Je ne Bregret rien

Am I missing something, or are there very few or no prominent Brexiteers changing their minds about the benefits of Brexit?

I find it extraordinary that there are not more.

Opinion polls have shifted somewhat against.  But politicians and commentators have doubled down.  This in the face of very marked changes in the likely costs and benefits of leaving.  The chance of no deal at all in March 2019 has risen greatly;  also I’d conjecture that the chance of Brexit In Name Only, either in the form of a very close tie to the EU, or prolonged ‘transition’ has risen.  The inability of the warring factions in the Tory Party to confront the trade-offs that face the UK, and the crystallisation of the Irish border as a stumbling block, have both reduced the chances of a free trade agreement that would separate us materially from the UK.

A rational calculus of the cost and benefits of Brexit has surely shifted in favour of Remain.  Brexit in Name Only grants only symbolic political freedom, and considerably reduces the say we have over the market we stay hitched to.  No deal might be a catastrophe and is surely to be avoided at all costs.  An increase in the probability of these two things surely lowers the benefits of Brexit.  Unless you place an extremely high weight on Brexit as an abstract end in itself, therefore, you must surely change your mind.

To repurpose a much used analogy.  Imagine that Remain had won, but 2 years down the road it became clear that the EU was going to force us to join the Euro, or leave the EU.  This would surely cause former Remainers, for whom the ultimatum would be a surprise, to rethink.  The probability of Euro membership and all its disadvantages has risen;  the benefits of leaving the EU therefore increase.  The analogous cacophony to the Brexiteers, who formally dismissed the chance of a no deal exit as Project Fear, but now try to normalise it, would be a line up of Remainers explaining the political benefits of the Federal project that Euro membership would include us in, waving away concerns about the lack of monetary independence with assurances that it would all be fine.  And unresponsive to calls for another referendum given that Euro membership was at the time dismissed as a highly unlikely prospect.

Perhaps this Bregret is happening, only privately.  Public Bregret would constitute too much of a loss of face.  Or perhaps Bregret is judged too unproductive in the tribal warfare for political influence in the future.  Bregretters would be bottom of the pile for political influence amongst always-true-Remainers, and traitors in the eyes of the continuity-Brexit tribe.

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4 Responses to Je ne Bregret rien

  1. Per Kurowski says:

    “Bregret” What a great term… in Piaf’s French it would be “Bregette”

    Now the problem for Britain and EU is that Brexit has become another juicy opportunity for polarization profiteers, with the help of web and social media, to extract the most of it, in political and monetary terms, by keeping all sensible Leavers and Remainers from talking to each other.

  2. Dipper says:

    A classic post that reveals the lack of depth of thought on the Remain side, and an assumption of a similar lack of thought on the Leave side.

    “Imagine that Remain had won, but 2 years down the road it became clear that the EU was going to force us to join the Euro, or leave the EU.”

    Well, that is what a lot of Leavers think would be the case. I’m not sure why, having spent two years loudly advertising you opinion that the UK is utterly dependent on the EU, you think that a future in the EU would be anything other than a steady slide to complete quasi-federal status where all decisions are taken centrally and all taxation is carried out punitively and locally.

    In the “renegotiation” Cameron asking the leader of a foreign nation for the right to control his borders and being refused. What do you think that says about any future the UK would have in the EU.

    If you want to engage Leavers, how about discussing the things that Leavers think are important, not repeating the arguments that were rejected in the referendum.

  3. Dipper says:

    “the crystallisation of the Irish border as a stumbling block”

    pre leaving, this is a problem for the UK. After leaving, this is a massive problem for the EU.

    The Belfast Agreement establishes the British-Irish Council. section 5 says “The BIC will …consult and use best endeavours to reach agreement on co-operation on matters of mutual interest … suitable issues for early discussion in the BIC could include transport links, agricultural issues, environmental issues, cultural issues, health issues, education issues and approaches to EU issues.” and section 7 says “The BIC normally will operate by consensus. In relation to decisions on common policies or common actions, including their means of implementation, it will operate by agreement of all members participating in such policies or actions.”

    so I think that means that either the EU has to agree any changes that affects cross-border trade with the UK, or RoI has to break with the EU on matters that affect cross-border issues.

  4. Dipper says:

    … and a couple more why Leavers are not Bregretting.

    Firstly, FOM. The European Commission itself forecast the UK population would grow from 64.1 million in 2013 to 80.1 in 2050/60. That’s an increase of 25% in a generation. The increase in population alone is greater than the population of Sweden, Greece, Belgium, or Austria and just less than the population of the Netherlands. This increase is largely down to immigration (certainly over 50% of it). It requires us to build two Londons, or another Netherlands, in little use a generation, and all for what?

    The response to this from pro-EU, when challenged, is variously that this won’t happen, that it will happen but will be a good thing anyway, will happen even if we leave, and we are powerless to stop it. None of these responses adequately addresses what I consider to be development which is massively damaging to the UK. To recap, when Blair allowed FOM with Eastern Europe, he didn’t say we need millions of workers, he said very few will come.

    Against that scenario, I regard a bit of turbulence on leaving as a small price to pay.

    The final and completely different reason is that Remainers have not accepted the referendum but have mounted a campaign to overturn the result. All the dire warnings of death and famine if we have no deal are part of the attempt to prevent the result being implemented. We now have open warfare over the decision, and whoever wins this battle will likely control UK politics for a generation. A successful leave will destroy the credibility of many economists, advisers, journalists, as well as many politicians. Overturning the result or delivering Brexit-in-name-only with a rapid re-entry and those who complain about the EU will find the establishment telling them that leaving is impossible and damaging and we have to accept whatever the EU offers us. So, there is absolutely nothing to be gained from saying Brexit is mistake.

    And finally “A rational calculus of the cost and benefits of Brexit has surely shifted in favour of Remain.”. Would that be the same rational analysis that promised us a recession and mass unemployment when even despite the turbulence of Brexit we have record low unemployment, record employment, and growth exceeding that of the EU?

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