Loading...
I see the 10th Street connector is nearing completion. Another three years to paint the lines and we will be on our way,...

Brexit is reaching its grim moment of truth

Loading…

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

In the United States, a country where Cabinet members now resign with great regularity, the departures of David Davis, the British cabinet minister responsible for Britain leaving the European Union, and Boris Johnson, the shaggy-haired foreign secretary, may not seem like much of a story. Theresa May, the prime minister, for the first time in two years set out some concrete proposals for Britain's future relationship with its most important trading partners. Davis and Johnson didn't like them. One quit just before midnight Sunday; the other quit Monday afternoon. So what?

Although there will doubtless be some amusing anecdotes to be told about Johnson, who has stayed on at the Foreign Office despite gaffes that would have sunk anyone else, their departure isn't the interesting piece of the story. Far more gripping is the fact that at no point - not in their resignation letters and statements, and not in the interviews they've given to date - have they or any of their Brexiteer colleagues offered what might be described as a viable alternative plan. That is because there isn't one.

Or, to be more precise, there isn't one that satisfies them, the Europeans, British business and British workers. There isn't one that corresponds to the ludicrous promises they made. They cannot come up with something that, on the one hand, avoids any jurisdiction of European courts of any kind; avoids any payments into a European budget; avoids all membership in a European customs union and allows Britain to do trade deals with other countries; while, at the same time, keeps supply chains running smoothly; keeps the Irish border open; preserves tariff-free trade with Europe; and imposes no costs on anybody - and all of this by next October in order to leave the following March. It just cannot be done.

The only deal they can genuinely offer - the only one that fits their definition of what Brexit means - is the no-deal deal. That means Britain crashes out of all of its trading and customs arrangements with Europe and, without the bureaucracy to cope, has, for some period of time, a great deal of trouble importing and exporting anything to Europe at all. Because this would cause major economic disruption, none of the Brexiteers wants to put his or her name on it. And so they leak to the newspapers, complain about the prime minister - and, now, resign.

There is a separate set of questions to ask about the prime minister's current plan, an arrangement that would theoretically keep Britain inside some of the E.U. trade agreements (at least those for goods that have to cross borders) and outside them for others. This is precisely the kind of thing Britain should have come up with 18 months ago: it's the beginning of a negotiation. Some of it will work, and some of it won't fly. Alas, there is very little time between now and the time Britain is due to leave for European institutions to work out the details.

But what May actually proposed matters less than the fact that we may finally have reached the moment of truth: The Brexiteers don't have an alternative plan, or at least not one that they want to talk about in public. Nearly a year ago, I wrote that the Brexiteers' referendum lies were slowly being revealed. Their cowardice is being revealed as well. It will be interesting to see whether they pay a political price.

Anne Applebaum is a Washington Post columnist, covering national politics and foreign policy, with a special focus on Europe and Russia. She is also a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and a professor of practice at the London School of Economics. She is a former member of The Washington Post's editorial board.

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Op Ed

July 18, 2018

On Monday, I tweeted about the summit between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin — and it seems to have hit a nerve among Republicans.

I wrote: "GOP better be thinking about what to do about a [president] who has an odd affinity to Putin who is a murderous liar that…

EdRogers

July 18, 2018

Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, leading to President Donald Trump's nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, has thrown progressives, the Democratic Party and the news media into an out-and-out tizzy.

The online magazine Slate declared, "Anthony Kennedy Just Destroyed His Legacy as…

walter williams

July 17, 2018

Donald Trump's catastrophic visit to Britain began with a political scandal of his own creation. In an interview with the Sun, a British tabloid, he slammed the British prime minister, Theresa May, and supported her rival. He criticized her conduct of Brexit, the most contentious issue in British…

Anne Applebaum

July 17, 2018

Imagine you've just found out about a piece of state legislation that will affect your life. Maybe it's a new regulation for your business. Maybe it's a change in the tax code, or something that affects your personal liberties.

You're ready to head to the legislature to speak your mind, so you keep…

Colin Campbell

July 16, 2018

With President Trump announcing Judge Brett Kavanaugh as his nominee to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court, the public discussion has turned to whether a new justice will tip the ideological balance of the Supreme Court and help overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that…

Andy Haile

July 16, 2018

The Washington Post

The death toll in Nicaragua continues to rise. A bloody assault on protesters last week by police and pro-government paramilitary forces left 31 civilians, four police officers and three members of President Daniel Ortega's black-hooded paramilitary groups dead. It left the…

July 16, 2018

If I told you that North Carolina had one of America’s top-ranked systems of public education, there are at least three ways you could respond.

You could question what I mean by “top-ranked system.” You could challenge the factual accuracy of my claim. Or you could contest the…

john hood.jpg

July 15, 2018

Vidant Health, like hospital systems around the nation, serves a critical role as a health care safety net, providing high-quality care to all patients, including those who are under or uninsured. 

According to the 2015 Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates, 28 of the 29 counties in the…

Brian Floyd

July 15, 2018

As a child in eastern China, Panshu Zhao worshipped the United States. "He read the Bible his parents gave him, watched Hollywood movies and studied the ideals of democracy," reports the Associated Press. "He jumped at the chance to attend graduate school at Texas A&M University."

In 2016, Zhao…

Steve and Cokie Roberts

July 15, 2018

As President Trump put Germany and other allies on notice for the harm they are doing to NATO with their failure to spend adequately on our common defense, Democrats in Washington came to Germany's defense. "President Trump's brazen insults and denigration of one of America's most steadfast allies,…

MarcThiessen
290 stories in Op Ed. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 29
        Next Page»   Last Page»