I am in Copenhagen this morning, and was all yesterday. I am attending a meeting of the EU funded Horizon 2020 project that I have been working as part of for the last two years. It has been interesting to gauge the mood on Brexit, because it seems to me to have changed quite fundamentally over the last few months.
Until recently the mood was always bemusement as to why the UK wanted to leave the EU. Now that has moved. The mood is one of boredom with the issue. And there is even intolerance as a result of the UK’s utter inability to decide what it wants. The desire is to move on from the irritation and distraction that the UK is continually causing. And to also move on from the barrage of anti-EU sentiment that is directed at those from the other member states by those
In the Leave movement who seem to have no idea about our inter-dependencies.
The feeling is that if we are daft enough to have voted to leave, and have not had the wit to change that by now, then we deserve the consequences, and must live with them. And that they will now do too. They have suffered enough abuse. Us leaving is a price worth paying for recovery of their ability to work together in harmony again.
So where there was once tolerance and sympathy there is now only frustration.
Where there was once a desire to see us realise our error there is now little desire to find common ground: that commonality has been destroyed and the memory of so much disruption from the UK has come to the fore.
And when I suggested there might be revocation of Article 50 there was almost a horror expressed that this might simply perpetuate their suffering of UK membership when that could only mean they could not address the more fundamental questions to which we are now only a perpetual obstacle.
I was amongst friends last night. But their friendship for the UK has run out. We are simply a pain now. And they ere entirely sympathetic with their leaders only offering a short deadline extension to a UK prime minister who they revile because of her complete incompetence.
I was asked what I felt would happen now. It was agreed by all that the options were no deal, revocation, May’s Deal (about which there was bafflement as to the reasons for rejection) and, maybe, a long delay because the ‘red lines’ had been torn up.
I suggested that there was little chance of agreement on alternative red lines now. I felt a long delay was off the table. Most Tories, at least, are not listening or looking for that.
I think May’s deal has no chance. Politically it satisfies no one now.
Revocation does have a chance. It now has the best alternative chance, in my opinion. But much as I would like to believe it I cannot see it happening.
And that leaves no deal. I said a few weeks ago that I thought this had the highest chance. I would now rank that as high as 90%.
And if it happens it is the end for the UK. This will no longer be a United Kingdom.
There will instead be the demise of a once great nation that will sink to having the status of a minor state on the geographic periphery of Europe, isolated from all its neighbours, left struggling to survive and meet the demands of those who live within it whose expectations will be so sorely mismatched with the reality that they have created.
Whether it will be able to contain the resulting stresses is anyone’s guess. It’s not hard to imagine turmoil.
And this is what we are letting May walk us towards because no one will apparently stop her.
And our Opposition appears to be as without a plan as to what to do as May is, a point noted by all I discussed this with, all of whom are astute political observers.
To describe my mood as sombre is to be kind to it.
I never thought I would live through a crisis like this, where the chance of dismemberment and failure of the country in which I have lived throughout my life has become so high that I can almost now sense the ball is rolling and has become unstoppable. And yet that is the way it is.
I will always live in hope.
But my hope has been reduced now to a desire that this national self destruction might at last be peaceful. That is because it cannot be successful against any known criteria. But let’s at least hope that we can tear ourselves apart politically, economically and socially without a greater harm being unleashed. That is a massive hope that it may be unreasonable to have. But that is as good as my hope now gets to be.