As Brexit Talks Begin, It’s Clear That We’re Doomed Unless We Ditch the Tories

20.6.17

Brexit alphabet: a photo from the Unite For Europe march and rally in London on March 25, 2017 (Photo: Andy Worthington).Please support my work as a reader-funded investigative journalist and commentator.

 

What an embarrassing and disgraceful position we find ourselves in, as the deluded representatives of an illegitimate government (the shambles that is the minority Tory government headed by “dead woman walking” Theresa May) begin official negotiations for our departure from the EU, following last year’s EU referendum, when a slim majority of those who could be bothered to vote, in a referendum whose outcome was not legally binding, and that didn’t meet the threshold for referendums on issues of major constitutional change, voted for us to leave the EU.

Crucially, the referendum failed to ask voters what they felt about how we should leave the EU and what damage to our economy was acceptable. Can we, for example, stop free movement, as voters seemed to indicate they wanted? Is it feasible, and if it is, would it be damaging to the economy? (the answer to the latter question is a resounding yes). What about the role of the free market and the customs union? Largely ignored in the Leave campaign’s lies, but explained here by the Economist, both are an essential part of our trade with the EU, which is our main market — not just in goods, but in people, services and ideas — and leaving either will almost certainly damage our economy significantly. Is that worthwhile for some spurious notion of regaining “sovereignty,” which in reality, is nothing more than the anguished, meaningless cry of backwards-looking isolationisists?

As Ian Dunt, author of the very necessary Brexit: What the Hell Happens Now? explained in his column for Politics.co.uk on Thursday, aptly entitled, ‘Brexit talks start on Monday and we have no idea what we’re doing,’ the start of negotiations has once more brought the suicidial pointlessness of Brexit into sharp relief. “We are now about to go into the most challenging negotiations since the Second World War,” Dunt wrote, “with no government, no overall aim, no plan to achieve it, no functioning department to deliver it, no confidence at home or abroad with which to pass it, no trade expert capacity to negotiate it, and no time to manage it.”

He added, “This is beyond even the bleakest warnings of Remainers in the days after the vote. We must now face the very real possibility of an unmitigated disaster with very severe damage to our quality of life and a painful spectacle of humiliation on the international stage.”

Moving onto specifics, Dunt explained that the Brexit team is haemorrhaging members, with two Ministers departing since the election. The hard-line anti-EU MP David Jones was sacked by Theresa May (who didn’t even tell the hapless Brexit secretary, David Davis), and replaced by Baroness Anelay, who, as the FT explained, “campaigned to remain in the EU.” Also gone is George Bridges, an EU supporter and a peer, who was “in charge of pushing Brexit legislation through parliament.” He quit after falling out with Theresa May. According to people close to him, “he had become frustrated with the lack of consultation between Downing Street and the Department for Exiting the EU (Dexeu).” A Whitehall figure said, “Bridges is said to have quit on policy grounds, convinced Brexit couldn’t work. There is some disarray.” This source added that, “Even after the departure of Mrs May’s key aides after the election, Lord Bridges continued to be ‘unhappy with how things were going.’” Friends said that “[t]he challenge of taking a slew of Brexit-related legislation through a hung parliament in the coming two years was also daunting.”

Lord Bridges was replaced on Tuesday by Steve Baker, who headed the contingent of pro-Leave Conservative MPs during the Brexit campaign, which is not, of course, very encouraging, but the damage to the Brexit team is surely considerable, eroding whatever tattered credibility Davis and his advisers retained, especially as Ian Dunt also noted that Davis is losing staff too, stating, “His special adviser James Chapman has quit, while his parliamentary private secretary Stewart Jackson just lost his seat in May’s hara-kiri election.”

Dunt also remarked on a shift in the departmental structure around Davis and his team, “with Remainer Damian Green taking over effectively as deputy prime minister in the Cabinet Office, which was linking the work being done in the Brexit department with Liam Fox’s Department for International Trade and the Foreign Office under Boris Johnson,” and Gavin Barwell, another Remainer, becoming Theresa May’s chief of staff, although he is already drowning in controversy after the Grenfell Tower fire, regarding his role as the housing minister who failed to implement much-needed changes to the safety of tower blocks following the Lakanal House fire in 2009.

