Expert Opinion

David Allen Green writes about the EU for the Financial Times. By his own admission, “[he] had hardly written about EU things” until just over a year ago. With that depth of experience behind him, Green today offers us his take on, “How Brexit should be done”.

The piece starts with Green telling us that he hopes to allay accusations that his criticisms of UK government policy are “unhelpful” by providing readers with a “constructive blogpost”, setting out how Brexit should and could be done, “if it is to be done at all”.

Okay, let’s pause the tape.

The referendum was won by the “leave” side, Parliament voted to grant the UK government the power to invoke Article 50, and that treaty provision has now been invoked. Are we not a little way past rejoinders inviting us to reflect upon whether EU withdrawal should happen at all?

It speaks to Green’s lack of self-awareness that he should whine about people accusing him of harbouring an anti-Brexit bias while still leaving open the idea that the UK could yet choose to remain in the EU.

Right, start the tape again.

Next, Green asserts that “Article 50 is not the only means by which a member state can leave the EU”. That sound you can hear is probably me hitting my head against a brick wall.

The last time I was forced to endure this nonsense was when Dominic Cummings, of Vote Leave fame, was telling us the very same, warning that Article 50 was a “trap”. A disproportionate amount of campaign time was spent rebutting people who were keen to exaggerate the horrors of this straightforward exit mechanism. Article 50 is about a negotiated exit. That is practically all there is to it.

Why this should be raised as a point of contention is beyond me. Moreover, given that Green trailed this piece as offering a “constructive” way forward, it is hardly practical to say, “I wouldn’t start from here”. Indeed, for a writer for the portentous Financial Times to be dragging us back to a time prior to the firing of the starting gun, when a thousand paranoids were saying that even the Article 50 process was a trap, is just sad.

However, I have to praise Green for pointing out that David Cameron “irresponsibly prevented the civil service from preparing for a Leave vote”. Since the referendum, people have questioned me as to whether that really happened, when the fact of the matter is Cameron’s behaviour is well documented. Not only did the government not make plans, David Cameron acted to prevent any such plans from being made. Still others have attempted to argue that the absence of planning was not significant. Often these are the same people who criticise the near-incoherent approach of the May government.

The rest of the article is (I’m writing this as I read it—can you tell?) not nearly so interesting. The final two-thirds of the piece essentially assert that the UK government should ditch the childish rhetoric and approach the negotiations in a manner that keeps its options open, while retaining clarity regarding the essential objective of delivering the referendum mandate—withdrawal from the European Union.

That is so obvious one wonders at why it should even need to be asserted. Yet, Green is praised for providing such bland commentary.

If a Financial Times journalist imagines that this doleful stuff describes how Brexit should be done, it is little wonder that the legacy debate is so enfeebled. There seems to be few who are willing to recognise just what a vast project EU withdrawal really is because that would mean coming face to face with the extent of the deception that was done, when politicians and journalists consented in telling us that EU membership was mainly about trade.

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2 thoughts on “Expert Opinion

  1. Well done.

    DAGreen is a good blogger, better he here than not. But I am with your view of him as a bit too much blasting wind. A lot is un-oringinal and bland, inbetween good stuff. And of course, crucially, he can write – no a skill shared much in social-media.

    I get impression he read Dr North’s excellent survey of EU (10 years work by North invested in that) and then uses the knowledge to argue his own case. This is just an impression, of course he may have just thought along same lines.

    Recently, he managed to get the hibernating Dom Cummings to answer a few quick fire questions on Twitter and then spread the answers far and wide asking each media outlet to credit him as the source. Then his fan club got their knickers in a twist that some outlets were not crediting and went on an aerial bombing misson of those outlets. The answers had in fact previously been published by Cummings back in 2016 and this seemed much like latently recognising their PR value, extracting it as an Q&A (now DAG’s copyright) and using it as a promotion for DAGreen’s social media.

    The fan club is embedded in the trenches ready to pounce on anyone who disagrees with this view.

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  2. Regardless of what D Green thinks, he should bear in mind what Brendan O’Neill wrote about the other day.
    He said that “if you’re using your clout or influence or money to ensure that Brexit doesn’t happen, then you aren’t engaging in democratic debate — you’re seeking to overturn a free and fair democratic decision. You’re saying you know better than the masses. You are thwarting the democratic process.
    We have to get real. If Brexit doesn’t happen, democracy will be gravely wounded for a generation. The people will receive loud and clear the message that they don’t really matter. Sure, we’ll still have General Elections and pick our MPs. But the Brexit betrayal would rankle for decades, a sore on the body politic, a niggling reminder that when democracy returned a result that the political class didn’t like, Britain flinched, and turned its back on democracy. Brexit must happen. It simply must. Because 17.4 million people want it, and democracy needs it. I think just about covers it.

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