I don’t know about you, but I sure am tired of hearing about Brexit. In Europe, the UK has started to feel like that flatmate who started a fight, promised to move out, but just never leaves. In the meantime, they keep using all your shampoo and stealing beer from the refrigerator while complaining about how it tastes.
If Thursday’s vote was any indication, it sure seems like UK voters are getting tired too. This was the third consecutive general election (and third in four years) where leaving the EU was the main issue — and that is not even counting the referendum itself. In an election that felt among the most important in recent memory, voter turnout actually dropped in comparison with 2017.
“Exhaustion has become an independent force in modern politics,” The New York Times columnist David Brooks recently wrote. “Many people are voting for whatever candidate will exhaust them less.”
While Johnson may have promised to get Brexit done, sadly Brexit is nowhere near over.„
Somehow Boris Johnson, who campaigned by promising to finally end the endless Brexit process, sold himself as the least tiresome. “Get Brexit done,” was his motto, and he avoided talking about anything else. His opposition, the Labour Party, has never had a coherent position on Brexit. Party leader Jeremy Corbyn seems to be in favour of leaving, but can’t say so because most of his party seems against it. So Corbyn promised to renegotiate the already renegotiated exit agreement and then another referendum on the results of that renegotiation. No matter what your actual position on the Brexit issue, that is a plan that makes anybody want to scream.
“We expect as soon as possible a vote by the British parliament on the withdrawal agreement,” European Council President Charles Michel, said in reaction to Thursday’s vote.
While Johnson may have promised to get Brexit done, sadly Brexit is nowhere near over. To invert a saying by Johnson’s idol Winston Churchill, not only is this not the end, nor the beginning of the end, it’s not even the end of the beginning.
In January, there will be a parliamentary vote on exiting, then negotiations on a trade deal with the EU will begin. That is supposed to last until June (Care to venture a guess as to whether that will finish on time or without a series of nauseating emergency summits?). Even if that goes well, both sides will have to ratify the trade deal before the end of the year.
In the meantime, Scotland, where turnout was up and nationalists won 48 of the 59 Scottish parliamentary seats, will almost certainly push for another independence referendum. In Northern Ireland, the half-baked border arrangements negotiated by Johnson, could push them toward uniting with the rest of Ireland.
Amid all this noise confusion, I could sure use a beer — that is if the Brits haven’t drunk them all already.
13. Dec 2019 at 14:55 | Benjamin Cunningham