In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Britain in purgatory

Posted by seumasach on April 14, 2019

Cailean Bochanan

14th April, 2019

At last, some clarity is coming to Brexit. We now know that Theresa May wasn’t just running down the clock for a no-deal departure and that the EU is prepared to give extensions without any plan or clue to a plan being on offer. Even if the EU isn’t heaven a no-deal Brexit would certainly be hell and the UK has therefore entered a sort of purgatory to be purged of the sin of hubris.

We are learning still more about the British constitutional system: it doesn’t , as claimed, rest on the sovereignty of parliament. An attempt by parliament to seize control has failed miserably. How can a mere aggregation of constituency I.e. local representatives act decisively on national issues: they voted to save their seats. It was the great elitists the Whigs, who despised the people with a vengeance, who extended the franchise in order to make sure the spectre of Stuart monarchical power, which had raised it’s head once again under George the Third, could never again return to haunt them. This led to the gradual emergence of the executive, prime ministerial power through the two-party system  within the legislative itself, in contradiction to the much-vaunted doctrine of the separation of powers. Such a system worked at it’s peak during times of nations consensus such as the the two world wars and Cold War, the famous post-war consensus. So even the British constitution works when there is consensus but what happens when the country is split down the middle, from top to bottom? Nothing happens by the look of it.

But there is no shame in being dysfunctional: there are plenty of other dysfunctional countries. Spain continues to be divided along exactly the lines of the civil war fought over eighty years ago and torn apart by regional division. Similar entrenched divisions are evident in many other European countries: that is one reason why they are so committed to the EU. The EU enables them to transcend irreconcilable local feuding and move to a new, higher terrain. The political stability of Britain post- Good Friday Agreement also depends on EU membership.The Greek crisis was largely blamed on the EU and was widely cited by left-leaning, Brexiteers. But they failed to note that Greece didn’t actually leave: Greece will eventually resolve it’s economic and political problems within the EU.

But we have boldly set out to go it alone and we’ve got as far as complete paralysis. We desperately want to move, “to just get on with it” in our fabled, no-nonsense, everyday, down to earth sort of way. To keep ongoing to the end of the road!

But the UK is already at the end of the road.The factors which have enabled our essentially parasitic, imperial  economic model to serve the needs of our people are no longer there no matter how we seek to escape EU financial regulation, protect our tax havens and enable illegal money flows into the country.And extraditing Assange or jumping on the anti-Maduro bandwagon won’t stop US competition in the offshore game. Under Trump “business” trumps the Special Relationship.

 The world has left us behind. China is leading the way with the greatest project of economic construction in human history, the Belt and Road Initiative. The EU-China summit shows that Europe is buying into it. Trump is already boasting about his big deal the with China, the grandfather of all deals, the greatest deal in human history etc.- so he tells us. It is a sad delusion that Brexit Britain will be global Britain. Outside the single market the UK is economically insignificant. Thatcher destroyed the UK’s industrial base but at least her single market idea enabled the UK to become , to some extent, a hub for incoming investment.. March 31st didn’t see Brexit but another historic event went largely unnoticed: the Basil 111 accords came into force changing the status of gold within central banking reserves. In other words, the beginning of the return of gold as money and the beginning of the end of the dollar reserve fiat system introduced in 1971. This in turn threatens the status of the pound which hung onto the dollar’s coat tails under that system.

With a no-deal Brexit looking like a leap into the abyss rather than just a leap in the dark it would appear to be off the agenda. The other imagined forms of Brexit constitute a huge mass of fudge best epitomised in Corbyn’s membership of “a” customs union and close alignment with the single market, whatever that’s supposed to mean. If only the problem were a disconnect between the people and the political class as it has become fashionable to claim. The vagaries of Labour Party policy are the result of an attempt to connect to the people, a people itself hopelessly divided and confused as would be expected when you reach a fork in the road, when you face a historic shift in the status of the UK, something which can’t be grasped within the parameters of the everyday.

The remain option is now the only logical one but may still be politically impossible. Unable to leave and unable to remain our stay in purgatory may be a prolonged one. Another extension may be necessary. It is a national humiliation.

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