Has there ever been a more hopeless, pathetic bunch of political clowns than Britain’s parliamentary Brexiteers?
The people of Britain have voted to leave the EU. Theresa May’s government is poised to spit in their faces by preventing that from happening through a sleight-of-hand deal which would be Brexit in name only, leaving the UK as a “vassal” state still in thrall to Brussels.
Rather than uniting behind a strategy and leader to fight this betrayal, the Brexiteers in parliament have been fighting each other like ferrets in a sack. Unable to agree on whether Mrs May should be brought down or stay on as Prime Minister, still hung up on the always impossible prospect of negotiating terms with the EU that would benefit Britain and consumed by personal leadership ambitions rather than concern for the national interest, the Brexiteers have allowed those set upon betraying democracy to put them onto the back foot.
The result of their farcical havering over whether or not to bring down the Prime Minister has allowed two potentially disastrous things to happen.
Rather than being seen correctly as someone who is about to betray the people and sign the death warrant for national self-government, Ms May is now being viewed sympathetically as doggedly carrying on in the face of bullying by both her fellow Tory MPs and the EU’s negotiators.
And while the Brexiteers have been marching themselves up the hill and down again over Mrs May, they have allowed the view that no-deal would be a disaster to go unchallenged.
In fact, the only realistic way in which the UK will be able to leave the EU is through no-deal. Yet the majority in parliament – and possibly in the country – are so thoroughly spooked by no-deal they oppose it. But there are good, cogent, evidence-based arguments why no-deal would not be a disaster but would be entirely manageable.
The tariff hit from leaving the EU on WTO rules would not only be liveable-with but would in time become nugatory given the economic advantages to Britain of being able to make free-trade deals. Moreover, it is very much in the interests of the EU’s member states to do bilateral “side” deals with British organisations and institutions to minimise disruption when Brexit actually happens; indeed, such deals are being discussed even now to safeguard the City of London, for example.
The relative silence about this while Brexiteers fixate upon Mrs May is intolerable. That silence has itself become a powerful threat to Brexit. It is a matter of the utmost urgency that the public case for no-deal should now be made, and as loudly and thoroughly as possible.