Just as we thought ‘thanks Christ 2016 is over’ and things can only get better (wait a minute, not that), 2017 emerges out of the glaur in all its glory. This week two momentously dire events loom large. Today, after months of shambling vacuous nothingness, our Prime Minister will announce our True Path. It will be presented not as the obvious and only solution of a politician cornered by her own craven stupidity, but as the cunning ruse carved-out of many a late night with Liam Fox and Boris Johnson. Three days later, we get President Trump and his coterie of Mad Dogs and War Criminals.
A “clean break” sounds like the good news you get when one of your limbs has snapped. Make no mistake the Prime Ministers 12 Point Plan is the hardest of hard Brexits.
In her clearest statement yet on Brexit (admittedly not a competitive group), she will declare: “Not partial membership of the European Union, associate membership of the European Union, or anything that leaves us half-in, half-out.
“We do not seek to adopt a model already enjoyed by other countries. We do not seek to hold on to bits of membership as we leave.
May’s “half-in, half-out” statements confirms that she will announce the UK is prepared to leave the single market, the European Court of Justice, and probably the customs union as well.
This has political, economic and constitutional consequences, and she doesn’t care. It is unequivocally treating both Scotland and Northern Ireland with utter contempt.
Eyes Wide Shut
In her speech she says: “A little over six months ago the British people voted for change. They voted to shape a brighter future for our country. They voted to leave the European Union and embrace the world. And they did so with their eyes open: accepting that the road ahead will be uncertain at time, but believing that it leads towards a brighter future for their children – and their grandchildren too. And it is the job of this Government to deliver it. That means more than negotiating our new relationship with the EU. It means taking the opportunity of this great moment of national change to step back and ask ourselves what kind of country we want to be.”
The idea that the people voted with clarity in an honest and open campaign – in a year haunted by lies, distortion, misinformation and murder, is an extraordinary statement of delusion. Even ignoring the worst of this instant historical revisionism, the PM’s Brexit hypocrisy is staggering.
As her Chancellor hinted at at the weekend, Britain could cut taxes to create a corporate tax haven if the EU fails to provide it with an agreement on market access after Brexit. Which it of course will. So the idea of a corporate tax-haven will be floated as the inevitable unavoidable consequence of the recalcitrant Europeans ‘out to get us’ fine Brits and not, as it very clearly is, the political objective of our elite political class to further enrich themselves and their associates all along.
The Conservatives inability to see beyond a pre-Copernican geopolitics in which Britain lies at the very centre of the universe is clearly blinding them to the reality of life in 2017 21C Europe. And central to this Grand Delusion is the trojan horse of Britain re-made as a low-tax, low-skilled, low-paid backwater, a haven for the rich and a hell for the rest of us. This hardest of Brexit deals means Austerity Max.
This is the politics of Britannia Unchained and the rhetoric is heady.
Remember when the use of the word “freedom” was banned by SNP strategist’s in the indyref? British nationalists have no such qualms. As Alec Finlay has noted:
“Today May will climb on her high horse, “Britain”, and speak for “The Country”. Let’s not forget her cunning during the Referendum, hiding away in the hayloft and refusing to commit herself in terms of the most important decision of our time. BoJo may be the fool, but she’s the sly fox, the plotter who outdid the plotters. We’ve never had a politician who gained such power through cowardice. That’s why she will use the racist card to remain in power as long as she can.”
Meanwhile China and America have swapped. One is committed to globalisation, trade and deal-making. The other is a protectionist dysfunctional polity with closing borders and a state police-force.
Outwith these isles people are looking-on with incredulity. The German newspaper Welt, questioning Hammond observes: “The impression on the European continent is also that your government sees the future business model of the U.K. as being the tax haven of Europe. The government wants to introduce the lowest corporate tax rate among all industrialized countries.”
Of the Prime Minister four key principles:
- Certainty and clarity
- A stronger Britain
- A fairer Britain
- A truly global Britain
….none makes any sense.
The idea that her sudden bolt for the door will bring certainty is perhaps true, but only in the sense that it will bring economic chaos. That is certain. The idea that Britain itself will become ‘stronger’ by treating its constituent parts with utter contempt, or just preventing they don’t exist seems unlikely. The fantasy of a ‘a truly global Britain’ is predicated on a fantasy as stupid as re-floating Britannia and a complete misunderstanding of the nature of trade deals.
Today we see Britain re-made swept forward on a wave of English nationalism, barely concealed racism and economic fantasy. It will lead to constitutional chaos as the only means to defend ourselves against the coming travesty. We have two options, reach for the Buckfast, or organise, strategise and plan for a better future, because today the Prime Minister Nobody Elected is announcing a future that is dark as anything you’ve seen.