From David Maughan Brown in York: Whack-a-mole

April 20th

The amount of time for contemplation during the lockdown inevitably leads to  thoughts about the aftermath.  Prior to the arrival of the coronavirus, the much derided economic experts had been warning that a hard Brexit would reduce the UK’s economic output by 9-10%.  It is now estimated that the lockdown we are currently enduring will result in a vastly greater hit to our economy, of the order of around 30%.  Any sane government would, in these circumstances, recognize the imperative need to extend the transition period for negotiations around future trade with the EU beyond December 31st, and make sure that, with Brexit a fait accompli, the negotiations eventuate in a trade agreement that will minimize any further disruption to our desperately damaged trade in goods and services with our major trading partner.  

Not a bit of it.  Our government, like a gang of deranged public schoolboys playing a terminal game of whack-a-mole, is apparently intent on eagerly waiting for the economy to try to lift itself out of the Covid-19 recession and peer out of the darkness into the sunshine of positive growth so that they can promptly whack it down again.  Thus far there has been an adamant refusal to contemplate the possibility of any extension, either of the December deadline, which has been ‘written into law’, or the wholly artificial June deadline (set by Boris when he was supposed to have been well) by when sufficient progress needs to have been made if the talks are to continue. Three rounds of talks are, we gather, scheduled to continue via videoconferencing.   Before the Covid-19 onslaught, the UK (read ‘English nationalist’) delegation to the talks had apparently been due to consist of around 100 delegates.  Well, good luck with that.

The argument that the transition deadline can’t be extended because it has been ‘written into law’ is further evidence, if any were needed, that the government considers us, the great unwashed British public, as a bunch of easily led half-wits. If we are all half-wits the same must presumably go for them as our democratically elected representative half-wits. This being the case, it may be necessary to spell it out for them as simply and logically as possible:  before it was written into law, it wasn’t ‘written into law’.  If it could be written into law, it can just as easily be written out of law.  Once it has been written out of law it will no longer be the law, so the deadline can be extended.  But they wouldn’t want to extend it – that would be much too adult.   They would far rather play whack-a-mole. 

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