So lead already

Now the UK needs leaders

Chris Grey is direct as always - Brexiters need to stop campaigning and start governing.

He reminds us all, pro-Remain and pro-Leave alike, that Brexit has formally happened and now there are new priorities.

In particular, the issue is whether Brexiters – who now, unequivocally, form the government – are able to shift from campaigning to, indeed, governing.

To underpin his assertion he cites Robert Saunders who attempts to place Brexit in historical perspective and reviews the failure of British international strategy from 1945 onwards:

From 1961 to 2016, every government (whether Conservative or Labour) started from three basic assumptions: that the best way to rebuild Britain’s economic strength was as the entry-point to an integrated, European market; that the surest route to influence in Washington or the Commonwealth was through a leadership role in Europe; and that the best way to maximise British sovereignty was to have a seat at the table where its destiny would be decided.

Saunders makes clear that joining the EU was a strategic response to Britain’s reduced power in the world. Leaving the EU is such a fundamental change to the economic, trade and diplomatic position of the UK that nothing less than a fundamental re-think of strategy is required:

What is Britain’s economic future, as a medium-sized economy in a world dominated by China and the United States? What is Britain’s diplomatic role, in a world without an empire? How can Britain maximise its sovereignty over its internal decision-making – which is not an unworthy ambition – in a world in which trade rules are set internationally, in which companies like Google and Facebook have larger GDPs than many countries, and in which issues like climate change render national borders irrelevant?

None of the fundamentals of the world have changed. Like it or not (I don’t), we are stuck with this Johnson-led coterie of knaves. They need to step up to the prize they have scrabbled so hard to get, show some honesty and come up with some real strategy.

To quote Saunders again:

Achieving that will require more imagination, more humility and a more clear-eyed appreciation of the options than anyone has yet offered in Britain’s tortured Brexit debate.

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