eyed Brexiteers’, from big business, academics, European orientated lawyers and some media appear to be working together to reverse the decision of the British people taken on June 23 2016. If they are successful it would not be the first time a referendum has been trampled underfoot in the EU.
Most recently, the Confederation of British Industry has called for the UK to remain within the European Union’s customs union and the single market for a transition period until it has negotiated its ultimate trading relationship with the EU. Speaking at the London School of Economics, Carolyn Fairbairn, Director-General of the CBI, said, “Our proposal is for the UK to seek to stay in the single market and a customs union until a final deal is in force. The goal should be a framework for the new trading relationship before we exit in March 2019.” She continued, “If agreed soon, firms here and from elsewhere in the EU will know they face greater stability for a number of years and will carry on investing. They will know they won’t have to adapt twice – first to the transition and then to the final plan… “. She claimed, “this is not about whether we are leaving the EU, it is about how.” In practical terms, she said that the transition “would mean the UK would adhere to the EU’s common trade policy, for both internal and external trade, for the duration of the transition period,” while seeking what she described as “the most ambitious and comprehensive free trade deal ever agreed in history.”
Responding to the CBI announcement, Henry Newman, the Director of the neutral think tank Open Europe said, “The CBI are right to back a transition arrangement, but completely wrong to say the UK should remain in the Single Market and Customs Union until a free trade agreement is secure. Promising to stay in the Single Market and Customs Union until the UK-EU trade deal is agreed hands negotiating cards to the EU and risks making an unsatisfactory position permanent.” That of course is exactly what the CBI leaders want.
The speech came before a meeting to be held between Brexit Minister David Davis and heads of a number of big companies and the introduction of the Repeal Bill in the House of Commons. The bill was described by Theresa May as an "essential step" on the way to leaving the EU, it aims to ensure European law will no longer apply in the UK.
At another level, there is a campaign to wear down the resolution of those who voted for Brexit and convince them that the ‘reasonable’ thing to do is to listen to bodies like the CBI who really understand these things. There is a widespread attempt to convince the public that the devaluation that followed Brexit was solely caused by Brexit. In reality, a devaluation was overdue anyway as the Pound was over valued. Equally the recent slowdown in the economy is more to do with over indebtedness amongst consumers than concern with leaving the EU.
Last week, the pro EU Financial Times published a study revealing that Britain has signed 459 treaties whilst a member of the EU on a whole host of subjects, claiming that the moment the UK leaves all these treaties will have to be renegotiated. Chaos they suggest is just around the corner. At the same time, certain leading legal academics closely associated with the EU claim the government is only just becoming aware of the size of the treaty problem. Whilst the government may not have wished to talk about it, it is inconceivable that they have been unaware of the situation and have no plans to deal with it. Equally pro-European, the Economist has published an article comparing the results of Brexit to the story in an Evelyn Waugh novel of the accidental blowing up of a building during the Second World War by drunken soldiers. The drift of these articles is that the politicians in charge do not know what they are up to and the people who voted for Brexit were ignorant nationalists.
Despite all this the latest CNN/ComRes opinion poll still shows a majority in favor of leaving the EU of 47% to 45%, with 8% saying that they don’t know. Many voters are still conscious that those like the CBI, the FT and the Economist, who are predicting disaster as a result of Brexit, were the same people who sang the praises of joining the Euro, which thanks to Chancellor Gordon Brown Britain never did. The UK, despite its economic problems, has exactly half the level of unemployment in neighboring France, a Eurozone country.
Countries in line for membership would do well to ponder their next moves considering the difficulties the UK is facing in leaving Europe, despite not being in the Euro or the Schengen passport free group of countries. Once, in it is a messy business getting out.