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Where did Brexit come from and where is it going to take the UK?

(31 Posts)
MaizieD Thu 24-Jan-19 00:08:59

Sir Ivan Rogers gave a lecture to the UCL Euorpean Institute a couple of night ago. It was titled: Where did Brexit come from and where is it going to take the UK?

As can be seen from this rather incomplete Wikipedia entry he was a very senior civil servant, in important posts under both tory and Labour governments. He also spent some time in industry. Before he resigned he was
the Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the European Union. The United Kingdom's foremost diplomatic representative to the European Union, and head of the United Kingdom Representation to the European Union (UKREP)

Sir Ivan knows what he is talking about. Far better, I suggest than just about any politician. I think he should be listened to.

His opening remarks:

We desperately need clear and honest thinking about our choices not just for the weeks but for the years, indeed decades, ahead. I continue to think that our political debate is bedevilled by what, at the time I resigned, I termed “muddled thinking”, and by fantasies and delusions as to what our options really are in the world as it is.

As opposed to several different worlds people on different sides of the debate would prefer to inhabit.

To be clear at the outset, I think these fantasies, which one would have hoped would be dissipating by now in the face of reality, are being propagated on all sides. The denialism is pretty universal. But if we are to take good decisions about our future, it is now genuinely urgent that we get beyond the myth-making.

Why then have we reached such a severe moment of political and constitutional crisis?

More tomorrow

Bridgeit Thu 24-Jan-19 08:51:15

Brilliant article, just proves that Politcians shouldn’t be running the country !

dragonfly46 Thu 24-Jan-19 08:54:57

No I thing the businessmen should take over. They would soon get this mess sorted out.

MaizieD Thu 24-Jan-19 11:03:01

More of Ivan Rogers' lecture.
I have missed out a section on his analysis of May's negotiating stance and how the EU probably regards, particularly in respect of threatening 'no deal'

This section deals with the current entrenchment of differing views of 'Brexit'


Of course, it is in the interests of the Prime Minister, but also of both the Right who advocate “no deal”, managed or not, and of the People’s Vote lobby, to demonstrate that all “middle way” options don’t work. And to hope that time plays in their favour.

There is therefore nothing more vicious in British politics right now - and that is really quite a high bar, sadly - than the attacks by the People’s Vote supporters on the proposed Norway + option.

Or the assaults by the European Research Group Right on anyone in their Party who might countenance supporting a permanent Customs Union.

We have this reached the point in what I have previously described as the Brexit Revolution when it is essential for both the revolutionaries and the counterrevolutionaries to extirpate any “compromiser”.

That is a pretty common feature of revolutionary politics. It is just that the UK is not very used to revolutionary politics, in which polarisation progressively narrows the space for compromise, and indeed compromise, always a fairly dirty word in UK politics, becomes a term of abuse.

The revolutionaries declare that every version of Brexit bar their own is not truly Brexit.

The People’s Voters declare every soft Brexit version playing on variants of either a Customs Union or a Common Market without the political integration, is an unacceptable compromise, and that only reversal of the referendum result will do.


We are left with the bizarre spectacle of Brexiteers, many of whom used to argue that exiting to Norwegian or Swiss style destinations would be a vast improvement on remaining in the EU, because these were vibrant Parliamentary democracies whose peoples had bravely spurned European political integration in favour of free trading relationships from outside, arguing that if the U.K. now “escaped” only to such a destination, it would be a terrible betrayal. It would be “Brexit in Name Only”, as bad as or worse than, the Prime Minister’s lousy deal, and a triumph for the “deep state” that has been wanting to sabotage Brexit from the outset.

Whatever one thinks of the Norwegian or Swiss models, to characterise Norway and Switzerland as countries which, despite their sovereign votes not to join the EU, in some way failed to make good a genuine “escape” from European political integration, is patently absurd.

One can, by all means, argue that neither model is appropriate to the UK, and that we can do better. Then set out what you think is better in what you propose, and demonstrate why you have reason to think it is negotiable. With a bloc that, understandably, will think we are a much larger partner, but also a much more sizeable future competitor, than either of those, and will therefore prosecute its own interests very carefully. But one cannot argue that Norwegian/ Swiss type models are “not Brexit at all”.

