Define success, Junk

Jean-Claude ‘Just call me Junk’ Juncker told Theresa May that Brexit “cannot be a success”.

Now Junk ought to be breathalysed before anything he says can be taken seriously. But even some relatively sober people say the same thing with monotonous regularity.

They’re right. Depending on how success is defined, nothing can ever succeed. If military victory is expected to be achieved with no casualties whatsoever, then every war in history has ended in defeat. If only zero mortality makes a hospital successful, then no hospital is.

The success or failure of Brexit can be judged on an endless list of criteria, which list can be modified to produce whatever result we want. For example, I’m certain that Brexit won’t succeed in enabling England to win the next World Cup, eliminating crime or increasing the average life expectancy to a hundred.

I therefore propose we crystallise the proposition down to its essential element, always keeping in mind the dictionary definition of success: achieving the desired effect.

Here Britain and Junk are indeed “galaxies apart”, as has been suggested. For Britain, the desired effect of Brexit is to leave the EU, thereby regaining sovereignty. For Junk, the desired effect is exactly the opposite: to sabotage Brexit altogether or, barring that, make it so costly that no other member will dare follow suit.

Hence leaving the EU, whatever it entails, is ipso facto Britain’s success and Junk’s failure. The line of demarcation couldn’t be clearer than that, yet our government continues to aid Junk in his efforts to smudge it into invisibility.

Mrs May must understand – or, if she already does, acknowledge – that no Brexit negotiations with Junk and his friends are possible because they’ll never negotiate in good faith.

Actually, there’s really nothing to negotiate. HMG should forget all that Article 50 nonsense and withdraw the country from the EU effective immediately. We could then discuss the attendant technical details from a position of sovereign strength, not as victims of blackmail. Simple, isn’t it?

No deal isn’t just better than a bad deal, in Mrs May’s phrase. No deal is better than any deal, because Britain’s sovereignty shouldn’t be subject to any horse trading.

Simplicity breeds simplicity. For example, once we’re out, Mrs May could make a simple counteroffer to Junk’s demand for a £50 billion exit fee: not a penny. Show me a contract, she ought to be saying, that stipulates a cancellation fee. You can’t? Sorted. Next item. Sue us? Go ahead. But which court do you suggest, considering we’re out of the European Court’s jurisdiction?

Ireland? None of your business. That issue was settled in 1921-1922, long before the EU was a twinkle in those Vichy eyes. If any border issues exist, we’ll sort them out with the Republic. No outside help necessary, thank you very much.

Gibraltar? It has been British since the 1713 Treaty of Urtrecht. That’s long enough for Junk not to burden his head with such trivia – especially since Gibraltarians have almost unanimously rejected Spanish sovereignty in two separate referendums.

The right of EU citizens? The same as they had been before Maastricht. Europeans are welcome to visit Britain, without visas.

However, if they wish to stay, each case will be considered individually, depending on a variety of factors, such as employment, criminal record, family ties etc. The same applies to EU citizens already resident in Britain. Those we consider useful and acceptable can stay. Others will be asked to go – and that includes the 14 per cent of EU immigrants currently unemployed (three times the national rate).

Since the desired end of Brexit is sovereignty, leaving the EU will be Britain’s success whatever the economic consequences. Though hard to predict, one suspects they’ll be neither as catastrophic as the Remainers suggest nor as benign as their opponents believe.

If the EU indeed wanted fair negotiations, all trade issues could be decided instantly. Considering that Britain had been the world’s greatest trading power for centuries before the EU blessed the world with its presence, the matter can’t be unduly complicated.

But the EU isn’t a negotiator looking for a fair deal. It’s a blackmailer threatening to send various portions of the hostage’s anatomy in the post. Or not just the hostage’s: the EU is ready to cut off its own nose to spite its face.

The essence of business negotiations is trying to arrive at a mutual benefit. When one side is willing to accept vast losses for the sake of punishing the other, the only possible response was suggested by Clint Eastwood: “Go ahead. Make my day.”

Specifically, we should do in any case what our Chancellor only dangled as a threat: attract foreign trade by drastically reducing corporate taxes and regulations. Since the City is already the world’s financial centre, this would go a long way towards nullifying EU threats.

They may start a trade war but, unless they’re ready to defy WTO rules, they won’t be able to impose tariffs greater than four per cent. Even provided we reciprocate, we’ll be paying only a bit more for German cars or French wine.

Or we might bite the bullet and start driving Japanese cars and drinking Australian wines. This would be a serious hardship, but not in the context of restoring our ancient constitution.

Personally, I’d make this sacrifice for the sheer pleasure of watching Frau Merkel squirm under the wrath of German car manufacturers – or observing French vintners building barricades in the middle of Paris.

Junk got it wrong: Brexit can’t fail to be a success even if the bean counters have a point. Whatever price there’s to pay for freedom, it’ll be trivial compared to the price Britain paid in 1939-1945. You know, during Germany’s previous attempt to unite Europe.

3 thoughts on “Define success, Junk”

  1. “Since the desired end of Brexit is sovereignty, leaving the EU will be Britain’s success whatever the economic consequences. Though hard to predict, one suspects they’ll be neither as catastrophic as the Remainers suggest nor as benign as their opponents believe.”

    Economic consequences to what extent the European welfare state model. We give you the safety net but in return you give us your sovereignty and do as you are told.

  2. A failed Brexit is a soft Brexit. Let us hope that the PM does not wish to acquire the odium of being the first leader to pay Danegeld since Ethelred the Unready.

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