Nevertheless, this shift towards Remainers undoubtedly reflects a realisation, in parts of the Tory Party machinery, that Theresa May losing her majority in her hubistric, unforced General Election demonstrated a vote of no confidence in the “hard Brexit” juggernaut that had previously been seen as sacrosanct, to the anguish of millions of people appalled by it — a huge number of the 16.1 million of us who voted Remain, who May has tried to silence since last summer, and who, in part, were giving voice in the election to the 3.2m foreign nationals living and working here, whose status May’s government has refused to protect, instead regarding them as nothing more than “bargaining chips.”

However, this shift does not yet appear to have penetrated the Brexit bubble in the departments supposedly responsible for Brexit. Dunt noted that the tripartite structure of Davis, the idiot Boris Johnson and the repulsive Liam Fox “has achieved nothing so far except for wasting time,” and there is “little reason to believe it will suddenly start working now.” As he proceeded to explain, “We still do not have enough trade specialists in order to match the EU’s huge negotiating team. Not only that, but their team are blooded, having conducted tough trade talks over years. Ours appears to be stitched together by freelancing Kiwis and Canadians, some management consultants, and a few scrubbed-up civil servants. The senior figures who wrote in to the civil service seeing if they could help never got a reply. It was the height of Brexiter arrogance back then. All were ignored except for the true believers.”

He also asked who the negotiating team was supposed to representing, given that, as he put it, “There is no government back home,” because a deal has not been agreed between the Tories and the DUP, whose support is required to prop it up into a position where it has a Parliamentary majority. Even with a deal, he noted, “it is not clear that it could win any Commons votes on Brexit. It faces a hardcore group of pro-Brexit MPs on the right of the parliamentary party,: and, on the left, “an increasingly bullish set of moderate Tories alongside a cocky Scottish Conservative group of 13 MPs who want soft Brexit.”

Dunt proceeded to note the softening of the “hard Brexit” stance since the election, but pointed out that there was no sign of any cross-party movement to shift the focus away from the Tories’ myopic and suicidal impulses. He also accurately noted the void at the top of government, writing that “May herself is damaged goods of the sort which can never be repaired. Her humiliation is too specific and too great. She will never have any authority around that Brussels negotiating table, nor back home in Westminster. Brussels doesn’t have confidence that she can deliver on the promises she makes in Europe or even that she is likely to still be prime minister by the next time they have a meeting. What an unspeakable shambles these people are.”

And, he added, twisting the knife still further into May’s self-inflicted wound, “that clock just keeps on ticking down to March 31st 2019 — the product of a prime minister so arrogant, dim-witted and disreputable that she would trigger Article 50 and then hold an election after the countdown had begun.”

He concluded:

The fact we are going for those talks is completely insane and embarrassing. What will it take for the Brexiters to recognise their folly?

Any team with even a smidgen of respect for the national interest would immediately seek to extend Article 50 on the basis of the election result. The value to Britain of extending the deadline increases the later it takes place, so by refusing to petition for an extension now we are simply handing Brussels more leverage for later in the talks. But, of course, doing that involves a modicum of humility and therefore cannot be entertained.

Reason dictates that it must happen anyway. The fact they have not tried to do so shows that the Brexiters remain in a state of self-induced mania and that their ideological obsessions trump their supposed commitment to Great Britain.

Ian Dunt on Labour’s position

On Monday, as the negotiations began, Dunt turned to Labour’s position. In ‘Does Labour have a third way on Brexit?’ he began by looking at ‘Weakened and divided, Tory government is in no position to negotiate a good Brexit deal for Britain,’ an article by Jeremy Corbyn in the Daily Mirror, “outlining Labour’s Brexit policy ahead of the start of talks.”

Dunt is good on how Labour fudged its Brexit position in the election, and how doing so helped it win votes — but now it will have to come up with a coherent position. He writes about how Corbyn’s article, on the face of it, is “garbled nonsense, but dig a little deeper and there are hints of something interesting in there.”

As he notes:

There’s a lot of wishful thinking with Labour Brexit positions. Their contributions are written in such strange code that you can arrive at various interpretations about what they mean. When things get desperate, it’s tempting to project your hopes onto them.

