Under the influence of British Remainers, the EU has seriously misjudged the Brexit phenomenon

Under the influence of British Remainers, the EU has seriously misjudged the Brexit phenomenon

Theresa May’s resignation as Prime Minister, whatever else it may signify and whatever the identity of her successor, undeniably brings closer the prospect a no-deal Brexit. Her most likely successor, Boris Johnson, has already indicated his readiness to implement Brexit, with or without a deal.

That simple fact alone strongly suggests that the EU has made, and has continued to make, a serious misjudgment of the phenomenon that is Brexit. Given that a no-deal Brexit is the outcome least wanted by the EU, we must assume that they continue to believe that another (and, to them, more acceptable) outcome is possible, and might be achieved in the aftermath of May’s failure.

The outcome to the Brexit saga that would be more acceptable to the EU is, of course, that Brexit itself is forestalled and avoided. But the prospect that Brexit can, or will, be abandoned exists only in the realms of fantasy – and it arises there only because the EU has allowed itself to be systematically misled by the siren voices of those within the UK who continue to harbour (and work for) the delusion that the Brexit decision was a mistake from which the British people will in due course recover and resile.

The subterranean (and largely unspoken) conversation that has taken place between British Remainers and the EU has been conducted by a series of nods and winks. The deal they have agreed and worked upon through that process of sign language is that the EU will make the process of exit as difficult as possible, in the hope that the difficulties of leaving will discredit the concept of Brexit itself, or at the least delay its implementation, thereby providing time and opportunity for Remainers at home to press for measures, such as a second referendum, that might offer the hope of reversing the decision taken in the referendum three years ago.

It is a tragedy that the EU has allowed itself to miscalculate in this way. Instead of accepting the definitive nature of the British people’s judgment on 40 years of EEC/EU membership, and focusing on the best way, in the post-referendum situation, of constructing the best possible future relationship with the UK, they have instead concentrated on demonstrating to British opinion just how intractable are the shackles that membership continues to impose.

Any expectation, either within the EU or in Remainer opinion, that a second referendum would produce a different result fails to take account of the impatience with EU intransigence that is now felt, after the tribulations of recent months, by a large section of British opinion.

The European elections, while of little importance in themselves, should at least serve as an unmistakable guide to the true state of that opinion. The size of the vote for the Brexit Party and the loss of support suffered by the two major parties should tell us (and the EU) all they and we need to know.

The Conservatives have been punished for failing to deliver Brexit, and Labour have similarly suffered for their ambivalence in supporting the Leave decision. The proponents of a second referendum should not only recognise how damaging to democracy a second referendum would be, but also how unlikely it is that the outcome would be anything other than a reinforcement of the original decision.

The irony of the situation from the EU viewpoint is that their uncooperative stance is likely to produce the very result they least want. They have no one to blame but themselves – and British Remainers.