As everyone must surely know, we left the EU last Friday night. Brexit happened. Or so I hoped. The media had talked of little else for over three years, so I’ve been looking forward to a change of record, now we’re finally out.
So I was not pleased to switch on my radio and hear the same tired old tune playing. Yes, I know we now have just 11 months to negotiate whatever deal the government and the EU would like to see when the year comes to an end, but it’s no longer the big will they, won’t they choice, just an ordinary trade treaty round.
However, the media seem reluctant to give up on a winning brand, so now they’re calling what happened last week “Brexit Phase I” and the process starting now “Brexit Phase II”. Really?
For now, we’re in a transition period for 11 months. It should have been 21 months but the MPs of the previous parliament squandered nearly half the time by trying to frustrate the whole thing, until the people finally threw them out and elected a parliament which more closely reflected the result, at least in terms of a decision if not proportional to the size of the votes. That will make the negotiations necessarily brief, less effective, and therefore less permanent than they might otherwise have been. Indeed, it’s likely only the deals the government considers most important will get done and other things will have to be added or amended over a period of years. Of course, that is not the way the process was meant to work. We had two years to talk about it, and then a transitional arrangement for another year and three quarters. Nearly four years should have been enough to get most of what was needed in place, had not the MPs decided to waste them.
I really hope the government will have the sense to do the detailed talks in private and refuse to rise to any opposition clamour to give a commentary on the process. The public have had enough of controversy. The cry of “Just get on with it” still echoes. Come back when you have something ready for comments. In the meantime, please talk about something else.
As for Brexit, let it be done, and let the nation come back together with more important things to talk about. We’ve really had enough of this divisive wrangling.