Friends don't let friends stay in something as stupid as the EU - Credit, public domain

We can hope of course but David Davis resigning Brexit Secretary probably isn’t the start of it. “It” being that near revolution needed to be serious about this process of leaving the European Union. For as yet there’s really near no one taking this all in the manner in which proper grown up adults should be. Which is that we’re leaving, so, let’s get ready to do that.

So Mrs May is not yet at the last chance saloon. She could, if she so chooses, deliver yet more fudge. She could produce a white paper that demands unicorns (control over immigration, freedom from the European Court of Justice and continued trade as now with the EU, a single market for goods only) but will receive short shrift in Brussels. But at some point, choices will need to be made.

There is a growing realisation in Westminster that cakeism is not practical. Ministers are being confronted with a stark choice: prioritise the economy and retain a very close relationship with the EU, or pull further away to take advantage of potential longer-term opportunities.

Yes, this is entirely the point. That is indeed the question before us. Do we put up with a bit of change, possibly even a bit of chaos, in order to leave the European Union? Leaving meaning that we leave that social democratic – for that’s what it really is, with a heavy dose of Roman Law style bureaucracy – for something more amenable? Or don’t we?

If we stay tied to the Single Market, the Customs Union, then we’ve not really left the project. Sure, lots of people think that’s what ought to happen too. But not, apparently, the majority – perhaps a plurality is better – of those of us who get to make the decision itself. We decided to leave. So, leave we should and must.

David Davis, who has been leading UK negotiations to leave the EU, has quit his role as Brexit Secretary

He told the BBC that he was no longer the best person to deliver the PM’s Brexit plan – agreed by the cabinet on Friday – as he did not “believe” in it.

He said the “career-ending” decision was a personal one but he felt the UK was “giving away too much and too easily” to the EU in the negotiations.

Well, I think it’s worse than that but then I’m biased. I think the EU is such a bad idea that no one should belong to it let alone us. But even given that what’s being offered up as our negotiating position isn’t in fact leaving:

Mr Davis announced he was quitting late on Sunday, saying it looked “less and less likely” the party would deliver on the Brexit result and the Tory commitment to leave the customs union and single market.

He claimed on Monday morning he had no desire to weaken the prime minister, but said he could not be a “reluctant conscript” to her plans that were agreed by the whole cabinet last week.

What makes it a particularly incompetent negotiating position is that it isn’t one. We’ve essentially said that we’ll stay in in everything except just freedom of movement. Which isn’t something the EU is going to offer anyway. That’s not a negotiating position at all. It’s a wish list – cakeism.

An actual negotiating position is that we’re leaving, we’ll adopt unilateral free trade, cut corporation tax to near nothing if not abolish it, slash red tape and burn the bureaucrats. We’ll see who is richer in a decade or two, shall we? Or, if you’re unwilling to have someone quite so close showing the bankruptcy of your ruling system, here’s the bits we’d like to cherry pick and keep even as we leave.

Anyone who has ever been in business – real life actually – knows that you don’t start out by presenting the final deal you’ll agree to.

As to whether David Davis going is going to bring some welcome reality to the process, I fear not. It wasn’t Heseltine going that toppled Maggie, it was the thought that the next election would be lost if she didn’t get toppled. If Tory MPs begin to fear that – as they damn well should – then perhaps things will change. We might even hope that this resignation is the pebble that starts the avalanche but sadly I doubt it.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Davis resigned saying he was unable to defend May’s indefensible position, essentially to implement Brexit so that it isn’t really Brexit, including continuing European dictates over commerce inside Britain. There is no reason this decision should be “career-ending” unless maybe Davis wanted to manufacture some pity, suggesting that he doesn’t see his career as ending.

    Hector: Yes, factors affecting their continuing ability to keep their snouts in the trough will of course concentrate MPs’ minds, above all, their PM’s growing impression that she is not governing but improvising.