A short while ago the hard-line Brexiteers of the European Research Group were expected to finally reveal their detailed plan. The group of some 80 Tory MPs, led by the ubiquitous Jacob Rees-Mogg, was going to publish “a Brexit plan to rival Theresa May’s”.
Some in the Prime Minister’s camp feared that it would be “the final nail in the coffin” for her Chequers proposal. But in the event, the ERG’s plan B never materialised. The group’s fractious MPs were unable to agree on a united vision. Insiders revealed that the blueprint had been shelved over concerns about its “accuracy and eccentricity”: it included some off-the-wall ideas, such as a plan to build a Star Wars-style missile shield to protect Britain from nuclear attack, and an expeditionary force to defend the Falklands. “The truth is that we reconsidered,” said Rees-Mogg.
So instead, the ERG pushed ahead with a series of smaller announcements. First, they confidently asserted that a no-deal Brexit would leave Britain better off. According to a report by the pro-Brexit group Economists for Free Trade, far from unleashing doom, a no-deal would result “in a £1.1 trillion boost to the economy over 15 years” (how, exactly? Ed. They have no idea). Rees-Mogg endorsed the report heartily, which was surprising. “To have any idea where the economy will be in 15 years is erroneous,” he harrumphed when the Treasury forecast in January that a no deal would cut growth by 8% in 15 years. The ERG later released its own plans for solving the sticky Irish border question. The Irish government called the plan “dreamland stuff”.
Rees-Mogg and friends have had ample time to research their proposals. Yet with only a few months to spare, they have come up with a prospectus that is embarrassing. Their plans are studded with basic mistakes: they don’t seem to grasp, for instance, that the EU simply cannot give the UK access to the single market on the basis of a vague promise that our product standards will be equivalent.
It’s clear now that the ERG does “not deserve to be taken seriously”. Hopefully the whiplash from the recent car crash will jolt most of them to their senses “after a summer spent huffing and puffing and threatening to blow Chequers down”. The rebels have had their chance and they’ve fluffed it. Now they can only save face by abandoning their fantasies and accepting that a Chequers-style deal is inevitable. (from The Guardian, The Spectator, The Times & Daily Telegraph).
How do these closns get elected? They help blow up the United Kingdom in a xenophobic fit, but haven’t the intellect to study the problem and come up with grown-up ideas. It makes a farce of democracy. Where did all the grown-ups go? (Hint: not to the United States).