Theresa May, the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, has said, several times now, that ‘Brexit means Brexit.’
The problem is that nobody is quite sure what that means. It would appear that even Ms May is somewhat vague on what Brexit means.
Does Brexit mean what the likes of Redwood and Cash mean, or legions of other purple-headed Blimps, or the undereducated oiks who are their foot-soldiers? Does it mean severing all ties with Europe? Does it actually, as we discussed in last week’s Friday Politics, mean ruining the world’s 5th economy, in the name of xenophobia?
Clearly it would take a real fool to believe that. Only this week the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, appointed Sir Julian King as terrorism Czar. That is an explicit recognition that European security issues include the UK and always will. So Brexit means ‘Not on security.’
So what does it mean?
Meanwhile, back in teh England, less palatable and, unfortunately, permitted to vote groups have ramped up their campaign of violence and intimidation against other EU citizens legitimately living there. So, Brexit means intolerance, bigotry and xenophobia. Like we didn’t already know.
Figures this week tell us, in no uncertain terms, that house-building the UK has ground to a halt. The construction industry has struggled since the crash of 2008 — itself facilitated by the British government, lest we forget. Now, thanks to the antics of Tweedledum Cameron and Tweedledee Osborne, it has received another whammy.
This at a time when the UK has, according to other figures this week, the lowest levels of home-ownership in thirty years. This is impacting especially hard on the young. So Brexit means homelessness, a life of living at mum’s or in the overpriced private rental accommodation that is all that is available today.
The housing market in the UK has stalled. House prices are falling at the same time as supply is reducing. That is a classic recession. So Brexit means a housing market crash. Brexit means a return to the early 90s, where people went bust after that housing bubble burst, because they had borrowed more than their properties were worth. Brexit means negative equity.
Yet another set of figures point to the UK economy being in free-fall. So Brexit means poverty. At he same time, the number of job vacancies has shrunk drastically. So Brexit means unemployment.
Yesterday, Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, reduced UK interest base rates to 0.25 percent. The only time they have been lower was after the 2008 crash, and the only reason Carney didn’t go to zero percent was to avoid panic and a run on the pound. Which failed and the pound is now, like the economy, in free-fall.
So Brexit means your holiday money is worth less. But it’s worse. The UK, thanks to 4 decades of Thatcherite pseudo-economics, has no manufactory left to speak of. Almost everything bought in the UK comes from overseas. The Ford Motor Company, for example, makes precisely no cars in the UK. These things will now cost more, because the pound buys less. So Brexit means inflation.
And while we’re at it, the only reason your car costs as little as it does in the UK is because the EU bars car-makers from hiking the price of right-hand drive cars. So Brexit means your next car, if you can ever afford one again, will cost more.
As long as interest rates stay low, that means borrowing will remain cheap. Isn’t that a good thing? No.
More borrowing is bad.
Since long before Brexit, UK wages have fallen. In the last two years they had begun to recover, but now they too are in freefall. So Brexit means less money on your bank, gaining less interest, while you pay more for everything. The only thing you can do is to borrow more money. So Brexit means increased borrowing — at a time of record levels already.
I thought that was what we were trying not to do. Oh silly me, I must have mistaken Osborne’s ‘policy’ for a coherent economic programme. Sorry.
To make matters even worse, there is a rally in the world oil price. Oil is paid for in dollars, not pounds, so it is going to cost more. So Brexit means a cold winter, during which, more will die. It will mean higher transport costs and that will lead, in turn, to even higher inflation.
Put together, all of the above means a huge added burden on the taxpayer, since more social benefits will have to be paid and the government’s own agencies will have to deal with the inflation too.
Thirty-five years ago, government services were so bloated that they could easily absorb such pressures. And they did. But we’ve had years of Osborne’s insane austerity policy, which means that there is nothing left to cut. There is no spare cash in the coffers. So Brexit means — yahoo! More taxes.
