That Theresa May is not adequately committed to Brexit is the latest one. That the EU side is too tough or too inflexible is another. That the UK civil service is full of Remain people has oddly dropped out of favour recently. That the BBC and the media are not adequately patriotic is further favourite.
You get the idea.
In the minds of most of those who advocated it, Brexit is not wrong or going badly because it is an essentially bad idea. It’s going badly because someone else is to blame.
The problem is that Brexit cannot actually go well, and most definitely not in the short term. Brexit inevitably means that some people lose. And some people will lose a lot.
If you work for an airline, in farming, in haulage and logistics, the City, you are going to have to face some pretty major consequences, to name just a few. The OECD sees the world economy picking up, but with the exception of the UK. The value of the pound is down, impacting anyone going abroad and driving up the price of imports, but without the hoped gain in exports. Just the prospect of Brexit is starting to cause economic hurt.
That’s what made Pete North’s recent blog post refreshing – here was a Brexiteer acknowledging this pain in the short term, and saying this was a price worth paying for the medium term gain. I would personally answer this differently, but Pete’s honesty was welcome.
Until the UK government owns up to the winners and losers problem of Brexit – a redistribution problem essentially – the Brexit negotiations are not going to go anywhere. Indeed faced with complex winner and loser problems like these, any government would seek to fudge it. The problem is the Article 50 clock is ticking.
How do you want to solve the food santitation standards problem? Accept EU food safety rules in their entirety, gain no sovereignty, but avoid messing up your farming supply chains? Or do the opposite – ditch the EU standards, accept hormone grown beef from the USA, but accept phytosanitary checks will be needed on your own meat being exported to the EU?
How do you want to solve the Customs Union problem? Mess up cross border supply chains, especially at the border in Ireland, and block up the Port of Dover with trucks? Or invest massively in customs facilities? Who pays? And yes, the UK signing trade deals with other parts of the world might help the UK economy eventually, but the haulier at the border or the person with a traffic jam outside their door is not going to be the same one who benefits from those deals.
So the next time a Brexiteer whines about someone else being to blame for Brexit, ask them these questions. Ask them how to solve these issues. And above all ask them who is going to pay to solve them. And see what they say.