Brexit has, yet again, failed. On Tuesday the House of Commons rejected Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s attempts at getting Brexit through Parliament. If you’ve read any of my columns in the past three years you may know that I’ve characterized Brexit as a “con.” Actual “Brexit” was never possible. It still isn’t possible. It will never be possible unless some major policy changes are made. It’s merely a con perpetuated on the British public. So why have politicians been promising it?
“I’d vote to stay in the single market. I’m in favor of the single market. I am a bit of a fan of the European Union. If we did not have one, we would invent something like it.” These aren’t the words of Jo Swinson of the pro-European Liberal Democrats, but of Her Majesty’s Prime Minister himself, Boris Johnson. Uttered in 2013, these are words that Johnson has completely abandoned. You need to latch on to something to propel you into the top job and Brexit just so happened to be the one issue that Johnson chose.
Did he sincerely believe what he was saying in 2013 and change his mind completely in three years' time? Maybe. Or maybe a lot of politicians don’t really have any steadfast beliefs? I’ve come to believe the latter is true. Who cares if Brexit actually passes or not? The longer the process continues, the better as long as it’s a political win for Johnson. This latest delay of Brexit might actually work out well for Johnson if he can parlay it into an election victory, which is his current strategy. Get Brexit to stall and call for general elections. Consolidate power. Long live the prime minister!
For the uninitiated, Brexit isn’t possible because Northern Ireland demands it be no different than the rest of the United Kingdom. It also demands that there be no physical border between it and the Republic of Ireland. The current Brexit plan leaves Northern Ireland to use the EU standards and regulations for many goods and services while Great Britain abandons them. This is, to quote the Northern Irish Unionists, “putting a border down the Irish Sea.” The problem is, there’s no way out of this quagmire. You can’t not have a border while simultaneously having differences in standards and regulations as well as tariffs between the two countries. People would cross easily from both sides as would goods and services.
Johnson’s Brexit plan allows for the Northern Irish parliament to figure out what they want to do and pass legislation that addresses this issue. His plan gives them until 2025 to do so. In other words, there will be no actual Brexit until at the earliest 2025.
This week Parliament will kick the can into next week while Boris Johnson hopes and prays that the EU rejects another extension and forces a “no-deal” Brexit. What will happen is that the EU will give the U.K. another extension, probably one until January of 2020. Nothing material will change in the interim and politicians will continue politicking while those that are harmed by the uncertainty continue to be harmed and those that benefit from it, continue to benefit.