Sunday

16th Jun 2019

Opinion

Brexit - why can't we just swipe left?

  • Last woman standing - Theresa May lost both her foreign secretary and her Brexit secretary on Monday (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

It's like watching a train wreck, in slow motion, with 3D and Dolby surround sound.

The resignations of Boris Johnson and David Davis from the British cabinet have finally thrust into the open what the dogs in the street have known since the Brexit referendum of 2016.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Namely, the promises of the Brexit cheerleaders – such as Johnson and Davis – are unachievable, totally unrealistic and are based on a strangely nostalgic view of British history rather than on the realities facing Britain today.

No doubt, in the coming days Boris and co. will step back into the Churchill playbook and seek to stir the nation with tales of betrayal, broken promises and the secret machinations of the EU super state.

A covert organisation which, in their minds, is at this very moment hatching dastardly plans to foil the will of the British people.

Watching the football...

It's unclear if the hard Brexiteers view this moment as their finest hour, or perhaps more likely, their Waterloo? In any case, nobody will really care because everybody will be watching the football.

So what happens now? In the strange world of Tory Party politics any course of action is possible.

But if Theresa May really wants to leave any sort of tangible legacy – apart from a real life Dunkirk-style retreat from continental Europe – she needs to stand her ground (and that of civil servant negotiator Olly Robbins), face down the hard Brexiteers within her own party and ultimately, use her new found Brexit policy as the basis for negotiations with Brussels.

Whether these proposals are accepted by the EU or not is irrelevant.

What is important is that they finally represent an acknowledgement from the British government that a hard Brexit scenario would be economically damaging, socially irresponsible and political impossible (particularly in Northern Ireland).

"Taking back control" sounds great, but it's not so easy when you're a global businesses location embedded into European supply chains and your health service is dependent on those annoying EU citizens.

Alas, Boris and David (among others) are now free to roam the pastures outside of cabinet and seek to topple May.

Yet, even if they succeed, all is not lost. A general election with a Tory party led by Johnson or Davis, facing a Labour party commanded by Jeremy Corbyn – all united in their scepticism of the EU – throws up boundless opportunities.

Throw in a slowing economy, President Donald Trump visiting the UK and big business sounding the alarm then the possibilities of the entire Brexit process coming apart at the seams increases exponentially.

Corbyn – increasingly hemmed in by Keir Starmer (his Brexit spokesperson), Momentum (lefty youth and increasingly pro-Europe) and Unite (largest Labour party donor and trade union) – should do exactly what every non-Brexit voter in the UK wishes he had done months ago: come out clearly in support of a second referendum.

Labour fears of general election losses in their traditional heartlands should be balanced against those hefty possible gains in London, other urban centres and in suburbia throughout the UK.

Nothing tends to focus the mind like a period of phoney war, of this the British people are well aware.

In 2019, it's time to recognise that irrespective of being on the right or left of the political spectrum, regardless of whether people voted 'yes' or 'no' in 2016, no matter if there is a Tory or Labour prime minister – isn't it time to give the British people another chance to vote on EU membership?

The entire Brexit debate since at least 2015 has been like a bad date. But this is the age of Tinder, why can't we just swipe left?

Eoin Drea is a senior researcher at the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

Mr Brexit leads mini anti-May rebellion

Britain's Brexit negotiator, David Davis, has resigned in a mini-rebellion, adding to uncertainty on the EU talks as the clock ticks to March 2019.

UK holds internal Brexit summit

Britain's divided government will try to agree on a single Brexit wishlist at Friday's special meeting, but none of the options augur well for EU talks.

EU stays calm as two top UK ministers quit

EU officials said Brexit negotiations will not be affected by the resignations of the foreign secretary and Brexit secretary. European Council president Tusk noted that "unfortunately the idea of Brexit hasn't left" with David Davis or Boris Johnson.

UK's May moves towards 'soft' Brexit

In the wake of two cabinet resignations on the issue, UK government publishes its long-awaited vision for the future relationship with the EU, which would revolve around a free trade agreement on goods, but would end free movement.

Catalonia MEPs are a judicial, not political, issue

Carles Puigdemont and Toni Comin currently live outside Spain. They were prosecuted for the serious crimes, and they have fled justice. It is not possible to judge in absentia in Spain, where the justice system protects the rights of defendants.

News in Brief

  1. EU plans to restructure eurozone bonds
  2. EU ups US imports in beef deal
  3. Unicef: UK among 'least family-friendly' in Europe
  4. Czech PM: No joint 'V4' candidate in commission race
  5. Johnson tops first round to replace May, three eliminated
  6. Bratislava will host new European Labour Authority
  7. Juncker cautions against further climate goals
  8. Study: Counterfeit medicine is a 'growing threat' in EU

Six takeaways on digital disinformation at EU elections

For example, Germany's primetime TV news reported that 47 percent of political social media discussions were related to the extreme-right AfD party, when in fact this was the case only for Twitter - used by only four percent of Germans.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  3. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  5. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  6. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  7. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  8. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody

Latest News

  1. 'Russian sources' targeted EU elections with disinformation
  2. Top EU jobs summit dominates This WEEK
  3. EP parties planning 'coalition agenda' ahead of jobs summit
  4. MEP blasts Portugal over football whistleblower
  5. Catalonia MEPs are a judicial, not political, issue
  6. Meet the lawyer taking the EU migration policy to the ICC
  7. Europe's oil supplies 'at risk' after tanker attacks
  8. EU paths fork for Albania and North Macedonia

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  2. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  5. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  10. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  11. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  12. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us