The most aggravating aspect of Brexit

October 11, 2019

by Martin Odoni

You know, despite the mocking assessments of Brexiteer propagandists, the United Kingdom has actually had a pretty good deal as members of the European Union. Under the Treaties of Maastricht and Lisbon, the UK really did have all the best of EU membership, and little of the worst. Whatever one feels about the EU, and there is, as I always concede, plenty to dislike, the simple reality is that the UK has seldom really suffered the sharp end of it.

Due to being members of the old European Economic Community prior to the 1990’s, the UK was allowed to enforce a number of opt-outs when Maastricht was put into effect, which members joining subsequently could not. Two in particular substantially blow most of the case for leaving the EU out of the water.

The first of these opt-outs was joining the Single Currency. There was a long and wobbling debate over it during the Tony Blair administration, in which they generally spoke in favour of joining, but were always teetering back and forth over whether to proceed.

In truth, it was overwhelmingly right that the UK did not join the euro. Painful and unnecessary as Austerity has been for the country since the Global Financial Crisis of a decade ago, it would have been far worse without control of its own currency supply. This is a rule I would apply to any country: A country without control of its own money supply is not an independent country, because any time it embarks on policies that the issuer of its currency disagrees with, the money-tap can simply be turned off. This is the essential process by which Greece in particular was, almost literally, tortured by the EU for ten years. Any time Greece tried to re-stimulate its flatlining economy with new investment, the European Central Bank, which blindly wanted Greek spending pared to the bone at any cost, would simply cut off its access to euros. When money stopped circulating, the Greek economy would revert to cardiac arrest.

This vindictive EU treatment of eurozone countries with a high National Debt is often raised as a key reason to leave. But the UK has been allowed to stay out of the eurozone all along, so it has never been an issue. Avoiding association with a political union that behaves in such a way could be raised as a point of principle, a perfectly respectable argument, but it is long past time people stopped saying, “Look what the EU did to Greece, we could be next!!!!” Because we most certainly will not, at least as things stand.

Similar with immigration controls. There seems to be an inexhaustible supply of Brexiteers who cannot be persuaded that the British Government, not the EU, is currently in control of UK borders. It is true that the EU has an ideal of open borders across the continent allowing people to travel where they wish without requiring a passport. And new members joining the EU are compelled to become a part of this vision, by signing up to the “Schengen Area“. But again, the UK joined well before Maastricht, and so was able to reserve the right to opt out. The Schengen Area is not even a specifically EU Agreement anymore, as it has been joined by various non-EU states – Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein – while various EU states are not part of it – Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and, oho, the United Kingdom. Being able to opt out means the UK already has control of its own borders.

Brexiteers are trying to ‘escape’ from an arrangement the UK is not part of.

Both of these complete misunderstandings keep rearing their ignorant heads in public discussion of Brexit, no matter how often they are debunked. But what makes them truly aggravating is not just that they are ‘illnesses’ the UK has never contracted. It is that the proposed ‘cure’ – Brexit itself – will in the long run make it far likelier that the UK will contract them.

This is the aspect too many people miss. If Brexit goes ahead, especially a No Deal Brexit, the UK economy will undoubtedly take a heavy hit. In the very distant future, the country might eventually make a net gain of some description. But for the foreseeable future, life in the UK, already generally less-than-affluent, will become harder for a lot of people. Even allowing for the stubborn, fact-resistant, story-changing arrogance of Brexiteers, there are bound to be at least some of them who will eventually come to regret that Brexit ever went ahead. And given the narrow margin by which Leave won the Referendum in 2016, it would not require too many defecting Brexiteers for there to become a majority to rejoin the EU.

But at that point, with the UK almost certainly in very bad shape and pretty desperate for a change-for-the-better, the EU would effectively have the country over a barrel as never before. So, what terms do people think Brussels would insist on imposing on Westminster as the price for returning to the fold?

