FREE NEWSLETTER: Econintersect sends a nightly newsletter highlighting news events of the day, and providing a summary of new articles posted on the website. Econintersect will not sell or pass your email address to others per our privacy policy. You can cancel this subscription at any time by selecting the unsubscribing link in the footer of each email.

posted on 16 September 2017

Yanis Varoufakis: A Progressive Brexit Transition Can Be Built - On Both Sides Of The Channel

from The Conversation

-- this post authored by Yanis Varoufakis, University of Athens

Insurgencies often end up betraying the ideals that motivated them. Brexit seems no different. In no time, it has shed its intellectually most powerful motive: the full restoration of sovereignty to the House of Commons.

Please share this article - Go to very top of page, right hand side, for social media buttons.

Parliament's sovereignty over the future of UK-EU arrangements has been dealt three blows since the Brexit referendum. First, Prime Minister Theresa May chose to interpret the referendum's binary choice - without consulting parliament - as a vote for a hard Brexit.

Second, in triggering Article 50 without seeking the transition period necessary to give parliament at least one full term to deliberate over the long-term links with the EU, May essentially denied parliamentarians any say even on the form of hard Brexit that will follow.

Then came the third blow: the so-called great repeal bill, which caused even pro-Brexit MPs to erupt in anger during its first airing in the House of Commons, proposes to vest the government with inordinate power to amend EU laws as they are converted into UK laws, without even consulting the house.

So, while the EU is exploiting Brexit to practise its authoritarian incompetence (demanding, for example, that London negotiates with bureaucrats lacking a genuine mandate to hammer out issues like a free trade agreement), Brexit is also being used by the British government to push the country on a long slide toward May's own brand of authoritarian incompetence. None of this augurs well for the people of Britain or, indeed, for Europeans at large.


Averting catastrophe

What should be the progressive response, on both sides of the Channel, to this disaster-in-the-making? Before the referendum, my own organisation, the Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 (DiEM25), advised the UK Labour party to adopt our "radical remain" line of "IN the EU, against this EU". The Labour party did adopt this position, albeit half-heartedly, but in the end the people of Britain decided to vote Leave. As democrats we must respect that verdict. But as progressives, we have a duty to confront the minority Tory government's dalliance with a catastrophic Brexit.

Immediately after the referendum, DiEM25 was the first Remain-supporting movement to respond with a positive proposal. Refusing to be downhearted, to vilify those who voted Leave, or to call for a second referendum (or parliamentary vote) by which to annul the will of the majority, we proposed that Article 50 be triggered while, at the same time, London filed for a five-year Norway-style arrangement to come into force after the initial two year period lapses.

May felt her political room for manoeuvre was limited of course, but had she adopted that option, then freedom of movement, the customs' union, the European courts' jurisdiction, Britain's contributions to the EU budget and so on, would have remained unchanged until 2024. The EU bureaucracy would not have been empowered to carry out the hatchet job it is currently mandated to do, and the House of Commons would have had the opportunity to debate properly, and in peace, both the future UK-EU relationship and a British constitution is desperate need of revision.

Crucially, it would also have meant that the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, could have relaxed - with the happy news that the Brexit hot potato was thrown into the lap of her successor.

Dropping the hot potato. Angela Merkel. EPA-EFE/FILIP SINGER

Two to tango

In recent weeks, I have noticed with pleasure that Corbyn's Labour party, alongside some key Tory MPs, have adopted the same proposal. Now that this is becoming mainstream, it is crucial that we take it further by specifying in greater detail what that transition period should aim at and what follows afterwards.

The unambitious, regressive, conservative aim for a transition period is that it would create the time and space necessary for a virtually unchanged UK to find an accommodation with a virtually unchanged EU. However, this would be a betrayal of all those people in Britain who cast their vote for Corbyn's vision of a radically transformed UK.

It would also be seen as a lost opportunity by those of us in continental Europe who do not believe that this EU can or should stay as is. In this sense, progressives must work toward a transitional period during which the aim is the progressive transformation of both the UK and the EU.

What would such a progressive transformation be like? In the UK the election manifesto that Labour took to the polls back in June is a good start. As for the progressive transformation of continental Europe, the economic and social policy agenda we presented in March, DiEM25's European New Deal, offers a tangible, realistic but also far-sighted manifesto for every European country, independently of whether it uses the euro or not. The adversarial tone of Brexit talks thus far is of little use to anyone. Instead of arm-wrestling to secure the competitiveness of one European country against another, a transition period would allow Europe, including the UK, to focus on boosting productivity in green sectors across the continent, and sharing in the benefits that flow from that.

The ConversationThe present trends point to a dreadful outcome: a clueless Tory government and a degenerate EU bureaucracy locked in a pointless conflict. But progressives should never respect present trends. We must dare to dream of a Corbyn-led government in the UK, and of progressive, DiEM25-linked parties scoring similar successes in a swathe of EU countries by the 2019 European Parliament elections. That could clear the path towards a second UK referendum in or around 2025 when a transformed Britain enters a European Democratic Union. Dare to dream: and then work damned hard towards realising that dream.

Yanis Varoufakis, Professor of Economics, University of Athens

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

>>>>> Scroll down to view and make comments <<<<<<

Click here for Historical Opinion Post Listing

Make a Comment

Econintersect wants your comments, data and opinion on the articles posted. You can also comment using Facebook directly using he comment block below.

Econintersect Opinion

Print this page or create a PDF file of this page
Print Friendly and PDF

The growing use of ad blocking software is creating a shortfall in covering our fixed expenses. Please consider a donation to Econintersect to allow continuing output of quality and balanced financial and economic news and analysis.

Keep up with economic news using our dynamic economic newspapers with the largest international coverage on the internet
Asia / Pacific
Middle East / Africa
USA Government



Analysis Blog
News Blog
Investing Blog
Opinion Blog
Precious Metals Blog
Markets Blog
Video of the Day


Asia / Pacific
Middle East / Africa
USA Government

RSS Feeds / Social Media

Combined Econintersect Feed

Free Newsletter

Marketplace - Books & More

Economic Forecast

Content Contribution



  Top Economics Site Contributor TalkMarkets Contributor Finance Blogs Free PageRank Checker Active Search Results Google+

This Web Page by Steven Hansen ---- Copyright 2010 - 2018 Econintersect LLC - all rights reserved