The latest ramblings in the House of Commons just serve to emphasize what we already knew. Brexit has become a European war of religion. Like the Roman Catholics and the Huguenots, the Tudor conquest of Ireland, and the 80 years war in the Netherlands, Brexit is a religious war where dialogue is just not possible. It is the “Ayes to the right,” against the “Noes to the left.” Both have a vision that does not coincide with reality, and dreams that should remain within the realms of fantasy.
The Leave camp has this strange notion that the UK knew what it was voting for in 2016, whereas the Remainers are convinced that all is for the best in the best of unions – the European Union. The politicians in Westminster, having been given the responsibility of carrying out an all but impossible “will of the people,” are paralysed by the irreconcilability of direct and representative democracies, and blinded by the very nature of their own beliefs. They are akin to an inexperienced poodle running after its own tail, thinking that it belongs to the dog next door. They turn and turn, even voting against their own proposals, changing their minds and, above all, giving everybody else but themselves the blame.
The handling of Brexit by the UK has been done in a way that is infantile, repetitive, and now on the verge of being tedious. As the Catholics and Protestants in days gone by, the Leavers and Remainers are time-locked within their own delusions, prejudices, and hatred of anyone who dares not think and worship as they do. Hallucinations about how a country can be great all by itself, and how a union can be compressed into a single entity, defy all logical explanations and resist all therapy. Both camps are entrenched in a do-or die-scenario where there can only be one loser – the ground on which their religious war is raging. No wonder the president of the European Council Donald Tusk alluded to “a place in hell,” to those who organised Brexit without a plan. He should know, for it is his God who will probably send the infidels there.
There is something vaguely quaint about the views of the most staunch Brexiteers. They refuse Theresa May’s withdrawal deal on the grounds that the UK could be trapped in a Northern Irish backstop for decades, whilst a trade agreement with the EU is being thrashed out. They refuse a no-deal because they fear – and rightly so – that leaving the EU without a deal is not an option. And yet, they have no views of their own concerning alternatives to the Brexit backstop that ensures that the UK stays in the customs union if no post-Brexit trade deal is agreed.
The influential European Research Group (ERG), whose title is misleading since “research” is synonymous with “reason,” thinks that it suffices to use computer software that is compatible with Windows 10, where the shipments are being loaded for exports, and not at the border.
The Parties agree to develop and invest in IT systems that will improve cross-border trade without the need for establishing border control infrastructure. (1)
Customs clearance declarations may be done at the premises of the exporter and importer or logistic service provider using available IT systems. In such cases, customs obligations may be carried out via administrative processes and away from the border. (1)
The ERG fails to provide details on (1) whether and when this software will be available and (2), the impending safety concerns related to the time-gap between lorries being registered at the premises of the exporter and the same lorries physically crossing the border. Between the two anything could happen. To be absolutely safe, exporting centres would have to be located very close to the border, causing other security problems.
I think it’s highly foreseeable that if there is increased personnel operating in an around the border area… whether that be HMRC (Britain’s Revenues and Customs), whether that be people engaging in checking of standards of other products, then I think it’s highly foreseeable that they will become the subject of threat and attack. – George Hamilton, Senior Northern Ireland Police Officer (2)
The EU needs to be re-thought after each member state has put its own affairs in order. The pro-EU speech given by French president Emmanuel Macron only underscores the fact that for the staunchest proponents of European federalism, the lessons of Brexit are being misread or ignored completely.
Macron is right in wanting to implement a uniform corporate tax for huge companies like Google, but this uniformization must be done at world level and not just within the EU. Raising corporate tax will not only penalize member states that depend heavily on foreign investors, but may also prove to be ineffectual due to big companies finding loopholes in the system or relocating outside the EU. Questions will also arise concerning what is done with the extra communal funds generated by increased taxation and how this revenue will be distributed amongst the member states.
If Europe is to advance, there must not only be financial equity between member states, but also political health and social justice within the member states. Too many member states fall short on one or both criteria, and even Emmanuel Macron should first try to remove the weeds from his own garden before planting exotic trees in other people’s.
(2) Irish border: Can technology remove the need for a backstop?