They want you to do that. These little Labour position statements are incredibly flirty. First they offer assurances to Labour Leave voters — in this case saying the Brexit issue is “settled” — and then they start smiling seductively at Remainers and whispering sweet nothings into their ear.

Usually they are just that: sweet nothings. Corbyn has done impressive work convincing many EU supporters he’s on side by constantly saying he’d seek ‘tariff-free access to the single market’, despite this being a much lower bar than what even the Conservatives are offering.

He’s also quite shameless at passing off his own decisions as those forced on him by others. In the Mirror article, for instance, he repeats a line he always says when talking about Brexit: “Leaving the EU will mean freedom of movement will end.” This is a lie. Leaving the EU doesn’t mean free movement will end. Leaving the single market does that and you do not have to leave the single market just because you’re leaving the EU. He is choosing to do so. But saying it in this way allows Corbyn to reassure Labour Leave voters concerned about immigration while pretending to his young metropolitan support base that his hands are tied on the issue. You might call it good politics — or the same drabby self-serving political cynicism Corbyn claims to represent a break from. Your call.

Up until now, that defined Corbyn’s approach. He wanted out of the single market at all costs. This wasn’t due to free movement. Corbyn, to his credit, had no issue with that at all, as he made clear in his conference speech after the referendum. His opposition is based on the perception that its rules on state aid preclude domestic a nationalisation programme.

This point about nationalisation is important, and tends, I think, to be the major driver uniting those on the left who voted to leave the EU, as it has such domestic impact. Also of concern, of course, is the strangulation of Greece by an EU that rigged its own rules to allow its entry into the EU in the first place, and is now, it seems, committed to choking Greece forever. Those of us who see the value of remaining in the EU recognise these problems, of course, but believe that they are better tackled by trying to reform it from within rather than leaving it and sinking in some dismal, backwards-looking, right-wing Little Englander isolation.

Ian Dunt has no comment on the nationalisation issue, but notes how Corbyn’s subterfuge on free movement “was silently supported … by the right of the Labour party and those with northern constituencies, who didn’t feel they could defend free movement on the doorstep.”

Crucially, though, he notes that “there was another group of Labour MPs — exemplified by shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer — who wanted to try to negotiate reform of free movement in the single market and then only leave if we failed,” adding, “That’s been the Labour status quo for some time, with those two groups having a back-stage tug of war over policy. During the election, for instance, Starmer’s speech outlined his camp’s position, while the manifesto outlined Corbyn’s. But the Mirror article contains some interesting new wrinkles on this dynamic.”

As he proceeded to explain:

Corbyn talks about establishing a “new relationship” with the single market. What would this relationship look like? Well first of all it would be led by priorities, not outcomes. Jobs and living standards would be the chief determinant of what happens. The “exact mechanism for achieving that is less important than ensuring jobs”, Corbyn says. He also promises “no new non-tariff burdens”. This is a much higher benchmark than simple ‘tariff-free access’. It is almost impossible to imagine how you’d leave the single market with no new non-tariff burdens.

So what’s going on here? Is this a clever attempt to stay in the single market without saying so — by setting conditions for exit which they know will never be fulfilled? Has Corbyn had a change of heart?

Or perhaps it’s the opposite. Corbyn knows Remainers have nowhere else to go. He can bank them with his sweet nothings, offering constant hope which is always just tantalisingly out of reach while pursuing a hard Brexit policy in reality.

Or maybe, to use a phrase he’d particularly detest, there is a third way.

Last week, Rebecca Long-Bailey — shadow business secretary and close ally of John McDonnell — said something very interesting. First she got rid of talk about single market membership, calling it a “moot point”. That’s disingenuous, but whatever. They’re clearly not willing to go there. Then she said Labour would pursue “impediment-free access” to the single market (code for no new non-tariff barriers) and that the price of this might be that “there will have to be some element of free movement”.

That’s telling. Remember again Corbyn’s conference speech just after the referendum, in which it was clear he had no issue with free movement but would anyway choose to leave the single market. That fits well with Long-Bailey’s comments.

What would this mean in reality? It allows Labour to leave the single market but then unilaterally offer something akin to free movement — this time as a decision of the British government rather than a rule of membership from Brussels. Maybe we would allow all EU citizens to come for as long as they like, or only those with a job offer in the UK, or those who could demonstrate the means to support themselves — which is anyway not so far from current European case law. On free movement, everything would change and everything would basically stay the same.

