Boris Johnson reads his daydreams out loud
I finally got round to reading(couldn’t stomach watching it) Boris Johnson’s Brexit speech.
A speech apparently designed to convince people like me that we are wrong on Brexit and that leaving the EU is a cause for more hope than fear.
Did Boris succeed in convincing me?
Well, he got off to a reasonably good start, in that he did manage to convince me that he understood some of the fears of Remainers like myself. He highlighted that our worries can be categorised into three main areas which he described as Strategic, Spiritual and Economic.
I’d say he sums up these areas reasonably well.
Unfortunately, nothing Boris went on to say managed to allay any of the fears he lists.
In fact, everything he said accentuated my fears that Brexit is going to be a disaster. For the duration of the rest of his talk, he didn’t detail anything approaching a firm credible plan. The whole speech was peppered with hopeful assertions and downright fantasy. His reassurance amounted to asking us to take a leap of faith. It’s not religion we need though, it’s a workable roadmap.
Those who supported a remain vote believe that even a soft-Brexit will make us worse off. We believe this because all of the experts have told us so, including experts who work for Boris and the UK government. Most Remainers accept this though, as that is how people voted. For Remainers it’s now about damage limitation.
The current problem we face is that the vision we are being sold is based on something that can’t happen. An imaginary, bespoke, best of both worlds deal, that isn’t on the table. We are worried because we know that a strategy based on deranged expectations will result in the worst possible type of Brexit. The one where there isn’t a deal at all.
The things Boris said to assure us the life will be better when we leave the EU sadly fall into the category of wishful thinking when we need a tangible plan.
- It is in the EU’s interest to not diminish our geopolitical alliance so therefore our alliance will continue as strong as ever. This is one of his most plausible points. There is no doubt that everyone in Europe is safer and better off when Europe is united on issues like security, crime, standing up to corporations and the wielding of soft-power. However, the preservation of this strategic partnership is not a foregone conclusion. If the unrealistic expectations in other areas are not met, then there may be no agreement on any of these things going forward.
- If we get immigration down then that will be good for wages. Maybe there is a case to be made for this. However, stopping free movement also means stopping Single Market access. It means erecting barriers to trade which in turn means reducing the size of the economy as a whole. It means essential services understaffed, fruit rotting in fields and businesses looking to relocate in order to be in that same Single Market. Many of the key Brexiteers openly want to relax regulation on workers rights so I think it is far from certain leaving the EU is going to improve the life of the average low paid worker. In fact, the impact studies suggest Leave voting regions will suffer the most.
- If we stop paying money into the EU we will have more money to spend on things like the NHS. Yes, he did repeat that old canard. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. We weren’t paying money into the EU as an act of charity. We did it because it was an investment that we got back many times over. The money ensured companies could trade more easily, people could travel hassle-free, food costs were reduced, research and development flourished, and much much more.
- If we leave the Single Market trade will boom. Not according to 99 percent of experts. We know we won’t be able to trade as well with Europe because if we leave the Single Market then we are going to have trade barriers where there were none before. On a global front, it is unlikely we can do better trade deals with the rest of the world as we don’t have as much to bring to the negotiating table as we did as part of the EU. That’s how global trade deals work. The EU is a much bigger economy so it can do better deals. It’s that simple.
- If we leave the EU things will be a lot more democratic. We live in a country that has an antiquated two-party system, in which a party gets complete control of the House of Commons, with a tiny proportion of the popular vote. We have an unelected House of Lords(that you can buy a seat in) watching over the Commons. Not to mention we have a massive problem with corporate lobbyists, corruption and dubious sources of political funding. The way that the Government is treating the devolved administrations, especially the two who voted against Brexit, is the opposite of democracy. If Brexit was going to result in a more democratic egalitarian UK then I might be more relaxed about it. The democratic arguments were what convinced me to support Scottish independence after all. In the case of Brexit, the UK is already Sovereign and it has multiple democratic deficits that are no fault of the EU.
If Boris could somehow make his assertions come true then Brexit wouldn’t be that bad.
However, as things stand he is just sharing with us his daydream wishlist. He is not going to win us over doing that. Hope may be good enough for the Brexiteers, but the rest of us need to see a tangible strategy that looks like it might actually work. All I can see at the moment is a plan that is destined to secure no deal at all which means none of Johnson’s dreams will come true.