Brexit Plan: Stop All the Clocks

Two years to leave the union; ten years to negotiate trade deals; and 140 years to process the paperwork of current EU migrants residing in the UK post Brexit Plan.

Bureaucracy is one thing…but that is just ridiculous.

It’s an astonishing amount of time if you consider we currently live in a world that goes utterly crazy if an online video buffers for a matter of seconds.  If the internet goes down and people can’t access online-banking we have the threat of imminent world-ending panic for the hour or so it takes to get it back up and running.

Multi-million-pound deals are done in single meetings, or on the floor of the stock exchange all day, every day.

How Many Brexiteers does it take to change a…?

So why are the media and the politicians trying to wow or worry us with these grandiose numbers? I am not an economist (and my bank manager would grunt in agreement of that) but even I know that taking ten years to make a trade deal is just… silly.

Unless the nations involved in the trade deal can survive with zero trading for 10 years in the meantime, they would clearly have to put into place immediate interim plans to work from that were mutually beneficial.  Clearly nations cannot suddenly stop trading to have a chat about how trading will happen…and take ten years over the chat!

Imagine that being the case in football trading stickers or sweets in school!  One would be offering shiny Peter Shilton and getting back a drab Joe Hart.

But the notion of 140 years to sort out the paperwork for Brexit migrants is just ludicrous.  It also goes a long way to show just a unnervingly pointless the paperwork the Home Office insist upon must really be. If the country can currently operate without said paperwork having been done, surely there is simply no need to make a claim that it would take so long. Not to mention Brussels waving a £50bn debt we need to clear up before we leave.

That is unless, of course, the narrative trying to be stirred is: “what a waste of time and money this Brexit is.”

Perhaps that is one of the main problems.

The Cost of the Brexit Plan

For all it’s worth, the Brexit Plan is beginning to sound expensive, unable to curb immigration, and unlikely to have much of an impact of future trade unless we intend to cut our nose off despite our face. Should we be more understanding of Brexit voters getting increasingly frustrated? Or should we fold our arms, shake our heads, smile smugly and say: “Well, if you got carried away by the hyperbole and propaganda…”

Add that to the fact all those who demanded our “Sovereignty” be returned failed to understand that we never lost it by being in the EU. We simply had to restrict it’s reach in favour of being one of the team. And now, in order to negotiate trade and other world agreements, we will have to forego and give up some of our sovereign values to negotiate with the team in order to survive the Brexit Plan.

For example, trading with the US is no simple matter since they don’t have as stringent controls as we do over aspects such as chemical or food additives standards. We will either have to lower our standards or insist on them increasing theirs.

Does the Brexit Plan really cater for migration?

Where does the Brexit Plan leave us on the migrant front? When it all comes back to the figures, the BBC’s “The Brexit Effect” put them into helpful graphics for us to understand, and also helped us with our basic maths. Running up to June 2016 – so these figures would not have been known to the EU referendum voters – the net migration was at 190,000. What the BBC failed to highlight was the difference in the way we treat EU and Non-EU migrants – now and post Brexit Plan.

In fact, no-one ever seems to mention or discuss the cost of coming to the UK for non-EU migrants and factor that into the comparisons of the nature and demographic of the migrants.  We did explore this in a previous post – “The Appeal of the UK: the cost of Freedom and Liberty” – but it seems to be something that is dodged all the time in real discussions. It’s almost treated like a dirty little secret.

Perhaps that is because of the dirty tricks that the government have tried to play, not least trying a 500% increase on appeals charges. Of course, what isn’t being questioned is the difference in the nature of migrants and their reasons for coming to the UK.  Clearly the BBC were playing on the “taking all our jobs” narrative.

Ironically, the whole Brexit campaign stirred up a xenophobic, racist overtone, and mixed it abhorrently with an anti-Muslim note in order to scare people into voting for “restricting free movement.”  And yet those two key groups – including the misrepresentation of refugees – actually targeted non-EU migrants a lot more.  Non-EU migrants who have generations of history coming to the UK.  Non-EU Migrants who appear, in almost half the cases, to be coming to study rather than “take our jobs.” Bear in mind that these stats were well before any true Brexit Plan had ever been considered. What has become abundantly clear is that there never was a Brexit plan, or even a brainstorm on the back of an envelope.

How do we intend to prevent the dog from barking?

So with each day that passes, and each political speech that is like wind being passed, the Brexit Plan situation appears to be suffering the “over complication” syndrome.  Politicians, who are very rarely qualified to minister their own job description,  bark things that have been put on the spin cycle so many times they’ve been sucked completely bone dry.

Media outlets spend their time still trying to scapegoat “all them migrants stealin’ arr jarbs” and the public lap it all up with tails wagging.  Brussels finally starts showing its teeth and biting back at Britain’s Brexit Plan like the second child in the pram who is angry with their sibling for throwing the toys out.

And the PM feels the chill wind down her spine as she doesn’t get invited for dinner.

Did we really think the love would last forever?

Whichever way you look at it, the Brexit Plan is already a huge mess, and it is going to get far messier before it even starts to show signs of progress – if it ever does.  No-one has ever tried to do this before and the UK is one of the few countries that potentially had the international clout to do it. But we still have no solid Brexit Plan, and we still have no idea if it will work.  It was a massive gamble.

The more complex it gets, the more we have to question: with all the complex levels the Brexit Plan is forced to work on, was it ever suitable to squeeze it so clumsily into a single “in or out” choice?  Furthermore, if trade agreements alone could take ten years, why did no-one ever ask if we’d ever have time to achieve Brexit within the two year time frame, let alone fit 140 years of paperwork in, too?

No-one has any idea what is really going to happen, no-one has any real historical premise to refer back to.  Look back just one hundred years and we were deeply entrenched in a war that was so horrifically jarring to the international community it was called “the war to end all wars.” And yet within twenty years we were looking at a Europe that was imploding amidst some of most grotesque examples of genocidal hatred the world has ever known. That was long before the NHS, job shortages, or the housing and population issues of today.

The EU was meant to secure us from ever going back.

Can anything ever come to any good?

If the Brexit plan cannot promise life being better for the UK, what was it for?  If our current migrants – who we have so much to thank for – whether naturalised or not, cannot even be afforded the thanks of security, what has it all been for? If the UK genuinely thinks it can do better on its own, where is the evidence? If we are so convinced that “the stars are not wanted now” what does the UK think it has that is so much better?

Whichever way people voted they had their reasons, and there were many on both sides. But surely when one puts aside the romance of independence, just like the child who finally gets to leave home for pastures new, there comes a time when we must know there is something we all need.

A plan.

Without a plan we’ll end up homeless, hungry, and laden with a lot of dirty laundry, with no-one there to help us clear up the mess.

Colin Ward

[Poetic references made to: “Stop All the Clocks, cut off the telephone” by W H Auden.] 

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