These kinds of big offers would be used to leverage more robust reductions in tariffs and non-tariff barriers. It wouldn’t eradicate them altogether, but it allows for a considerably more flexible approach than May has. And to Corbyn’s credit, it reflects a team which would prioritise jobs and living standards over immigration. It is also not a million miles away from Starmer’s view, which would seek similar reforms inside the single market.

It wouldn’t be perfect by any means. The economic effects of leaving the single market would still be hugely damaging, especially to financial services, IT and telecommunications and transport. Those industries would be damaged, hurting jobs and reducing revenue to the Treasury, thereby making it harder to deliver the kind of generous welfare state Corbyn presumably wants. It doesn’t even begin to grapple with the real issues, like how we would replicate financial services regulation in a way that allows a close relationship while not turning ourselves into underlings. But it is better than the government position and better than Corbyn’s previous position.

That’s if it’s true, of course. This is really nothing more than educated guesswork — a strange new political tradition of trying to work out what the hell Labour’s position is on Brexit. It shouldn’t be this way. They should be straight with the British people on what they are trying to achieve on one of the biggest political questions of their lifetime. But failing that, at least there is some evidence of proper thinking, a greater degree of flexibility and a more sensible set of priorities than we’re seeing from the government team.

The capitulation begins

My apologies for so shamelessly copying and pasting so much of Ian Dunt’s two recent articles — but it’s coming from a position of respect for his deep analysis of the situation, and I really do recommend you to read Brexit: What the Hell Happens Now? if you haven’t already.

Yesterday, the negotiations began — or, rather, the capitulations began. And Ian Dunt was there again, shooting down David Davis who, after a year of bluster about the UK’s strong position, claiming that talks on our divorce bill and trade would be held simultaneously, capitulated immediately to the EU. As Dunt put it in ‘The first British defeat over Brexit happened in moments,’ “Talks would be sequenced as the EU wanted, rather than held in parallel as the UK wanted.” He added, “How long was it until Britain capitulated on the first item in the Brexit menu? Five minutes? An hour? Two? How quickly did all those months of Davis’ self-satisfied confidence unravel? For nearly a year now Brexit supporters have had a completely isolated domestic debate about what they want, with a grossly inflated sense of entitlement and their ability to satisfy it. It survived barely moments of contact with reality.”

As Dunt also explained:

The true scale of the British challenge will be clearer tomorrow when the Queen’s Speech is unveiled, showing the scale of legislation required to implement Brexit. First, there will be the great repeal bill, one of the largest and most dangerous pieces of legislation a British government has ever introduced, copying-and-pasting all of EU law onto the British statute book and then using a dazzling array of ministerial powers to somehow try and fix it so it it makes sense. There will also be perhaps a dozen other bills, certainly including one on immigration and others perhaps on issues like customs, agriculture and data protection — all of them intensely controversial and subject to defeat in the Commons. Meanwhile, Liam Fox is — if we’ve any luck at all — desperately trying to get all exporters to the EU and UK to accept our trading schedules at the WTO, so that we do not suffer a series of trade disputes there.

Britain is making a new country, almost from scratch. There has been nothing like this except for when small states gain independence. It needs time. But worse than that, it needs agreement.

What kind of customs checks do we need in Ireland? We don’t know until we have agreed it. What kind of immigration system will we have for EU citizens? We don’t know until we have agreed it. What kind of regulators do we need to set up — with all the legal work, hiring, training, system-building and renting of buildings that entails? We don’t know until we have agreed it. Which agreements with other countries do we need to independently replicate in order for passengers to still board planes or access products? We don’t know until we have agreed it.

His article concluded:

This is core to the dynamic of Brexit. It’s what gives the EU power over the UK. It’s nothing new. Anyone who had looked into it knew this from the start. Sir Ivan Rogers made these warnings months ago, only to be prised out of his role as EU envoy. Iain Duncan Smith rubbished him on TV, effectively questioning which side he was on. Peter Lilley accused him of “sour grapes”. Dominic Raab said his “heart hasn’t really been in Brexit”.

Only the true believers were allowed to speak. And now here we are.

