Another day, another Brexit headline. Everything you’re about to read is accurate today but likely won’t be tomorrow, and certainly wasn’t yesterday. This time last year Theresa May was Prime Minister and the United Kingdom was supposed to leave the EU on 29 March, and 12 April and 30 June and now 31 October. See a pattern? Why the delays? 17 million people voted to leave, so why haven’t we?
One of the many problems here is that no one can agree on what they want. Hard Brexit, soft Brexit, scrambled Brexit with toast? Sound bites are bandied about the House of Commons, being greedily lapped up by the British media and making their way into our homes; ‘strong and stable’, ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ ‘Brexit means Brexit’…‘get Brexit done’…‘do or die’. We’ve had to put up with three years of this nonsense so why not just leave? Let’s have a clean break and make our own way out into the world: Rule Britannia, God save the queen, yada, yada, yada.
There is no such thing as a clean break. A no deal exit means leaving on WTO terms which will cripple our ability to trade. Tariffs will be imposed on our exports across the world. Businesses in each of our four countries will suffer. Immigration is already plummeting, meaning that Scotland’s aging population will soon vastly outnumber the working population. Even if leaving on WTO terms is ruled out – which this government has been entirely unwilling to do – then there is still no simple solution. A year ago, a soft Brexit meant staying in the customs union and the European single market (allowing us to trade with other EU nations tariff free and take advantage of trade deals brokered by the EU with other nations) – no longer. Today that concept would be laughed out of the room by the no deal fetishists who comprise the ERG, the Brexit party and the cabinet. A year ago, Boris Johnson resigned from the government because he could not support the vacuous fart that was May’s deal. Now he’s advocating and arguing for the same deal but this time he didn’t stop at just passing wind.
To put it painfully simply, there is no such thing as a good deal. Not from this government anyway. This is not a deal which protects the rights of workers. This is not a deal which protects pro-environmental legislation. This is not a deal which protects our export industry. This is not a deal which protects freedom of movement or which encourages the immigration that the UK so vitally needs to sustain itself. This is a deal which could cost the people of Scotland over £2,500 annually by 2030. This is a deal which is expected to cost Scotland over 8.5% of its economic output over the same time frame. This is a deal which will cost the United Kingdom dearly and which we may never recover from. This is a deal which plays into the hands of those set to make millions of pounds from our misfortune. This is a deal which we cannot afford.
This morning, the chancellor of the exchequer said that it is extremely unlikely that we will leave on 31 October, proving once and for all that the Prime Minister’s bluster and bravado was all for naught. The childish and petulant exchanges in the commons achieved only further humiliation for the government. At time of writing, the EU has just said they will grant another extension. Until when? They won’t say. Will we be ready in time? Your guess is as good as mine.
Image: Tasnim News