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  • Lawrence Bailey

Getting closer to the cliff edge

As MPs pack up for their summer hols, the approaching Brexit deadline can now be measured in weeks - and despite past promises, we’re still no clearer as to how any of us will fare as citizens and consumers.

I’m not a great believer in referendums. They’re not the democratic solution that some claim. If anything they’re an expedient side-step used by politicians who fear losing office if they actually take a credible stance on something and show a bit of leadership.

That makes me doubtful about the benefit of having a second vote as some demand. Yet I also ask myself how the hell do you come up with a good deal when there’s civil war on the tory benches over what ‘good’ looks like?

Here in the real world, it’s already dawned on quite a few that the sketchy notion of Eurosceptic “sovereignty” touted by Farage, Johnson and others is an expensive fallacy. Many of the disenfranchised thought that voting to leave was a low-risk, low-impact action intended to rattle the establishment but not much else. Others thought it would end immigration. They were misled either way. Clever-clogs David Cameron convinced hisself he could out-manoeuvre UKIP by offering a yes-no ballot while Labour was distracted with its existential left-right crisis. Few in Westminster took the referendum seriously until they woke up one June morning to find that electors had adopted the same approach. Seldom has a nation been so badly let down by its leaders.

As I've stated in the past, I didn’t personally opt to remain because I think the EU is a marvellous institution. It’s just that I didn’t hear one cogent argument as to how me or my family would be better off financially or socially by leaving the EU. Absolutely nothing has changed in that respect.

The so-called Brexit “dividend” is an illusion, as demonstrated by a government admission that any extra money for the NHS is going to have to come out of higher income tax.

The Leave campaign successfully sold the idea that we can somehow sit outside the EU cafe and still order a slice of cake. A lot of people are now left wondering what they’ve bought and how they can afford it.

Musical chairs continues at the Senedd

Things are only marginally less fractious in Cardiff Bay. Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns insists there was "no plot from Westminster" to oust former tory leader Andrew RT Davies but it’s clear that more effort should be going into building bridges than renaming them.

Elsewhere, the smart money reckons Labour will see Mark Drakeford installed as leader in the autumn, now that the party looks likely to adopt a one-member-one-vote election model. Whether he also becomes First Minister depends on his relationship with cabinet ‘lodgers’ Dafydd Elis-Thomas and Kirsty Williams, I suppose.

It remains to be seen if there are any changes at the top within troubled Plaid Cymru. The same goes for Ukip, but no-one expects conclusive outcomes in either case.

It’s a pity that at this time of national crisis, so much focus among the politicians is upon internal stuff and not the bigger issues. It’s no wonder that referendums are popular.

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