Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Where has all the chaos gone?

So here we are, approaching a month since the modest victory for Brexit at the referendum.  

Something that might or might not have been surprising was in the headlines for several days.  Apparently it's generally known as "buyer's remorse" these days.  People who voted leave were spread around every pore of the BBC telling us what a dismal thing they did because the country was plainly collapsing around their ears and all because the UK voted to extricate itself from the European Union.  Calls for another referendum were promoted by the State broadcaster at every opportunity. 

In a way it was surprising because the vote actually changed nothing constitutionally or economically, we were as much in the EU on Friday the 24th of June as we were before the polls opened the day before.  We had not exited the EU, we did not find our exports to and imports from EU countries subject to tariffs, we did not need visas to visit countries in the EU and their citizens did not need visas to come here, citizens of other EU countries living here did not need to leave and Brits in EU countries were not expelled.  

That, however, does not reflect the rhetoric employed by both sides of the "official" leave and remain campaigns.  Overstatement is often the currency of politicians, no doubt it has always been so yet when there is only one issue at stake it is perhaps inevitable that it will be amplified and each side will say voting against them will result in disaster.  That, of course, cannot be said in a vacuum, it must be backed by reasoned argument and under the scrutiny of questioning by both journalists and, more tellingly, the ordinary people it is probably impossible to resist putting flesh on the bones even though no one on either side was in a position to know what that flesh should be.  

Extremes were promoted on both sides.  Very silly extremes spouted in the hope people would be fooled rather than in the expectation they would ever prove to be accurate.  

And so it was that remainers panicked and reacted to wobbles in the share and currency markets as proof they had made a disastrous mistake.  That reaction is no more rational than the silly exaggerations employed by both leavers and remainers during the campaign.  Now things seem to have calmed down.  

The swift-ish ascendance of a new Prime Minister appears, so far, to have led to a further thinning of mindless panic.  I have to confess that my initial hope was that Mrs Leadsom might be up to the job but she went desperately flaky when the going got tough and had the good sense to leave it to Mrs May to do her best.  Mrs May has the advantage of not having to face a Parliamentary opposition except from the neo-Communist Scottish National Party whose representatives in the House of Commons really are piss-poor.  

My local MP is someone called Jeremy Corbin.  I last saw him on the day of the London mayoral election when he was outside my polling station with a couple of similarly wispy-bearded, middle-aged, naive, scruffy Trots.  He and they approached certain voters but, in a rare example of good judgment, realised their time would be wasted on me. 

I sometimes wonder whether Mr Corbyn knows that the mass migration to Labour Party membership comprises predominantly two categories of people: (i) some opposed to hard-line Socialism who have joined to ensure he remains leader and, thereby, ensure Labour is unelectable and (ii) rather more who are even more hard-line Socialist/Communists than Mr Corbyn.  Whether the latter group really think a policy platform that would make Enva Hoxha envious would make Labour electable is an open question, the religious nature of Socialism/Communism makes me think they probably do.  Not only does the SNP have piss-poor MPs, Labour has two piss-poor people trying to stand against Mr Corbyn.  Angela Eagle has, through her tears, proved herself at least as flaky as poor Mrs Leadsom - far too emotional to take serious decisions on any big issue.  Her opponent, whose name eludes me because I don't think I'd heard of him before the last few days, seems to have few policy platforms to distinguish him from Mr Corbyn and no public profile.  

That's where the chaos seems to be this week.  Things might change next week but I doubt they will.  

The noises coming from the Cabinet ministers responsible for extricating us from the EU and making new trading agreements with countries outside the EU are exactly what I had hoped to hear.  Securing free trade deals with as many non-EU countries as possible provides, in my view, the strongest negotiating platform against the EU on issues of trade barriers.  

The USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, South Korea, Brasil and India all want free-trade deals as soon as possible (you can ignore President Obama's suggestion we are at the back of the queue so far as his country is concerned, we are absolutely at the front for recent historic reasons of comity and because it's an easy deal compared to anything they could negotiate with the EU and because he only has months to serve).  How long it takes is impossible to tell, although Australia, New Zealand, Canada and India shouldn't take even a year - and the same applies to various smaller countries who export a lot of stuff to us; for example Chile makes wines we like, Kenya sells us vegetables out of our season, food exports are also an important part of the economies of most Caribbean islands and we buy loads.  China is probably a harder nut to crack, although Hong Kong might be the key because it undoubtedly wants to maintain it's very good trading relationship with this country. 

If, and it is a big if, deals with these and more countries can be agreed in principle the EU's negotiating position will be undermined.  As it is we know we buy far more from them than they do from us so any tariffs are more likely to hurt them than us; and they will all have to pay more into the EU's coffers when we go so they are risking what I believe the young people call a "double-whammy".  

Who knows?  Maybe further chaos will emerge in the months to come.  At the moment the only chaos I see is between a parliamentary Labour party that is far to the left of any that has been electable since 1974 and the Corbyn faction that is so far to the left it makes Michael Foot's famous "longest suicide note in history" seem like a lullaby.  

We'll see what happens, at the moment I am enjoying observing it all