Brexit carnage should be Buchan obvious by now
Eerie how often the past informs the future. Author John Buchan – alarmed at the growing nationalistic movement in Germany eight years before World War II – penned words to describe an Alt-Right media frenzy that resound today.
“They pander to everything that’s shoddy and slushy and third-rate in human nature. Their politics an opiate to prevent folk thinking,” he wrote.
His words echo what we saw in the right wing UK media before the Brexit referendum and what the same press have expressed since in a doomed attempt to pretend that no damage will be done to the nation or its people by pursuing a split from the EU.
They also ring true in connection with the bombardment of bile by the Alt Right on social media and via other communication channels in the lead up to and aftermath of the US Presidential election.
With another nod to Buchan, perhaps UK Prime Minister Theresa May could get one of her Civil Servants to write a special tract – ‘The Thirty-Nine Steps to Brexit.’ May would settle for a first step right now to settle her finely fashioned heel on without fear of toppling into a deep abyss.
In case you missed it in the news, there has been ample evidence that Brexit is a shambles – one that could turn into a wrecking ball for the UK economy.
There was Deloitte’s memo, reported in The Times, which concluded that the Government didn’t have a coherent Brexit plan. The word coherent would appear superfluous. The former head of the Foreign Office told the Commons Brexit committee that Whitehall was overwhelmed by the sheer complexity of extricating the UK from 40 years of the EU system.
The Independent reports that Germany has toughened its stance with the UK over Brexit, with its finance minister warning that Britain would face substantial EU budget bills for more than a decade after severing political ties with the bloc.
The tour de farce worsens with the announcement that Britain faces a £100 billion black hole in its finances because of Brexit. Chancellor Philip Hammond is expected to outline the scale of the problem in this week’s Autumn Statement. Given the size of the black hole, Stephen Hawking for Chancellor looks a sounder bet than Nigel Farage for the House of Lords.
The hype, much peddled by Leavers in the pre-Referendum debate, was that if Britain left the EU, other countries would follow like a pack of cards. The opposite appears to be the case.
In fact other major countries within the EU have now reinforced their belief, no doubt strengthened by events in the US, to evoke the spirit of The Three Musketeers: United we stand; divided we fall. A report in today’s Guardian shows that pro-EU sentiment has grown in five of the six largest member states – including the UK plus France, Germany, Poland and Italy – according to a survey by the Bertelsmann Foundation.
Administrative and legal chaos only reign now because none of our so-called leaders seemed to have properly researched the letter of the law or comprehended the likely consequences of what they were either engineering or being dragged into.
They certainly did not have a handle on the fine detail of what may result from the course of action they were proposing. Individuals and businesses are already suffering from their ignorance, sheer stupidity and – in the cases of many of the co-conspirators – naked political ambition.
I warned in a March 30 blog that the British public was being misled – in some cases blatantly lied to – over both the benefits of leaving the EU and the low risks in doing so.
Legal challenges in recent weeks illustrate how shoddily the leaders of the Leavers and the Government did their homework on the legality of the referendum itself, the legal complexities inherent in quitting the EU or the laws that would govern an exit; not just Article 50 but constitutional issues arising from the UK’s bid to extricate itself from membership of the wider trading bloc.
Vote Leave’s claim that by leaving the EU Britain would save £350 million a week that could be invested in the ailing NHS has long since been exposed as a shameful sham and utterly discredited. The reality is far different: The Government will need to hire 30,000 new civil servants just to deal with the complications of Brexit while thousands of jobs in the NHS are being axed both sides of the border and the service is on a life support machine. Seasoned, unbiased observers estimate that leaving the EU would contribute to the NHS losing as much as £10 billion a year by the end of the decade.
New figures from Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs underline that the EU remains, overwhelmingly, the UK’s major source of export success. Despite all of the above, the same army of dissemblers and the deluded – in Parliament and the far right press – continue to mislead by spreading baseless propaganda suggesting we have nothing to fear from Brexit. Let me lay it on the line: That light at the end of the tunnel is an inter-city express whose brakes have failed.
Economic ruin from which this country may never recover and misery for hundreds of thousands of axed workers and their families continues to be the most likely bottom line from pursuing a brainless Brexit.
These are the brutal facts that a responsible government and media should be setting before the nation rather than leveraging ignorance to peddle and perpetuate lies and inaccuracies that could needlessly damage so many lives.
The aforementioned John Buchan also wrote a novel called ‘The Island of Sheep.’ It appears that millions in the UK’s flock have been herded towards a promised land of rich pastures only to find themselves staring at a barren wilderness: Lambs to the financial slaughter.