Exit-Brexit: On Brexiteers and consolation prizes

It’s not in the British nature to give up and we are many on the continent who have benefited from that in the past. But regardless of one’s true desires, perhaps it’s time to recognise that the chaos surrounding Brexit is proving so destructive to business, democracy and human relations that giving up might be the bravest thing to do. There would be consolation prizes for everyone, including Brexiteers. 

Strawberries at Wimbledon

Of course, a move to give up leaving the EU would cause an uproar in Brexit circles and amongst those who believe that the referendum result should be respected as a matter of principle. Then again, there is no evidence to suggest that the result has not been respected. Rather, the problem is that the task seems to be too huge, particularly as the UK has proven to be anything but a unitary actor. Perhaps it’s time to admit defeat and introduce an Exit-Brexit bill?

Exit-Brexit would almost certainly lead to an immediate confidence boost, business and consumer optimism and a stronger currency. Whilst this is unlikely to impress committed Brexiteers who have always been resistant to the economic argument – prioritising what they see as the political benefits of leaving the Union – the world has changed over the last 24 months and there are new political reasons why Brexiteers may now prefer to remain within the EU.

If you voted Leave in the EU referendum, now’s the time to pay attention to those reasons.

Labour Brexiteers:

To those of you on the left of the party, Exit-Brexit would be disheartening because some of the policies you favour may be incompatible with The Treaty.

On the other hand, the majority of your party’s supporters voted Remain. Hence, Exit-Brexit would almost certainly give you an electoral boost as The Labour Party would be in the enviable position of scoring a double out of the same event. The Tories, having headed the Brexit negotiations alone, will forever be considered the Brexit party whilst at the same time go down in history as having messed up Brexit, thereby alienating both sides of the EU argument. If you in The Labour Party play your cards right, you’ll be able to ride that wave of alienation all the way into Number Ten.

Moderates: See below.

Tory Brexiteers:

When you voted Leave you were not to know that The Labour Party’s transformation to a party of the hard left would come to enjoy the levels of support that it has. If, as a conservative you are not yet nervous then the time has come to start reading newspapers. Labour leaders and supporters are open about what they want to do and if they end up in government the EU could very well be your new best friend. This is because EU membership is likely to prevent Labour from implementing the most radical of their policies. Surely staying in the EU is a price worth paying for anybody concerned about socialism and Marxist inspired rulers.

UKIP voters:

It’s uncertain if you exist as a static entity. According to conventional wisdom, the majority of you are Tory or Labour voters who strayed to UKIP because nobody else was listening to your concerns. Exit-Brexit will be tough for you to swallow. But perhaps – now that you’ve seen the chaos that the Brexit process is becoming – the pain of staying in will feel easier to bear than it did two years ago. Let less pain be your consolation prize. Also, if you’re a Tory at heart, please see above.

Anybody concerned about immigration:

Firstly, leaving the EU doesn’t necessarily mean that there will be less immigration into the UK. Secondly, even if you don’t like immigration, you may just have to accept it. We’re already hearing from employers who are concerned they will be unable to fill roles and a lack of labour could be disastrous for the economy. It’s easy in theory to claim to be less concerned with bread than with politics, admirable even, to place principle before mammon. But in practice? Probably not so much.

Anybody concerned about sovereignty:

Admittedly, it’s hard to think of a consolation prize for you. But perhaps it’s time to consider if holding onto sovereignty is at all possible. Our whole world is interdependent and interconnected even without transnational institutions. And the world is a club you cannot unjoin.

You will have more power if you work within the system. Set up interest groups. Start scrutinising and questioning conventions and charters at the global and EU level. Begin lobbying to affect policy. Vote in the EU parliamentary elections even if you don’t consider that institution legitimate. It has power whatever you may think of it. And you could at least take some comfort from the fact that the UK still has its own currency. Pin a Euro-fiver to the wall to celebrate. (They will be cheaper after Exit-Brexit).

In view of current levels of infighting, division, incompetence, unpredictability, and unforeseen consequences, the time may have come to admit that the task of leaving the EU was just too huge and introduce a bill to cancel the Brexit process. If MPs voted according to declared conviction, such a bill could pass in The House of Commons.  As a sweetener, parliament could enshrine in law the UK’s commitment to remaining outside the Eurozone and the Schengen Agreement.

Written by Mette, June 2018