Brexit 3

“There is a simple reason why Boris Johnson and European leaders failed to find common ground over Brexit at last week’s G7 summit. They are not even talking about the same thing.

For the British prime minister, Brexit is a matter of national character that cannot be described in legal documents. For continental politicians, legal texts contain the true meaning of a project that only exists in the real world as a set of rules to be implemented. To Johnson, the withdrawal agreement was a single-use tool for levering himself out of a tight spot. For Brussels, it is the chamber into which Britain levered itself.

That difference will continue to cause friction because it is not a misunderstanding. Johnson knows that legal arguments over the Northern Ireland protocol favour the European position. He chooses not to care. To concede on the principle that any part of the UK is subject to European regulatory standards – the compromise he signed to avoid a land border on the island of Ireland – would be to admit that a portion of sovereignty was conceded in the negotiations.

That would be a stain on his self-image as the man who made a clean break from Brussels. He finds confrontation more appealing, not least because he expects it to achieve more than compliance. Whether that is true depends on how you define achievement.

Johnson’s calculation doesn’t prioritise peace in Northern Ireland. … If Northern Ireland is on fire, any insistence from Brussels on maximum implementation of rules on sausage imports will look callous and disproportionate. …

That technique will not do much for Britain’s reputation abroad, but Johnson’s mind rarely strays far from his domestic audience, to whom he will explain that everything is the EU’s fault. His party and most of the media will endorse that interpretation, as it always has done. …

When Johnson’s critics say he must be held accountable for Brexit, they use that word to mean the process and cost of severing ties with Britain’s neighbours and losing frictionless access to their markets. That is the remainer definition, even when used by people who accept there is no remain cause left to fight. When Tories say “Brexit” they mean it in the wider sense of a cultural revolution, sustained by belief and national pride. …  The project’s goals are too abstract to be attainable in any economically useful sense – there are no new jobs in the sovereignty-manufacturing sector – so momentum is maintained by always reimagining and refighting the old enemy. …

This is the long tail of Brexitism – a political mode that has its genesis in the referendum but has evolved into something much wider. Its defining feature is the flight from complex reality to symbols and fantasy. …

Theresa May was broken by the attempt to divert the frothing stream of leaver demands down narrow channels of responsible statecraft. Her successor declared such restraint unnecessary, and then appeared to prove the point by getting a Brexit deal done. The trick was to sign the treaty without intending to honour it.

All who serve in the current cabinet have signed up to the Johnsonian code of conduct that makes evidence and truth subordinate to the performance of boosterism. … Real-world government is a sequence of arguments over what is available on current budgets and, if more cash is needed, who will pay. …

Brexit is not really a destination but a state of mind. It is not something that government can do, but a way of deferring all the things government should be doing but would rather not contemplate. …”

aus:  Rafael Behr: British politics is still drunk on Brexit spirit, and Boris Johnson won’t call time. The Guardian Online, 16.06.2021, im Internet


17/06/2021 (2:10) Schlagworte: EN,Lesebuch ::

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