We really should say something about what everybody else is talking about — the 585-page document on Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.
Listening to some politicians you would think it was the final trade agreement with the EU. In fact, the provisions regarding trading are only temporary till the end of 2020.
During this period the UK, while no longer in the EU, will still be in the customs union and single market while a longer-term permanent trading deal is negotiated. Boris and the others cry “vassal state” but this temporary transition period was agreed months ago while he was still Foreign Secretary. Even the famous Northern Ireland backstop would only come into being if no trading agreement is concluded by the end of 2020.
So, from a capitalist point of view, all the options are still open. During the transition period, the Brexiteers’ Canada-style free trade agreement could be negotiated as could a Norway-style arrangement. The transition period can even be extended (once) for a given period.
If they play their hand right the government should be able to convince the politicians to go along with it.
If the document goes through it’s not going to make much difference to ordinary people. As one of the panellists said on Loose Women on ITV yesterday (as we said everyone’s discussing it), that on 31 March next year, which is the day after Britain formally withdraws from the EU’s political institutions, it will be the same as the day before: people will still go to work as usual and still go shopping in supermarkets as usual. Nobody will notice any difference, so why get worked up about it.
Having said that, our fellow workers from other EU countries will know that they are not going to be kicked out or lose what legal entitlements they now have.
Of course, if the document is rejected daily life will be disrupted for a while but what are the chances of that? I suppose that depends on whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist.
The other valid point that came up, one already made by Richard Dawkins in relation to the previous referendum, is how can you expect people to vote on a 585 page document. This, of course, is the general case against referendums for deciding matters even in socialism since there’s rarely a yes or a no answer but always something in between.