Well of course, the UK would have to join the eurozone, and the Schengen Area. As what would be effectively a ‘new member’ of the EU, the UK would be compelled to do so anyway, but any ‘leverage’ to force Brussels to make an exception would be quite non-existent. Under such terms, we really will have to look at the way the EU tortured Greece and say, “We could be next!!!

This, Brexiteers keep insisting, is ‘taking our country back’.

Brexit BS

The narrative put about by anti-EU types is a Brexit Story, not unlike other forms of BS.

 

12 Responses to “The most aggravating aspect of Brexit”

  1. hilary772013 Says:

    Reblogged this on hilary77blog and commented:
    As an ex leave voter who bitterly regrets that decision now she is fully aware of the consequences of exiting the EU.. I fully concur with Martin Odoni

  2. Mr. Magoo Says:

    I agree with the views expressed in this article, however, please don’t sell the UK short. The UK makes up 13.7% of the EU economy (the second biggest after Germany).

      • Mr. Magoo Says:

        “This is the aspect too many people miss. If Brexit goes ahead, especially a No Deal Brexit, the UK economy will undoubtedly take a heavy hit.”

        I’m just saying that the EU economy would also take a heavy hit; and don’t forget the UK is a net contributor to the EU budget.

        “In the very distant future, the country might eventually make a net gain of some description.”

        i’m surprised you don’t think a left-wing Labour party will come to power.

      • Martin Odoni Says:

        I’m still not following you. You keep putting words in my mouth that I haven’t said.

  3. Mr. Magoo Says:

    “If Brexit goes ahead, especially a No Deal Brexit, the UK economy will undoubtedly take a heavy hit. In the very distant future, the country might eventually make a net gain of some description. But for the foreseeable future, life in the UK, already generally less-than-affluent, will become harder for a lot of people.”

    1. A no-deal Brexit won’t happen (unless the Brexit party wins the next election). Parliament and the rest of the EU are dead against it.

    2. I’m surprised you think the UK can’t be prosperous outside the EU until the very distant future.

    3. I know Jeremy Corbyn won’t be prime minister (the right-wing MPs would leave the party to prevent it happening). But I’m very surprised that you either agree with me, or believe the UK can’t be prosperous outside the EU with a left-wing government.

    4. Whether we remain in the European Union or leave with a good deal (free access to the Single Market), the rich will stay rich and the poor will stay poor. Only socialism can solve the problems of the world.

    • Martin Odoni Says:

      “1. A no-deal Brexit won’t happen (unless the Brexit party wins the next election). Parliament and the rest of the EU are dead against it.”
      That’s as maybe. Unfortunately, Boris Johnson is going out of his way to find a loophole that will allow him to crash us out anyway. We can’t depend 100% on Parliament stopping him.

      “2. I’m surprised you think the UK can’t be prosperous outside the EU until the very distant future.”
      It’s not impossible, but my point is that in our present shape, it will definitely make us a lot worse off. This is because we’re not ready to leave. This is the point I keep making. Had Brexit been properly planned out, and if the preparations were in place beforehand, I would have seriously considered supporting it. But the simple truth is that no one was expecting the Leave camp to win the Referendum, and so no preparations were bothered with. As a country, we are not ready to absorb the hit, and it means it will take us a long time just to get back to the dizzy heights of the shoddy condition we are in right now.

      “3. I know Jeremy Corbyn won’t be prime minister (the right-wing MPs would leave the party to prevent it happening). But I’m very surprised that you either agree with me, or believe the UK can’t be prosperous outside the EU with a left-wing government.”
      I didn’t say that. It COULD be prosperous outside the EU with a left-wing government, but only if it’s well prepared in advance – see above. And given the point about the right wing of the party committing sabotage at every step, the odds are against a left wing Government succeeding in the economic minefield of a post-Brexit country. A socialist program will require a lot of controlled investment from the state, and that will be difficult to do without causing inflation to climb quite rapidly while we have such limited access to overseas markets.

