The UK is predicted to have the lowest economic growth of any of the G20 states with the sole exception of Russia, whose economy is being battered by the severe international sanctions imposed following Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The British Government is keen to put the blame on the lingering effects of the pandemic, on rising energy prices, on the war in Ukraine, on the refugee crisis, but all those other countries whose economies are performing far better than the UK’s are having to confront all those challenges too. The reason that the economic prospects for the UK are so dire is very simple, it’s Brexit, even if the Tories, the BBC and the right wing British nationalist media is so keen to yell, “Look over there!” We all know it’s Brexit, the greatest act of self-harm commited by any government since
It is quite astonishing, really. Everybody, except the Brextremists of the Conservative party and their allies, knows that Brexit is a disaster. Indeed even the Conservatives know that Brexit has been an unmitigated failure, but they cannot admit it as they have tied their political standard very firmly to the mast of the sunken Brexit ship. Without Brexit their political cupboard would be as bare as those of all the households who now depend on foodbanks in order to put food on the table. The flagship policies and politics that Brexit was supposed to deliver – from agriculture through fishing to immigration and manufacturing – have all failed miserably to arrive, just as most people knew was going to happen. Even arch Brextremists like the Tory peer Daniel Hannan have been forced to admit that Johnson and May’s ideologically driven decision to take the UK out of the single market and the Customs Union was a mistake.
Instead we get a British government which is so desperate to brand something, anything, as a Brexit benefit that we get truly risible announcements that it is a Brexit benefit that the UK can return to Imperial measurements, something absolutely no one was looking for.
Nothing whatsoever that was supposed to improve due to Brexit has come to pass. Yet, the Brexit loyalists continue to pretend that what they’ve done has some benefit for people other than hedge funders. Even the favourite pet hate the CAP turns out to have been infinitely preferable to the shambles that is post-Brexit policy on agriculture and environment. Rural fury at what’s on offer has united all and sundry involved in farming and environmental management in shock and withering disdain: the Brexit benefit turning out, as predicted, to be a massive Brexit detriment; another bullet-hole in the foot of U.K. economy and society.
It has been less a case of getting Brexit over and done and more a case of getting done over by Brexit. This is starkly clear in Scotland where a large majority voted against Brexit and which has consistently voted for anti-Brexit parties ever since the EU referendum and where the suggestions of the Scottish Government on ways to mitigate the ill effects of Brexit on Scotland’s economy have been contemptuously dismissed by the Conservatives at Westminster and where Holyrood has scarcely been kept informed of the British Government’s plans never mind consulted on them and allowed any meaningful input into shaping them.
Who can put their hand on their heart and say honestly that they actually voted for what they’ve got? Who voted for U.K. policy to become a total cock-up with no improvements to anything anywhere and a sackful of problems everywhere from Dover to Derry?
The problem is that probably around 30% of the English electorate is fully wedded to the Anglo-British nationalism of the Brexit cult. They cannot be reasoned with, they cannot be appeased, and if you give any ground they will demand much more, egged on by the right wing press and the burgeoning growth in right wing British nationalist TV channels that . That 30% with some support from the floating vote is enough under FPTP to keep the Tories in perpetual power. Johnson and the swivel eyed right wing Anglo-British nationalist Brextremists know this too. They know that they can maintain their absolute majority power by appealing to that minority segment of the English vote. What Scotland wants doesn’t matter and doesn’t count,
And when something doesn’t work, the Tories conveniently blame it on the EU, on foreigners, on the war in Ukraine, on anything, except their own lies and mendacity. Queues at border control? Checks on goods crossing to Ireland? It’s the EU punishing the UK for leaving. Seriously, you cannot have a serious conversation with people who still believe this kind of stuff, let alone those who lived in the EU and still voted for Brexit, believing that nothing would change because they have a British passport and are not immigrants in someone else’s country, they’re expats. The level of entitlement and British nationalist exceptionalism is insane.
The most astonishing thing is that despite everything, Johnson still leads Starmer in the polls as the preferred Prime Minister. This is the harsh reality. In this digital day and age, everything is a cult of personality. Johnson is a showman and Starmer isn’t. it’s as simple as that. Meanwhile Labour panders to Brexit as well, too afraid to tell the truth, that it has been a disaster and needs to be reversed because Starmer knows that he needs to recover those Brexit voting seats in the north and Midlands of England if he is to have any chance of getting into Downing Street.
It is more vital than ever that Scotland escapes this British nationalist shit show, Labour sure as hell promises us no way out, only at the very best a few years of a Labour Government which only gets elected by aping the British nationalist exceptionalism of the Tories and then after a term in power the electoral pendulum swings to the right again and we get another Conservative government. Labour is already dressing itself in Tory drag in its doomed bid for power. Lucy Powell, Starmer’s Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, claimed that Labour “is now the true party of patriotism and British values”, whatever “British values” are exactly. Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make Brexiters. Scotland cannot be saved by a Labour party that is destroying the Labour and socialist values of the founders of the party in order to appeal to Tory Brexiters.
So it is welcome news that this week the Scottish Government will be publishing the first in a series of documents to lay the way for an independence referendum. We are only going to get one shot at this. We have to get it right. If Scotland has another referendum and is foolish enough to vote against independence, you can be certain that the British state will ensure that Scotland never challenges its authority again and that the powers of the Scottish parliament will be eviscerated.
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