Wednesday 6 July 2016

Time for leavers to grow up

Whether you like it or not, Brexit is a technocratic process that will require patience, intellect and skill. There isn't room for bang the table rows and petulance based on a faulty understanding of what is possible. Therefore the leadership of the Tories must go to Theresa May simply because she is under no simplistic illusions. It's certainly not ideal but it's preferable to the deluded alternatives.

The is pressure to end freedom of movement and Andrea Leadsom seems to think doing so must come above all else even if that means leaving the single market. From an economic perspective, this is simply not a grown up proposition. At the very least we will need the single market as a transitional mechanism in order to gradually analyse and unpick forty years of technical integration. Anyone who thinks it can be done in a single sweeping act resulting in a buccaneering free trading Britain is deeply mistaken.

What we don't need is ideologues who think post-Brexit Britain is going to slash and burn at regulations and fire-hose money at the NHS. If you genuinely think that you are a moron.

And no this is not bureaucratic snobbery. This is just an article of fact. If you start pulling at levers with no idea what they are connected to then you will break things. You wouldn't put Andrea Leadsom in charge of Brexit for the same reason you don't give razor blades to toddlers.

What we are looking at here is not a blank slate. We can't just pick a concept and pursue that as a Brexit avenue. We have to reverse engineer a deeply complex mess that will take decades. So the idea that we should invoke Article 50 now before we even have an in depth idea of where we are and what we want is cretinous.

Some are concerned that we may never press the red button. If you have been watching parliament as I have, those intent on overturning the result are in the minority. Double figures at best. They do not have the power to overturn the result. In the end I trust Theresa May will do as instructed. She is a pragmatist.

I don't even think it will be our own establishment that attempts to subvert the result. It will be our own officials in conjunction with Brussels who manage to shine up shit and call it gold. We may go through the motions of leaving the EU but remain members in practice. That is what we have to be alert to. They would never try anything so unsubtle as to defy the public. We are wise to that. They will go for the long con.

Many would rather dismiss what I say, saying that I am too absorbed in the technocratic furrow and that I cannot see the woods for the trees, but actually the founding fathers of the EU were visionaries who managed to bring about their grand project by gaming the system. It won't be the blusterers and the table thumpers who steer the future. It will be the plotters and the schemers. That is the mentality we must adopt to play the EU at its own game.

We have two options. We can either carry on as though this were still a public campaign or we can delve deep into the detail and start exposing the officials and academics conspiring to do the dirty on on us during the exit process. That is where the battle ground is. If we fail we end up as a supplicant of the EU. If we succeed we can wrest the single market out of the EU's control and make it a voluntary multilateral trade area.

This is why I have no time for wafting tosspots making grand pronouncements. This is not a time for lazy and unserious people who cannot be bothered with detail. They add no value and add nothing but ignorance to the debate. What is needed here is some serious thinking about what we want and how we go about getting it. We won't get it by making grand gestures. We will have to do it incrementally and over time and we will have to make unpopular temporary concessions for the greater good.

In the meantime nobody is going to be satisfied. I very much doubt we will see a reduction in payments to the EU or immigration or regulation. The only way to do that is to start ripping up treaties and disavowing any good relations with the EU. This I do not support and I have no time for leavers who would rather self-harm than negotiate an amicable exit. In fact, I would go as far as saying if those are your reasons for wanting to leave the EU then you missed the point of this whole exercise.

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