Unless one is also arguing that the integrationist ratchet which Eurosceptics believed was pulling us in to where we did not want to go – a perfectly arguable case, incidentally – applies equally to Norway and Switzerland. But this view is absurd.

And this bombardment of propaganda from those saying that anything other than a so called “clean break no deal” Brexit is “not really Brexit” comes from the very people who, before and immediately after the referendum, promised the voting public that a preferential trade deal with the EU was “in the bag”. And would be the work of weeks, if we were unlucky, as the EU would be so desperate to conclude such a deal with us to take effect the day after exit.

This was always piffle, to use no more impolite a term.

varian Thu 24-Jan-19 11:36:35

You are right Maizie Sir Ivan Rogers should be listened to, but do you think the leavers will ever listen to anyone who knows what he is talking about when it comes to our membership of the EU?

Someone else who knows what he is talking about and has issued a dire warning about brexit is Airbus chief Tom Enders who said "Don’t listen to the Brexiteers’ madness there are ‘plenty of countries’ who would welcome the company."

U.K. Brexiteers have reacted angrily to a suggestion from aerospace giant Airbus that the company "will have to make potentially very harmful decisions for the U.K." if the country leaves the EU without a deal.

In a video uploaded to the company's website Thursday, the company's CEO Tom Enders condemned Brexiteers' "madness" and warned that, "Brexit is threatening to destroy a century of development based on education, research and human capital."

Airbus is one of Britain’s largest manufacturers with more than 14,000 people employed at 25 sites across the country. Enders warned that a no-deal Brexit would mean he had to shift operations to the EU27. "Of course, it is not possible to pick up and move our large U.K. factories to other parts of the world immediately," he stressed. “However, aerospace is a long-term business and we could be forced to redirect future investments in the event of a no-deal Brexit."

"Please don't listen to the Brexiteers' madness which asserts that because we have huge plants here, we will not move and we will always be here. They are wrong," he said, adding, "There are plenty of countries out there who would love to make the wings for Airbus aircraft,” Enders added.

Nonnie Thu 24-Jan-19 11:44:36


Jessity Thu 24-Jan-19 11:54:11

Brilliant article. Should be required reading for all MPs who would then have information about the whole situation.

Alas MPs and others of fixed views will neither see it nor read it.

Luckygirl Thu 24-Jan-19 14:08:04

Interesting article.

This jumped out at me: *And countries do have to be able to exit the EU, if that is their democratic choice. If the
U.K. cannot manage it, and we are the size of the smallest 2/3 of Member States put together, there really is a huge problem.
BUT... it only really works if the exiting country has worked out where it is exiting to. And is very clear sighted and basically united about what it wants to gain and what it is prepared to lose. Neither applies in the UK.*

Back to my repeated assertion that the referendum, its conduct and its parameters, were quite simply wrong in principle. It was instituted by DC to quell political unrest within his own party and none of the conditions outlined above (basically defined goals and unity about those goals) had been met - nor indeed, I suspect, even thought about.

He is right to assert that there do need to be mechanisms for countries to leave the EU if they choose (it would be wholly undemocratic if there were not) and there are sound reasons for considering leaving. But we are now in a spectacular mess owing to the arrogance of DC and his cronies assuming there was no possibility of a leave vote, so they (and indeed other parties) did no work on what that future might be if a leave vote ensued - or indeed even what they wanted it to be.

I agonised for months over how to vote, because my inclination was to feel uncomfortable about the EU and its aims (indeed I had voted against entry into the common market many moons ago) but I could see no clarity about aims and goals on our side.

This is all a spectacular mess, caused essentially by politicians' arrogance.

MaizieD Thu 24-Jan-19 15:11:38



But it reveals an underlying and important truth in this debate, which always worried me when I looked, well before and straight after the referendum, at how best we could get on and deliver Brexit if the public voted for it.

Which I always thought rather probable in a referendum where the Remain side was defending what was concrete, known and pretty unpopular – unpopular for a host of good reasons as well as less good ones - and the Leave side could offer vaulting visions of the future post Brexit, without needing to be specific about where we should end up.

