Where are we now with Brexit?

brexitIt is now 6 months since that fateful day in June when the unimaginable happened & this country vote, by a small majority[i], to leave the UK, something even many in the Brexit camp did not think would happen[ii].

Here are some of what has become clear since then:

  • These who lead the Leave Campaign had (and still have) no real idea of how a post-Brexit UK will be able to function as a Trading Nation outside the EU, forced to use the WTO standard Tariffs regime.
  • We can’t start to negotiate any Trade Deal with the EU (or anyone else) until after we have left the EU[iii]
  • Just voting to start the process of leaving the EU has had a devastating effect on some businesses and on many University Research groups who rely on ERC grants[iv].
  • Many who voted Leave in June did so to give Cameroon & his Tory Government a bloody nose not expecting the Leave campaign to win[v]
  • Tariff-free access to the Single Market & the EU Customs Union (vital for many UK industries) will not happen without accepting the Freedom of Movement of Labour
  • The EU-27 do not need us more than we need them.
  • Theresa May, David Davies, Liam Fox & Boris Johnson (the people in charge of negotiating the agreement with the EU over the UK leaving the organisation) are completely clueless in what need to be agreed, how to come up with a sensible (realistic) negotiating position and why keeping on good terms with those we need to negotiate with is vital in achieving anything like a good outcome.
  • Many of our brightest & most dynamic young people are looking to make their life elsewhere as they do not see a future for them or their children in an impoverished (economically & culturally) post-Brexit Britain.

So where do we go from here?  Do we plough on with the process of invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty regardless?  Do we simply ignore the reality of the situation and the effect on the UK economy that leaving the EU?  Or do we take the brave decision that, notwithstanding the Referendum result, we need stop this head long rush towards what will be economic suicide?

The New Year is always a good time to take stock of where we are and how to go forward, a time to look back at where we have been successful and where we have made mistakes during the last 12 months.

So now is a good time for our politicians to say that there is no realistic chance of a good deal on Brexit that will satisfy the needs of the British ecomomy and that we have to accept the Referendum was result was gained by a Leave campaign that was based on a false manifesto, one that simply cannot be made into reality.

So now we must either have a second Referendum or a General Election to reverse the June result, otherwise the future of this country does not look bright.

[i] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_European_Union_membership_referendum,_2016#Result

[ii] http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/nigel-farage-blames-britains-youth-8270754

[iii] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/brexit-britain-fined-negotiate-trade-agreements-deals-before-leaving-european-union-commission-a7314816.html

[iv] https://fpoglobal.com/control/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Post-referendum-crisis-for-UK-researchers.pdf?ftcamp=crm/email//nbe/Brexit/product

[v] http://metro.co.uk/2016/10/16/number-of-people-who-regret-voting-leave-is-greater-than-brexit-victory-margin-6195403/

 

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The lessons of Aleppo

lucy-aharish
https://www.facebook.com/reshet.todays.talk/videos/1876992092532433/

I saw this clip on Facebook a couple of days age.  It is from Lucy Aharish, an Israeli Muslim Arab TV presenter, talking about the massacre in Aleppo that is happening this week.  She speaks in English so the World might hear, so please watch it.  What she has to say is powerful and moving, even more so because of her, an Arab speaking on Israeli television, choice of words.

This post isn’t just to get you to hear what Ms Aharish said, although that is worthwhile in itself, it is to try to answer the question a friend posted in response to my re-posting of it on my timeline, “But what can I do?”.

That really made me think.  What can we do to stop these recurring genocides?  How do we stop the vile, senseless killing of people just because they are who they are, because they live where they live, because they want to live in a society where people are free to think, speak, love & worship as they please?

To be honest, I don’t know.  We can, as Ms Aharish suggests, take to the streets to demonstrate; we can write to our elected leaders asking for “something to be done”; we can donate to appeals to help the survivors, the refugees, the victims.  But doing any of these won’t stop the killings happening again and again and again.

The problem is, that it is far too late to do anything now to stop the killing in Aleppo.  The seeds of what is happening now were sown years ago, when the West failed to give the Syrian pro-democracy demonstrators the backing they needed because Assad’s Syria was needed to help in (or at least tacitly agree to) dealing with rebellions in Iraq.  Indeed, it is possible to go back further to the West’s failure to deal with Hafez al-Assad (the father of the present President of Syria) vicious suppression of a revolt in 1982 or to the ill-fated invasions of Iraq in 1991 & 2003 which destabilised Iraq.  Those with a longer time frame will see the results of the dismantling of the Ottoman Empire post World War I (see Sykes-Picot agreement)  which set up the current countries of Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon & Palestine/Israel mostly just as lines on a map disregarding the different ethnic groups who lived there, creating tensions & pressures that are still being felt today.

Perhaps the lesson to be learnt is to change our approach to Foreign Policy.  A lot of the problems listed above have been caused by a short-term approach, we need to sell arms to dictators to secure jobs in the UK, we need to back a tyrant as a bailiwick against another power, we must turn a blind eye to human rights abuses because we need the country to support British industry.

In many cases, this has come back to bite us, and bite us hard.  We supplied arms to Argentina’s Junta that the used to fight us in the South Atlantic, we supplied arms to Iraq that Saddam used to invade Kuwait, we now have much of our national infrastructure owned by China.  We can’t stop Saudi Arabia from killing civilians in Yemen because we need them to sell us oil & buy our weapons to keep British people in work.  We have no influence in Turkey because we need them to control the flow of refugees into Europe

Perhaps if we (along with other Western Democracies) had a more ethical Foreign Policy, where we only supported countries that respect Human Rights; where we only sold weapons to our NATO allies or other democracies; where we worked to deal with humanitarian crises not leave them to fester and generate waves of refugees; where we are prepared to use our military force to protect civilian populations threaten by dictators & tyrants

It is too late to help the civilians in Aleppo, it is too late for the Yazidi people in Iraq, it is not quite too late for the people of Yemen (although time is running out) but we must change our approach it dealing with other counties if we are to stop more and more names of peoples being added to the sad litany of the victims of a genocide.  If we don’t, then all the tears and  heartache over what is happening in Aleppo are worthless because similar acts will happen again, again and again.