As I have made plain before, there is no such thing as a soft and a hard Brexit. This is little more than a narrative device enabling politicians to adopt a multitude of contradictory opinions in order to appease all constituents. Leaving the European Union means leaving the Single Market and all that goes with it. The EU has said this ad nauseum, the EU’s treaties underscore this ad nauseum and during the referendum campaign, every actor repeated this ad nauseum, as both thrill and threat. How fast we conveniently forget when massaged by a market hungry media.
By Alexandra Phillips l July 17, 2017
LONDON-The snap General Election was supposed to strengthen Prime Minister Theresa May’s hand. It did not.
Instead, a resurgent Labour Party retained and regained seats in unlikely places, suppressing the Conservative’s ambition to govern by absolute majority, and thus, as the left wing commentariat gleefully guffawed, could see Brexit reversed! It will not.
Theresa May has, instead, received backing from the most unlikely of places. Jeremy Corbyn.
The swift sacking of several members of his frontbench team following a Commons vote on Brexit revealed the old socialist’s often cloaked disdain for what he once publicly criticised as a largely capitalist one-stop-shop for unscrupulous multinationals.
“It takes away from national Parliaments the power to set economic policy and hands it over to an unelected set of bankers who will impose the economic policies of price stability, deflation and high unemployment throughout the European Community.”
Three shadow ministers were fast dispatched, with further resignations among 49 rebel MPs who supported an amendment to the Queen’s Speech calling for Britain to stay in the Single Market and Customs Union, at any cost. The so-called ‘Soft Brexit’ option that is all too often ill-conceived by those who frankly expose zero sum comprehension of European Law inter alia.
The amendment, backed by 101 cross-party MPs following additional support from the Lib Dems, Greens, SNP, and Plaid Cymru, is at odds with the stance on Brexit in Labour’s manifesto which states that they ‘accept the referendum result and will put the national interest first’. As I have made plain before, there is no such thing as a soft and a hard Brexit. This is little more than a narrative device enabling politicians to adopt a multitude of contradictory opinions in order to appease all constituents. Leaving the European Union means leaving the Single Market and all that goes with it. The EU has said this ad nauseum, the EU’s treaties underscore this ad nauseum and during the referendum campaign, every actor repeated this ad nauseum, as both thrill and threat. How fast we conveniently forget when massaged by a market hungry media. The only method by which amicable cooperation in key areas could be retained would be via opt-ins after the corpus of legislation is repealed. Only those who fight against the tide of popular opinion and the legitimacy of a democratic vote actually purport that one could leave the EU and yet remain in the Single Market, the protracted underbelly of the political bloc which formally legalises transnational harmonisation of almost everything, the keystone of the entire concept underscoring (and I again quote my new friend Jeremy on this) “a huge free-market Europe, with ever-limiting powers for national parliaments and an increasingly powerful common foreign and security policy.”
The press of course interpreted Corbyn’s gesture as an exhibition of might to silence mutineers and dissidents following an unanticipated up swell in support in the latest ballot. Perhaps not. The same literati would queue up to laud Corbyn as an ideologue. “He’s nothing if not a conviction leader,” they conceded, begrudgingly, when it was still trendy to pour scorn on the offbeat soapbox interlocutor. If that is so, why the sudden change of heart from a man who but 8 years ago protested against the Lisbon treaty (the previously rejected EU Constitution forced back upon an oblivious public with little other than a comedy toupé as camouflage)?
Corbyn strikes me as a man who frames himself in one way, but is more than happy for darker forces to court his patronage and ensure his position. The duality of Mr Pious and Principled being propelled by the efforts of the rabid Momentum movement, who recently scrapped the pledge of non-violence from their constitution, is not at odds with a man who would publically whitewash deeply held views to usurp power and then orchestrate the implementation of his ideology without remorse.
