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Monday, 7 November 2016

The Financial Time Invites You To Construct a Post-Brexit World ...

England has two good newspapers, the i  and the Financial Times. The latter has invited its readeres to help construct a post-Brexit world. There are some very interesting contributions being published. I am afraid the one I sent in is more pessimistic:

At the best of times, the United Kingdom political system does not work very well. It is unresponsive, slow, inefficient, moderately corrupt - and there are lots of people who want to keep it that way. These are not radical claims: the National Audit Office, Parliamentary Select Committees and Government Committees of Enquiry have been telling us this sort of thing for decades. If you want examples, think about housing or airports or dangerous dogs.

Sometimes the system behaves perversely. Parliament in its collective wisdom offered voters a Yes or No advisory referendum on a very complex set of issues and Prime Minister David Cameron responded to the moderately interesting result in the most abject manner imaginable, treating it as hand-and-foot binding. 

For their own reasons, so did other leading politicians some of whom had absolutely no desire to see the United Kingdom leave the European Union. They were driven by a mixture of panic (“The People Have Spoken …”) and opportunism (…“and I Could Become Prime Minister”).

If that is the starting point, panic and opportunism may well also be the end point. Of one thing we can be sure, whatever happens over the next ten years, the unintended consequences of expensive, clumsy, protracted decision-making or failed decision-making will far outweigh the intended outcomes. 

The future is like the past and if you have a system which can blunder into Brexit, then it follows that you have one which will blunder into a post-Brexit world unlikely to bear any resemblance to promises made about the NHS, the Irish Border, Passporting, the future of Nissan, scientific research, listening to Nicola Sturgeon ….. In due course, the People may well turn against the Junta which has now installed itself as the UK government, but not until a great deal of havoc has been wreaked, much of it irreversible.

Private actors can often move faster than state actors and they are already doing so. They look at the captain, look at the ship, and take their chances. People are applying for non-UK passports, shifting assets, delaying or cancelling investments, even moving out lock stock and barrel. 

On the other side, there are opportunists looking for bargains and trying to work out which scams will do well as the Junta throws money overboard in an endeavour to keep itself afloat. Jobsworth plc can’t wait to supply the necessary tens of thousands of pencil-licking officialdom tasked with taking control over what comes in and what goes out. You thought Brussels was a waste of money? Wait till you see Mr Fox’s bill.

The danger in the FT’s invitation to contribute to the debate is that it will attract those who think it worthwhile to re-arrange the deckchairs. The only sensible way forward lies in the creation of a popular political front determined to win a General Election on a platform of staying in the European Union. Trouble is, we don’t have politicians up to that task either.

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