The people voted for Brexit. Slow handclap, you idiots. Now, because democracy, we have to do the stupid thing. You used a powerful tool without appropriate thought for the consequences to yourselves and other people. I do still have a tiny little bit of sympathy for those who expected our government to approach the problem competently. It didn’t need to be going quite this badly.
We are currently negotiating with the objective of being a full third country on 30th March 2019. There may be a cliff edge delay period after that (to the end of 2020) if we agree some stuff that really doesn’t matter because we are not going to agree it. This is stupid and people are going to die. Maybe quite a lot of people. We know we supported a population of 56 million on the trade arrangements of 1973, and I expect we could still support that level of population. There are now 65 million of us and we voted away our freedom to leave. There are ways of doing Brexit which do not have a high body count. One would be to relax some red lines and apply to join EFTA and stay in the EEA. This is the first stages of the Flexcit plan (yes, some leavers had a plan, but inevitably the more thoughtful People’s Front of Judea was shunned by the well funded criminals of the Judean People’s Front and the plan never got popular attention.) The latter stages of the Flexcit plan go a bit weird, but the first moves are pretty sound, go read it.
I would now like to have some attention and thought put to another way to do a low body count Brexit. The Reverse 49.
Accession to the European Union involves a candidate country aligning their legal system and reforming internal processes so they are compatible with the rules of the EU. The legal basis for joining the EU like this is Article 49 (yup, right next door to the Article 50 which you already know about). This is a process that is done over a number of years, and it is divided up into 35 chapters of the Aquis(the collection of EU laws). You can read about the 35 chapters here and the general accession process here. In principle it is a one way process, you start at the beginning and at the end you join the EU. Turkey is going through this process and got a bit stuck halfway. They are going to need to back out (or have a stern word with themselves, but for this conversation backing out is more interesting).
There is no massive or unchangeable reason why this accession process has to always run forwards. Time reverse it and you can unscramble the egg. The UK on March 30th 2019 could be considered to be an accession state to the EU with all 35 chapters closed and done. Fully aligned (except for the Euro and Shengen bits perhaps). We could then re-open the chapters one by one, and implement domestic legislation to serve our purposes in each of the 35 topic areas. This means we don’t have the utterly stupid “retained EU law” concept that won’t work at all and will mean we have a broken statute book for however long it lasts. We have proper domestic legislation passed through parliament covering the needs we would have as a distinct country. It means we break things one by one, and when something breaks (like cabotage flights or whatever) everything else keeps working so we can deal with the crisis and move on. We are simply not going to be able to cope with everything breaking on the same day, including the tools we would normally use to fix stuff.
Doing a Reverse 49 means:
- We implement the democratic mandate of the idiots who asked for it. (We won’t be a member state of the EU on 30th March 2019)
- We get rid of deadly deadlines and have a sound legal framework to keep on talking and to unpick things one by one (cherry unpicking perhaps).
- We can start with some relatively harmless chapters, leaving the land borders unchanged until someone gives the 52% a slap and asks them to articulate what exactly they thought would happen when they voted to diverge from Ireland. By the way, if you have not read it yet, do read the Good Friday Agreement now and you can be happy in the knowledge that you are more clued up on how the UK works than our immigration minister is.
- We are in a process in which we can decide to turn around and move forward and rejoin the EU if it turns out that on reflection leaving was an utterly stupid idea.
- We are in a process in which we can continue to diverge smoothly to the sunlit buccaneering uplands if at any stage they should come into view.
- We can stop arguing now about everything in the negotiations, we stay in the EU budget and back out slowly, decommitting the EU27 from UK expenditure as we go and reducing our budget contributions commensurately, just like an accession state coming in.
- We could get a sequence of more granular choices, allowing democratic input from parliament at each stage and a public debate on how we want to manage matters differently. We can debate our new phytosanitary measures and the Brexiters can tell us exactly what diseased goods they were desperate to let in that the EU wouldn’t let us.
- We could fix our own democracy as we go. I don’t recall many Brexiters campaigning to free Erskin May or get rid of the Spiritual Lords and disestablish the church (why do we have a theocracy?) but apparently Brexiters are super charged up about our domestic parliament having sovereign powers (which it had all along). Lets fix it so we can exercise those powers properly. At the moment there is no time to do any reforming because we are doing Brexit instead.
- We could even decide whether to do the Harrogate Agenda bit of Flexcit (hell no, in my opinion, but this is a democracy, we can talk about it)
- We end up with a working domestic statute book with no retained EU law. It is hard to find enough swearwords to describe just how inappropriate and non-functional EU regulations are going to be when enacted as domestic law alongside existing primary and secondary legislation. (if you don’t believe me read any EU regulation at random and think what would happen if that text was domestic law and we were not a member state)
If you think a Reverse 49 is impossible, let me know why in the comments. If you think it is a less dreadful idea than the Brexit path we are on, then maybe tell your MP or tweet about #Reverse49 or add your thoughts on how the plan could work. Maybe write about it as if it was your idea and pitch it with a different attitude, that is fine by me.
If you just want to stop Brexit and are angry that I am a defeatist quitter, then smashing, go and march on 23rd June. Totally support that, I will probably be there. Unless the government proposes separate legislation to support a referendum on a meaningful question, you have to face the reality that the vote isn’t going to happen (we have already run out of time for the supporting legislation, we don’t even have to speculate on what the result might be). The ERG Tories will block any efforts to ask the people again and they will just let the clock run out because they are sociopathic monsters. They can do that, and they will. The Reverse 49 approach does not rely on lots of our MPs suddenly growing a conscience and wanting to protect us from the consequences of a bad choice, it just gets them out of the hole they have dug for themselves. I believe this approach offers benefits for our MPs, nation state sovereignty fetishists, people who like to have enough food to eat, the other EU member states, people who like having a job, and those who just want to get on with life with less political junk on the news.
If you are now crying tears of rage that a remoaning traitor saboteur is trying to steal your Brexit from you that you won for your very self, then you might reflect on the fact that your Brexit will not stick if you allow it to happen in the most stupid way possible. You will get to suffer the consequences of your actions briefly, and then we will do an article 49 accession, and we will join the Euro, and we will push for ever closer union, and we will have freedom of movement, and we will do everything that we can to ensure that everything you hate the most happens. A gradual Brexit is the only type that can stick. Finally, before I forget: You are a dick.
I commend this proposal to the Internet.