Yesterday’s capitulation means we have accepted the EU timetable. That means we can only discuss the future trading arrangements with the EU when they decide there has been enough progress on EU citizen’s rights, the budget contribution and a hard border in Ireland. They expect this to be in October. But again: they decide. They are in control. The central power dynamic of the negotiations means we are more likely to capitulate.

After that, talk will turn to transitional arrangements so we can avoid the cliff-edge. The EU will likely demand that the UK abides by full EU rules, including the jurisdiction of the ECJ and full free movement, during this period. Again, we are likely to capitulate.

The key dynamic will not change. No-deal is disaster. Britain will do anything to avoid it. The closer to the cliff-edge we get, the more power Europe has. And the preparation for a new arrangement can only properly start once the talks have finalised what it is.

The dynamic is entirely in Europe’s favour. It always has been, but the warnings were ignored.

What a ridiculous mess we’re in, and how entirely predictable it was to anyone not clouded by delusional notions of British supremacy from the moment politicians and the right-wing media started capitalising on people’s discontent — mainly, I think, with neoliberalism and austerity, along with inflated fears about immigration — in the run-up to last year’s referendum. In conclusion, I can only hope that this spectacularly useless Tory government falls, and that a Labour government will work out how to provide the public with an honest assessment of how ruinous Brexit would be, and then, either through Parliament, or through a second referendum, prevent it from happening. The alternative contains some satisfaction, but also some real pain for society as a whole, but especially for the least well-off, as the Tories cling on, continuing to try to implement Brexit, but failing to realise the most important truth of all — that Brexit is a poisoned chalice that will kill anyone who implements it, and the only route to anyone’s continued political survival is to kill it off.

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose debut album ‘Love and War’ and EP ‘Fighting Injustice’ are available here to download or on CD via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and the Countdown to Close Guantánamo initiative, launched in January 2016), the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, which called for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison (finally freed on October 30, 2015), and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

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10 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article, an analysis of where we stand as the Brexit negotiations begin, drawing largely on recent articles by the incomparable Ian Dunt, author of the essential book ‘Brexit: What the Hell Happens Now?’ With no functioning government and, essentially, no plan, the bluster of the last year has come abruptly to an end, and we are revealed as rudderless, seemingly drifting inexorably towards the most colossal act of economic suicide in living memory, and still prepared to crash out of the single market and the customs union under the illusion that it is either possible or sensible to severely curb immigration. What a sad joke we have become. It’s time to get the Tories out, and for Labour to recognise that all its great plans for ending austerity and increasing government spending will be impossible if we crash out of the EU, destroying our economy as a result.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    And here’s the Guardian on Chancellor Philip Hammond’s delayed Mansion House speech today, with the newspaper inferring is that it is he, rather than Theresa May, who now “has the upper hand in shaping the policy” on Brexit. The article continued: “Mr Hammond’s rearranged speech did not say, as he did in his interview with Andrew Marr on Sunday, that a failure to agree a deal with the EU would be ‘a very, very bad outcome’, but in most other respects he was emphatic that jobs and the economy are now at the heart of the UK’s approach to the EU talks. His list of conditions started with jobs, and went on to cover a comprehensive agreement on trade in goods and services, transitional arrangements to avoid any ‘cliff-edge’ collapse in 2019, frictionless customs arrangements (with an implementation period) extending to the Irish land border, and continued migration of selected groups of workers from and to the EU.” Bank of England governor Mark Carney was also very critical of Brexit, stating in no uncertain terns that it will make Britain worse off:
    See: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jun/20/the-guardian-view-on-philip-hammond-brexit-speech-practical-policy-impractical-politics
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/bank-of-england-mark-carney-boris-johnson-brexit-britain-worse-off-a7798551.html

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    And here are dozens of Labour politicians making a strong case for remaining in the single market” “The single market is not a simple free trade zone. It is, uniquely, a framework of rules that protects people from the worst excesses of globalisation and unfettered capitalism, in addition to easing trade across the continent … If Britain stays in the single market, we will continue to benefit from EU laws and court judgments that outlaw discrimination in the workplace; deliver vital rights to workers on holiday pay, maternity and paternity leave, the right to join a union, and much more; protect our natural environment from pollution; and keep workers safe through stringent health and safety requirements. Large multinational companies work across borders to maximise their profits to often reduce these protections; the next Labour government, as a member of the single market, can work with other European countries to resist this and advance social justice. If we leave the single market, and ask for mere ‘access’, we will be compromised in achieving these goals.”
    See: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jun/20/end-austerity-uk-single-market-theresa-may-brexit

