May’s Brexit Deal Is a Betrayal of Britain

May’s Brexit Deal Is a Betrayal of Britain, by Mervyn King, who was governor of the Bank of England for a decade, beginning in 2003.

The withdrawal agreement is less a carefully crafted diplomatic compromise and more the result of incompetence of a high order. I have friends who are passionate Remainers and others who are passionate Leavers. None of them believe this deal makes any sense. It is time to think again, and the first step is to reject a deal that is the worst of all worlds. …

It simply beggars belief that a government could be hell-bent on a deal that hands over £39 billion, while giving the EU both the right to impose laws on the U.K. indefinitely and a veto on ending this state of fiefdom. …

There have been three episodes in modern history when the British political class let down the rest of the country: in the 1930s, with appeasement; in the 1970s, when the British economy was the “sick man” of Europe and the government saw its role as managing decline; and now, in the turmoil that has followed the Brexit referendum. In all three cases, the conventional wisdom of the day was wrong. …

Britain is not facing an economic crisis. It is confronting a deep political crisis. Parliament has brought this on the country. It voted overwhelmingly to hold a referendum. The public were told they would decide. And the rules of the game were clear: Fifty percent of the vote plus one would settle the matter. The prime minister and the chancellor of the exchequer at the time said unequivocally that Brexit meant leaving Europe’s single market and customs union. This was the Brexit that, after the referendum, both main political parties promised to deliver. …

British withdrawal from the EU was inevitable:

The U.K. is a European country, and always will be. Trade and contacts among the nations of Europe can and should continue much as before. And I have no doubt they will do so. But the political nature of the EU has changed since monetary union. The EU failed to recognize that the euro would demand fiscal and political integration if it was to succeed, and that countries outside the euro area would require a different kind of EU membership. It was inevitable, therefore, that, sooner or later, Britain would decide to withdraw from a political project in which it had little interest apart from the shared desire for free trade. …

Now what?

The Remain camp will continue to argue, correctly, that to align the country indefinitely with laws over which it has no influence is madness, and a second referendum is vital to escape from this continuing nightmare. And the Leave camp will argue, also correctly, that it is intolerable for the fifth largest economy in the world to continue indefinitely as a fiefdom.

Reader Bob:

I think this is the first time I’ve read a piece from an establishment figure which, too indirectly for my taste, accuses the EU of effectively declaring economic war on the UK. It’s also the first time that King has explained that his own support for exiting is based on the needs of countries in the eurozone being separate and different from the UK’s own interests.

hat-tip Bob