Mrs May’s White Paper is, as we knew, a fake Brexit, a ‘Brino’: Brexit in name only. Brandon Lewis, chairman of the Conservative Party, has sent round an email to grassroots Conservatives and others, with a video – so lots of money poured into it – saying: ‘The proposal we’ve made to the EU delivers on the result of the referendum. By ending free movement of people – so we control our borders. By ending the rule of the European Court of Justice – so we control our laws. And by ending the massive payments we make to the EU – so we control our money.’ Mrs May put her name to a repeat email saying: ‘We are taking back control.’
No respectable commentator shares this view and most say this is more of the same doublespeak and deception. The former Labour minister and campaign leader for Vote Leave, Gisela Stuart, speaks of the White Paper as a ‘phantom Brexit’. In a Telegraph article she explains the trickery: ‘When people said free movement would end it seems free movement as we know it would end and instead we could have another kind of free movement. The customs union could end, to be replaced by a customs union. The single market: we are leaving that but could stay in a new kind of single market. And so it goes on.
‘We voted to leave the EU but unless the Government gets a grip, EU membership as we know it could end only to be replaced by a new kind of EU membership.’
This rhetoric of a big Yes to Brexit, followed by the reality of No, runs through Mrs May’s – or Olly Robbins’s – policy like the lettering in a stick of rock. The Conservative Party is twisting language like a second-hand car salesman whose warranty is voided in the small print. Mrs May, in Maybot mode, keeps on saying ‘we are delivering Brexit’, just as she kept on repeating ‘strong and stable’, even when it was reversed by events in her disastrous election campaign. Donald Trump has applied a megaphone to her machine-like ear: this Brexit locks the UK into EU control and so trade deals with the USA are not possible. Still she is utterly deaf to reason and to the facts.
The use and control of language by the state is a crucial power. George Orwell realised that if you can ban concepts and words and replace them with others, you filter and shape what people can think. The state has invented words to criminalise certain thoughts and get us to self-censor ideas inconvenient to state policy. Today’s establishment has developed the terms ‘homophobia’ and ‘islamophobia’ as way of stopping any critical discussion of these phenomena.
When it comes to Brexit, the word is affirmed ringingly, but in name only. Mrs May’s plan claims, for example, that the Common Fisheries Policy will end, but in reality other nations will be allowed to keep their vast catch of UK fish. Why? These waters are legally ours: why this continued gifting of them for the use of others, who ‘mean us harm’? This was Michael Gove’s ploy and it subtly betrays his earlier assurances that we would take back our legal waters and rebuild the devastated UK fleet. Not so. Mr Gove seems to have gone over to the government’s Brino policy of sticking to EU requirements with a pretty Brexit label attached. He is now a Remainer in this debate.
And Mrs May and yet another Leave campaigner joining the dark side, Dominic Raab, are ramming their fake Brexit through the Commons. It brings us into a vassal status as we are not at the EU management board. We are urged to become supplicants told what to do in alignment and harmonisation of our trade with EU regulation, adjudicated by what we are told we are quitting – the European Court of Justice, which we are not quitting after all. When such an unemotive and intellectual columnist as Janet Daley is forced to conclude that we cannot trust Theresa May, then we cannot. We are being gulled. And our trust in the whole political establishment is being very fast undermined: Mrs May is toxifying any faith that politicians can be believed, thus threatening democracy itself.
Rod Liddle headlined his rejection of this Brino: ‘This is Brexit in name only to keep the plebs happy’. Conservative MPs are saying precisely this and asking how they can be expected to sell such a pig in a poke to their voters. May’s poll ratings have plummeted since her duplicitous Chequers plan, enforced with a kind of Mafia coercion.
The backers of May’s Brino accuse their opponents of not having a plan, but as David Lilico and others have pointed out, there are several cogent plans on offer. All are vastly more attractive than this abject surrender to Brussels rules. The case for killing Mrs May’s Brino and just quitting now with no deal and WTO arrangements gets stronger by the day.
Martin Howe QC has prepared a forensic reading of the Chequers plan which concludes: ‘These proposals therefore lead directly to a worst-of-all-worlds “Black Hole” Brexit where the UK is stuck permanently as a vassal state in the EU’s legal and regulatory tar-pit, still has to obey EU laws and ECJ rulings across vast areas, cannot develop an effective international trade policy or adapt our economy to take advantage of the freedoms of Brexit, and has lost its vote and treaty veto rights as an EU Member State.’
Even the Remain-backing Financial Times observed: ‘The document envisages such close economic ties that one EU diplomat commented wryly that it looked more like “a membership application” than an exit plan.’
For Mrs May to repeat ‘We are delivering Brexit, we are taking back control’, like a Dalek, will not do, not in the slightest. She is Orwellian in assuming that constant repetition to the public will triumph, even when they know the message is not true.