Had Osborne been anything other than a chancer with no real grasp of economics, he would have ditched austerity half-way through his first term and concentrated on growth. That way, the UK would have had some inflation, but would have had the tax receipts to deal with it. Now, the UK will have lower tax receipts and raised costs. So Brexit means the complete failure of Osborne’s policy.
Years of suffering.
Brexit means that all of those years of suffering, of food-banks, of no pay rises, of unemployment, of hounding and scapegoating the poorest, were for nothing. Brexit means it was all a waste of time.
At the same time, Scotland and Ireland are getting increasingly fractious. The independence campaign has been restarted in Scotland. The stats are still confused and do not yet point to a definite vote to leave. Nevertheless, the ‘Yes’ vote is higher than it has been at any time other than the final week of the 2014 campaign. Instead of starting on a 35% base, independence campaigners are starting, at the lowest poll indication, at 48%. So probably, Brexit means independence for Scotland.
At the same time, we have the charming sight of Ulster Unionists actually welcoming the suggestion of United Ireland — something they fought bloody and hard to prevent for over 90 years. So Brexit means bye-bye Northern Ireland, in all likelihood.
Today, the one solid conclusion that we can come to is that Brexit means the UK is completely, utterly, totally fucked.
The terms of Brexit must be established and debated in Parliament, in both houses, before a decision is arrived at. But there is no way to do that, because the EU will not enter formal negotiations until the UK formally signals its intention to leave. So Brexit means that Parliament is fucked. And that means democracy is too.
The Brexit vote on 23 June was obtained by lies, deceit and promises that could never be fulfilled. The Leave campaign was dishonest and negligent, in my view criminally so, from day one. It is Parliament’s clear duty to resolve the issue in the best interest of the British people. Whatever Brexit means, it cannot mean the hard version.
While there is an economic argument that in the long term, the UK might at least not be any worse off, it would take years, perhaps a decade to get there. And in the meantime, we are told that Brexit means full recession within 18 months. And, that, dear reader, is very bad news, because we have already done everything we can to prevent it. We have no economic levers left.
So Brexit means Depression. Like in the 1930s. That’s what it means.
Brexit means everything is fucked.
In short, Brexit means everything is fucked. Your pensions, your future home, your career, your new car, your food. Fucked. Everything they told you was going to happen is already happening and it is going to get worse. Brexit means the best thing you could do now would be to investigate emigration to New Zealand.
At last, however, we have the beginnings of commonsense reaction. Parliamentarians are putting their shell-shocked little heads over the parapet. This week Baroness Wheatcroft pointed out that it is Parliament’s duty to protect the UK from Brexit.
Naturally, she has had dog’s abuse from teh Little Englanders. But it’s time her voice was joined by others, from the Commons this time, saying, ‘We shall not allow Brexit to mean the ruination of the country.’
It’s time to tell us what Brexit actually means.
It is time for Theresa May to get up on the parapet, wave her sword in the air and say ‘Enough!’ She needs to tell us what Brexit actually means and how she is going to prevent the enormity of the destruction that it is already creating. She needs to explain how it will not mean higher inflation, higher taxes, negative equity, racism, xenophobia, poverty, unemployment and the end of the UK.
If she cannot tell us how Brexit could be prevented from meaning those things, then she must, right now, draw her line in the sand. She must say that Brexit simply will not happen.
We all know it is not going to happen. It would be sheer insanity. We already see the fabric of the UK coming apart because of something that has not happened.
But the hiatus, the continuing doubt, the uncertainty, is costing billions and huge suffering. May, as Boudicca, has to face down the ravening hordes and tell the world that she will not allow this to continue. That whatever Brexit means, it will not be what the Brexiteers think it means. She will have to face down the slavering tabloid media, the blimps, the uneducated and the rabid Eurosceptics in her own ranks. She has to tell them that Auntie Tess will decide what’s best and it’s not that.
And she has to do it now, before the situation gets completely out of control.
Congratulations, by the way, on becoming the UK’s second woman Prime Minister, Ms. May. I sincerely hope you have brass balls as big as the last one did.
You’re going to need them.
Also published on Medium.