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Monday, July 04, 2016

Time for Boris to start acting like a grown-up

Boris Johnson is the Dr. Strangelove of the Brexit campaign, a half-crazed genius who shouts and stomps whilst the world falls apart around him. Okay, I may not have done the film much justice but hopefully you have got my drift.

I have never been so outraged by a newspaper column than I was this morning with Boris Johnson's latest contribution to the post-Brexit debate. Having led the UK to the edge of economic disaster he has retreated to his ivory tower and is now demanding that others clean up the mess.

Yes, he has a five point plan, but careful reading of it shows it up to be the sort of careless platitudes and misplaced optimism that fooled many voters into supporting the leave campaign in the first place.

The international competition, leadership and co-operation he says is now possible could be delivered as part of a major free trade partnership like the EU. Alas, we are now leaving the EU and somebody is going to have to pick up the pieces and rebuild. That person will not be Boris Johnson, who has walked away from any leadership role in that process.

He has condemned the government for not having a plan in the event that the vote went against them.

Well, they could just adopt his plan.

Oh, wait, he did not have one either and not only that but the benefits he and others sold to the British people turned out to be lies.

The problem as Oxford Philosopher, David Rodin highlights is that the referendum asked the wrong questions. He says that the cardinal error of the Brexit referendum was in offering a choice between two alternatives (leave or remain), when in fact the choice was between three quite distinct alternatives: a) remain in the EU, b) remain in the European Economic Area giving full access to European markets, but at the cost of accepting free movement of people, or c) regaining control over immigration, but at the cost of losing free access to European markets.

Because the choices were so indistinct and so blurred, nobody actually knows what the British people have voted for as their alternative to remaining in the EU.

Yes, I am annoyed and bitter. But this is not about re-running the EU referendum. We now need to minimise the damage. There are so many unresolved issues that have to be debated and negotiated.

These include the status of EU nationals living and working in the UK, the status of UK nationals living and working in Europe, future immigration policy, the future of trade with the EU and others and whether this will include free movement and of course Britain's relationship with the rest of the world.

There are many more issues. None of them were resolved by the referendum vote. Those of us who think of ourselves as internationalists and Europeans, who were amongst the 48% who voted to stay in the EU, have a legitimate right to highlight them all and to campaign for our view to prevail.

It would be nice therefore if instead of pontificating, Boris grew up, took some responsibility for his own part in this and helped us to resolve those questions.
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