Sorry FT, but I’m no traitor

The New European - - News - An­drew Ado­nis

It turns out that I am per­son­ally re­spon­si­ble for the Brexit chaos. In the opin­ion of no less an or­gan than the Fi­nan­cial Times, it is my ac­tiv­i­ties, and those of fel­low cam­paign­ers for a

Peo­ple’s Vote, which are plung­ing the coun­try into chaos.

I am not jok­ing. After writ­ing a col­umn last week con­demn­ing the Peo­ple’s Vote as desta­bil­is­ing, and call­ing on the govern­ment sim­ply to get on and agree the best deal go­ing (what­ever that is), Robert Shrim­s­ley, pic­tured be­low, the ed­i­to­rial di­rec­tor of the FT, turned his at­ten­tion to me. “He is fight­ing to en­sure as chaotic and hope­less a Brexit as pos­si­ble to bol­ster the chance of a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum. That’s play­ing chicken with peo­ple’s lives ev­ery bit as much as the hard Brex­iters,” he wrote.

Shrim­s­ley, a cam­paign­ing jour­nal­ist by FT stan­dards, re­turned to the charge a day later to ac­cuse me of un­der­min­ing the govern­ment’s po­si­tion be­cause I have called for the ‘back­stop’ to avoid a new bor­der in Ire­land to be as ro­bust as nec­es­sary. “Peer of the realm en­cour­ages other EU gov­ern­ments to make it harder for UK to get a Brexit deal,” he tweeted.

I re­fute th­ese charges, par­tic­u­larly the claim of vir­tual trea­son in the last one. The sug­ges­tion that, as the price of a Brexit deal, the UK should create a harder bor­der in Ire­land, is not just un­true but dan­ger­ous. Just ask the chief con­sta­ble of the Po­lice Ser­vice of North­ern Ire­land, who has said pre­cisely that.

The point is that all Theresa May’s cur­rent Brexit op­tions, from Che­quers to Canada+++, ne­ces­si­tate a harder bor­der in Ire­land be­cause they re­quire new and oner­ous bor­der and im­mi­gra­tion con­trols at the new ex­ter­nal bor­der of the EU – ie the North­ern Ir­ish bor­der.

In­deed, the UK’S post-brexit im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy re­cently an­nounced by May, ban­ning lower wage im­mi­grants from the EU, means the ex­ist­ing Ir­ish back­stop is it­self not strong enough. It re­quires North­ern Ire­land to stay in the cus­toms union and parts of the sin­gle mar­ket. But un­less it also in­cludes a con­tin­u­ing le­gal guar­an­tee of free­dom of move­ment through­out Ire­land for all EU cit­i­zens, the Ir­ish bor­der will rapidly be­come a source of mas­sive il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion into the UK. This will ne­ces­si­tate new bor­der con­trols be­tween Ire­land and North­ern Ire­land, a fur­ther cri­sis is­sue com­ing to be ap­pre­ci­ated in Dublin and Brus­sels.

Shrim­s­ley’s claims are con­temp­tu­ous. But more sig­nif­i­cant is what un­der­lies them – a mix­ture of self­ish­ness and de­featism which char­ac­terises the

Bri­tish Es­tab­lish­ment at its very worst, when treat­ing with other peo­ple’s jobs and lives. Iron­i­cally, it is Lon­don’s lib­eral met­ro­pol­i­tan elite who will sur­vive

Brexit best, since they have the most se­cure jobs and great­est pros­per­ity to start with.

The fear of a large part of the Es­tab­lish­ment – led by the FT and the CBI, which has been pa­thet­i­cally weak on Brexit – is of con­tin­u­ing po­lit­i­cal ar­gu­ment over Brexit, and the pos­si­bil­ity of se­ri­ous un­cer­tainty caused by a new ref­er­en­dum. They would rather cut and run and do the best they can to save their own skins.

This de­featism is height­ened by the fact that most jour­nal­ists and staff at the FT and the CBI, and their like, barely know or un­der­stand most of the coun­try in which they live, par­tic­u­larly the far­ther reaches from Lon­don. And they are deeply afraid of them. Ask any of them when they last vis­ited North­ern Ire­land, and whether they have trav­elled the Ir­ish bor­der – some­thing I hadn’t done ei­ther un­til Brexit, and which trans­formed my un­der­stand­ing of the im­per­a­tive to re­sist Brexit in the in­ter­ests of Ire­land alone. And that’s be­fore we get any­where near the equally crit­i­cal is­sues of trade and Euro­pean se­cu­rity.

The key point isn’t that I ei­ther want, or have the power to bring about, a “chaotic and hope­less” Brexit’ – rather that any of the Brexit deals on of­fer would be ‘chaotic and hope­less.’

Faced with this cri­sis, what is the right thing to do? To find a way out, and to put that be­fore par­lia­ment and the peo­ple. Which is pre­cisely what I and so many oth­ers are do­ing. None of us are traitors, so far as I am aware.

So ig­nore the FT and its de­featism, which smacks of ap­pease­ment in the 1930s. Stand up for the right. Help to save the coun­try from Brexit. And turn out this Satur­day and march for a Peo­ple’s Vote!

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