Monday 4 July 2016

Gesture politics

Theresa May is right not to guarantee the rights of EU citizens in the UK. Mainly because she can't. She can guarantee those rights already acquired rights as defined by national and international law but it is not within her gift to go further. There are complications to hammer out. 

Moreover she is sending a signal to EU member states that they have something to lose by not being cooperative. Poland for instance receives £1.2bn in remittances alone. That's real money and not numbers on a screen. It sets a tone that Britain does have leverage and could use it, even though it probably won't. That is the kind of shrewdness we want in a PM - not gesture politicking from a naive mouthbreather like Leadsom.

This notion that "people are not bargaining chips" should be dispensed with also. People are not, but visas are. I would prefer to leave freedom of movement pretty much as it is, but if the Commission can't keep a muzzle on idiots like Cecilia Malmstrom then nothing is off the table. Harsh? Yes, but we are not paddling in the shallow end anymore. This is what serious politics looks like.

And is it fucking with people's lives? Yes, yes it is. But we have had forty years of the EU fucking with people's lives, wiping out whole industries at the stroke of a pen - to the advantage of low paid EU workers and to the disadvantage of British working class kids, who thanks to Blair, spent their formative years on the dole. Why the double standard?

So, no, I am not overly sympathetic nor will I subscribe to gesture politics. This is not to say I have suddenly become illiberal. Like I say would rather keep visa arrangements as they are, but with so much at stake we will have to stare down the EU, showing that we won't flinch from using whatever leverage we have. This is pure hardball politics. This is how it's going to be now.

The whole point of Brexit was to draw a line in the sand and accept no further rule from Brussels. This, kids, is what it looks like. Get used to it.

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