IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

When Project Fear becomes Chaotic Reality, expect crippling austerity

07 September, 2018

• NOT for the first time Stephen Southam accuses me of ignoring the plight of Greece and southern Europe at the hands of an uncaring EU (Letters, August 31).

I’m fully aware of the tragedy for the Greek people and other eurozone countries. They are suffering massive austerity. So are millions of people in our own country. We are not in the eurozone and this suggests another cause. Part of that is down to long-term weaknesses of very different economies.

What is a common factor is the political reaction to the crash of 2008. The banks got the bailout; the people didn’t. Austerity is a political choice that many economists now regard as gravely mistaken.

Joining the eurozone was a political choice taken by governments of member states. They could have opted out, as John Major did at Maas­tricht. They chose not to and must be judged by their own people.

The irony is that many of the people of southern Europe seem to put more trust in the EU than in their own politicians. Despite the austerity, they are not joining a queue to leave. They are not cheering us on, but shaking their heads in bewilderment.

Stephen smoothly goes on to assure us that the “philosophical” questions have been settled. This glib assumption fell apart spectacularly within days. David Davis and then Boris Johnson rubbished Theresa May’s Chequers plan. Jacob Rees-Mogg has already done so and is about to publish his European Research Group’s plan for a WTO Brexit.

Michel Barnier has also firmly rejected the Chequers plan as incompatible with WTO rules. No one knows what Labour thinks. We can look forward to a vitriolic conference season rife with rumours of plots and chaos.

It is this very chaos in our political ranks that threatens to make Brexit a disaster. We have no coherent, yet alone united, plan for Brexit.

Stephen wonders what our unelected bureau­crats – whoops! civil servants – have been doing. I suspect they’ve been working very hard trying to make sense of the different instructions they get from an ignorant and divided Tory cabinet. This is what will turn Project Fear into Chaotic Reality.

If we get Chaotic Reality then we will suffer even more crippling austerity. Just as dysfunctional politics has brought poverty to southern Europe, so will it to our own people. My fear is not Brexit, per se, but Chaotic Brexit.

RICHARD ROSSER
Richmond Grove, N1

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