Still anti-Brexit but…
Still anti-Brexit but…
For recent joiners of The Daily Paradox I ought to explain that I have always been fiercely anti-Brexit. In my 20s – the 1950s – I and others worked hard to start bringing Europe together after the disaster of World War II. Such ruin should never happen again, we said. The fact that it had happened twice in relatively quick succession made a lasting peace more important than ever. Those who dedicated their time and effort to starting Europe House deserve better than Brexit.
The lunacy of following Trump down the road to isolationism has been ably demonstrated since the ill-conceived British referendum. That was apparently meant to be about Europe. It was, in fact, about immigration. It did not require a rocket scientist to understand that if a wealthy welfare-state opened its doors to people from poorer countries there would be an influx from the latter to the former. Free lunch is free lunch – and in a welfare state there is such a thing.
The case for the European Union is social. There is also an economic case, to provide balance to the rising economies of China, India, Asia, Australasia, Africa, South America. Minnows get eaten by sharks. But the heart of the European Union is a mixture of cultures, different but geographically close and of similar histories. These have given the world the most advanced thinking of modern times. Successors to the earlier great empires, they individually and jointly developed philosophy, art, technology and political principles that, however imperfect, were progressive.
Those whose partnerships have failed know the cost of ending a relationship. What should be a reasoned attempt to remain in good friendship so often – and so unnecessarily – ends in emotional hostility. An objective to see that both, or all, parties come out of it with reasonable self-esteem, that the mechanics of the parting are as painless as can be and that doors are left open for continuing dialogue and closeness gets lost in one leaderless rabble making faces at the other.
Then follows the blame. There will be a lot of that about Brexit. The sheer idiocy of something neither side really wants to happen happening, the wounds that will fester for a generation, the dangers to the social leadership that Europe has provided of the last forty years, all will be the price we pay for not achieving a credible number of acceptable immigrants. Unbelievable.
Of course it was going to the wire – but not, surely, the razor-wire. Not to the point where rudeness replaces diplomacy, not to an attempt by the rest of the EU to tear the United Kingdom apart. Not to where take-it-or-leave-it has all the finesse of a playground squabble. Not even to the point where the adversaries fail to realise how the final judgment will inevitably be made.
That final judgment is simply ‘the more reasonable of the two’. Whichever side ends up being the most unreasonable loses. Don’t they know that? Would Germany or France settle for a proposal that offered either a divided country or no exit? Would Italy like to have Sicily clipped off her heel? Many weaknesses in the EU have been flaunted in the Battle of Brexit. None is more serious than that demonstrated by lingering patriotism. ‘I vow to thee my country’ but not to destroy our friends.
In the passion to win I think we have forgotten the first rule of negotiation. Not just over Brexit but over many things in life. It is the rule ‘Negotiate toughly, settle liberally’.
I am still anti-Brexit. But just not quite as much as I was.