The Brexit Quagmire

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
April 06, 2019

“If you compared Britain to a sphinx, the sphinx would be an open book by comparison. Let’s see how that book speaks over the next week or so.”

—Jean-Claude Juncker, President, European Commission

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeLast Friday Britain was supposed to leave the European Union (EU) after which the land, as Boris Johnson and his Tory friends assured us, was supposed to be flowing in milk and honey. March 29 has come and gone. On that very day the British Parliament rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan to leave the EU for a third time. This left British citizens asking: “How did we go so perilously wrong?”

It is not like Britain economy is going to collapse tomorrow–it is still the world’s fifth–largest national economy–but the voters placed the country in a delicate position when it voted to leave the EU without thinking of the consequences of its action. Today it is paying the price for its ill-thought out decision.

The differences were small between those who wanted to remain and those who wanted to leave the EU, but the results were binding on the country. Voting as it did, Britain decided to affirm a past (“a land of hope and glory”) rather than to pursue a future course with a larger economic unit that was finding its place in the world. English nationalists won the day but alienated its younger citizens in the process.

Since the Brexit referendum in June 2016, “the pound has fallen by as much as 17% against the euro and 29% against the dollar, although it has recovered somewhat since then.” (BBC News, October 1, 2018). According to the Office for National Statistics, GDP growth has slowed from 2% to 1.4%

If or when Britain leaves the EU its economy may slide to the seventh largest in the world and London may lose its edge as one of the international financial centers of the world. Britain may see house prices fall by about 30 percent, its unemployment doubled–it’s now 4 percent–and inflation may rise to about 6.5 percent. The contraction of the European economy is not necessarily good news for the UK since the EU accounts for almost half of UK exports. To add to its woe, UK’s manufacturing output contracted the most since December 2012.

One does not know how these outcomes have tempered the views of the Brexit hardliners, but their ruthless manipulations are beginning to show. Theresa May, British prime minister, was not among the Brexit hardliners but was left holding the bag when Boris Johnson, the former foreign minister, and Michael Grove, the environment secretary, betrayed one another and dropped the ball in her court.

Mrs. May did the best she could but is not up to the task. Philip Stephens described her as “a stubborn, weak and blinkered leader” (Financial Times, March 29.) Now that the British Parliament has rejected her plan for a third time Mrs. May has no choice but to follow her own resolute logic: “I am prepared to leave this job earlier than I intended to in order to do what is right for our country and our party” (Financial Times, March 28).

On Thursday, the Brexit hardliners began to change their strategy. Smelling blood and feeling that any one of them could become the prime minister, they began to change their tune. Johnson, who said that Mrs. May’s deal “had strapped a suicide vest around the country,” and Jacob Rees-Mogg, who said Mrs. May’s plan would turn Britain into “a slave state” (New York Times, March 28) another hardliner, were willing to support Mrs. May’s plan. Political opportunism had won the day again.

One is not too sure if naked ambition and pure political chicanery led to the political impasse in Britain today. Sometimes when we talk about political principles and ideological purity it comes down to what positions are likely to allow us to achieve our political ends. We see an identical scene playing out in Trinidad and Tobago where the United National Congress is bending over backward to gain whatever political advantage it can by supporting Donald Trump’s position on the Venezuelan issue.

Britain is in a pickle. On Wednesday, Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, indicated the EU was willing to give Britain more time if it “wishes to rethink its Brexit strategy” (New York Times, March 27). After Friday’s vote, Tusk announced that he would be calling a council meeting of the European Council April 12, putting more pressure on the British Parliament to come up with a solution.

Tomorrow (Monday) the British Parliament goes at it again. One should not hold one’s breadth. Anything can happen. But Friday night’s vote suggests that Britain is moving closer towards an April 12 withdrawal from the EU without an agreement. This is not a good sign for Britain but it tells us how politics (sorry, poly-tricks) are played. Whether one is in London or Port of Spain, politics and political principles come down to what is good for me and my advancement, the people be damned.