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Leigh French wrote:

    But aren’t discussions over “jobs and the economy” (ie trade) on hold until citizenship etc is sorted, so not really at the heart of anything as yet…

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    I think, Leigh, that it’s worth reflecting on the positions politicians have taken over the last year, even though, as you say, what’s going to be discussed first are the terms of the divorce, and not the trade deals. My concern is to demonstrate that what binds us to the EU is so much more important to our economy than illusory or counter-productive aims regarding immigration that it would be insane to actually leave the EU at all, and I’m hoping that that’s where we can work our way round to in the next two years.

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    After a year of disgracefully treating the 3.2m EU nationals living and working in the UK – many here for decades – as “bargaining chips” rather than human beings, the desperate Tories have put forward proposals for EU citizens to “officially ‘register their interest’ in acquiring documentation allowing them to live and work in the country after 2019.” There is not much in this article that is reassuring about the government’s position, I have to say: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jun/20/eu-citizens-in-britain-to-be-asked-to-register-for-post-brexit-status

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Austerity Brexit or Brexit on the cheap. The Guardian reports today that “Sir Jeremy Heywood, the cabinet secretary, is planning to relocate at least 750 policy experts from across Whitehall to five key Brexit departments without any extra cash to cover the cost of replacing them.” Shameful. May it all come crashing down around this dreadful cheapskate government.
    See: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jun/21/at-least-750-whitehall-policy-experts-to-relocate-to-brexit-departments-jeremy-heywood

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    More on Labour’s position here, as backbench MPs call for “the party’s leadership to place membership of the single market back on the table in terms of Brexit policy.” This is the response of Keir Starmer, Labour’s Brexit secretary: “We want to retain the benefits of the single market and the customs union. Formal membership, full membership is only available to EU member states and that’s why there’s all the discussion about what sort of model that gets us to close to membership.” I think he can’t openly state that to get what we really need we have to scrap the whole of Brexit.
    See: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jun/20/labour-single-market-membership-brexit-debate-keir-starmer

  9. Tom says...

    A comparison that might give some perspective to this. Imagine if tomorrow Trump said that all US permanent residents had to leave. Doesn’t matter if they’ve lived here for years and have a clean record. How would that affect the US economy? What would May and the Tories do if EU members kicked out all UK expats living in those countries? We don’t care what your background is. Get out. The only positive I can see so far in the EU negotiations is that at least May isn’t publically insulting the EU President.

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    It’s been an interesting few weeks, Tom, apart from the Grenfell fire, which was a horrific reminder of the ultimate cost of neo-liberal greed and indifference. The election was astonishing, watching Theresa May collapse with absolutely no one to blame except herself, and one reason for her paralysis, obviously, was her refusal to talk about Brexit at all.
    So now the nonsense begins again – and yes, she’s not being as insulting as before, but I remain convinced that Brexit will kill whoever tries to implement it.
    It is disgraceful how long it has taken the Tories to reassure EU nationals living intros country, and even now the offer does not appear to be unconditional. The Guardian’s article about it begins as follows:

    Theresa May will offer to give Europeans living in the UK the same residency, employment, health, welfare and pensions rights as British citizens, but demand that “serious and persistent” criminals may be more easily deported than at present.

    The prime minister’s 15-page package, which will be published on Monday alongside a statement to parliament, will be designed to give people who arrived in Britain before an agreed cut off date settled status.

    The Brexit secretary, David Davis, said the aim was to ensure people had rights “almost equivalent to British citizens” if the EU27 agreed to a reciprocal deal.

    See: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jun/26/eu-nationals-to-be-offered-nearly-same-rights-at-britons
    I have been profoundly ashamed that, for a year, EU nationals living and working here – friends or people I haven’t met – have been treated as second-class citizens, as “bargaining chips” in negotiations. On that basis alone, Brexit is obviously a disgusting and disgraceful idea – bureaucracy as a substitute for war.

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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