My journey from Passionate ‘Remainer’ to ‘Canada Plus’ Advocate

Regular readers of this blog will know that I have been a passionate advocate of the UK remaining in the EU. My political bias is well-known, left-leaning conservative but Brexit has frequently aligned me with left leaning viewpoints. After the referendum, I favoured a ‘Soft Brexit‘ and was an early advocate of a second referendum after Theresa May’s ‘Chequers Proposal‘ was announced.

All Summer, I have patiently waited for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party to change their position on Brexit. Despite Labour MPs and unions now favouring a referendum on Theresa May’s final terms, the leadership has stuck to it’s line, calling for an election if May’s government cannot get parliamentary approval of the Brexit terms.

Whilst, I was an early advocate of  another referendum, I recognize that the practicality of holding this before the UK leaves the EU is remote. Brexit is approaching, like a train crash. ‘Crashing out’ of the EU, on ‘WTO Rules‘ will certainly bring enormous economic hardship, with a risk of social disorder – the toxic climate will be ripe for populism to be exploited by the Far-Left and the Far-Right. There’s a real risk of shortages of food and medicine, with the Army mobilized to protect civil order.

Theresa May’s Salzburg performance was a total disaster, both for her and the UK. She totally overrated her negotiating hand and misread the evidence from Europe. It was clear that ‘Chequers’ was a dead-duck when Boris Johnson and David Davies resigned. All Summer the EU has rigorously analyzed the   ‘Chequers’ proposal, proclaiming it unworkable. When Theresa May went to Salzburg, with the ultimatum of ‘Chequers’ or crashing out of the EU, she was holding a gun to the head of the EU. Theresa May’s public humiliation in Salzburg was regrettable, albeit perhaps understandable. She seriously misjudged her position – she seems to be surrounded by ‘flunkies’  and is oblivious to context and political reality. May seems to be playing two tunes, one for her domestic audience and one for the EU but the messages are  blurred and social media is ruthlessly critical.

It’s clearly time to publicly abandon  ‘Chequers’ as unacceptable to both the EU and the Tory Right. To avoid a Dunkirk-style retreat with the UK crashing out of the EU, with both global and national risks, the sensible fallback would be to advocate ‘Canada Plus‘, as favoured by Boris Johnson, David Davies and Jacob Rees-Mogg. There will still be large risks of achieving any deal with the EU, and getting the proposal through Parliament, with the Labour Party forced to accept job losses, loss of job security, weakened social services etc. But for me, ‘Canada Plus’ will be less damaging than ‘Crashing-Out’. Either way, I fear the Conservatives need to start mitigating risks of losing the next election, with the strong probability of a Far-Left Labour Government. Bottom-line is ‘hope for the best and plan for the worst’ – the risks are surprisingly high, increasing with every blunder from Theresa May.




4 responses

  1. YesterdayI watched a German TV documentary called ‘Go Home Polish’, which concerned a very talented Polish photographer who encounted this slogan painted on a wall where he was living in the UK and took it literally and walked 1,800Kms in 100 days back to his birth-place in Poland. The damage to the UK reputation is well underway.

    • Andrew, it is very sad state of affairs. I believe that we both agree that current rise in nationalism is driven by the Far Right, playing the tunes of populism – sadly, this is prevalent in many European countries. As you know, I have always been a passionate European but I fear that the Brexit negotiations have been handled poorly by all sides.

      Unfortunately, politicians of all political colours are trying to leverage Brexit to their own advantage. Macron promised so much for the political centre when he was elected; now with 20% domestic popularity in France, like Putin in Russia, he’s trying to toss red meat to the masses, highlighting how he made the British pay dearly for Brexit – meanwhile, strategic issues are subordinated and the world is potentially more dangerous. France is a sad case – with many worldclass businesses, large sections of the French economy remain ‘unreformed’ – reforming France has impailed president after president.

      Another example is the UK Labour Party (now Far Left), where Jeremy Corbyn promises all things to all people – sadly, the Labour Party has been far too weak on Brexit, waiting to cry, ‘I told you so, and demanding an election’. Even Germany has stood on the sidelines, leaving bureaucrats to ‘negotiate terms’, with a very narrow brief. The political classes will argue that negotiating a successful Brexit will go right to the wire. But the risk of the UK crashing out increase by the week.

      Obviously, at the personal level this has caused enormous anxiety and increasing fear. Many talented EU nationals, like the Pole that you cite, have left the UK. It’s not surprising, given that the Tory Party is hopelessly divided and the Labour leadership is continuously accused of being anti-Semitic/ rascist, with Jeremy Corbyn seen with leanings towards Russia/ terrorists.

      Brexit will almost certainly go ahead and there will be deep scars. At the national and corporate level, there will be a sense of realism, and the scars will fade. But at the personal level, it will take much, much longer to recover from Brexit.

      Personally, I think there’s an increasing urgency for German foreign policy to be more assertive.

  2. Thanks for the clarity as always. Seems like you are advocating the least-worst option. What troubles me is not actually trade but the huge damage to the good-standing of Brits around the world. For the first time in my life I feel ashamed to be British and have no desire to live there with the far-right extremists who now seem to rule the roost.

    • Andrew,

      You raise an excellent point. Brexit has barely started to address how the British state will be perceived post Brexit. But there is the same challenge at the level of the individual, the workplace, and possibly family. Post Brexit, it will be necessary for British nationals to regain their place in the wider world

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