Don’t be silly

Don’t be silly

Don’t be silly

Admiration is certainly due for Prime Minister May’s persistence. It’s a very British thing to ‘keep right on to the end of the road’. Often it is admirable. Churchill’s ‘on the beaches’ rhetoric helped the country through the roughest part of WWII. The Bulldog Grit is praiseworthy when there is no alternative or when the alternative is so daunting that we dare not face it. As the saying goes “Kindness in another’s trouble; courage in your own”. Theresa May is living great courage.

What she is not doing is showing the kindness that is due to at least half the population of Britain who are racked with indecision about what they want. While some may think the British are at war with Europe, they actually are not. Reacting to the concept of everyone coming to live in your country, on your benefits, and without qualification isn’t war. It is a rational question – however irrationally asked. It is simply saying “We were asked to compete in the race to have the fairest society in Europe and we won. Does that mean that anyone can come and take away our winnings?” The answer is “No”.

Immigration isn’t the only issue that has torn Britain apart. Lack of democracy in the organisation that controls the European Union, cost of what is self-evidently an expensive gravy-train, suspected corruption, all contribute to doubts and suspicions about the EU. Not wanting to be part of such an organisation is perfectly understandable. Until you examine the price of not being part of it. Then you see the United States tearing up international trade treaties, essential strengthening of NATO now that weapons extend to every aspect of life, cyber-security needs for cooperation, the rise of dictators and the whittling away of human rights.

President Trump said that globalisation wasn’t happening. Since he did so it has developed at many times the speed of when he said it. His own team have encouraged him to stay in his quarters – preferably all day – to avoid further crazy pronouncements to fan the flames of distrust. The rest of the world is just getting on with it, President or no President.

At last we see how irrelevant he is. At last we see how relevant the European Union is.

Most sensible leaders are preparing for increasing interdependence. What was urgent two years ago is now critical. Britain believed she had a lot of time to ponder. She now realizes that time is up. The oft-mentioned speed of life has got even faster. Politics, by virtue of the minute-by-minute nature of communications, is a roller-coaster. But there are some issues on which it really shouldn’t be. Membership of the European Union is one of them.

The sensible thing for Britain to do now is to withdraw the divorce letter seeking separation from the EU, to announce that she will remain in the EU for another two years and at the end of that time – or whenever one is due to be held – hold a general election (not a referendum) under the strictest supervision of what claims may and may not be made about the EU. There will be protests but Mrs May can stick to it.

This will provide a cooling-off period, a chance to educate the electorate in what the European Union is all about and an opportunity to decide how to stop the spoils of success from being stolen from those who have worked to achieve them.

The price of not doing this will be civil unrest.

Don’t be silly. Get on with it.