Jo Johnson is a good and decent man. His resignation was principled but ultimately futile

10 Nov 2018 at 09:27

I am rather fed up with the line that Brexit ‘is the worst crisis since Suez’, simply because it’s not. Brexit is far worse than Suez. Suez confirmed that Britain was no longer a world power. Brexit confirms that by cutting ourselves adrift from the EU our influence on world affairs will be minimal. The economic costs of Suez were marginal. The economic costs of Brexit will be catastrophic.

I am still genuinely confused why Jo Johnson has resigned. Unlike his vile brother, he is a good, kind and principled man. I have no doubt that he genuinely believes that his resignation will stiffen the resolve of those Remainers who want a referendum. Maybe it will or maybe it won’t. Nobody knows. But do not let us delude ourselves. Whatever happens we will have no influence in the making of regulations and laws which will affect our ability to trade with the EU. And we will have no influence in enforcing the laws as they stand and as they are developed in the European Court. So the ghastly Dyson creature will not be able to trot off to Luxmenbourg to stop discrimination against his vacuum cleaners. Nor will Michael Gove be able to get justice for British farmers as did his predecessor John Gummer when the French banned exports of British beef.

This is what taking back control of our laws means. We can chose to pass those that mimic the EU ones or we can’t export our goods. Of course, we can insist that whatever ever is left of our automotive manufacturing industry will be able only to produce cars with the steering wheel on the right hand side. It is taking back control in name only. It just makes some people feel better. In reality we will be the vassal state that the Brexit purists bang on about. We will be the law takers and not the makers. Did anyone seriously believe that Brussels would allow us to trade with them on purely our own terms? And then let us freely trade with the rest of the world? Does anyone believe that free trade really exists anywhere? Does anyone genuinely believe that trade deals are nothing more than trade offs for self advantage?

All Madame is trying to do is keep the wheels from falling off the British economy. It is a fudge. It is a compromise. But has anyone got any better ideas? Canada? Norway? None of these are serious flyers and none of these have a hope in hell of getting through the Commons let alone Brussels. The trouble is that MPs are so inward looking they forget that whatever they can cobble together to satisfy the Parliamentary arithmetic has to be agreed by the 27 and the European Parliament.

It is the purists on both sides that are wrecking the country. Let me be horribly cynical. I would favour a referendum if I was convinced that it would finally resolve the dilemma by a wide margin whether we Remain or we Leave. It won’t. It will never be resolved. It is as much a fantasy as the Brexiteers who lied to us that a deal was going to be a doddle.

So for those of you with the very best intentions who want a People’s Vote be careful what you wish for. It will solve nothing. It will divide the country still further and will bring us no closer to squaring the impossible circle of how we can trade with Europe and the rest of the world without obeying the rules set by Brussels. Surely it has dawned on most people that this is impossible. And anyone who thinks that a General Election will solve the problem is quite simply certifiable.

So this is why Brexit is far, far worse than Suez. After Suez we became a second rate world power, but with influence. After Brexit our influence in world affairs will be minimal. We will be a sad irrelevance in Europe and a fading joke in Washington. In trading terms we will survive but not thrive.

After Suez we ate humble pie. But with Brexit fudge is the only dish on the menu. If Parliament fails to support a May deal then we really are doomed.

Jo Johnson is a good man. His resignation was principled. But in the end it is futile.

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