The Benefits of Brexit

Over the past months I have noticed a recurrent question on social media, with people being asked to name a single benefit of Brexit.

After careful consideration I have managed to think of a few. In future there will be access to duty free in Dublin Airport for the flights to London. And, when the UK government inevitably betrays the DUP and sets the border between UK and Ireland down the middle of the Irish Sea, as the desperate price they must pay to get a trade deal with the European Union, that will be a significant step towards the reunification of Ireland. However, given that the path towards reconciliation amongst the Irish people was already set by the Good Friday Agreement this particular benefit could probably have been happily forgone.

But aside from these examples the search for Brexit benefits has been a forlorn quest. Brexiters have long been flummoxed when challenged to name which particular European laws they objected to. And even the dimmest seem to have finally realised that the stories of bendy bananas were preposterous myths and the promises of £350 million a week for the UK’s National Health Service were cynical lies.

Of course there are enormous benefits to Brexit for some, though not for the vast majority of those deceived into voting for it, or even the racists and xenophobes for whom economic concerns are secondary to ones of hatred.

No, those who will benefit are an entirely different stripe of ideologue. They are a political and social elite who campaigned against the EU to concentrate power more firmly into their hands, irrespective of the social and economic cost to the majority.

For all their talk of the sovereignty of parliament, the first fruits of their labours will be obtained if the repeal bills currently before parliament are enacted unamended into law, granting ministers the sweeping Henry VIII powers those bills request. Such powers will enable ministers, for years to come, to make laws without recourse to parliament.

And these powers are then likely to be used to enable the political elite to reward some of their most cynical backers: those who have chaffed against the EU regulations that have protected workers’ rights, environmental standards and food safety. They will get the regulatory bonfire they have long craved and that leading Brexiters have been promising.

As the proportions and specific horrors of the catastrophe that will be Brexit become clearer by the day, it seems beyond rationality that the UK government and much of the opposition still seems intent on embracing the disaster.

But for some at the most senior levels of government this seems a price worth paying for supreme power in the devastated aftermath.

That the opposition Labour Party, is, even with its most recent pronouncements, so pusillanimously facilitating this careening towards disaster, is even more bizarre. Such is the damage that can be brought by daydreams that some mystical “People’s Brexit” might bring “socialism in one country”. But then the careers of those, left and right, who are facilitating this mess, will naturally have come to an end as the reality bites. They will be in comfortable retirement as the next generation scrambles to pick up the pieces.