Anyone else feeling slightly sick about the Brexit talks?

Anyone else feeling slightly sick about the Brexit talks?


With our future in the balance, let’s hope that Brexit Means Brexit means something. Or at least that top Tories have more of a handle on this than appearances suggest, says Emma Bartley

As a Remainer / Remoaner / saboteuse / previously well-adjusted individual who has scarcely been able to pick up a newspaper for the past 12 months without screaming “WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON, BRITAIN?”, I’m not entirely sure how I want the Brexit negotiations to go.

The vengeful part of me would like to see the Brexiteers fail miserably, just so the 48% can paint the words WE TOLD YOU SO on a rocket and shoot them into space.

The part that likes to think that there are some grown-ups, somewhere, in charge would love for the EU negotiators to show our Brexit policy for the nonsense it is. Like, “Eet says ere zat Le Bregsit means Le Bregsit. And Borees Johnson, e want un open Bregsit. Are you sure you didn’t just put zis sroo Google Translate? It mean nozzing!” (This is of course a dreadfully racist bit of stereotyping but at some point you’ve got to get on board with the national mood.)

Then the part of me that still loves my country is hoping it won’t be that bad. Because we are at a critical point in our history and it feels as if a lot of our future prosperity depends on these negotiations. Whatever “no deal is better than a bad deal” actually means, presumably most sensible Britons can agree that neither option sounds marvellous if it lumbers us with barriers to trade, significant restrictions on the movement of people, a huge financial obligation with none of the benefits of EU membership, etc, etc.

That part of me is still hoping that a different Theresa May, Boris Johnson and David Davis will turn up today from the ones whom we saw on the Brexit and general election campaign trails – the May who spoke so effectively about fairness when she was first made Prime Minister; the BoJo who speaks five languages and is pro-immigration; the David Davis who is so committed to human rights that he resigned over counter-terrorism measures. Or at least that there are some grown-ups in charge, somewhere (probably in the Civil Service).

Assuming Brexit goes ahead – and it’s unimaginable that anyone currently in charge will have the balls to tell The British Public In Their Wisdom that Brexit is not going ahead, however bad things start to look – we will need to reach a compromise with the EU.

Ideally for Remainers, that compromise would involve membership of the single market and guaranteed rights for EU citizens living here, and UK citizens living in Europe. More realistically, it’d be nice if Team May can cut a deal that doesn’t necessitate the City of London upping sticks to Frankfurt and the rest of us having only carefully rationed tinned food to eat.

Ironically, given that Taking Back Control was really high on the list of reasons people voted for Brexit, much will now depend on the EU negotiators. Will they send their grownups, who realise that we’re a pretty big trading partner and allowing us to chew our own arm off isn’t a great idea in the long run, or their vengeful children, who’ll quite happily watch us bleed to death just to show how much cleverer they are? As they probably don’t say in Brussels, regardez this space.

Can we stop doing politics by numbers, please?

Can we stop doing politics by numbers, please?

VOTESBYWOMEN_V13From 10,000 new police to £350 million for the NHS, the random figures that politicians dream up aren’t helping anybody

Diane Abbott was criticised this morning for fumbling her figures on Labour’s promise of 10,000 new police officers. And rightly so – that number is ridiculous. How did the party decide that 10,000 were needed, rather than 9,999 – or 232.5? What will happen if they only find 8,012 viable candidates – will they have to import some from abroad?

The party can’t seem to stop pulling random round numbers out of its arse – just look at Jeremy Corbyn’s 10 Pledges to Transform Britain on the Labour website. First off, Jez is going to create a million good-quality jobs by investing £500 billion in infrastructure. Then he’ll build a million new homes, including half a million council homes. And now 10,000 more five-oh.

These arbitrary figures are a particularly bad look for Labour in its hard-left phase, with echoes of Stalin and his five-year plans. Or Dr Evil in blackmail mode. But they’re far from the only ones at it. Just think of the £350 million promised to the NHS by Brexiteers who said this was what EU membership cost us. Then denied it, in spite of the fact THEY WROTE IT ON A MASSIVE BUS AND DROVE IT AROUND THE ENTIRE COUNTRY.

And let’s not forget it was David Cameron’s Tories who promised to cap net migration at tens of thousands, because: well, probably because it sounded good. Now the Conservatives are having to distance themselves from the pledge, realising they might need immigrants to pay inflated university fees, work in the NHS, and generally do stuff Brits can’t be bothered with.

Meanwhile the Lib Dems have found 3 million people who will be £2,500 a year worse off after Brexit. Wasn’t it going to be £4,300 according to George Osborne? And wasn’t that kind of “scaremongering” said to have been a vote-loser ahead of the referendum?

This is not to disagree that Brexit is likely to leave ordinary people worse off financially, or that we need more jobs, or new homes. The point is that when you try to get people on board with those issues, it’s not a great starting point to assume the electorate is too thick to find a decimal place.

Let’s raise the bar a little higher, dear leaders, and use figures that relate to our actual needs. Otherwise, as Diane Abbott found, it’s only you who will end up looking stupid.