Brexit is not trending: it’s pending.
It’s strange to me that so many campaigners – mostly strongly opposed to ‘Brexit’ and concerned at it’s potential implications, are treating the B-word as if it’s a reality: something going to happen, or which has already happened. Making contingency plans and doing research is one thing but publishing websites and blogs and organizing events which treat ‘Brexit’ as a done deal, risks helping make it so by accepting it as reality.
Some people among the 52% who ‘opted’ for Brexit in the UK EU Referendum do think that by doing so they had ‘done it’: that Britain is now ‘out’ and they can act accordingly. Yet as most cause campaigners know, this is not the reality. The UK Prime Minister declared “Brexit means Brexit” but neither she nor anyone else actually knows what that means. It was not a legally binding decision, only indicative of public sentiment, and it was voted for on false promises and lies such as the non-existent £350m a week for the NHS. A classic case of mis-representation and selling with false claims.
Nor does anyone know how long it will take, nor really if it is even possible, without for example, gaining the consent of Parliament or even, getting the European Court to decide on what the terms of Article 50 actually mean in law (as it is a European law not a British one).
Teresa May says she will take the Brexit turn but right now Brexit is an idea which is pending. Britain is still in the EU, no terms have been agreed, and nobody knows if she can even get a deal which satisfies her own supporters, the City and the country. In October, the Government faces legal challenges in the High Courts on its claim to be able to act on the Royal Perogative and invoke Article 50 without involving Parliament. Yet it will also need to repeal at least one Act of Parliament in order to make an exit from the EU and the Divine Right of Kings lapsed around 1689.
Politically, if May does trigger Article 50 and then manages to ‘square the circle’ on market access and tricky issues such as financial passporting, and movement of EU nationals, and ends up accepting that a lot of British legal rules and policies (which greatly concern many campaigners) will in fact remain closely aligned to those of Europe for reasons of practical self interest as well as matters of law on international treaties and so on, Britain may find itself looking at a post Article 50 package which is very similar to what it already has only more expensive and without a lot of the benefits.
At that point Britain might feel that it should stay in an ‘improved’ EU but that will be more difficult if Brexit is treated as inevitable rather than an option pending confirmation on seeing what it really means. After all, many of those who voted ‘Brexit’ freely admit that Europe was not really what they were concerned about. Politicians need to act on those other real concerns.
So it is odd to say the least if campaigners who voted against something, which may not happen, and which nobody knows how to make happen, and which has unknown contents, are now talking up Brexit as if it is a fact rather than a political notion. Could it be that they have been stunned by the referendum result and are still experiencing political concussion ?
To avoid just endlessly repeating the word ‘Brexit’, we need a different terms to describe the phoney-war no-mans-land that Britain finds itself in during the post-referendum limbo. Possibly the age of BP: Brexit Pending ?