When it comes to Britain reclaiming her sovereignty, it doesn’t “take two to tango”, in Phillip Hammond’s typically hackneyed phrase.
To extend the choreographic metaphor, all it takes is for one partner to disengage and walk off the floor. The abandoned partner may feel jilted, but, if the other dancer doesn’t want to tango any longer, there’s precious little to be done about it.
If, on the other hand, the seemingly reluctant dancer doesn’t really want to stop, then, after a short spat, the tango may well continue – with one partner proud of winning the argument and the other secretly happy that the decision was made by someone else.
There, the metaphor has expanded to bursting point. The thing is, if our powers that be really wanted to leave the EU, it would be as easy as apple strudel, or tarte aux pommes, if you’d rather.
Breaking up only becomes hard to do when both parties want to make it so – the EU, because it wants to keep Britain’s billions in its grubby fingers or, barring that, to encourager les autres; our own Remainers in charge of Brexit because they are, well, Remainers.
Being a simple man, I usually try to untangle the knottiest of problems, reducing them to separate stands even I can grasp. Credit where it’s due, the negotiating parties have managed to encumber the issue with remarkable skill. Still, let’s give it a try, shall we?
Simplifying a problem means stripping it of marginal aspects and getting to its very core. Thus the object of driving a car is to get somewhere, not to listen to music, admire the landscape or flirt with one’s passenger – even though all those activities may well accompany the journey.
In that spirit, let’s accept as an axiomatic premise that the purpose of the whole exercise is for Britain to become again a sovereign nation reigned by Her Majesty and governed by Parliament.
I shan’t bore you by listing every aspect of sovereignty, but one is worth mentioning: a sovereign country’s internal affairs are governed by her own laws and no one else’s.
However, as an ironclad condition for any ‘deal’, the de facto führer of the EU Angie Merkel insists that Britain continue to recognise the jurisdiction of the European Court even within her own borders.
The only possible answer to that is an instant, resolute and non-negotiable no. Accepting the jurisdiction of foreign courts is incompatible with sovereignty, regaining which is, as we’ve agreed, the purpose of Brexit. Therefore even discussing it violates every rule of logic.
Then, sovereignty precludes vassalage, paying tributes to a foreign power for the privilege of conducting the country’s affairs as it sees fit. Such an arrangement would make sovereignty contingent on someone else’s good will – which again debauches the very concept.
Sovereignty is by definition unconditional and unilateral. If gaining and maintaining it depends on someone else’s consent, it’s not sovereignty any longer. Consent can be as easily withdrawn or modified as given in the first place.
What if the feudal lord tells the vassal that henceforth he’ll have to pay more to keep the arrangement going? Should the whole rigmarole start afresh? It’s either that or meek surrender, and there goes the pseudo-sovereignty in either case.
Yet one reads with amazement that Mrs May’s crypto-quisling government is seriously considering the EU’s demand that we keep up payments to its coffers even after Brexit. Otherwise no ‘deal’.
That means Britain will be unlike truly sovereign nations that don’t have to pay entry fees at the door of the European markets. We’ll in effect be the EU’s vassals, an arrangement that hasn’t existed in Europe for a while.
In other words, as far as the negotiating parties are concerned, we can only regain our sovereignty by agreeing not to regain our sovereignty. One can smell a logical rat running about somewhere.
In order to get that blessed ‘deal’, we must agree to submit to the European Court of Justice, which even my fanatically Europhile French friends describe as evil.
That means, among many other things, not regaining control of our borders, with the ineluctable consequence of London turning first into a bigger Malmö and then into a giant Kasbah.
And we’re supposed to keep contributing to the EU budget, but this time without having even a minuscule vote on how this money will be spent. Suddenly the issue becomes so encumbered that the sole purpose of Brexit can no longer be seen through the dense fog.
The only thing that can be seen is the outlines of a scam aimed at making the issue seem so complicated that the whole project will be defeated by attrition. Yet, if we really want to regain our sovereignty, breaking up isn’t at all hard to do.
We simply announce that, effective immediately, Britain is no longer an EU member. All European laws – emphatically the one about uncontrollable immigration, otherwise known as free movement – are hereby declared null and void within the jurisdiction of British Parliament. And all payments to the EU are summarily stopped.
Britain, however, is eager to remain an ally, both military and economic, of all European nations or the single state made up thereof. Specifically, we hope the EU will refrain from cutting off its economic nose to spite its face by declaring trade war on Britain. If, however, it refuses to see sense, we can fight an economic Battle of Britain, doing all it takes to win (see my posting of 6 January).
The band’s last chord is dying; the tango has ended. The dancer left alone on the floor is fuming. But that’s what one gets for stepping on the partner’s toes once too often.