In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

May surrenders as Brexiteers agree to go quietly

Posted by seumasach on December 9, 2017

Cailean Bochanan

9th December, 2017

On a historic day, yesterday Britain resigned its role as a junior partner in the Atlantic Alliance and embraced a new role as a junior partner in the European Alliance.

Something had to give way as the impossibility of Brexit became increasingly obvious. I had anticipated that it would be the government and the Tory party. Instead they both emerged intact at the expense of Brexit itself.

The thorn at the heart of the Brexit gorse bush had been the question of the status of Northern Ireland. Given the impossibility of a hard border between north and south Northern Ireland had to be given special status meaning de facto, continued membership of the Single Market and the Custom’s Union. The loyalist veto of this arrangement meant instead that the whole UK has been given a special status: the UK will remain in both the Single Market and the Custom’s Union. Officially, this arrangement is only temporary, for the duration of the so-called transition. However, since the Irish border problem will not simply go away the UK’s special status will continue indefinitely to be finally resolved, presumably, by our renewed integration into the EU. There is no alternative.

One would have anticipated an immediate backlash against this arrangement by the Tory brexiteers but they have simply rolled over. The British ruling has shown again some of their more positive, traditional attributes: an ability to act pragmatically and to discard useless ideology. What cannot be cannot be, and Brexit cannot be.

That begs the question: what was it all about in the first place? That is beyond my meagre intellectual abilities. However, two things may be pertinent. Firstly, the EU shows no sign of falling apart as was hoped and expected by the neocon wing of the Brexit movement. Euroscepticism is not on the rise and the Catalan declaration of independence, which elicited a brief frisson of excitement in the Brexit camp has not triggered a cascade of regional movements towards the CIA’s favourite Europe of the Regions outcome. Secondly, Trump has adopted a hostile attitude to the UK and has already, effectively, ended the Special Relationship with the result that Britain just has nowhere to go.

These changes may also explain why the Europeans have conceded what they said they would never concede, namely, that the UK can leave the EU and still enjoy the benefits of membership of the EU. But, of course, the unspoken, unspeakable reality, from the brexiteers point of view, is that we aren’t really leaving the EU, except in a purely formal sense. But for the meantime we are in a state of limbo with a special status under a kind of EU mandate.

Ultimately, this astonishing outcome reveals the level of disconnect between ideology and reality. All the current ideologies flow from the Anglophilosophy  and the presuppositions of Anglo-American globalization- globalization from below at the expense of sovereign structures. This is perfectly embodied in the Brexit cult of “free-trade”. What we seeing now is globalization accompanied by global governance stemming from sharing of sovereignty. The Single Market reflects that but it will be even more evident as the One Belt, One Road project takes off. Who is going to regulate or “nationalise” the high-speed trains which will soon connect China and Europe? Who will regulate international trade and an international means of payment now that the Dollar-fiat reserve currency system is coming to an end? Of course, some of these agencies of global governance already exist but they will undoubtedly be transformed, extended or replaced in the coming years.

Britain has, as of yesterday, begun to resolve it’s relationship with the nascent multipolar world order. The fact that Brexit is only a virtual event, or, at least, a real non-event and that that is understood by all will have immediate effects. Most importantly, our deal with are major creditor, China, should be back on to the accompanying smirk of George Osborne. Major problems lie ahead concerning uncontrolled debt, speculative bubbles and lack of income at personal, corporate and national levels with the banks once again looking vulnerable. But, as of yesterday, we will resolve them within a European and multipolar context.

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