Farage fears a Brexit in “name only.”
You’ll recall Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and colleagues quickly exiting stage left after the referendum result just over a year ago. The Brexiteers didn’t believe they would win and when they did their – nothing to do with us guv – exit perhaps reflected the scale and nature of the debate that would follow and which they weren’t up for.
Domestic UK politics – a Tory leadership contest followed by a Westminster election with an unanticipated result and a hung Parliament – diverted attention and stifled debate which when it did emerge tended to be binary at best.
With Therese May’s weak position its clear that domestic politics still dominates. But the Brexiteer bravado is disappearing fast as the EU 27 remain solid on their negotiating position and Michel Barniers clock continues to tick.
What is also interesting however is that the vote leave camp is not responding in the way it did pre-referendum or immediately post. So this week we’ve had an auditor general intervention warning of a weak government approach to negotations. We’ve also had the former cabinet secretary Gus O’Donnell warning of chaos contrasting the strong negotiating position of the EU with government ministers ” …not yet finished negotiating with themselves.”
While also with a domestic and party focus its not too long ago that new Lib Dem leader Vince Cable was claiming Brexit may never happen.
Enter Tony Blair stage right. with a “Brexit and the Centre” contribution. It’s is multi layered and has, as much to say about the domestic context as Brexit, but he talks of his awareness of EU leaders prepared to think differently “Rational consideration of the options would sensibly include the option of negotiating for Britain to stay within a Europe itself prepared to reform and meet us half way.” he says.
Of course there’s internal domestic politics at play – Corbyn has criticised him – but the Brexit champion himself Nigel Farage, while taking a swipe at Blair, admits to looking a bit singular when it comes to fighting the Brexit corner – fearing we could leave in name only.
The UK is still on the road to leave – domestic politics is in play – and the clock is still ticking.