Sunday, July 03, 2016

UK: Cleaning the Mess of Naughty British Boys

(Source - Wikipedia)
I was suspecting that Boris Johnson would not take the bet of 10 Downing Street occupancy, that much was clear when people started to 'see through' the Johnson act. He still could not resist himself and wanted to seek that office but then his partner in crime Michael Gove stabbed him in the back. Michael Gove may wear fancy glasses and may comb his hair well; but all that designer look of an erudite statesman does not hide the hideous lust for power and total lack of morality in lying to public at large, all for his some petty personal gains. That much is clear to the whole world - frat boys adolescent politics of these privileged Tory politicians - Messers Cameron, Johnson and Gove - has pulled a prank on British People, Europeans and the world at large. These irresponsible rascals don't know what they were doing with zero ability to clean the mess which they have created.[1] One hopes that an adult occupant of 10 Downing Street will clean this mess.

Question is what are the choices for a British PM to clean this mess. It is hard to see any capable Tory Politician saying this to the nation

"We got an ill advised referendum, we heard people's voices, but we Britishers are effectively divided. This means we ought to take care of substantive British population who wants us to consider Remain choice seriously. Besides, it is the question of retaining integrity of UK when Scottish People, Northern Ireland and Londoners seriously want us to remain in EU. Given the situation, all of us will have to accept sacrifices and it will be my intention to drive this compromise first among ourselves before we engage with EU". 

Britain needs a leader who will emphatically, judiciously and with credibility put these facts on the table:
- Brexit is simply not in the national interest of UK, both economically and politically;
- Leave supporters sold 'snake oil and lies' in the campaign;
- Immigration from other EU states to UK for jobs as well as immigration due to uncontrolled external EU borders are real concerns; but neither it impacts those we voted Leave nor leaving EU is the answer for that.[2] It is a Europe wide problem which best can be addressed by being a member of EU.

The second best choice for UK will be to convert itself into a much looser federation[3] of England, Wales, Norther Ireland and Scotland and then working out an arrangement with EU where Scotland and Northern Ireland continue to be part of EU while England and Wales come out.[4] There is a geography which is at the advantage for UK. There is a well defined border between Scotland and England whereas Northern Ireland can easily continue it's current 'no border' relationship with the Republic of Ireland which is already in EU. UK can introduce 'Residency' concept which can divide her citizens into two camps - EU residents of UK and UK residents of England and Wales. The point is if UK political class has a will, it can work out an arrangement which will fulfill different aspirations of her own people. If one considers various numbers, such a division of UK is sustainable. Scotland and Northern Ireland can start using Euro while England and Wales will be out of EU. That way England and Wales will be able to control the immigration as they deem fit and continue to use British Pound.

Such an arrangement may become necessary as initial signs are that Nicola Sturgeon will not be able to get a direct access to EU for Scotland. In the short term, the only path for Scotland to become EU member is to secede from UK by another Scottish Independence Referendum followed by a prolonged wait. One is talking here easily 3 to 7 years wait. During that period viability of an independent Scottish nation is essentially non-existent because of the lower oil prices and dwindling oil output from Northern Oil Fields. All in all the prognosis for an independent Scotland is not good, nor is there an easy route to get admitted to EU. Unless Scotland works through Westminster, EU aspirations of Scots are unlikely to materialize soon.[5]

The option of a looser, federated UK has an advantage of retaining outward integrity of the British Nation. UK will continue to participate in UNSC, NATO and in all other international gatherings as a single nation since Defense and Foreign Policy (san EU membership) will be still handled by London for Scotland and Northern Ireland. EU states would also find a merit in this arrangement since new member induction in EU needs unanimous consent by all members. In such an arrangement, UK chair in EU is simply inherited by EU resident states of UK who are all following rules of EU as is. Essentially, British PM will attend EU meetings as the custodian of Scotland and Northern Ireland interests in EU. If for England and Wales, a Norwegian arrangement is sought; British PM can simultaneously represent those interests as well. In other words UK will not have to get out of EU, just that England and Wales will be out of EU stopping Immigration to those areas as well as those areas will not participate in the common EU market. Once such an arrangement is worked out, in reality what will happen is Companies in England will simply set up EU compliant shops in Scotland and via those outlets would continue to trade with EU.

For any such approache to succeed, EU will need to be flexible. There is every incentive for EU to be creative since the problem of resentment against immigrants is not just an UK issue but many other EU members are facing this pressure too. As such EU does need to find a mechanism to channel demands of Europeans in this regard. All other EU hating speeches by UK politicians or grumblings by cranky English people against endless bureocracy of Brussels; that is not the root cause. Such a criticism has a point and for sure EU does need to become efficient, less heavy handed, less bureaucratic; all for her own good. But heart of the problem is 'immigration'. Because London has been recovering so fast after 2008-2009 recession compared to other European states; England got tremendous migration for jobs. Add to the backdrop of uncontrolled borders of EU which allowed many Muslims immigrants from Middle East and Africa. EU needs to tackle immigration from outside of EU as well as pressure points created by internal labor mobility. That is where EU needs an action. By having a flexible approach with UK constituent states while EU retaining it's rule based regime as is; EU would have made its positive contribution to the problem of Brexit too. Time is for thinking 'out of box and creatively' to retain what EU has achieved so far, to avoid further fissures and new braking points, to consolidate gains made so far and to progress from this difficult juncture in which Europe and UK find themselves.

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[1] - Normally, the chaos and utter failure of leadership within the ruling conservative party would open up a solid opportunity to the parliamentary opposition, in this case the British Labor party. But Jeremy Corbyn is determined to wipe out the Labor party with his refusal to relinquish his disastrous leadership so far. He is an ideologue, essentially a communist in disguise. None of his extreme policy preferences are likely to unite and move forward Britain given that British nation is deeply divided on multiple axis. If Labor party is unable to remove Corbyn, it is difficult to see how it can continue to exist. This is the existential crisis for the Labor party. The only saving grace may be most Tory MPs do not want to face voters soon. Not sure to what an extent Liberal Democrats will be able to fill in the vacuum now that Labor is on a ruinous path. 

[2] - Stephen Bush has good insights to offer in this regard. 

[3] - Some version of such a proposal is already floated.

[4] - Gibraltar and any other scattered UK territories can decide whether to be part of EU or not; though most are likely to choose Remain side.

[5] - Few of Nicola Sturgeon's conservative opposition members are arguing along this line too.

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