reOnald Trump’s starring role in Wednesday’s assault on the Capitol marked a fitting end to Boris Johnson’s courtship of the United States president. Just think: Before the President convincingly lost to Joe Biden, our Prime Minister, a master of procrastination and prevarication, was waiting for a Trump victory and a UK-US trade deal that would win the world. , which could well have involved a no-deal. Brexit.
Johnson enthusiasts tell us that it was a brilliant tactic for the prime minister to bring negotiations with the EU to the 11th hour, but a deal of some sort was most likely only decided when the American option disappeared. As it stands, the deal is certainly thin, as Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer describes it: It does not cover 80% of our economy represented by services, and it involves massive increases in filling out bureaucratic forms for businesses, from manufacturers to roads. wine haulers and merchants, not to mention British citizens in general. It particularly hurts the young, who are overwhelmingly against Brexit.
Before proceeding further, I would like to wish readers, including green ink Brexiters, a happy new lockdown. Life must go on, which is why not only this government, but governments around the world, have imposed blockades of one kind or another. But in this country, we are close to being a world leader to the degree that the economy and people are suffering.
In that context, the mantra seems to be “block because the NHS can’t cope”. One cannot help but conclude that our pathetic performance vis-à-vis, say, Germany is not disconnected from a decade of austerity. The health service was ill-prepared for Covid: the government should have learned years ago that every winter there are pressures on hospital capacity, and that it is a false economy not to allow enough idle capacity in hospitals.
But let’s go back to Brexit, which, far from being “done”, has only just begun, that is, it has started to cause chaos and disappointment across the country, especially among the “red wall” voters with whom Starmer seems obsessed. I know that being the leader of a Labor opposition is one of the most difficult jobs in politics, but I think you are paying too much attention to the minority of Labor voters for Brexit. You should be proud of your record as a Remainer and continually bash these Brexiter babblers in the cabinet. I cannot wait for the bulk of this generation of so-called conservative politicians to be swept away by an electorate that has finally absorbed what has been done in their name.
Johnson recently claimed that leaving the EU was not a “break” with “our friends” on the continent (oddly, we are still in Europe). This is a man who had an expensive education. Brexit is a big break with continental Europe and our friends know it. Therefore, despite the way we tested their patience to the limit, President Macron referred to the way the British had been treated with “lies and false promises”; Michel Barnier said “a divorce is nothing to celebrate“; and the president of the commission, Ursula von der Leyen, came close to saying “Please come back one day.”
The far-right eurosceptic “bastards” – Sir John Major’s description – who hijacked what was once the genuine Conservative and Unionist party appear to be the disciples of Margaret Thatcher, often citing her celebrated 1988 Bruges speech. they don’t quote is what she said about the single market, that she and my old friend Lord Cockfield did so much to create.
What he said was that the driving force behind the creation of the single market was “the goal of a Europe open to business”.
“By removing barriers,” he said, “by making it possible for companies to operate on a European scale, we will be able to better compete with the United States, Japan and other new economic powers.” And he was serious: his articles in the Churchill archives in Cambridge show his enthusiasm for the project.
Single market? Our former ambassador to the EU, Sir Ivan Rogers, had to explain the single market to those crazed Brexit ministers when they met after the referendum result. They did not even know the difference between the customs union, with its zero tariffs for intra-community trade, and the single market, which gradually eliminated non-tariff barriers.
So how thin is this “deal”? That has been compared by a leading expert on European affairs, Brendan Donnelly of the Federal Trust, to the Cheshire Cat – As you examine it, the details disappear and only the smile remains. The lack of agreement would have implied the imposition of crippling tariffs on major exporters, such as the motor industry, and further erosion of our depleted industrial base.
For that relief, thank you very much. But the act of exiting the single market reimposes the removed non-tariff barriers for frictionless trade.
Johnson’s “deal” takes us from Brexit Level 4 to Brexit Level 3. Avoid a catastrophe, but still a disaster.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism