The European Union Carried on by Other Means
Mrs May is a product of the past and it shows in her poor political leadership and shambolic Article 50 negotiations leading towards Brexit in name only. This is a past based on increasing political deference to the European Union (EU) and dependency started by Edward Heath and continued by other Conservative and Labour prime ministers up to the present. This evolved in time into a paradigm (or conceptual framework of ideas, assumptions and perceived wisdom) which set the direction for many subsequent policies and actions. The only notable exception to this past paradigm is (perhaps) Mrs Thatcher who claimed to be inspired by free-market economists Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, yet still remained largely obsequious to the EU’s centralising control freaks and arrogant ideologues.
Escape from (conservative) Reality into the EU
At the heart of any notionally conservative party is a major dilemma for its strategists and leaders, how to expand its popular base beyond the core support of the conservative-minded; who make up the majority of party members. This is in effect developing a second unique selling proposition rather than making traditional conservatism popular to the many. It arises from a belief that they need to also project an image, though not necessarily a reality, of eclectic, inclusive modernity. At one time the EU appeared to provide this modernity. It could, therefore, be accepted for political expediency even when contradictions with core values or British national interests were obvious.
The EU comfort zone for Politicians and Public Servants
For any prime minister, not just Conservative, and the Civil Service, the EU provides a useful comfort zone. There is the appearance of eclectic modernity, a ‘world stage’ to strut, a means of escaping responsibility, and the respectful acceptance by equals and their subordinates. Simple, just follow the EU’s (mainly greater German) social, political, economic, regulatory, monetary and fiscal lead. Who wouldn’t find this reassuring especially as an escape from political turbulence, the need to be competent and for the avoidance of blame should any major mistakes become public?
The EU’s corrupting comfort zone
The uninviting (and courageous) alternative to the EU’s comfort zone for any PM is to be accused by opponents of being insular, parochial, jingoistic, elitist, ‘out in the cold’ or ‘out of step’ with the EU and ‘behind the times’. Small wonder Edward Heath and subsequent leaders became such EU-centric ‘modernity’ idealists and were prepared to deceive the public whilst selling out British national interests and sovereignty. Mrs May would need to be very determined to escape the strong force of this ingrained political behaviour and long line of politicians.
The EU undermines UK Governmental competence
As activities of government were transferred to the EU over the last forty odd years there has been a hollowing out of competence, though not necessarily of numbers in the Civil Service. The result is that in many fields, the expertise and motivation required by the government of a sovereign country no longer exist within the UK. As a newly independent country, it will take time to re-establish missing expertise and then achieve positive results in our national interest.
The Referendum Vote for Brexit caused a paradigm shift
Times have changed. The majority voting in the Referendum have decided the EU is not the future that they want. This is a major paradigm shift with wide-ranging long-term implications. The EU is now the past and modernity is to embrace exciting future possibilities outside its claustrophobic clutches. The new modernity has not yet solidified into a paradigm and can potentially include anything from re-invigorating democracy with a more collaborative form of government to re-discovering world-leading skills based on long-standing national strengths, heritage and culture; there are many – see The National CV.
Mrs May is failing to adapt to the new Brexit inspired modernity
Mrs May is having considerable difficulty elucidating a new post Brexit vision to accord with the Referendum’s paradigm shift and resulting new modernity. She is stuck in the obsolete paradigm. Dependence and deference to the EU is so ingrained that Mrs May can’t let go of the past and the old EU-centric view of modernity. There is little or no evidence of her using Brexit as a great facilitator for tackling the big issues facing our country. Hers is the spin, language, actions, and policies of the past.
Talk of ‘A deep and special relationship with our European partners’ is more a cry for continued belonging than a confident assertion of independence. Worse, the EU is allowed to make the running with Mrs May, Mr Davis and the Department for (not) Exiting the European Union eventually caving into its increasingly unreasonable demands. Worse still, the current cave-ins (for after Brexit) include an appalling Transition Deal making this country into a temporary then a permanent EU vassal state. Then, to highlight a few, there are surrendering UK fisheries, defence and defence procurement to EU bureaucrats and British citizens to the worst justice systems in the EU through retaining the European Arrest Warrant.
The EEA/EFTA Paradox
Whilst obviously being unwilling to leave control by the political EU, Mrs May somewhat enigmatically chose to leave the existing frictionless trading simplicity of membership of the Single Market (and wider European Economic Area, EEA). She has never explained why this reckless decision was made without a practical plan for leaving the EU, whilst still retaining near frictionless trade.
However, gullibility and ignorance are hinted at in her Lancaster House speech 17th January 2017 where she appears to have accepted the disingenuous claims of the EU leaders regarding the inviolate nature of the four freedoms. In reality, the EU is happy to break these principles when it suits it. For example, the EU’s proposed Withdrawal Agreement, Article 13 (Protocols NI) allows the EU or the UK, amongst other things, unilaterally to restrict immigration from the other party (to the agreement). In other words, the EU can restrict immigration into the remaining Member States from the UK, and the UK can restrict immigration from the remaining Member States into the UK.
Nowhere to hide
Spin and handing over more and more political decisions to the EU no longer cut it post Referendum. Endless vacuous mantras and blaming the EU for failing to deliver a successful, opportunity-filled, Brexit is increasingly unconvincing outside the Westminster bubble. With time running out the country needs to know the truth. Mrs May probably already knows what she must do to save Brexit from being in name only and trade with the EU from severe disruption. The only viable option is to re-join the free nations in The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and use this as part of escaping the EU whilst temporarily remaining in the EEA under much more flexible and favourable conditions in a bespoke version of the EEA Agreement. (further information see The EFTA/EEA Solution to the Current Brexit Impasse, Brexit Reset, Eureferendum.com, various posts on Campaign for an Independent Britain and affiliates)
Getting onto this escape route (from the EU with the least potential disruption to existing trade) in the coming crisis will need effective crisis management and something like a modern-day Brexit Operation Dynamo. Will Mrs May deliver or should the Conservative Party expeditiously choose someone else who can?