The end of this month marks a year since the UK invoked Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, setting in motion the two year countdown to our exit. How’s it going so far, you ask? Not so good. Brexit is best described as the undefined, negotiated by the unprepared to deliver the unspecified on behalf of the uninformed. It’s clear that the promises and benefits of the Leave campaign are undeliverable – but they knew that. We clearly do not hold all the cards. It’s clear that the progress of negotiations with the EU amounts to repeatedly kicking a can of worms down the road, for fear of the war of words within the Conservative Party turning in a government toppling revolt.
It’s become clear that the EU is going to win each round of talks, handsomely. They do have a plan, a united script to read from and the genuine interest of the EU at heart, rather than fighting an internal battle. It’s becoming clearer that unity with the EU is more important than ever in the face of Russian hostility and the unpredictable and incoherent ‘policy’ coming out of the US. If the Brexit that was promised, or anything closely resembling it, cannot be delivered, then what mandate is there for delivering Brexit at all. None, is the simple answer. Yet the process goes on. Tick tock.
What to do? It’s never been more important that a second referendum called. And it’s vital that the second referendum lays the facts down straight. Provides an honest choice. We can remain in the EU and keep the status quo. Or we leave in the form of the hardest Brexit. No trade deal. No divorce payment. Potentially no deal on Open Skies, WTO membership and other vital international treaties. This is the deal that the Hard Brexiters want. This is what they’re trying to force through. And it’s mighty disingenuous of Theresa May to promise that she can stop them. Because she’s shown no sign of trying to do so thus far.
The electorate could still vote for that Brexit, I guess. But there is a way to both focus minds and to prepare for the worst. To apply direct consequence to the individual decision. To oblige the voter, as far as one can, to apply rational thought to the decision making process. Voters should be allowed to enter the booth and cast their ballot. But names will be recorded against the vote cast. It shouldn’t be an anonymous vote. We all have to live with our decisions in the real world. This is a matter of huge import. And Brexit is the biggest gamble of this century so far. It rather looks like a Ponzi scheme. Vote Brexit and live with the consequences. On a personal level.
We need a fall back. If the UK is growing at a substantially lower rate that the EU, or enters recession, and it can be demonstrably shown to be due to leaving the EU*, then Brexit voting seniors should forego their pensions. And lose their other benefits, such as free bus passes and television licenses. Brexit must be paid for. Leave voting workers should forego pay rises, in order that Remain voters receive pay rises that keep up with inflation. Leave voters should have other tax credits and benefits suspended, so that Remain voters can continue to keep up with ‘what would have been’. Leavers are first out the door when redundancies occur. Without redundancy payments.
I’m not suggesting Leave voters be forced to wear yellow stars. I’m suggesting rosettes, with yellow and purple design. They were happy to wear them before, so I see no problem. If a Remain voter passes a freezing Leave pensioner, begging in the street – then he should be able to help him or herself to the change to buy a coffee at Starbucks. Although I’m not a complete bastard. The Remain voter should first ensure that there are no Leavers in the queue at Starbucks to finance the coffee purchase.
These saved redundancy, pension and other payments can be used to create a new charitable fund, called Remainers In Need. A new Brexit Tax on Leave voters can also contribute to Remainers In Need. And best of all, newspapers that campaigned for Brexit will have a 100% tax added, to make sure that Remainers In Need gets all the help it requires. Children In Need should be scrapped and replaced with Remainers In Need. The normal system of voluntary donations by phone or text should be replaced with an automatic charge to Leavers bills.
Of course, there will be those who try and cheat the system. Hence the new ITV show, Brexiter Busters. A canny team hunting down Leave voters who are still in social housing or taking up hospital beds when there are Remainers without. We can watch with smug satisfaction as 90 year old Ethel, a slightly racist Brexiter is turfed out of her intensive care bed and dumped in the street. If the nation must live on the bread line, then those who voted to do so should be feeding off the scraps, and not sitting pretty at the front of the queue.
Am I being vindictive, do you think? A little bit mean spirited? Just plain nasty? I’d say so. Provocatively so. I freely acknowledge as much. I’m not immune to the ‘mood of Brexit’. Why should I be? I won’t be immune to its consequences. And you may think my fallback plan is extreme and unreasonable. Not so. Leave voters are, by and large, on board. Happy to sign up to it. Really, I kid you not. But the real purpose today, is to convey the true spirit of the UK in 2018 to those of you who live overseas. The division. The disgust. The contempt. And I did not even touch on the continuing issue of xenophobia. We are in a sorry state here, we truly are.
*I don’t really need to be told about the difficulties and controversies of these sort of assessments.