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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Is Britain's post-Brexit future threatened by the ignorance of Brexiteer ministers?

Today's Observer contains a serious feature which suggests that the UK is making little progress towards leaving the EU because of the complexities of leaving the single market, the failure of either the Leave or Remain sides in the referendum to prepare for the eventual outcome and divisions within the cabinet as to what sort of final settlement we should aim for.

In particular, they say that senior UK diplomats have been shocked by how little leading Tories in government, including Boris Johnson, understand about the workings of the EU and its single market. That will explain a lot of the lies and isinformation which won them the referendum in the first place.

The paper says that issue of the UK and the EU single market in goods and services is critical:

Before the referendum, May strongly suggested the UK should remain a member in the event of Brexit. Now, whether and how it can do so is the multibillion-euro question at the heart of the Brexit dilemma.

The single market serves 500 million EU citizens, allowing the free movement of goods, people, services and capital between member countries. If the UK quits the single market, it will lose full access and many large UK businesses warn of devastating economic results. But if it remains a member, after quitting the EU as a whole, it must play by its rules, continue to pay into the EU budget and accept the right of EU citizens to live and work in the UK. For hardline Brexiters – who promised that Brexit would save £350m a week in EU budget contributions that could then go to the NHS, and the restoration of UK control over its own borders – that would be unacceptable. It would render Brexit meaningless, they say.

Thus far, however, the May government has been unable to give clear and consistent answers on the single-market question, because the Tory party and the cabinet is split and the complexities are only now being grasped.

They quote Charles Grant, the director of the Centre for European Reform in London, who says some “very senior” people in the UK government are deeply ignorant about the single market, and adds that only now are the Brexit-backers beginning to grasp the difficulty of what faces them:

"I think that two months down the line the senior Brexiters are beginning to realise that the whole process is going to be a lot more complicated, time-consuming and boring than they had imagined before, when they had presented it all as black and white. They are beginning to realise that this will occupy most of the energies of government for the next five to 10 years."

This is all complicated of course by the referendum, which confirmed what the British public are against but left us with no idea what they wanted government to replace it with.

Not only has the UK voted to leave the EU based on a campaign of lies and misinformation but it transpires those misleading us didn't have a clue about the realities either and are not up to the job of delivering what they promised.
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