Don’t cry for me, Brexit Britain…

by Michael Emerson | 20.10.2017

Michael Emerson is Associate Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), Brussels.

I cry for my dear homeland. I cry over the damage the Brexit Bolsheviks are doing to our economy, democracy and society. The embattled figure of the prime minister at this week’s EU Council summit, struggling to inch negotiations forward, is testament to the hardliners’ malign influence.

Economists are not supposed to cry. But Brexit is tearing the heart out of the City of London, as major banks embark on re-location strategies in favour of Frankfurt, Paris, Luxembourg and Dublin.

And then for industry. The German industrialists’ organisation tells its members to prepare for a “very hard Brexit”, which means modern industries engaged in complex cross-border supply chains will forget about the UK as a location. Over half of the UK’s major manufacturing establishments are foreign owned.

Political scientists are not supposed to cry either. It’s just that this referendum process has become the most grotesque example of John Stuart Mill’s “tyranny of the majority” that British democracy ever suffered. Before the June 2016 referendum Westminster was petitioned to accept that if the majority was under 60% there should be a second referendum. Over 4 million people signed this, the biggest petition ever, to which the government said no, shan’t. 

And now there is a new, second petition for a second referendum, to which the government has responded: “Both Houses of Parliament will have the opportunity to vote on the final agreement reached with the EU before it is concluded. This will be a meaningful vote which will give MPs the choice to either accept the final agreement or leave the EU with no agreement.” Which must be one of the sickest of jokes from the pen of some “Yes, Minister” character in Whitehall. The petition will be debated in the Commons on December 11.

And of course lawyers aren’t meant to cry either. It’s just that all of this is to escape the clutches of the European Court of Justice. Which has been doing precisely what? Actually, mainly assuring a level playing field in the single market, and since the UK is more law-abiding than some on the continent, it has been most helpful to the UK.

And now I really cry. We learn that the Brexit Bolsheviks have even succeeded in pushing the European Union Youth Orchestra to relocate from London to Italy. I recall December 1991 in Moscow, this orchestra, this wonderfully talented collection of young Europeans, playing Tchaikovsky in the Great Conservatory before President Gorbachev and his wife Raisa, the day before he resigned and the USSR collapsed. Has the European ideal ever been more beautifully and pertinently represented?

But all that means nothing to the the likes of Boris Johnson who tells us not to cry but rather, in one of his most asinine pep talks ever to the recent Tory party conference, to “roar like a lion”.

No, I cry.

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Edited by Luke Lythgoe

5 Responses to “Don’t cry for me, Brexit Britain…”

  • There is still no mention of what will happen about Ireland in the event of a hard Brexit. Are the Brexiters prepared to take responsibility for a return to the troubles in Ireland should a secure border have to be reinstalled? One can only hope that the DUP will use their power over the government to make sure that the Good Friday agreement is not jeopardised to appease the hard Brexiters. What a supreme irony !

  • What has become of the 50 ‘secret’ consultation reports? Will we not have sight of them? What has happened to the Irish border problem? Any advance on that?

    What about the gross mismanagement of the UK by this government? While we all worry if May is going to be snubbed yet again, Hunt is busy dismantling our NHS.

    Can we not bring the hardliners under some kind of control or are they to be free to ram this Brexit of theirs down our throats?

  • Good article. Much talk lately of HMG’s reluctance to publish Treasury impact assessments. Presumably due to dire forecasts for UK.
    However, EU Parliament has -as one might expect- published their own assessment.
    See http://www.europarl.europa.eu and title “an assessment of the economic impact of Brexit on the EU27.”
    Dont be put off by the title; most illuminating for its impact assessment on Uk.
    Very gloomy stuff. No wonder the brexiteers pretend this info doesnt exist.