      “4. Whether we remain in the European Union or leave with a good deal (free access to the Single Market), the rich will stay rich and the poor will stay poor. Only socialism can solve the problems of the world.”
      Sure. But do you see any real sign of socialism’s imminent arrival?

  4. Mr. Magoo Says:

    “We can’t depend 100% on Parliament stopping him.”

    Then we don’t live in a democracy.

    “It’s not impossible, but my point is that in our present shape, it will definitely make us a lot worse off. This is because we’re not ready to leave. This is the point I keep making.”

    Firstly, are you suggesting that leaving with free access to the Single Market will make us a lot worse off? Secondly, when (in your opinion) would the nation be ready to leave (if it still wants to, that is)? And finally, you haven’t made this point in the above article or comment section before.

    “A socialist program will require a lot of controlled investment from the state, and that will be difficult to do without causing inflation to climb quite rapidly while we have such limited access to overseas markets.”

    A socialist program will require the abolition of nation states; social classes; and money – so that goods & services are produced/distributed sustainably to meet people’s needs (not to generate profit). Although, hypothetically, a left-wing government could make a success of Brexit by: nationalising the banks and major corporations; abolishing the Bank of England; placing the monetary system under government control; and defaulting our national debt.

    “Sure. But do you see any real sign of socialism’s imminent arrival?”

    It had better come before the next Wall Street crash and especially before the collapse of Earth’s ecosystem. I sincerely want you (and everyone else in the world) to become a Marxist, Martin. https://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/

    • Martin Odoni Says:

      Sorry, missed this when you originally posted it.

      ‘ “We can’t depend 100% on Parliament stopping him.”

      Then we don’t live in a democracy.’

      That’s right, we don’t. Congratulations.

      ‘ “It’s not impossible, but my point is that in our present shape, it will definitely make us a lot worse off. This is because we’re not ready to leave. This is the point I keep making.”

      Firstly, are you suggesting that leaving with free access to the Single Market will make us a lot worse off?’
      If that’s the ONLY thing we get from a trade deal, then we will be somewhat worse off. If we don’t even get that, we will be MUCH worse off.

      ‘ Secondly, when (in your opinion) would the nation be ready to leave (if it still wants to, that is)? ‘

      Oh, not for years. And during the intervening years we would have to work damned hard replacing the manufacturing industries we myopically got rid of in the 1980s. When we have a restored manufacturing base, then we can leave.

      ‘ And finally, you haven’t made this point in the above article or comment section before. ‘
      I’ve made it in plenty of other places.

      ‘ “A socialist program will require a lot of controlled investment from the state, and that will be difficult to do without causing inflation to climb quite rapidly while we have such limited access to overseas markets.”

      A socialist program will require the abolition of nation states; social classes; and money – so that goods & services are produced/distributed sustainably to meet people’s needs (not to generate profit). Although, hypothetically, a left-wing government could make a success of Brexit by: nationalising the banks and major corporations; abolishing the Bank of England; placing the monetary system under government control; and defaulting our national debt. ‘

      This could only really work with worldwide co-operation, or at least with co-operation from a majority of countries. It would be quite some trick to get enough support from overseas.

      Oh, and abolishing the Bank of England while placing the monetary system under government control is pointless, as the BoE is already part of the government. All it will really do is formalise the reality of a non-distinction, in practical terms, between the BoE and the Treasury.

      ‘ “Sure. But do you see any real sign of socialism’s imminent arrival?”

      It had better come before the next Wall Street crash and especially before the collapse of Earth’s ecosystem. I sincerely want you (and everyone else in the world) to become a Marxist, Martin. https://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/https://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/

      Well good luck with that. In the meantime, you didn’t answer the question.


  5. […] of Labour’s policy platform as a whole. The shift was very definitely Leavers, with their maddening tunnel-visioned obsession with Brexit, moving to parties boasting their determination to ‘Get […]


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