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26/06/2024
Brexit - UK Politics

Brexit has been a disaster but Britain will not admit it


The outcome of the UK general election seems to be a foregone conclusion insofar as the Tories will lose, Labour will win, Sir Keir Starmer will form a government, the Reform party will splutter and die, and many of the fundamental issues in UK politics will go unaddressed and unremedied.

It could be worse. If the Tories hung on with Reform support, the result would be a disaster for Britain. In truth the Tories deserve to be hammered. They have damaged Britain almost beyond repair since the departure of New Labour. They are not merely the “nasty” party, a phrase used by some of themselves to fight for sanity; their conduct of Britain’s affairs has been grotesquely bad.

What is remarkable about the election is the complete unwillingness of nearly all the British political establishment to confront the elephant in the room – that Brexit has been a complete and utter disaster for Britain- and needs to be reversed. The majority of Britons when polled now consistently state their belief that Brexit was a mistake.

Labour promises closer economic links with the EU; the Lib Dems favour re-joining the single market in the longer term and at some distant point rejoining the EU. But nobody still dares offend the 52% who believed the Brexiteer’s lies and voted to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum.

That referendum was only promised to stave off a Tory defeat at the hands of UKIP insurgents. David Cameron put his party’s interest before Britain’s interest as he knew it to be. Brexit was the result of Toryism’s desperate quest to retain power at all costs. The Tories had seen off any chance of proportional representation being accepted in a referendum and had retained the “first-past-the-post” system which rendered them acutely vulnerable to being outflanked by parties such as UKIP and Reform. The result is the instability and polarisation that led to Brexit, Corbyn, and their current electoral meltdown.

Boris Johnson secured a massive win over the hapless Jeremy Corbyn by promising to “Get Brexit Done” in 2019. But, in the end. it was Britain that has been “done” by the likes of Johnson, Gove, Lord Frost, Liz Truss, Dominic Cummings, and their faithful cheerleaders in the Tory media.

The Tory media are a shameful lot. They have never accepted their own role in the chaos that has overtaken British politics. They have shamelessly trumpeted “Make Britain Great Again” politics but have never accepted their own error or guilt in the consequences of their rhetoric.

Their campaign to derail Starmer’s battle to rebuild Labour and make the party electable has been relentless and unsuccessful. Even in recent weeks, they have been scaremongering about a Labour “super majority” in the hopes of confounding the opinion poll collapse of the Tories.

They are now busily preparing the scapegoats for a catastrophic Tory defeat. Sunak is to be the whipping boy. From his rain soaked campaign launch to the latest ridiculous election date gambling scandal, an explanation is being prepared in the Tory media that will lay all blame at the feet of Sunak and none at the feet of the departing Gove, Johnson, and Truss, and the Tory media themselves.

By leaving the EU, Britain has suffered major long term economic, diplomatic and strategic damage. If England had voted to remain, there is every reason to believe that the EU would be stronger and more cohesive than it is today. It would have been stronger in its stance on migration and on Putin’s attack on Ukraine. The tensions between Brussels and some of the newer members such as the Visegrad states would have been lesser. EU federalists would have been tempered by a partnership approach to a greater degree. Britain’s economic prospects would be much better than the present outlook suggests. I cannot avoid feeling that both Labour and the Tories and the media are concealing the truly parlous state of Britain’s budgetary state from their voters.

In Northern Ireland, the same pattern of unreality appears. Nationalist voters will be given a choice between futile abstention by Sinn Féin and well-meaning participation by an under-funded SDLP which may hold two seats.

The DUP has very severely damaged the long-term unionist cause by its pro-Brexit stance and pro-Brexit financial shenanigans. After Jeffrey Donaldsons departure, it seems stalled. Its policy to  undo the so-called “border in the Irish Sea” is utterly bereft of credibility or common sense. The Ulster Unionists are irrelevant. Alliance has an outside chance of growing at the expense of the DUP from one seat to three seats and they could well end up with two seats.

Will that change anything? Will it encourage northern politicians to concentrate on what unites rather than divides them? Perhaps. But probably not.

Lastly, Labour government in London would be far preferable to a Tory one in the awful event of a Trump win in November.

 


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