On #Brexit, I’m a Remain-er but definitely not a Re-moaner, so I say this advisedly. There was a queer sort of relief in hearing British prime minister Theresa May finally lay out the parameters of her obtuse, easy, early formulation of Brexit.
She said “Brexit means Brexit” and no one, including the British Queen knew quite what she meant.
No longer. Seven months after the June 23 referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, Mrs May has taken a bold view of what Brexit means to her. And what it will mean to the UK. Britain will leave the single market and the customs union. It will seek a decent trade deal with the EU and with other countries. It will forge its own destiny.
Some say Mrs May killed off the idea – and possibility – of British prosperity in the next decade and far into the future. Still others say she has dealt a grievous blow to Britain’s gradual metamorphosis into an open-minded economy that takes regional trade blocs and other advantages with the pragmatic regard they deserve.
They may be right. Chances are that all of us in Britain will be poorer, certainly in the short to medium term. I would hope that my children and children’s children find Britain less impoverished.
And yet, I am relieved Mrs May finally said what she will do. Leavers – the most vocal segment of our society – can no longer complain loudly and overlong. Their will is done. We are in it now. We are leaving the European single market. Happy?
The relief I feel is akin to a person sitting before a doctor who’s looking at a catscan of a part of my anatomy and describing the course of treatment. It will be brutal, says the doctor, it will be hard, it may work and we may yet win.
And I will walk out of the doctor’s office knowing I have cancer and that the prescribed treatment will knock a big piece out of me and leave me debilitated, but I will finally be clear about what can be done in the situation that exists. I will leave thinking that, at last, I have some idea of how we might treat this disease. Perchance to fail.
What is the disease that afflicts Britain and for which Doctor Theresa May has prescribed this treatment? It is the cancer of being joined to a certain idea of Britain – which once existed but is long gone – and views our near neighbours in Europe in slightly less friendly terms than might be warranted.
Now, after Mrs May’s recommended treatment, can we call time on that?
Then, Brexit will have been worth it.