Submitted to letters pages 6th Feb 2019
It causes me great alarm that our news reports seem to be full of Vox pops of people on the streets of the UK brushing off concerns and promoting a view that they are so fed up with the Brexit issue they think we should just fall out of our membership on the 29th March with no deal. Even more alarming are the polls I see which imply a proportion of people selecting no-deal as a desired option think this means we carry on as we are.
It is incumbent on our MPs to explain to everyone the implications of no-deal. If we do not resolve this in some way and article 50 is not extended or revoked, we will no longer be in any framework or treaty which we are currently a part of. All these arrangements are the methods by which our lives are managed in an orderly, safe and fruitful way. The issue is not so much short term disruption to things like food and medicines etc, everybody agrees there will be disruption, but that in effect we have to recreate these frameworks or make hundreds of little side agreements to deal with each and every aspect, whether it is trade, agreements on flying across Europe, management of isotopes for cancer treatments, food safety regimes, using our driving licences in the EU, replacement of an EHIC arrangement, our financial industry – an absolutely enormous industry for our economy, operator licences for trucks who work across Europe etc.
We have spent 40 years with our EU partners developing this entire system on which our lives and our economy are structured, and it is incredibly complex and most of us including the politicians who spent 40 years dreaming about taking us out of the EU had absolutely no conception of just how complex it is.
This was not something imposed on us, the EU is not us versus them. These systems were created by US. We are part of the EU. Every framework that exists, that we are part of, we created together with the other members. We have a sophisticated complex structure which has turned us into a large economy and turned the EU into the biggest most powerful trading bloc in the world, envied a and admired by other parts of the world so much so that other groups of countries are creating their own blocs with their neighbours to emulate the European project.
The idea that this could all be simply dropped overnight without disastrous and damaging consequences is frankly bizarre. Furthermore, we are all thoroughly fed up of the B word, but it won’t end there. Obviously, we cannot remain in a no-deal stasis and will have to try and clear up the mess. It will take tens of thousands of hours of parliamentary and civil service time to set about putting everything right and putting some trade back together. The Brexit bill is set to get longer and longer and longer whilst we are losing jobs as large companies move some or all of their operations into the EU27 to protect their margins.
The same will be true of any kind of Brexit deal as the future relationship is really only a sketch so all the fleshing out of reality will have to be done in parliament and by our civil servants and diplomats. Article 50 was triggered with no idea of destination or plan. Why? It is abundantly clear the sunlit uplands are not going to be appearing for an awfully long time if we allow our MPs to take us down this insane path.