Eight weeks of farce has left us in exactly the same position as beforeby Jonathan Lis / September 3, 2018 / Leave a comment
Before Brexit, the summer months were an opportunity for stories about hot weather and foreign romances. The prime minister went on holiday and planned popular initiatives for the autumn conference. Nobody in power actively planned how best to impoverish, isolate and humiliate the nation.
Well, that was then. Now we have a government determined to dominate each quiet news cycle with a fresh angle on how it intends to destroy itself and us.
The last eight weeks have represented a masterclass in how not to run a country. The government presented a proposal—the Chequers deal—which it knew would be despised by Leavers, Remainers and the EU. It lost Boris Johnson and David Davis, the clownish architect of Brexit and its incompetent manager. It ignored the Electoral Commission’s conclusion that the Leave campaign in 2016 had indulged in outright cheating.
Then it apparently cheated itself, by breaking a pairing agreement and lying about it. It allowed Parliament to harden the Chequers proposal even as it needed to soften it, and whipped MPs to require the UK to leave the customs union even though we will have to stay in it.
Theresa May gave a speech in Northern Ireland which effectively ruled out a withdrawal agreement. She then visited President Macron at his country retreat amid great fanfare and secured nothing, the day after EU negotiator Michel Barnier rejected Chequers on both its customs and single market proposals.
For the last few weeks, the government has talked up a no-deal scenario even though it has no intention of administering one—and the very talk of that leads businesses to activate contingency plans and markets to batter the pound.
A failure of national leadership
Each of these steps has embodied political regression and the failure of national leadership, and each has forced ministers deeper into a hole they will still have to climb out of.
But the basic facts have not changed.We are still not leaving the EU with a hard Brexit, still less with no deal at all.
First, Chequers will fail. Indeed, its death has already been confirmed on both sides of the Channel. Leavers will not accept its level of integration, and Remainers will loathe our inability…