TThe threat of a no-deal Brexit has always been a hoax, and has been one of the most successful hoaxes in British political history. It was never a real option, but it has systematically lowered domestic expectations of a deal and allowed the government to avoid any serious scrutiny. Boris Johnson played the role of a no-nonsense madman with poise, as if he were born for it. Which, of course, you think it was.
The idea that no deal was a plausible option never made sense. When Theresa May first threatened that “no deal is better than a bad deal,” in her January 2017 Lancaster House speech, it was a bluff. It was an attempt to act as if Britain, by far the weakest party in the negotiations, had some influence. It was not so.
No deal was always the worst possible option: it would have been a colossal act of self-harm, disrupting medical and food supplies and undermining global financial stability. Even without the pandemic, it would have caused a recession in the UK and European economies. It would have been bad for the EU but much worse for Britain. No prime minister, or government, would have survived the consequences. It was never a real option.
The obvious alternative to a deal was never an imaginary end of the world after December 31, but the continuation of the status quo. Despite the rhetoric, transitional arrangements that kept everything the same for “the shortest time possible, the longest time necessary” have been the revealed preference of both the EU and the British government, as Brexit deadlines have come and gone. . This time it would have been no different.
No deal was ever a credible threat to the EU, but rather a powerful force in shaping domestic politics. The conservative party’s strategic geniuses informed the British press that to secure a good deal, the EU had to believe that Britain would leave. When Dominic Raab was Brexit secretary, the government produced a series of “No offer notices” that only served to highlight the idiocy of such a policy. But the threat never had real credibility in Brussels because the asymmetric impact was so blindingly obvious.
The real policy of the government has been that any deal is better than no deal. The agreement that has been reached is an unequal agreement that protects the economic interests of the EU and undermines ours. In many respects, it offers poorer market access than recent agreements between the EU and Japan, and the EU and Canada, while imposing much stricter obligations to ensure a “level playing field”. The most generous description is that it is an “easy deal”.
However, the pro-Brexit British press is triumphant and hails Johnson as something of a hero. There is no reflection of reality in many reports: the stronger party has achieved most of its goals, while the weaker party has accepted what it owes. Even serious analysts struggle to begin their analysis with various formulations of “although it is better than no deal.” After a terrible year, most of the public are simply relieved.
The fact that so many followed suit says a lot about our political class and media elite. It reveals a lack of critical thinking and a remoteness from the real economy, from manufacturers to farmers to financiers. He also shows a predilection for political drama and excitement for rampant destruction rather than serious and sober analysis. And since the official opposition offers no opposition, it has exempted the government from any serious scrutiny.
The wrong politicians think that voting through the agreement will bring closure. But it just reveals how disconnected Westminster is from reality. The deal will be costly for business and inconvenient and unworthy for British traveling to the mainland. It will create new tensions with Northern Ireland. And, with a “review”, Scheduled for January 1, 2025, will be included in the next general election, because Johnson wishes it. You may think that Britain is done with Brexit. But Brexit is not over with Britain.
Digsmak is a news publisher with over 12 years of reporting experiance; and have published in many industry leading publications and news sites.