Eurosceptics, despite the narcissism of small differences, could always hold together when we were in the EU. Because they did not have to define a post Brexit destination or, crucially, an exit route and method.
They could unify around the need to escape the integrationist maw, and decide that they could cross the bridge of what to do next, in the unlikely event that they succeeded in getting an in-out referendum

People - some senior names in the Cabinet, some former senior members - who are now fervently on a so-called clean break Brexit, were, within the last 3 or 4 years, to be heard proposing continuing with Single Market and Customs Union membership after we left, or arguing, as I have said, for Norway style EEA options. Plenty said so to me both when I was in my Sherpa and Permanent Representative roles.

Their real beef, after all, was with Political Union,Monetary Union, potential FiscalUnion, with European citizenship and its implications, and with the sense that issues got progressively sucked away from the national to the supranational level and never came back.

Even Nigel Farage can be heard in 2015 TV interviews toying with an EEA type destination he now completely anathematises as a total betrayal of the purpose of Brexit.

The Institute of Economic Affairs indeed offered a large prize, once David Cameron’s Bloomberg speech had dangled the realistic prospect of a referendum to decide whether to stay or leave, to help define an agreed destination and exit path. Because they could see the looming crisis over what on earth Brexiteers could ever coalesce around both as the destination and the path to reach it.

But the winner’s model was quietly, rapidly – and, I might add, sensibly, given that itobviously did not work – buried.

And the most thoughtful sceptic attempts to map an exit route – embodied, I think, in a lengthy tome called Flexcit, which is a genuine, serious attempt at least to grapple with what insider experts knew were inordinately complex issues - were spurned by the mainstream Brexiteers, despite some brief dabbling by the likes of Owen Paterson.

Why? I am afraid that is simple.

Because as soon as you have to define what you really DO want post Brexit, as opposed to what you don’t want, and as soon as you have to map out a genuinely viable very complex path to exiting an organisation you have been part of for 45 years, and which has inserted itself in every domain of UK life – which is exactly what you most object to about it - the unity completely fragments, and small differences about where we actually want to go become large ones.

Dominic Cummings, when chairing Vote Leave, shrewdly deliberately avoided proposing any plan and focussed the entire campaign on what it didn’t want, and ensuring that resonated with the maximum number of voters who might find Brexit appealing, but would have radically different ideas of what it would deliver for them.

The last thing he, or the political leaders of the campaign, wished to do was to set out a proposed destination, and a route map to reach it.
That would have completely torn the fragile coalition apart. And it would have exposed the desirability of the destination, in comparison with a status quo with which much of the public had very good reasons to feel unhappy, to close scrutiny.

It would have been unwise to disappoint people who were prepared to vote, for very different reasons, for Brexit -and I am not disparaging either the reasons or the people, I am just saying the reasons were often mutually contradictory - by specifying a clear destination which opponents could then have dismantled. Far better to keep the destination vague and to focus the assault on that people can see they do not like about the ancien regime.

And that is why, now, with the road running out, and under the pressure of simply having to specify where one wants to end, and how to get there, the option of “WTO only” - which all serious leave thinkers and politicians had themselves disparaged before the referendum - has now emerged, in various guises, as the preferred option of the hard Brexiteers.

Nonnie Thu 24-Jan-19 15:11:54

I think some of the damage may already be done. Big companies make strategic decisions sometimes years in advance and not just knee jerk reactions. When investment decisions have to be made they take a longer term view which is why some have already announced they are leaving the UK and others are taking a mid line and moving part of their operations abroad. To my mind the more recent announcements will reflect decisions made soon after the vote to leave was announced. I suspect there are many more in the pipeline because companies cannot afford the increased cost of components now the £ has dropped so dramtically.

paddyann Thu 24-Jan-19 15:16:10

and of course SIR James Dyson who was very vocal about leaving is moving his business headquarters to Singapore !! Now why would that be,is the very recent trade deal between Europe and Singapore a consideration? Hipocracy ? Surely not the man has a TITLE !

Nonnie Thu 24-Jan-19 15:25:52

paddyann he has made an economic decision based on what is best for his company. Others are doing the same and many more must be considering it. I don't know why anyone is surprised.

varian Thu 24-Jan-19 18:31:35

Airbus slams 'disgraceful' Brexit chaos, calls Brexiteers 'mad' and threatens to leave Britain with the loss of 14,000 jobs if there is no deal. Airbus boss Tom Enders slammed the risks of a chaotic no deal Brexit today. He warned the 14,000 aerospace jobs in Britain could be threatened by no deal . The plane builder has a series of factories around Britain which could be moved. Enders said 'plenty of countries' would welcome Airbus if it moved its workers.

