Theresa May seems to be revealing herself as a Class One “say-whatever-you-think-people-will-like-to-hear-at-the-time,-and-preferably-in-words-that-are-vague-enough-not-to-be-falsifiable-later” merchant. After “Brexit means Brexit” (eh?) and “I want a red, white and blue Brexit” (uh?), she claims in her New Year’s message that she will fight the remainers’ case in Europe too.
Now, I am a remainer, or I would have voted to remain had the British government, in its wisdom, allowed me to have a say in my future. In any event, I think we should remain, and I rather suspect that now that the self-destructive, expensive stupidity of Brexit is becoming clear, many of those who voted to leave, for what seemed at the time to be valid reasons, will have changed their minds. Many must now see that they have been sold a pup, and all in the name of what Gove, Johnson, Farage and their ilk thought was their political advantage. In all probability those who wish to remain are now a majority, though only a second referendum will tell.
Therefore, Mrs May, I’d like to ask you what you mean; what is it that I, as a remainer, want that you will fight for? Oh, you don’t want to give a running commentary? Then it seems to be up to me to tell you what kind of Brexit would suit me.
I would like to be free to travel to any European country without worrying about visas, quotas, proving that I’m a fit person to enter that country and so forth.
If I so choose, and if there is an employer in that country who wants me, I would like to be free to work their without worrying about work permits, quotas, proving that my skills cannot be found amongst the native workforce and so forth.
Whether I work there or not, I would like to be free to invest in a European country of my choosing. Perhaps I might like to buy a house there without worrying about capital controls? Perhaps I might like to buy shares in a German company without the same sort of worry?
If I so choose, I would like to be free to reside in that country as long as I wish – to live there, in short.
I would like to be free to trade throughout Europe. In my case, as a translator, it is services that I would like to trade, without worrying about tax barriers and so forth. But I might like to be free to, for example, sell the second-hand flute that I bought some years ago in Ireland to someone in, for example, Britain or Germany, without worrying about tax, customs declarations and so forth.
Oh, and while we were about it, I wouldn’t mind if the laws that governments (of every stripe, admittedly) are occasionally tempted to bring in on the matters above, in the hope of satisfying some portion of the electorate, were overseen by a body with a longer-term, less partisan view. The European Court of Justice, for example.
If you successfully fight for all these, then we will have a Brexit that I would be happy to live with, and even happy to call red, white and blue or any other colour combination that is fashionable at the time. Johnson, Gove and Farage could then dance, cackling, around their Brexit cauldron, proclaiming that they “won”, while the rest of us could get on with living our lives in the most prosperous way possible. That’s difficult enough as it is, after all.
As you will probably realise, at the moment I already have all the freedoms that I have mentioned above. You, in the name of what it is now surely reasonable to suspect is a minority of voters to whom the name “the people” has somehow become attached, seem to want to remove those rights.
It could also be reasonably argued that my version of Brexit, outlined above, is not Brexit at all. Fair comment. But which of those things are you actually going to fight for? Just a tweed Brexit?