The other day I lamented the expulsion of reason from our politics, and nowhere is this trend more evident than in the first 1,000 days of Brexit.
My contention has always been that those trying to derail Brexit are either fools or knaves, although Tony Blair proves the two types can happily coexist in the same breast.
This statement springs from a lifetime of experience observing people and listening to what they have to say.
Hence, when people utter manifest inanities, they do so either because they don’t realise the silliness of their arguments (meaning they are fools) or realise it but still put the arguments forth for nefarious reasons (meaning they are knaves).
For example, I’d be a rich man if I had a tenner for each time I’ve heard that Brexit has turned out so fiendishly complicated that it’s impossible to accomplish.
My point has always been that, for sensible people, Brexit is the paragon of simplicity. It only becomes complicated when encumbered with things extraneous to it.
For example, if I asked you to multiply two by two, you’d take a split second to come up with the right answer. However, if asked to do that and to calculate Mercury’s orbit at the same time, you’d legitimately object that the task is too complicated.
By the same token, Brexit qua Brexit is extremely simple – provided we understand what the EU is and what exit from it involves.
The EU is first, second and tenth a political contrivance, a union of countries that accept its march towards a single European state boasting a unified monetary and banking system, economy, laws, army, domestic and foreign policy.
Obviously, no such multinational organisation lives by politics alone: the economy, for example, is a vital part, and there are many others.
Moreover, some treaty organisations, such as NAFTA, are principally economic, rather than political. Others, such as NATO, are principally military. But the EU isn’t like those.
Sure enough, it has to pursue economic, social, foreign, military, legal and God only know what other ends. But these are all secondary, not to say tertiary.
The prime objective of the EU is political. The aim of creating a single superstate sits at the very top of the pecking order, looking down on all else.
Once we’ve realised this, the pecking order of the steps to be taken towards the exit establishes itself. The first step has to be severing the political links between the UK and the EU, which is exactly what we voted for 1,000 days ago.
That step shouldn’t have been subject to any equivocation or, for that matter, negotiation. The moment Article 50 was invoked, Britain should have bidden good-bye to the EU and regained its independence.
That would have been the beginning of the process, but obviously not the end. The issue of dividing assets and liabilities would have had to be sorted out, as it always must be in any divorce. Ditto, the economic relations between the two parties. Ditto, the issue of the EU nationals living in Britain and of the British subjects living in the EU. Ditto, all sorts of other things I’ve doubtless left out.
These can only be worked out by extensive and indeed complicated negotiations. But such negotiations should have been conducted after Brexit, not as its essential part – and certainly not as a part on which Brexit is contingent.
It’s like divorce again: the spouses first split up and only then begin to wrangle about the division of the assets and custody of the children. But first things first.
Getting back to my original simile, you first state that two times two makes four and, that done, only then calculate the orbit of Mercury or, if you can’t, ask for expert help.
Heaping the two tasks together can mean only one of two things: either the task master is so stupid that he doesn’t realise which should come first, or so perfidious that he deliberately wants to confuse the issue to make sure no one will be able to give the right answer.
Mrs May is now begging for a delay. What’s that going to accomplish, other than choosing whether to surrender in a supine or kneeling position?
Does she seriously think she and her jolly friends will be able to peel the layers of ill will off the essentially simple core of the issue? I’ll take it back: the abject plea for a delay is a surrender in itself. Everything else will just be icing on the turd.
Then there’s the demand for a second referendum, the ‘people’s vote’. Again, only a fool or a knave or Tony Blair could have come up with that one.
The implication is that the 17.4 million Britons who voted for Brexit either didn’t really vote or are somehow not people. Both propositions are patently absurd, as therefore is the very notion of a ‘people’s vote’.
What could be the possible grounds for holding another referendum? A pupil has to resit an exam when he fails the first time around. Blair clearly sees the referendum in those terms, but no legal or intellectual justification exists for the rest of us to feel the same way.
The usual argument is a version of the first one: the British didn’t realise how complicated Brexit was, which is why they voted for it.
But we’ve already established that Brexit isn’t inherently complicated. It’s only made so by those who either don’t understand what it means or, more typically, wish to subvert it. And how would another referendum simplify matters?
Suppose it returns the same result. Following the experience of the first attempt, where the simple political decision was entangled in a cat’s cradle of issues extraneous to it, the same negotiations would then have to restart, with predictably the same result.
What happens when they bog down? And bog down they must because neither negotiating party really wants Brexit, although one of them pretends to. A third referendum then, turning the British into inept pupils who have to resit the same exam countless times until they get it right?
The only result that would make sense of a second referendum is a vote to remain, and it’s solely in the hope of such a result that this abomination is being proposed. But such a result wouldn’t make sense of the British constitution – and nor would it quell the social unrest that’s bound to follow.
Let’s also keep in mind that we’re almost certain to have a general election before we can conceivably have another plebiscite. The likely result will be history’s most evil British government that’ll drive the last nails into the coffin of the constitution.
The Labour party is clearly smelling blood, and they seem to be preparing an electoral strategy I outlined a month or so ago: dump Corbyn, thereby deflecting all criticism of the party, and replace him with a less strident figurehead doing the bidding of the hard Left. (Corbyn is already hinting he’s too old and too tired for political rough-and-tumble. Yeah, yeah, pull the other one, Jeremy, it has bells on.)
And how do you suppose those 17.4 million will feel seeing that their majority decision has been ignored with contempt? How many of them will want to vote for the Tories, do you think?
In all likelihood some radical populist party will rise out of the ashes of our political system, and I wouldn’t want to predict what shape its radical populism would take.
Such will be the consequences of the go-slow sabotage idiotically or mendaciously justified by claims of Brexit’s complexity.
We’re not witnessing serious, well-meaning people trying to solve a difficult problem. Rather we’re in the midst of a constitutional mayhem, whose consequences, as far as they can be predicted at all, can only be dire.