Colonel Blimp-like nostalgia for days of Empire
27 July, 2018
• I AM well aware of the overpowering sense of ennui at the debate about Brexit, the inexorable turmoil of cabinet disputes between ever-vociferous factions over the hard anti-European trading establishment and the more pliable Customs Union opponents adopting a concertedly flexible approach.
It invokes an antiquated Colonel Blimp attitude: a mix of nostalgia for an imperial age, the distortion of absurd examples of bureaucracy to build unsupportable generic arguments, failing to engage with how the Brexit promises of self-sufficiency and independence could be squared with the reality of complex international supply chains and global security threats.
I voted Remain in 2016 as being ancient enough to remember 1975, and did then, thinking the issue had been resolved in favour of involvement and continual integration within the economic and political mechanism of the then Common Market, now the EU.
I felt, and still feel, isolated and alone, as we will be. Our industrial and financial sector would inevitably diminish against the fluctuations and vicissitudes of external markets and trade, rendered politically impotent.
The soft Brexit agenda, while providing access to the Single Market, would leave us subject to the regulatory apparatus of the Commission, obliged to adhere to whatever it stipulated with no authority over administrative transaction, our freedom of movement to engineer commercial agreements stifled.
A hard Brexit would leave us a poor client of the United States and emerging economic power blocs such as China, reduced to chattel status.
A federation under the statesmanship of the major national groupings, including ourselves, where we could have exercised influence to democratise and open up to multilateral trade the financial and industrial structure, should have been the call.
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