A State of Denial

Just when you thought that we had had enough madness for one year, think again.

A petition has been launched to press the PM to ask the EU for an opt-in associate membership for UK citizens. In other words, Remain for all has failed, but we would like a non-reciprocal Remain deal for ourselves.

Is there no end to this word-shimmying?

Guys, that one’s going to fly like a penguin and did in fact bite the dust back in 2016, when it had just a little too much asymmetry about it for the EU. Way too many cherries in the cake.

But how would it work in practice and what would it involve?

Well, that’s not been outlined yet (no surprise there then), but the gist of intent reflects a scope for all British citizens and not just those domiciled abroad in EU states. You just know that either a payment scheme or an element of reciprocity for EU nationals would be an absolute minimum requirement from Brussels.

But it would not just be about economics or mutual concessions. Any associate membership would fundamentally change the relationship between individual and state in the UK. Our national citizenship fits into the mould of national government, which defines both its legitimacy and our status. Were we to have two versions of UK citizenship, we would have a group within our society that functions partially outside that governmental framework. Associate members would become citizens not just of the UK, but also of something wider with a degree of external alignment.

That doesn’t bode well for the prospective success of this caper.

There are further, societal, bumps in the road. In opening up this option, we would cement division, precisely at a point where – after 4 years – we are (almost) all gagging to embrace unity. Especially pertinent to this point is a consideration that the class differences that powered the Leave decision would likely be further exacerbated by the uptake of UK-plus by a majority of affluent urbanites.

What is more, however this looks – whether comprehensive access to the Four Freedoms or some limited morsels around Freedom of Movement – the intricacy of negotiations would be immeasurable, as would the re-working of EU legal text in order to make it lawful. Then all 27 EU countries would have to concur without exception, and it would all have to pass through a UK Parliament dominated by a Tory majority of 80.

This being the layer on an already complex cake, which has been in the oven for far too long.

In brief, there would be little appetite for it from the UK side of the negotiating table. On the EU side, they just want it all done and dusted. And after all, why should they expend effort on a solution for a third country, which could be all be resolved by membership (that we already had)?

Crazy that we spent 40 years as a member trying to negotiate opt-outs, and now we have left, we are desperately seeking opt-ins.

Ultimately though, this whole exercise would be seen as covert Remain. Which of course it is – or at least is a foot in the door that will boost the Rejoin movement at a later date.

It’s never going to be allowed to happen.

Meanwhile, back on the plot, Jeremy Corbyn is lamenting that Labour ‘won the argument, but not the election’.

You couldn’t make it up, but does that sound familiar?

Of course, the argument was the election. While the detail supporting the argument seemed attractive, it just didn’t stack up for the voters.

There’s a lesson here for our politicians and all those wackos out there, with too much money and time on their hands. We seem to be struggling with basic definitions at present. Win, lose, remain, leave – we seem to be in a continual state of denial.

Perhaps it’s about time that everybody faced up to facts, because while they are all standing still, twisting words and debating semantics, the real world is moving on.

unsplash-logoAdrian Swancar

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