Speak up for keeping our institutional and cultural links with Europe aliveby Stephen Wright / January 15, 2020 / Leave a comment
With Brexit now inevitable, what is a Remainer now to do?
I suppose some would say that the term itself is now obsolete and that those who were Remainers should accept that they have lost the argument and move on with resignation. But that’s not very plausible for those who fear that Britain’s relationships in Europe are still at risk.
It is just not possible for such people to sit idly by while Britain disentangles itself from the European Union, and in the process risks inflicting unwanted collateral damage in areas such as national security, law enforcement, climate change, space exploration, sport, the arts and culture or social cohesion.
For those few who have influence over policy such as members of parliament or the media, there is now the task of scrutinising the mad rush that the government is starting towards a trade agreement with the EU by the end of the year, which is almost certain to be narrow and sub-optimal. It will be crucial to ensure yet again that this negotiation does not lead to a no-deal exit. It will also be important to test every piece of new legislation thereafter for its effect on our ability to continue to cooperate with the EU on key issues such as security and global foreign policy issues, or conversely if it obliges us to distance our behaviour further from the EU.
The rest of us would do well to remember what Brexit is and what it is not. Brexit means that Britain as a state is leaving the European Union, its laws and its institutions. But there is a wider set of relationships that Brexit need not and should not change. As we all know from our own lives and acquaintances, there are countless institutions and individuals in British society that have forged partnerships, collaborative arrangements and friendships with other Europeans to pursue their interests, their livelihoods and their passions. The fields of such endeavours range widely across society. This is a valuable social fabric of relationships that stretches across Europe.
In the past, we could rely on the relationships in this fabric as durable and safe, but perhaps not any longer. Technically, Brexit should…