A seminal Brexit moment?
TruePublica editor: There was a time when I personally would have voted for Brexit. My underlying belief was that the European Union, beset by populism and right-wing extremism would crack and then fracture into several distinct ‘unions.’ I still believe this may happen and there’s no doubt that since Britain’s EU referendum, exactly that is happening. One only has to look at the state of the southern Med such as Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal and then the northern border countries of Hungary, Poland and others joining forces and then Germany and France with its yellow-vest revolution. I thought that if Britain was out of Europe first and it disintegrated, Britain would have prepared itself for the chaos and possibly even be in the strongest position to capitalise on that situation.
But very soon after the Brexit result, I realised that the entire vote had been heavily influenced by a high degree of foreign intervention, most especially by America. And the thought of being America’s lapdog, chained and then feasted upon as opposed to one of the EU’s most influential members horrified me. It still does and TruePublica publishes a lot of content about how American corporations, lobbyists, special interest groups and their political ideologies are attacking Britain’s way of life already – even at the first sniff of our current difficulties and moment of weakness. There is no ‘special-relationship’ between the USA and UK and Britain does not need one with a country located 4,000 miles away with when a far more moderate, considerate and liberal-minded union is on our doorstep.
But here we are. On the very brink of disaster. Days away, again, from falling off an economic and political cliff, from a constitutional crisis of our own making just as prominent Brexiteers are, one by one, shrinking back into the shadows. The reality of Brexit is being laid bare for all to see. It is an unmitigated disaster – politically, diplomatically and economically.
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Peter Oborne is a British journalist and broadcaster. He is the former chief political commentator of the (predominantly right-wing) Daily Telegraph, from which he resigned in early 2015. He is the author of The Rise of Political Lying and The Triumph of the Political Class.
I have never met Peter Oborne and although I disagree with him on many things he says, I think he is a probably decent fellow. However, it’s hard not to be sceptical about his motivations for first having been one of the strongest of evangelical trumpeters for Brexit and then right at its last dying moment – backtracks into reality. A good career choice perhaps! Perhaps Oborne wants to be on the right side of history as it now appears in this ever-changing fiasco – Brexit is now fading. That may in itself be a good thing or a bad thing of course – who knows.
Oborne’s recent article in openDemocracy, a news outlet with substantially fewer readers than other mainstream outlets, who would have gladly published this article, says a tremendous amount about the reality of Brexit. This is his apology for being a leading influencer and getting on the Brexit bandwagon that will destroy Britain’s future, not just in the short term, but as he says, his children’s children.
Oborne starts with his opening phrase – “If we are to leave the European Union we want a sensible Brexit. There’s no chance of that just now.”
The following are key sentences and paragraphs that shows a dramatic 360-degree about-face from ‘taking back control’ to losing complete control. And when people like Oborne make such dramatic apologies, would this not be a seminal moment for those still barking out the language of Brexit such as Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg and his band of merry men in the ERG. They should listen to the man who once stood alongside them, who has finally seen the madness of leaving the biggest trading bloc in the world.
“Brexit has paralysed the system. It has turned Britain into a laughing stock. And it is certain to make us poorer and to lead to lower incomes and lost jobs.
Future generations will look back at what we did and damn us.
It’s a decision which will not just viscerally impact the lives of our children. But also our children’s children. And their children too.
But there comes a moment in life when determination alone turns to madness. When the wisest and best move is to give up and think again.
“If we are honest, we Brexiteers have to admit that the economic arguments for Brexit have been destroyed by a series of shattering blows.”
Investment-led growth has collapsed, and we need to stare that undeniable fact squarely in the face. Just look at the events of the early months of this year. They fill me – as they should fill every lover of this country – with anxiety and despair.
The trickle of companies announcing plans to leave Britain has turned into a flood. It is becoming unbearably painful to read the financial news.
It has become clear to me, though I’ve been a strong Tory Brexiteer, that Britain’s departure from the EU will be as great a disaster for our country as the over-mighty unions were in the 1960s and 1970s.
If Brexiteers are clear-eyed about the economic consequences of Brexit, a further question arises. Do they really think that the economic disruption that lies ahead – along with the serious threat to our own union of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – is worth it?
I readily accept that the European Union is a dysfunctional body beset by all manner of problems. But the lesson of the last two years is that we are much better off working inside the EU (where we are greatly respected; it was British civil servants, remember, who wrote the rules of the single market) for reform and not as a hostile neighbour.
In this new and dangerous environment, it is folly to rely on the World Trade Organization (WTO). Yet the WTO is fundamental to the Brexiteer economic model. Under attack from Donald Trump’s America and Xi Jinping’s China it is losing the ability to ensure a free market of goods and services. In the Trump and Xi world, relying on the WTO to ensure free trade is like relying on the United Nations to protect human rights: all they can offer are well-meaning but impotent resolutions. When Xi met EU leaders on his visit to Europe last week, I suddenly felt alarmed that Britain wasn’t there.
That the ‘freedom to negotiate free trade deals’, which the Brexiteer Tory MPs in the European Research Group regard as a red line, will lead to greater economic prosperity is a delusion. The UK will be weaker and more isolated.
But I did not foresee that Brexit would threaten the continued existence of our kingdom as a union.
We are learning more and more about the deceit and illegal tactics which accompanied the Leave campaign.
I have none. Only a deep, gnawing worry that we are making a significant mistake: a worry that is growing by the hour.
I come back, then, to a proposition that sounds lame – as quiet good sense so often does. Just this, and this alone. Suspending Brexit will be greatly preferable to the alternative. How many important decisions in our own lives, too, have had to be taken on such a chilly and unexciting consideration? It’s time for a long pause.”
Fair play to Peter Oborne – a bit late though!
Read Peter Oborne’s full article in openDemocracy HERE