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Make or break for Brexit? Not quite.

December 11, 2018

 

You may have noticed that that I tend to come up with an historical quote whenever I’m looking to make some arcane point.

 

In this instance I draw upon a notable 19th century European wheeler-dealer Otto von Bismarck who once stated, “Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable — the art of the next best”.

 

That view about compromise seems to have largely eluded most of those occupying bench space in parliament, but such is the polarised nature of things these days.

 

The Brexit deal that Theresa May has brokered has proved hugely unpopular to say the least, although the reasons for opposition vary greatly between factions.

 

It also speaks volumes that the plans she was hastily forced to put on hold yesterday are ones she’s been compelled to fashion herself in light of repeated failures by a succession of Brexit ministers.

 

As things stand, none of the available options of deal, no deal or remain could command a majority in the Commons. It’s as neat a job of painting yourself into a corner as you could get and it’s inevitable that most of the media attention is focused on what happens next.

 

In these days of meaningful political insight being akin to nailing jelly to the wall, I could speculate as much as anyone - but I really can’t be asked.


If anything, I find myself grinding my teeth at the pontifications of clever-sounding commentators who only weeks earlier thought ‘backstop’ was a cricket fielding position.

 

As far as I’m concerned, the fact that broadcasters still think they can communicate “all you need to know about Brexit in 60 seconds” partly explains how we’ve reached such a ridiculous state of affairs.

 

But it would be easy to blame the media when in reality they’ve done little more than reflect the inane and often contradictory stances taken by politicians.

 

Electors are not just confused about the issues. The respective positions of the political parties and their leaders are often indecipherable.

 

Infighting and leadership jostling are a constant backdrop for a government whose power base relies on Downing Street sweeteners.

 

Labour talk about a ‘reset’ has little traction mostly because no one has a clue what it means, and that includes Labour. You can claim that a general election would be a second referendum but democracy has never been that straightforward.

 

As far as I can see, the only people to have taken back any degree of control is parliament. A series of well-timed measures has given them the final say - for the time being anyway.

 

The reality however is that Brexit is not going to go away. A majority of people expressed dissatisfaction with the EU via the ballot box. They may not be able to articulate their reasons and were possibly influenced by unlawfully-financed fake news, but that is not the point.

 

They were asked by the government of the day to provide guidance and they did so. Somewhere along the line, national policy should reflect that – although never, in my opinion, at the expense of the national interest.

 

All of which brings me back to the Bismarck chap I mentioned at the start. He’s credited with being a consummate politician of his time who was able to handle complex issues with a combination of vision and adaptability.

 

He also once allegedly stated, “Just like sausages, the process of making laws shouldn’t be looked into too closely”.

 

Maybe he had a point.

 

 

 

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