Meanwhile the Dutch government said it was talking to 250 firms about moving.

I heard Tom Enders interviewed where he spelled out that the UK could not only lose the 14,000 jobs of people directly employed by Airbus, but also the 110,000 jobs of workers in their supplier companies.

Leavers - did you vote for that?????

varian Mon 28-Jan-19 11:01:07

Let us not forget the extent of foreign interference in the 2016 referendum campaign when, not only did the alt-right forces in the USA use Cambridge Analytica and other subversive organisations to bring about a narrow leave majority but a Russian troll factory – the St Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency – dispatched thousands of messages on voting day under the hashtag #ReasonsToLeaveEU.

If the brexit nonsense is not stopped Vladimir Putin, whose aim is to destabilise the West and was responsible for both brexit and Trump, will be the big winner.

humptydumpty Mon 28-Jan-19 11:18:25

Very sadly varian it seems to me that the prospect of revoking Article 50 or holding a second referendum seems to be receding by the day. The constant bombardment with 'we must honour the result of the referendum' never mind misinformation, corruption etc. seems to be having TM's desired effect.

Nonnie Mon 28-Jan-19 11:26:52

Humpty imo 'honouring the referendum is a stupid slogan when everyone knows it was a farce. If MPs and voters are so confident that it was the 'will of the people' why are they so frightened of asking the people to vote on what is known now rather than what was promised in 2016?

It was not 'the will of the people' it was the will of about half the people. They seem to have forgotten the other half.

Nonnie Mon 28-Jan-19 11:29:16

Just seen this Tweet: More

*This evening the officers' committee of the Titanic will move an amendment that the iceberg must move away from the ship.

"This sends a clear signal to the iceberg that we are determined to carry on," said Officer Brady.^

varian Fri 01-Feb-19 15:28:59

Brexit is already costing the UK’s public finances £17bn a year, according to a detailed study released ahead of critical votes in parliament this week.

The amount would be sufficient to pay 10,000 more police to patrol the streets and train nurses to fill every vacancy in England, and still leave enough to cover the UK’s current contribution to the EU’s budget.

The research from the Centre for European Reform estimates the UK economy is 2.3 per cent smaller than it would have been had Britain voted to remain in the EU back in 2016.

The think tank calculated that the reduced GDP would limit the Treasury’s spending power by £17bn a year, or £320m per week – around the amount promised for the NHS by the Leave campaign on the side of its touring bus.

Nonnie Fri 01-Feb-19 15:48:52

Gosh varian that is worse than I thought. I doubt when it all comes out whether anyone will admit they made a mistake though. They will all blame TM, vote Labour and then blame them.

A wake up call that no one is listening to.

varian Fri 01-Feb-19 16:34:54

I should point out that this £17 bn is just the cost to the Treasury which funds public spending. Other studies estimate the total cost of brexit so far, including the cost to companies, families and individuals is about £50 bn!

varian Fri 01-Feb-19 16:37:12

I should add that the estimate of £50 bn is only the cost to the UK. Who knows what the cost has been so far to other countries, their companies and citizens- not just in the EU but across the whole world?

Parsley3 Fri 01-Feb-19 16:55:32

Is anyone watching “Inside Europe, ten years of turmoil” on BBC2?
It is interesting to hear what European and British politicians say about David Cameron and his reasons for trying to negotiate a deal back then. There is also an explanation of why he wasn’t successful and the inevitable consequences of that.
It is a valuable example of cause and effect. I am looking forward to episode 2.

petra Fri 01-Feb-19 17:52:30

there are plenty of countries out there who would love to make the wings for Airbus aircraft
As someone pointed out to the above statement: it will take about 4 years to set up the plant and by that time Airbus will have gone bust.

MaizieD Fri 01-Feb-19 17:55:00

by that time Airbus will have gone bust.

Is that one of your Leaver's 'hopes', Petra? ... no punishment too great for being part of the evil EU...

petra Fri 01-Feb-19 18:17:15

is that one of your leaver hopes,Petra
I hardly think so. I have shares in Airbus.