Welcome to the bright Brexit future of perpetual Tory rule
Today the new UK cabinet got together after summer recess and the Prime Minister confirmed that Brexit means Brexit.
We must continue to be very clear that “Brexit means Brexit”, that we’re going to make a success of it. That means there’s no second referendum; no attempts to sort of stay in the EU by the back door; that we’re actually going to deliver on this.
While I have no idea how you can stay somewhere by use of a door, I get the jist of what she means. She means that there is no chance of a political fudge and we are leaving the EU even though my country, Scotland, voted to remain. Sadly, the last few days have also given us a glimpse of the type of country a post Brexit UK will be.
It will be a place where the Conservatives are likely to be in government for the foreseeable future. The party that has dragged the UK into the worst political crisis since WW2 is currently 14 points ahead in the polls. The official opposition is content to destroy itself while boundary changes are going to make it much easier for the Tory party to get elected in the future.
Not that this is particularly unfair as the boundary changes are going to make constituencies much more equal in size. While this looks like gerrymandering the truth is England is a more politically conservative country and the future will reflect reality more closely. This is the reason that the Labour bigwigs are more desperate to oust Corbyn than to show unity in a time of national peril. They believe that to win England they need to be Tory Lite.
We also know that those who will be negotiating Brexit will not be negotiating the type of Brexit that most Scottish people could stomach. According to insiders interviewed by Robert Peston they have three main goals.
1. Discretionary control over immigration policy;
2. Discretionary control over lawmaking;
3. No compulsory contributions to the EU budget.
This essentially rules out membership of the single market or the European Economic Area. In my opinion it rules out any sort of deal that would be beneficial to the the people of the UK. The main reason for this is that European negotiators will prioritise saving the EU from further exits. They are not going to allow the UK to leave and end up with a better deal than before because that would be an open invitation for every other country to leave. If the UK is not prepared to pay to use the free market or allow free movement then it will have to suffer economically or else the EU will be doomed as an institution.
So, we plough into the future with a Tory government embarking on a set of negotiations that are most likely going to make the majority of us worse off. A government this is going to scrap the Human Rights Act. A government that is ideologically predisposed to privatising public services including the NHS. Who have systematically failed the worst off in society by punishing them with the bulk of the brutal and needless austerity cuts. A government that few in Scotland voted for that is taking the country in a direction few of us want. There is dailly evidence of the direction we are heading, even today junior Doctors have called for monthly 5 day strikes and a report has come out damning the benefits system as unfit for purpose.
The current situation is exactly what many of us who voted for Scottish independence warned about a few years ago. A Scotland that is ideologically different from its dominant neighbour being dragged to the right without any choice in the matter. We knew that Scottish independence was going to be difficult but we thought that the country had more of a chance if we headed in the political direction that the majority of us believe in.
Recently more voices, most notably Gordon Brown, have called for major constitutional reform as a solution to the crisis. They see it as a way to save the UK from break-up and a route to allow different parts of the UK to have unique relations with the EU.
I used to promote the idea of a Federal UK but the truth is the current proposals are too little too late and are being suggested by those who have no power to deliver anything. There are only two viable options on the table for Scotland. We can gamble by going along with the UK Brexit plans or we can gamble by becoming independent within the EU. Both routes are uncharted but at least one offers some control over the journey.
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