Whether Corbyn can flick the switch and turn the non-critically thinking Europhile Acolytes into converted Brexiteers without tearing the Labour Party into two is another matter, yet one that he does not have to deal with, just so long as the Conservatives edge over the line each time, taking the full brunt of moralising attack, while he hums in the wings waiting to be made King in 2022 to preside over a freshly self-governing nation upon which he would be able to emboss his socialist agenda. An agenda that would deploy punitive and economy-crunching taxation to fund mass renationalisation of services, a policy in striking dichotomy with European Competition Regulation that is fundamental to the Single Market that strictly proscribes state ownership and subsidy in capitulation to continental consolidation without compromise. (The most marginalised and vulnerable Britons can thank the same tranche of legislation for the closure of Post Offices around the Isles that left many cruelly crippled by a lack of access to crucial government services and welfare withdrawals.)
Meanwhile in Brussels: A Taxing Situation
Of course, underpinning any sort of continental consolidation must come full fiscal integration in order to smooth out economic disparities, that otherwise leak diverse and unpleasant side effects, for less financially nimble members.
As my comrade Corbyn observed “There is no future for a usurious Europe that turns its smaller nations into colonies of debt peonage.”
The withdrawal of Britain’s contributions to the bloc has been seized upon by Chief Federalist in Residence Guy Verhofstadt as the perfect opportunity to reform the project’s revenue streams with direct taxation. In a recent interview he purported, “the transfer of the so-called GNI contributions of member states into own resources. Why? Because then you create a direct link.” In other words, the citizens of 27 countries become subjects of an unaccountable superstate via the slow siphoning of sovereignty, eventually irreversible without apocalyptic economic outcomes for the entrapped former nations.
Thankfully for Mr Verhofstadt, vigour and might from those opposed to such subjugation is in woefully short supply. Any effort to enforce accountability and scrutinise the efforts of an unelected Commission hell-bent on imposing sweeping legislative change is made rather limp, not only by the Triumvirate system deliberately designed to enable the recycling of rejected tracts through revocation, renovation and resubmission, but by the astonishingly dire attendance of the only directly elected arm of the bureaucratic behemoth.
In a comical ding-dong, EU President Jean-Claude Juncker, standing up in an almost empty chamber in Strasbourg, lambasted the body as ‘ridiculous. Totally ridiculous” causing Parliament President Antonio Tajani to hit back with the poignant remark “You can criticise the Parliament, but it’s not the Commission’s job to control the parliament, it’s the Parliament that has to control the Commission”. Adding even further insult to injury, Juncker then prophetically trampled all over the pride of the EU’s smallest member state, Malta, by observing that if Macron or Merkel had been in the chamber, it would have pulled in the members, motioning that Muscat must be merely a minnow. The bemused Maltese leader could only describe the situation as a ‘fiasco’.
One wonders whether Prime Minister Muscat, who once led opposition to EU membership in the island’s 2003 referendum and attacked the EU’s obsessive rigidity in the face of British discontent, rather welcomed the mini meltdown. After all, his efforts to ward off EU absorption 14 years ago were almost fruitful. Just over 50% of the electorate voted in favour of joining, the lowest percentage of the other nine countries holding referenda in 2003, despite the highest voter turnout. Yet, deliberately generous EU structural aid poured into the EU’s most petite possession, posthaste, temporarily reversed public opinion and in turn, prior public denouncements made by the Prime Minister. Yet, with the on-going challenge of mass migration across the Mediterranean and the covetable Holy Grail of the UK’s inevitable maritime sovereignty, one wonders, rather like Corbyn, what really lies beneath Muscat, and therefore, what lies ahead for Malta: a question easily replicated across the Union.
Rather than being vanquished through the recent contraction back to centrist politics, it would seem potentially pivotal political players are biding their time in the current tumultuous landscape and recovering from the pitting of polar ideologies in a series of high-octane campaigns across the continent.
The European Spring has yet to come to pass, but it is far from over. If Verhofstadt gets his direct revenue, and if Britain Brexits beneficially, the sceptres of sceptics past will agitate again.
Alexandra Phillips is former Head of Media for the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), the political party in Britain that successfully campaigned to leave the EU and was aide to its charismatic leader Nigel Farage. She left UKIP after the referendum victory and joined the Conservative Party in order to ensure other big political ambitions are met in the U.K. She is a political advisor and communications consultant in London. Ms. Phillips is also a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis, of the conservative-online-journalism center at the Washington-based Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research.