Dateline  Newcastle upon Tyne - Tuesday 16th July, 2024 16:15


by Tim Jones, 20th June, 2017

On Friday 23rd June, we celebrate 12 months since the Brexit vote. What have we learned in the year so far?

The £350million bus sized contribution, diverted from the EU to our Health Service, evaporated on June 24th like dew on a summer morning. The panic over EU workers coming over here to steal our jobs was revealed as a delusion invented by Murdoch and Dacre. By far the majority of immigrants come from non-EU countries. Immigration that the Tory government has had control over. Control it declined to use.

We were persuaded that regulations from Europe were throttling British business. Yet in the last year we have been told that Britain is prospering. Far from being thwarted by Europe, it's the looming Brexit that has caused City of London unease, falls in the value of our currency, and the desire by large financial institutions to relocate to the EU before the break-up.

Far from standing strong as a beacon of independence, it looks like we will be cloaked in a fog of invisibility. The pompous pronouncements made by the lacklustre government, with its grandstanding imperial demands, are going unheard over the lapping waves in the Channel.

So how does the British Brexit Minister fare after a day or so over the water in Euroland? Has he secured free trade without free movement? Have the other 27 nations come around to our way of thinking? After all, they've had a year to pay attention to what the government hasn't been saying.

Not a bit. The EU leaders, as do their populations, consider Britain to be a laughing stock.

Just a year ago we were a valuable if quirky member of the community. However, we have moved from this comfortable position to the chaos of today in such a short time. Two events have caused this to happen. First, the Tory right wingers' obsessive hatred of the EU would not be quelled, and second, Cameron's foolish referendum. To satisfy a few fanatics in his party he gambled with the future of the nation. It is becoming ever clearer what an extraordinarily bad decision that was.

Cameron and Osborne have gone now, but the real casualties here are the people of Britain. We were lied to during the campaign, and the famous ones who flip-flopped both before and after the result give no one any confidence.

The lies continue. The Daily Express asked in all seriousness whether the Grenfell Tower inferno was due to the cladding having been designed to meet EU standards. Don't check the story; don't let the facts obstruct the narrative.

Prices are rising in the shops, inflation is on the up. Investors are hesitant. Economic growth has slowed. This all before the negotiations have started. Maybot's unnecessary general election means precious momentum has been lost. It remains a mystery as to how the complicated bargaining will proceed without a plan, without a competent leader on the British side.

Britain is now more split than ever. The main parties seem to be flying away from each other, there is no centre ground. Our grand tradition of compromise, fudge, and pragmatism, mirroring Bismarck's realpolitik, is a thing of the past.

Britain lost its Empire, but won a World War. It discovered a new role as a strong, rather awkward but influential partner in a larger union, the EU. Now it is about to relinquish this position without needing to. We enter a period of identity crisis that threatens to be very long lived. The consequence, as is now becoming clear, is a a period of uncertainty and confusion from which it will take the country a very long time to recover.

So what does the Minister for Oblivion have to say on the matter? David Davis quoted Churchill as saying, "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."

The only problem with this is that Churchill never said that [1]

One thing that Churchill DID say was, "This is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never -- in nothing, great or small, large or petty -- never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy." Will David Davis take that as a motto?

Chancellor, Philip Hammond said that no-one voted for Brexit to become poorer, making it clear that he wants the economy at the heart of the Brexit negotiations. This is at the expense of sovereignty or controlling immigration, which are the issues likely to motivate his colleagues in the Cabinet and the rest of the Tory Party.

Bank of England chief, Mark Carney, has linked, "weaker real income growth" and the process of leaving the EU. "Brexit is likely to make people poorer", he said.

"Since the referendum the markets have sold off sterling, making the currency weaker and increasing inflation in the UK. That means that price rises are now running ahead of wage growth and real incomes are falling again."

Some people are saying that keeping the bond between the UK and the EU after Britain leaves in March 2019 means Brexit does not, quite, mean Brexit.

Have another non-Churchillian quotation, Mr. Davis. "The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter."

[1] Churchill By Himself: The Definitive Collection of Quotations, Richard Langworth, pages 570 & 578.

Timothy Pickford-Jones

Timothy is a mature northerner with a background in electronics and public transport, who lives in Newcastle upon Tyne.

As well as having a keen eye on the political scene, he is a photographer, with an interest in architecture and history. Timothy has been active on the web since the mid 1990s, having curated the Timmonet site from its inception.

Since retiring from full time work, Timothy has found time for travel, creativity, and maintaining his lifelong interest in the arts.

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