by Philip Lawrence
Imagine, if you will, a married couple. They have been together for a considerable time. One day the husband decides that he wishes to divorce his wife. However there are certain caveats attached. The soon-to-be-ex-wife will have to agree to still sleep with him, cook for him, clean for him, etc. She will also be expected to turn a blind eye to her soon-to-be-ex-husband sleeping with her sister, her cousin, many of her friends and various other random hook-ups whilst he also arranges to be fed and watered by sundry other prospective partners. It may also be the case that the ex-wife will be expected to play an active part in the other relationships.
You would probably agree that this is an entirely unlikely scenario. You would also probably regard anyone accepting such a scenario as incredibly stupid and/or feeble-minded. This is the stuff of the Jeremy Kyle Show!
So why are we expected to accept this as commonsense when the plot is transposed as a post-Brexit EU-UK arrangement? Just in case there is any doubt the UK is the husband in this case!
We are told daily by Leave that the UK will be able to select its trade arrangements in a lush, dreamy carte-blanche and laissez-faire sort of arrangement with whichever countries it desires – all the time secure in the safe and certain knowledge that the UK is the highest trade priority for every other government in the entire the world – whilst maintaining a free-trade relationship with Europe which the EU will be desperate to maintain at all costs. Anyone who challenges this contortion of conventional wisdom is quickly shot down as a scaremonger and a heretic. In fact any international political figure who suggests that this wisdom is not flawless is trashed as insignificant and out of step with the realities of today’s modern business world which clearly rotates on an axis centred upon London.
Actually, the post-Brexit picture that Leave present must make a sane man wonder what value has ever been seen in the World Trade Organization? In fact, if it is so easy to hook-up randomly with whoever you want, whenever you want then why have we been obsessed with formal trade blocs since the beginning of the Hanseatic League in the 13th century? It would appear that the Brexiteers have stumbled upon a new overarching economic reality that negates all conventional theory and wisdom on the nature of global trade. Kudos to Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage – I didn’t know they had it in them.
Recently there has been some suggestion that the free-flowing tap of foreign footballers entering the leagues in the UK will be turned off or at least severely restricted. This follows logically from the scrapping of access to the single market and the freedom of movement of labour within that market. Brexiteer Chris Grayling however characterises such logic as “outlandish” and “really very far-fetched.” Well I never! When a consequence of Leave threatens to have a tangible negative impact on something that a large chunk of the electorate holds dear then all of a sudden it is an outlandish and far-fetched interpretation.
When Barack Obama adds his tuppence worth from the viewpoint of a concerned friend who understands the value of working on relationships he is variously criticised for his part-Kenyan ancestry which surely has to make him fundamentally anti-British, for being a lame duck who is on the way out, for supposedly varying his vocabulary in a manner to suit Downing Street and for not having any real idea of the value of the UK to the US.
The attitude of Leave supporters to what is acceptable or not is entirely pick ‘n’ mix which is of course utterly incoherent from an intellectual perspective. But whoever said that politicians had to be coherent?
The Leave camp promises that promiscuity in economic affairs is the way to secure the future of British business and the British economy. But anyone who has been promiscuous in any facet of their existence will know that the ultimate outcomes tend to follow a route (shortened for purposes of brevity of course!) along the lines of thrill, disappointment, new thrill, a nasty little itch, ultimate isolation.
But who knows – have Gove, Johnson and Farage maybe cracked it?