When “Go It Alone” Leaves You Alone

  • National Newswatch

In a disruptive age where nations around the world are re-examining their alliances – military, economic, political – with one another, the never-boring but always risky shenanigans playing out in Britain serve as a reminder of just what is at stake when leaders aim for the ideological instead of the practical.Brexit was a planned and cunning escape from global responsibilities by mostly Britain's elite.  Claiming it was time for the nation to “got it alone” and be a sovereign country once more, Brexit barely made it through the economic and legislative process and divided the nation more than at any other time in recent history.  Now, the season of misgiving is gaining traction, and an increasingly irrelevant and panicked Conservative government is on the ropes.They should have seen it coming when last month a Savanta survey revealed that two-thirds of citizens support getting back together with the European Union.  It's what you get for forcing through an earlier referendum when the people display no clear desire that would give victory to the “leave” or “remain” side.  Had the economic advantages played out as promised, it might have been different, but the country's lacklustre economy is giving millions second thoughts and opposition parties glowing opportunities.People could tell something was up this week when Secretary of State Michael Gove attended a secret Brexit summit with other notables bent on getting Britain's economic prospects back in order by exploring rejoining the EU.  Pro-Brexiters called it betrayal, while Prime Minister Sunak had no idea that one of his key cabinet players had attended.Gove had been one of the stalwarts behind Boris Johnson's “leave” campaign, so his attendance at a secret conclave about reversing at least some of the process was a shock to some.  There is a growing sense that the wheels were coming off the bus.  While people have been preoccupied and fascinated by the soap opera nature of politics, behind the scenes, a new movement has been taking force, driven by the desire for change and because a growing number of Conservatives have had a change of heart and mind.  Political careers are at stake, so the more obscure the negotiations, the easier it is to have the discussions.The events of last year made it clear what was happening.  The loss of membership in the EU, the world's most powerful and open trading block, also resulted in the loss of productive economic ties with various individual EU members.  Many in the public had the nagging feeling they had been duped by Brexit and a growing number of Conservatives grew uncomfortable in the knowledge that they had been the dupers.And so, meetings, likely many of them, have been quietly taking place in Britain and across the Channel about how the country can reacquire membership and do so without losing face.  The Conservatives have likely already lost the next general election, but their odds could improve if the best face could be placed upon re-engagement.That Britain has a unique and frequently dominant place in world history is understood, as was the desire to protect that reality by leaving an economic union that threatened to swallow up that legacy.  The difficulty was that the economic world had changed.  Globalization and free trade had recast the world of nations into vast trading blocks.  Britain had bought into that reality and benefitted from it but lost some of its identity in the process.  Understandably, they felt trapped in a global network that often diluted the uniqueness of their history and their people.The problem was that the movement to leave the EU was a largely fabricated, hasty, and impractical one.  To succeed, it had to hurry and speak more ideologically than practically.  Now, it appears to have backfired, and the process of rejoining will prove to be the opposite of leaving.  It will be protracted, detailed, rooted in reality, and negotiable.  But to succeed, it will have to be secretive, or the Conservatives will have nothing to do with it.  The devil might be in the details, but the British public will be largely left out until after the deals are made and the ink Is dry.What was once a heady and exciting design by the Conservative government and the elites has now become an albatross on political fortunes and, increasingly, economic ones.  They created serious damage in the process.  Years of Europe-bashing have left simmering resentment on the continent and could lead to a stronger negotiation position by the EU.  It has been a political and economic debacle for Britain that has led to a depressed economy and the likely catastrophic fall of a government.As the economic world seeks to reorder itself in lieu of changing realities, it will be vital for all participating countries to learn from the British cautionary tale and seek to cement their relationships with one another as the world moves more into the unknown.  Britain is paying the price for its arrogance and haste, but it might serve as the best lesson for all nations as they move forward.Glen Pearson was a career professional firefighter and is a former Member of Parliament from southwestern Ontario. He and his wife adopted three children from South Sudan and reside in London, Ontario. He has been the co-director of the London Food Bank for 35 years. He writes regularly for the London Free Press and also shares his views on a blog entitled “The Parallel Parliament“. Follow him on twitter @GlenPearson.