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November 18, 2018

Brexit chaos

Editorial

November 18, 2018

Chaos is a mild word to describe how the UK decision to leave the European Union has played out. It started with the resignation of the then prime minister David Cameron, who ceded leadership to Theresa May. PM May took reins of a ship that was fast sinking. The Conservative Party was marred by internal divisions – and Brexit had empowered the more extremist factions in the party, which had traditionally been ridiculed to the periphery. PM May attempted to project herself as a reincarnation of Margaret Thatcher, but the act fell apart rather quickly after a snap election, which staged a revival of the Labour Party.

The political mess has gotten worse with time. The Brexit negotiations have appeared to be almost comically inept, with no deal with the EU becoming a more serious prospect as time passed. There seemed to be no real plan as the British government appeared clueless on key issues, including the Irish border, free movement and tariffs. This week has seen the crisis get worse after May presented the Brexit deal to her cabinet. First, Brexit secretary Dominic Raab resigned. This was swiftly followed by work and pensions secretary Ester Mcvey, opening up space for the return of disgraced former Home Secretary Amber Rudd, who had resigned over the Windrush generation scandal earlier this year. Calls for May to resign have become louder and it appears clear that no one else wants to join the same sinking ship.

The hard-line position is that the Brexit deal is not actually an exit from the EU. But the other line has become stronger. The debate about a ‘people’s vote’ on the Brexit deal has become louder as the argument against Brexit has become stronger. The EU has taken a ‘take it or leave it’ line. The British parliament looks more likely to start a vote of no confidence against May before voting through a Brexit deal. The Labour Party has joined the calls for a second referendum. What should be clear is that the right-wing Brexiteers resigning from the cabinet are admitting that they promised a lie. The myth of an independent and strong Britain was peddled to the British public. The boldest decision right now could only be to admit the folly of the situation and reverse the Brexit decision. The good news is that the failures of Brexit are showing the limits of the Far-Right nationalism wave that has been rising in the West. But it would be prudent to expect more chaos and suffering before a better course is charted.

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