The Brexit confusion reminds us of Humpty Dumpty’s great fall that resulted in a scenario where “All the king’s horses and all the kings’s men,/Couldn’t put Humpty together again.” Things may not be that dire, but whatever happens, it will take Britain a decade to rescue itself from the quagmire into which it has fallen through no one else’s fault but its own.

7 thoughts on “The Brexit Quagmire”

  1. To the Europeans on the homeland , this may be the “BIG PAYBACK”. England historically have done as they well want in the north Atlantic , their deplorable double standards is what Democracy looks like to them . England’s Criminal Empirism , is long over , today, they can’t stand being a lesser voice , when in the past , their Sun was never suppose to set . The TRASH NATION England continues to be , can be seen very clearly through their international political policies .

  2. Mr Cudjeo- Why are you taking so much time to get involved in the affairs of Europe and Britain? Do you know that the EU is not about economics only? The EU is about fat cat men and women in Brussels making rules and laws for the people of the EU with being given the mandate to do so. They are not elected officials to make rules and laws which are sometimes silly and dictatorial. Take the time to read the EU agreement then you can make a logical comment. You will be advised to listen to the ex Finance Minister of Greece who gave a full account of how the EU masters work. No accountability, no agenda for meetings, thinking the people of Europe are fools and peasants. Why don’t you look for the ills of the US where you live and work. Do not forget the African countries and Caribbean. They need commenting on the state of affairs of these countries. You seem to think that Jean-Claude Junker is the king of Europe. He is merely an unelected official.

  3. These are the Countries, telling these small Islands what to do??These Fools cannot even run/control their own destiny.Every so call larger country is in a MESS.

  4. “When Britain first at Heaven’s command…….”
    “Rule Britannia, Britannia Rule the waves …..”
    “And Britain never, never, never shall be slaves ……”

    As young children under the colonial system, these were some of the phrases used to pummel our young minds into submission to the greatness of our colonial master – Great Britain. They were not just railing words used to stimulate a feeling of greatness, they were truly meant to condition our minds about the invincibility of the rule and Rulers of the great British Empire. They saw themselves as the true rulers of the universe and us, mere subjects to adhere to their command. While they were the masters who captured and brought us to the new world as slaves, they told themselves and us they NEVER NEVER NEVER SHALL BE SLAVES. Those were not mere boast. They promulgated every concept flaw based on that theory of superiority towards their subjects.

    They marched into the African and Asian continents with the clear purpose of subjugating the inhabitants to their will. In conquest we all became their subjects. In other words we became the property of the Empire, ruled by their King or Queen. Today, we are left speaking their language, pondering every thought of behavior on how best to attain quality of purpose, the way the British would have done it. Their laws, using their ethics, even honoring the superiority of their Courts and Justice system as the mantle for our civilization. Simply put, we were conditioned to believe in the words of that famous poem “I (Great Britain) am monarch of all I survey, my right?, there’s none to dispute”. Till this day we are subjects of ‘The Queen’.

    This is the same invincibility used by some of the framers of laws in Britain, that made them think that they can do better without other members of the European community. Only this time, their calculation of superiority fell flat on their faces. Now they are kept wondering what to do next. A big part of their reasoning for exiting, was to keep out immigrants from countries they view as ethnically inferior. They now have no clear ideas on how to remain “Great Britain”. Such is the nature of man when accorded with the powers of superiority.

  5. There is a reason the World/Earth is round. One reason, What goes around Comes around. A matter of saying.BUT, These pampas, arrogant Folks never believe their so call power, will some day be {NOT Important}to most of us. Most of us, are still in SLAVE MODE, thinking the stupid Queen is in charge.———What do this woman do again?????????? Again its pitiful to see these Large countries, Loose their way, in this time in History.?

  6. UK voters decided to leave in the 2016 referendum. Torry and Labor parties said they would respect the vote.

    Thus far Brexit hasn’t yet been enacted. This is significant. UK democracy has been delayed. The implications for the UK and the EU will be long lasting, significant and far reaching.

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