20-05-2019 17:05

Can’t find much to disagree with Cliff Taylor in this pessimistic assessment in the IT this week.

UK politics simply can’t cope with Brexit, and against this backdrop another extension of the article 50 deadline in the autumn, if this is needed, must be very much in question. Why bother when things in London just keep going around and around the same circle? For Ireland, unfortunately, this means the threat of a no-deal Brexit continues to linger even if the Government, in pre-election mode, is choosing to keep on spending and hoping for the best.

The problems are many and they multiply. The very fact of European Elections in the UK exacerbates the instability in that polity. They serve to further undermine May and any hope that her agreement can get through, and perhaps even worse they make the divisions within the UK even greater between the various strands of opinion on Brexit.

I’ve long noted the absurd reality that the hardest forms of Brexit have come to define a ‘real’ Brexit in the popular and political imagination there – I think the BLP have to shoulder some of the blame in this by being unable or unwilling to fully pin their colours to a soft Brexit mast. Who one blames – whether Remainers or covert hard-Brexit proponents within the party is a matter for individual taste I imagine.

But that definition of Brexit has poisoned all else.

There is, and I dislike the word intensely but it fits, no small level of stupidity in all this. As Taylor notes, ‘frictionless trade’ for the UK is a fiction and a myth, as is a customs union that can address all the contradictions that those proposing it seem to want. And he is absolutely correct about the Border. He concludes on that:

With no – feasible – agreed way forward from London, this pushes the likely outcomes to two extremes – a no-deal crash-out or some kind of final political reckoning in London, perhaps via a general election or some kind of second referendum, perhaps the only events which would give a clear case for yet another extension.

I think that there is so much delusion, and indeed deliberate obfuscation, so many who see in this crisis a means for progressing their right wing agendas, and some on the left who appear unable to grasp the actual balance of forces in play, that a crash-out is very very likely indeed.