The Brexit Train That Can’t Stop Until It Crashes
How Brexit is going to end seems quite straightforward to me now. Unless MPs deftly play their cards in parliament, the Brexiteers will press full steam ahead to get the No Deal they cravenly desire above all else and in spite of the wiser words of grandee Tories and others who foretell only ruin and rupture for what was once a great nation and home to all.
Number 10 is moving straight ahead with a No-Deal Brexit on 31 October. The government could not care less if the EU is willing to renegotiate the existing deal at the last minute, even if the EU is prepared to make real concessions. The primary aim of the current UK government is to leave with No Deal, to hold back on payments to the EU and to start renegotiating from scratch all aspects of trade and commerce. Boris Johnson and co are determined to go ahead with their plans because they believe they can flip the present trading relations of the UK by switching away from the EU and towards larger international players such as the USA, China and India, especially in relation to the export market. In the short term, this is a highly volatile situation with severe repercussions for many different aspects of the economy and the people of Britain, not least for existing relations with the EU.
The wider risk is that the world is a highly crowded market for substitutes and compliments for all manner of goods and services, along with fast transaction speeds and limited costs. In order to compete, and starting from a disadvantaged position, as it has no real comparative or absolute advantage, Britain would have to undercut market prices. This will have to be done by reducing the quality of goods and services while maintaining price inflation due to a projection of a particular kind of British product. If the government is willing to proceed with this approach, the view will be that it will be worth it in the final analysis because the medium to long-term benefits are likely to be quite significant, particularly when trading relations with non-EU partners become greater contributors to GDP. This highly risky strategy is dependent on unwavering sheer self-belief and utter confidence in the positivity of the project and the idea that, in the end, Britain can be great again. But it is far from clear if this view is held by parliament, which remains sovereign in matters of decision-making despite the utterances of special advisors in No10.
This raises all sorts of political and cultural considerations, which will lead to even wider polarising positions. However, this will also be seen as a price worth paying due to a longer-term view of Britain as a stronger global economy than before. However, there is a wider consideration of the fact that, in effect, only one in three people in Britain effectively voted for Brexit in 2016. A No Brexit outcome is likely to create consternation for at least a third of the population vehemently resisting it and its effects. The only real and objective perspective on the part of the Brexiteers suggests that self-interest is at the heart of their motivations. It is combined with a complete lack of awareness or an interest in the rest of society. Brexit has always been about the particular internal divisions of a political party whose connections to the rest of society have always been remote if at all.
The pursuit of Brexit is the last surge of an antiquated conservative notion of Britishness that has divided the nation and exposed a dark and deep underbelly. At its heart is a neoclassical economic model of profit and self-interest as the dominating motive. It aims to advance every capitalistic opportunity while projecting notions of liberalism, individualism and opportunity as a way in which to sustain a political project that is able to lure willing members of the population. The reality is that the limited benefits of Brexit will only be accumulated by a very tiny percentage of society, one that is already deeply interconnected and well-positioned. The fact of the matter is that the Brexit campaign of 2016 remains marred in controversy. A No-Deal Brexit on the 31 October would be the gravest of outcomes for all concerned. Revoking A50 and returning to the table of the EU as a valid and full member while broadening horizons throughout is arguably the only way forward.