We’ve a piece in The Guardian telling us that we can in fact stop Brexit if we’d like to. This is a statement of the bleedin’ obvious of course, sure we can stop it. Parliament votes to stop it and it’s stopped. There would be a certain embarrassment at going to Brussels to point out that it was all a bad idea, a little national mindburp but sure, it could be done.
That’s not the question at all, it’s whether we want to do it:
But for remainers to give up on the campaign to stop Brexit would be wrong on principle, and practically ineffective.
A key lesson from my time as a negotiator for the UK in the EU is that it is essential to be calm, at full strength, and there up until the very last moment of the process. The final stages are when events happen at an artificially accelerated rate, and realities can change in an instant. Slinking out early, or switching focus to the next issue, opens you up to missing a game-changing opportunity. While time may be tight, a week is now an eternity in British politics.
On principle, we should oppose what we know to be harmful. We know that Brexit will harm our families, friends, neighbours, fellow citizens, and the country and its standing in the world. To acquiesce quietly to this would be wrong while there is some chance of success.
The odds are against stopping Brexit. They always have been, but it can still happen. The main obstacles are political, not legal. For example, were the Labour party leadership to significantly alter its position, the odds could shift considerably in favour of remaining.
This is all entirely correct but it’s also all entirely irrelevant. The question is whether we want to go or stay. I’m firmly in the go camp. Go under any circumstances. I regard the very existence of the European Union as a bad idea and our own membership of it as worse. I also recognise that I’m an extremist on the issue and that few go quite as far as I do. Yet I still insist that it’s not how the not leaving is achieved that matter even to Remainers, it’s the whether.
At which point two little notes. The first being well, who wants to be part of an organisation that doesn’t have reasonable negotiations? One where final and actual things are done at 4 am when they’re days past their own deadlines? That’s not the way to run an entire continent, is it? Something more measured and thought through might be a good idea.
The other is that this is one of the people who used to do the UK’s negotiating in the EU for us. A hopeless and insistent pro-EU bod that is. No wonder we’ve always ended up with the very ordured end of the stick given that we’re represented by a believer in the project. What we’d much prefer, in any negotiation, is someone who doesn’t like the basic idea and thus will extract maximal concessions to allow themselves to be persuaded.
Oh, and one little lovely extra. Note the basic mindset here. That expressed democratic will is something to be managed away in favour of the EU project rather than being something respected and to be acted upon. Which is of course why we should be leaving whatever the methods that could be used to make us stay.