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Analysis

Brexit “dream” dying? Nope, it’s the nightmare dying

by Hugo Dixon | 10.07.2018

Boris Johnson says the Brexit “dream” is dying. It may be more accurate to say the “nightmare” is dying, though we will need a further massive push to kill it off.

Johnson’s resignation – and the chaos in government – brings a People’s Vote nearer. The chance of getting one, as implied by bookies’ odds, is now 27%.

The public has already noticed that the government is mishandling the Brexit talks. With the man who sold this pup to the public two years ago quitting the Cabinet, voters will know that something really bad is going on, I argued yesterday.

The former foreign secretary is right that Theresa May’s proposals would turn us into a “colony”. This won’t please patriotic pro-Europeans any more than extremist Brexiters. The case for us to have a vote on the final deal is unanswerable.

The prime minister’s proposals won’t even protect 80% of our economy, services. But the former foreign secretary doesn’t have any viable alternative. Crashing out of the EU with no deal at all would be madness.

The turmoil in government is not over, even though it looks like May is hanging onto power for now. She seems to have headed off a leadership challenge at a meeting of the Tory backbench 1922 committee last night. There aren’t many voices in media calling for her head either, though Charles Moore in The Telegraph asks plaintively: “Is anyone brave enough to sign her death warrant?”

Meanwhile, the resignations and reshuffle probably leave the prime minister’s Brexit policy pretty much unchanged. 

What is clear, and where Johnson again is right, is that “this is our opening bid… before the other side has made its counter-offer.” The prime minister will need to capitulate further on her red lines to get a deal – including paying money into the EU’s budget – and that will provoke further convulsions within the Tory party.

With Labour making it increasingly clear it will vote against whatever deal May brings back, the chance that Parliament will torpedo it is going up. In those circumstances, the democratic option will be to ask the people what they want.

Petition: We, The People, demand a People’s Vote on the Brexit deal.

Click here to sign

The passage about a reported delay in the White Paper was deleted, after the government confirmed that it would be published on Thursday.

6 Responses to “Brexit “dream” dying? Nope, it’s the nightmare dying”

  • I would be more inclined to say “the fantasy is dying”. All along, the idea of Brexit was unrealistic: having the cake and eating it; they need us more than we need them; etc. Finally the fantasy has come up against reality and, as always, reality wins.

  • What’s to say Davis and Boris’ resignations are not just a publicity stunt to put more pressure on the PM. They may be trying to create a mood amongst the public that their Brexit is being watered down and leading to a sell out. Which they will come back later to profit from.
    Looking at the Chequers plan, it still looks very much like a Hard destructive Brexit. Absolutely nothing to protect our service industries, which accounts for around 80% of the economy. Also, freedom of movement will be pretty much brought to a halt, which will hit recruitment in a wide range of areas, not just fruit picking, but the NHS. And as the EU will treat the blocking of freedom of movement on the reciprocal principle, it will make it nigh impossible to move around Europe to work or to live. The next generation, and those unable to meet the deadline for registration, will be robbed of their existing rights. This could be negotiated with the EU, if a genuine softer Brexit was agreed, but that is not part of May’s plan.

  • The same groups that swayed the first referendum with fear and hate are sitting there ready to do it again. The costs to manipulate our voters are paltry sums to those who inhabit the world of shadows. We don’t even know who they are let alone what motivates them. Who would benefit from a weak and destabilized Europe? How can we defend ourselves from these attacks from outside the UK when the country is full of those home grown vultures waiting to take advantage and profit in any way they can. Will Corbyn wake up and recognize this threat or will he continue to promote his own version of an independent UK? Once May is dealt with we will have to start all over again with Corbyn and make way for some genuine knight in shining armor to arrive and Save Our Soles. To quote a famous politician from across the sea, ”What a mess”. (That is as deep as his understanding goes about anything and everything but it is appropriate here.

  • Be grateful for small mercies. At least May has now recognised in public that crashing out on WTO terms is not an option a government with her as PM could responsibly take. The next decisive stage will come when the EU responds to her proposals. I am prepared to put good money on our being told in effect that, for the reasons they have spelled out dozens of times, it has to be full single market or not at all (no cherry picking), and the customs arrangements proposed are impracticable. Hence go for an EEA/EFTA solution, and permanent vassaldom, or forget it, go away and cope with no deal as best you can.

    As May has taken the no deal option off the table, she and we will be left with just two options: (1) EEA/EFTA or (2) withdraw the Art 50 notice, and remain as a full EU member.

    What Boris Johnson and David Davies are now saying makes option (1) pretty unattractive, and boosts the chances of the country as a whole settling for option (2), if given the choice. Which is of course where a lot of us started.