Brexiteers’ expectations are ‘outside reality’, warns former Italian PM
By leaving the EU after 40 years’ of membership, Britain is destroying part of itself
John Bruton, speculated on an 8 per cent fall in GDP in the UK after Brexit, together with serious inflation and unemployment that would lead to “deep bitterness, alienation and anger that will go on and on in future generations”.
The assumptions and expectations informing those in the United Kingdom pushing for Brexit were “completely outside reality”, the former prime minister of Italy, Giuliano Amato, has said in Dublin.
Mr Amato, a former vice president of the European Convention and one of the architects of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, through which the UK is leaving the European Union in March 2019, said that by leaving the EU after 40 years’ of membership, Britain was destroying part of itself.
“It cannot be done so easily,” he said of Brexit. “You won’t be the same, you will be something less.”
He was addressing a seminar in Dublin City University’s Brexit Institute, Backstop and the Island of Ireland.
Mr Amato said that British industry understood the consequences of what was happening and the “enormous advantages” of being able to produce goods and move them freely across the EU.
“The nightmare of no deal is a nightmare for British companies,” he said of firms that had supply chains that straddled borders. “Does Britishness mean that all the component parts [a company uses] must be produced in the UK?”
He said there was “no solution” to the problem of the Irish Border. “Either there is a border with controls or there is not,” he said.
Under the backstop, “Northern Ireland remains part of integrated Europe, being part of the United Kingdom which is not part of integrated Europe.”
He likened this scenario to a man being “a husband to your wife and a lover to somebody [else, explaining it away by saying] – it’s temporary!”
The former taoiseach and EU ambassador to the United States, John Bruton, lamented populism, which he described as a “political tactic that attacked symptoms” while not offering a programme to remedy ills that helped create Brexit.
He worried that the legacy would linger for generations.
He speculated on an 8 percent fall in GDP in the UK after Brexit, together with serious inflation and unemployment that would lead to “deep bitterness, alienation and anger that will go on and on in future generations”.
Parliamentary procedures in the UK were not capable of teasing out a solution and this was “a central weakness of parliamentary democracy”.
He predicted a realignment within UK politics after Brexit.
To achieve a solution, he said “it will be necessary for some [UK politicians] to be very brave and take decisions that their constituency associations don’t like”.
The 52/48 result of the referendum that led to Brexit had “taught us a lot” about the dangers of making major constitutional decisions on complex matters in that way.
From Northern Ireland, Sorcha Eastwood of the Alliance Party, said the community there was “united” in opposing Brexit, despite everything the DUP was doing.
“Brexit is incompatible with everything we have held dear since the Good Friday agreement,” she said. “Northern Ireland is united for Remain and for the backstop.”
The only way to replicate what was available to people on either side of the Border, in terms of movement, business, work, education, access to health care and security “is by remaining”, she argued.
She was supported by Owen Reidy of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, which is an all-island body, headquartered in Belfast. He expressed dismay at some trade unionists in Britain who argued for “a workers’ Brexit”.
“There is no such thing for us as a good Brexit,” he said, “or a Brexit for working people.”
In terms of setting out to achieve what it sought through negotiation, the UK government had broken every rule of the negotiator, he argued. It did not know what it wanted, didn’t have an achievable goal, had no strategy to achieve it and was unable to bring people with it.