Is the Christmas Eve deal a gift to Britons or a lump of coal?
After a long and perilous fight, and enough bitter partisanship to rival any in the United States, the United Kingdom has finally reached a deal with the European Union to exit the collective.
With this historic deal, the details of which are still becoming clear, Brexit proponents have achieved what many thought impossible. The 2000 page agreement will likely appear before the House of Commons on December 30.
“The war is over. It’s not perfect, but it is a very very big day and a big step forward,” said British politician and Brexiteer Nigel Farge of the agreement.
Remainers, those voters committed to staying within the albeit imperfect confines of the European Union, have greeted the news with somewhat less enthusiasm. In the four years since the UK first voted to leave the EU, all manner of disasters have been predicted by Remainers. Unsurprisingly, more of the same are being predicted now.
However, what the Brexiteers know, what the Remainers still don’t understand, is that the seeds of the destruction of the European Union were not sown by opponents of the EU, whatever their motivation.
The seeds of the destruction of the European Union were sown by its own architects. The EU was a good idea- in theory- poorly executed, poorly maintained, and badly managed into financial stagnation.
Particularly sticky points, like fishing rights in Scottish ancestral waters, mass immigration, wealthier nations forced to bail out poorer ones, austerity measures, and even the EU’s dismal response to the terrible COVID-19 crisis in Italy, were never addressed. It isn’t even that these sticking points weren’t adequately addressed; they weren’t allowed to be addressed at all.
EU leadership in Brussels, the true Remainers, with the full cooperation of a compliant, liberal-leaning media, shut down all discussion of these thorny issues under the auspices of political correctness. Had this not happened, some of these problems could have been dealt with decades ago and Brexit might never have happened.
“We have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain, only to see them re-imposed at a European level with a European super-state exercising a new dominance from Brussels,” lamented Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1988.
1988 would have been an excellent time to confront the challenges of the EU. Only confronting those challenges- not ignoring them, not preventing reasoned discussion, and certainly not demonizing anyone daring to raise such issues- could have prevented Brexit.
After the second time Brexit was approved by a referendum of voters in the UK, one liberal media personality quipped, tongue very much in cheek: “Maybe we didn’t call them racists enough?”
Racism exists, and it is definitely a factor in Brexit, just as it undoubtably factors into a great many other aspects of social and political life. It is perhaps especially visible in frank discussions about mass immigration.
But by falling upon this ad hominem/straw-man/red herring line of argument- that racism exists and therefore is responsible for Brexit- Remainers hoped to avoid any further discussions on the topic. This obviously didn’t work in the long-term; as logical fallacies seldom do.
Refusing to discuss the shortcomings of UK membership in the EU didn’t make those shortcomings disappear. If anything, the strategy of refusing to discuss these legitimate issues led voting Britons to stubbornly vote again and again to leave the EU and for politicians promising to lead the exodus; in 2016, in 2017, twice in 2019.
Despite the fears of disappointed Remainers, the United Kingdom will likely survive Brexit. The European Union, on the other hand, is entering a dangerous time. The United Kingdom is the first nation to vote against the EU- to leave, against austere measures or certain treaties- and actually win. Other nations have tried- France and Greece, for instance: All have failed.
“Wrong votes” were simply dismissed or votes were taken again until the “right vote” could be achieved.
Clearly these ham-handed strategies to keep dissatisfied nations from rejecting the European Union won’t work going forward. What one country can do, other countries can do.
European Union leadership now faces two distinct choices:
One, accept full responsibility for Brexit and pledge to fix the problems which led voters in the UK to vote- multiple times- to leave the EU and to actually follow through, as hard as the government in Brussels tried to make it.
Or two, continue to blame only factors utterly beyond the control of the EU government in Brussels, or indeed any government. Ideally these factors should be age-old, amorphic, and nebulous problems which no one has ever solved in all of human history and for which the EU can take no responsibility whatsoever, like racism and nationalism.
However, racism and nationalism existed when the United Kingdom voted to join the European Union in the first place. The poor management of the European Union, on the other hand, did not.
If the EU fails to take corrective measures, other EU nations are going to follow the United Kingdom and break with the collective.
California is currently entertaining a proposition to impose a new wealth tax on businesses fleeing the state’s high tax/poor governance model. It is a tax which companies would be forced to pay for up to 10 years following the move. This model, driving paying customers away with ever poorer and more expensive service, then squeezing the ones foolish or desperate enough to remain for all they are worth, never works for long.
For the business fleeing California, and Great Britain fleeing the European Union, the cost of whatever ten-year, punitive tax scheme authorities can dream up will likely prove cheaper in the long run than continually bearing up under such poor leadership. And indeed, true to form, Brussels has wrangled five more years of fishing rights out of the Christmas Eve Brexit deal.
As they say about California, and increasingly about New York, so too could soon be said about the European Union:
“Last country to leave the European Union, turn out the lights.”
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)