‘Brexit means Brexit’ – the oh so catchy phrase we’ve all heard a thousand times and were sick of the third time we heard it is starting to make even less sense than the miserable amount it did before.
Considering this is one of the most burning issues in British politics – well, the burning issue – the government seems to be doing a good job of ignoring it. It’s all well and good reiterating time and time again that Brexit means Brexit, but it’s been over 6 months since we voted to the leave the EU and we’re still in the dark about what it’ll mean.
Downing Street doesn’t quite seem to be able to get it together, in the process it’s taking political umming and ahhing to new heights. At a very basic level there’s an inability to present any sort of cohesive image on the government’s Brexit stance. Every single notable minister is projecting their own view and things get unpleasantly messy when it’s disseminated down out of the political bubble they exist in.
Sir Ivan Rogers’ resignation this week from his role as the UK’s representative to the EU is a stark warning of just how unorganised the government’s approach is and calls in to question the ability to negotiate Brexit. He attacked the ‘muddled-thinking’ and ‘ill-founded arguments’ that swirl around Brexit in his resignation email and you get the sense he was just being polite. It’s bewildering that we do not even have a clear negotiation strategy for what is the most important political event in generations and one that will shape this country for years to come. We may have set up a government department with an exciting name (Department for Exiting the EU if you were wondering) but it’s not exactly going to get us far when we’re in talks to disentangle ourselves from Brussels.
Downing Street, with Mrs. May at the helm, is behaving like it’s on some kind of gung-ho mission to drain Brexit of all experts. To achieve what exactly? Busybody politicians with personal agendas and a lack of knowledge overruling them, out of their depth and making even more of a mess of the disarray that is Brexit. Anyone who doesn’t respond with a cry YES! YES! YES! to the governments ideas runs the risk of being frozen out.
Instead of shying away from reality by stifling opinions that aren’t in line with their own, ministers need to step up and get a grip on reality. Brexit, by it’s very nature, is a divisive and contentious issue but the government is acting in a manner that would suggest there is only room for one school of thought which is reckless beyond belief. Differences of opinion are the very essence of politics, they drive everything forward – never more so than when those opinions are based on a wealth of knowledge and experience. Yet in its infinite wisdom the government can’t seem to see this.
Sir Ivan’s resignation compounds what has so far been a half-baked effort from the government to tackle Brexit; he’s not exactly the sort of person to resign at the first sign of unsteady waters. Despite being wholly undesirable it may just however serve as the wake up call Theresa May needs to snap her and the snivelling, indecisive band of Brexiters that make up our Cabinet into action.
The choice to appoint Sir Tim Barrow, a highly distinguished diplomat, to the role proves that all hope is not lost. While the sharpness of his appointment points to government nerves, it should go some way to placating rising ill feeling from within Whitehall that threatens to throw Brexit even further off kilter.
The outlook through the rose tinted glasses a lot of Brexiters appear to be wearing must be as wonderful as it is delusional but sadly the reality is far from it and the sooner the government realise this, the better for all of us.
There’s more of this in Volume #16.
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Words by Kieran Parmar