Sunday, 5 March 2017


Despite the attempt by the  Lords to put undertakings Theresa May has already given into the bill to give notice of withdrawal from the European Union, its now clear that the bill will pass. In days we will begin negotiations. That begins a whole new ball game. The rearguard action against Brexit is over. The battle to withdraw is beginning.

Those negotiations will decide our future, strengthen or weaken the British economy, satisfy the people's fears on immigration, jobs, and national control, or fail them. Which makes it a national problem requiring us to end the domestic phoney war and work together for a successful outcome . 

 Remainers can't wish Brexit away forever. There comes a time when they must accept the referendum result and get behind the effort to implement it.That means negotiations. They may suceed or may not. No one can tell, until we see what agreement is possible. No use arguing at this stage, that the wishes of the minority who voted to remain must be heard. Of course they must, but neither their wishes nor those of the majority can be fulfilled until negotiations run their course. Until then we're all in it together, Remainers and Brexiteers alike.

That imposes new responsibilities on both sides. Brexiteers must work to achieve what they wanted and achieve the best route to the exit door. Remainers should  join the fight for the best outcome.Then we must all decide whether or not we want to accept the outcome.No use standing on the side Iines sulking and hoping that negotiations fail. If they do the blame will fall on those who contributed to the failure not on a government which did its best.

 Hugh Gaitskell promised to fight, fight and fight again to save the party he loved. Remoaners preferred to fright, fright and fright again to save the EU they love, claiming that the City will decamp, bricks, bonuses and all, the car industry collapse and the farmers starve, all hit to let the EU  show the nations remaining in its Euro-Gulag the consequences of rebellion.None of these fears are  true. Now, as the fight becomes one to secure the national interest and ensure that they don't materalise Remainers should not undermine it by dire predictions, attempts to shackle the British side or claims that Britain is too weak and stupid to win so the EU will be right  to bash Britain.

The proof (or falseness) of Remain's pudding will only emerge from negotiations .Who can tell whether the EU will condemn us to the naughty step or agree a solution which both can live with? Until we do all should work for the best outcome. Not knock Britain or back the EU. 

Remainers argue that the British people didn't vote to be made poorer. They'd be daft if they had, but whether they are is in the gift of the EU not our own government .You don't win arguments by constantly claiming  that the other will be horrendously tough to teach us sense. Trying to weaken the case or tie government to soft options ignores the reality of negotiations. They start with both sides talking tough, then work to reach softer satisfactions. To go in asking for the minimum ensures we'll get less. As David Cameron did

 You don't win a negotiation by starting, hands tied,with soft demands against an EU which is already playing tough to protect its own fragilities. You argue and persuade them to a sensible outcome. We have no interest in damaging the EU and its in their interest to damage us but Remainers fighting a rearguard action against their  own side can only strengthen EU intransigence and weaken Britain. That can't be what the wildest Euro-enthusiast, or even Tony Blair, wants.

I don't know what the outcome of the negotiations will be any more than Tony or Peter Mandelson. Yet unlike them, I do know that the in-out argument is over. Whether or not to give notice isn't an issue once we've given it. Any arguments about bridge crossing are wasted before we've got to one. This isn't a choice between hard or soft Brexit.

What we get now depends on EU negotiators. They can waste time haggling  about reparation payments (which the Lords say we don't owe) or try to punish Britain to show the others not to be naughty. Or they can come to a sensible deal both sides can live with. Remainers should use their influence in the EU to urge that not undermine Britain.

Only at the end of negotiations we can decide whether or notthe terms of departure are acceptable. Getting to that point requires both sides  in Britain to  work together for the best outcome which means that Blair's resistance movement is more Luddite than a peace time Maquis. Moaning that the EU will offer only unacceptable terms terms makes them more likely. The issue now is whether Recalcitrant Remainers  want Britain to slink back into Europe,our tail between our legs and to work for that  will anger the electorate and betray the majority.

So don't tell us that like Brer Rabbit and the tar baby, Britain is stuck with the EU. Now only national unity will ensure that the EU doesn't offer Britain less favourable access than it has already given  Canada and Switzerland, that Britain isn't required to continue suffering a sixty billion trade deficit every year and that the failure of the Euro continues to drive the unemployed citizens of the poorer members to Britain.Shouldn't we work together to achieve all that?

Sent from my iPad

So what's so wonderful about the EU?

When Edmund Burke wrote his defence of the old regime in France before the revolution,Tom Paine accused him of pitying the plumage but forgetting the dying bird . The same thing is now happening to the European Union.Suddenly it's no longer a troublesome, interfering,  expensive bureaucracy draining Britain of jobs, money and demand.Instead its suddenly become crucial to Britain's economic strength and civilisation.

It was founded to benefit French agriculture and German industry Its certainly done that. But has it fulfilled any of the contradictory hopes Britain went in with? It's certainly shown a chameleon skill at changing colour to suit all purposes, red for the unions and the left, green for the environmentalists, blue for conservatives and a deeper shade for neoliberals. It does an even better deal for the politicians providing a wider stage to strut on Yet its benefits to the British  economy are much less clear.

For our people the benefits are mixed. Those lower down the social heap have been hit by the combined effects of EU and British neoliberalism, leading to job losses, de-industrialisation,higher food prices, stagnant household income and competition from EU migrants drawn here because their domestic economies were being squeezed by the Euro.Those higher up the scale benefitted from lower labour costs, more domestic servants and greater security for investments in Europe but little else that they didn't have already.

So why, when four decades of experience have turned a two thirds majority for membership into a 52% majority against  did Britain's establishment see its world  threatened? Why did it react by clinging ever more desperately to the EU as if it was Britain's last and best hope?

It can't be because we get enormous benefits. We run a sixty billion trade deficit (90 billion if we include the charges). We pay more into the budget than others but get less out. We  pay higher food prices to protect French agriculture .Other members are enabled to take more of our fish than we are. The aid we get  is our own money back with their heavy costs taken out.We can't aid or protect failing industries. There's no redistribution to help an economy in comparative decline or even one in desperate straits like Greece. Half our trade goes to a market which the Euro has turned into the high unemployment, low growth blackspot of the west and which is drained by Germany's insistence on accumulating big surpluses and neither redistributing nor using them

So why, oh why do the Remainers love it so much that they're prepared to overrule the wish of the people to pull out? Why has a shambling,undemocratic bureaucracy become the object of an almost religious veneration?  Perhaps we should try try a sociological explanation.

Since the beak up of the post war settlement which gave us decades of never had it so good, British society has been destabilised.A large section of the middle class hates the resulting liberalisation of a new order dominated by foreigners, crypto socialists,feminists and "modernising" Tories and hung down by debt. Another, younger, section better at adjusting quite likes it.

Lower down the scale the old division in the working class between rough and respectable, has been exacerbated  as their settled security of jobs, full employment and welfare was replaced by employment insecurity, lagging household incomes and the death of traditional industries. The result was  alienation, resentment and impotent anger, all greater among  the rough than the more conformist respectables 

In June 2016 the two disgruntled groups,alienated middle ,rough working both left behind and resenting it took their revenge by voting Brexit to the horror of  the modern middle and the respectable working who saw it as a takeover by ignorant, zenophobic , racist, obscurantist, out of date, yobs and geriatrics.On this analysis both vote and  reactions have more to do with the social antagonisms of class divided Britain, than either the iniquities or the benefits, of the European Union.

Sent from my iPad