The Brexit mess

On 23rd June 2016 the UK held a referendum as to whether the population as a whole (of voting age) wished to leave the European Union (EU) or remain. The vote was to leave and since then the process of leaving has been commonly known but little commonly understood, as Brexit. This process is due to be completed by the end of March 2019. Even the most prescient could hardly have predicted the chaos that would ensue, and the arguments have raged back and forth inside and outside governance ever since. The EU itself was less than delighted with the result and has not made the leaving easy for the UK but then why should it?

The UK government of Prime Minister Theresa May has been openly split for months as to the nature of Brexit — hard or soft, will the Northern Ireland border be preserved and yes, the British passport will revert to blue which matters a great deal to some Brexiteers, less so to many others. The tangle of complexities renders it impossible to boil down to a few carefully chosen words, but today on the night of 8/9 July there was a seismic political event that everybody can understand. At around midnight David Davis, the chief Brexit negotiator, along with two of his junior colleagues resigned.

Simply put he had had enough. Sidelined from crucial discussions and derided by some cabinet colleagues and wearied by cabinet feuds he pulled the plug. Fears not say the Brexiteers, the project is on track and the referendum outcome is to be honoured. Great Britain’s sovereignty will be restored henceforward. Be that as it may, the UK still needs a working relationship with the EU that is as friction-free as may be crafted, and to the mutual benefit of all concerned. That outcome is today far from in sight never mind achievable given the tightening time frame. Those that hoped for a reversal of the referendum via a re-running of it got nowhere. The result stands and is going to echo down the generations. The generations to come may have reason to curse their forebears.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2018.

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