Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Brexit 2 months on

It gets worse. Once, when a UK cabinet minister spoke on his brief at the despatch box in the House of Commons it was assumed that it was government policy. No more. Of course, the blame doesn't lie entirely with the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU. The problem is that there is no government policy. Or indeed, no prospect of developing one.
It must now be clear to everyone that:
a) the UK government lacks the capacity to actually leave the EU (unless it wants to just walk away in the desperate hope that something will turn up, which it won't)
b) the arguments advanced by the Leave campaign were blatant lies
c) there is no easy way out - Theresa May can't even call an election and lose it, leaving someone else to clean up the mess as the lamentable state of the Labour Party means that she would win
I've written a few new blogs that try to set out some of the issues. They are pretty depressing. But they may inject a degree of reality to a debate characterised by political demonstrations of optimism that make one wonder if the speakers inhabit the same world as the rest of us.

Brexit - the confusion continues. BMJ 8th September 2016

"Brexit means Brexit" Health Policy & Planning, 7th September 2016

Sunday, July 03, 2016

The EU referendum and beyond

So now we have a result. And it is not good. A brave politician has been murdered. We have had months of blatant lies by those supporting the Leave campaign. We have had a massive upsurge in racist attacks. We now know that some politicians were willing to bring our country to the brink of disaster in pursuit of their own personal agendas. The two main political parties are rudderless. Research collaborations are already being damaged. Citizens from other EU countries are terrified.

We show no evidence of learning the lessons of history, whether they are from the 1930s in Europe or from the last time a UK government launched a major initiative without a plan, as we will hear in the Chilcot Report in a few days.

Those who supported Leave are revealing massive optimism bias. They make Voltaire's Dr Pangloss look like a pessimist. They think we can negotiate trade deals rapidly, despite our lack of negotiators. They show no sign of appreciating the crisis we face. Yet there is no excuse - they just need to look at the Swiss situation. But of course, they think they will be different. This is verging on teh delusional.

None have a clue what to do. The unwillingness of those who have at least some insight to trigger Article 50, which would start the clock ticking, is revealing. See David Allen Green (aka Jack of Kent) for the best analysis.

The only reassuring thing is that some day, they will realise the complexity of what they seek and that it is likely to paralyse the parliamentary process for years. But the damage done by then will be enormous.    

I've written a few blogs on the fallout from the EU referendum are on the BMJ site:

24th June 2016: We have no idea what will come next, but it won’t be good

27th June 2016:  Brexit and health—the confusion grows

30th June 2016: Fair and balanced? Science in a post fact society