Long winter of Brexit discontent looms

Brexit Britain is here, in all of its flag waving, sloganeering glory. Unfortunately for Boris Johnson and his subjects, his frigid winter of discontent is rapidly descending upon a nation whose economy, public infrastructure and world standing is scarcely recognisable compared to the early 2000s.

In a rare diplomatic victory for Boris Johnson last month, the AUKUS military alliance was unveiled. The strategic trilateral deal aims to counter Chinese military expansion in the Asia-Pacific region. Perhaps a welcome short relief from the onslaught of issues facing Britain domestically this winter.

The mood was quickly sunk only days later as the Prime Minister quietly admitted than any sort of trade deal with the United States is unlikely in the short to medium-term. Of course, this is yet another pillar of the Brexit promise which has been unceremoniously bulldozed. One can expect that the British press and government will soon deny that there was ever such a proposal laid before the British people.

Supply chain issues are also becoming an issue which is increasingly difficult to not attribute to Brexit. The press is keen to highlight the disastrous situation unfolding across British supermarkets and petrol stations, while also often failing to prominently address the root cause – Britain’s withdrawal from the single market. 

Of course the absence of some foodstuffs on British shelves is largely a result of a shortage of freight drivers to ferry goods in from the EU. Who could have guessed that leaving the EU labour market without any real new solution would restrict EU workers from delivering products to British supermarkets?

Boris Johnson promised the British people that gas prices would plummet post-Brexit, freed from the monstrous grasp of the European internal energy market. Predictably, while the EU is enduring the same global energy crisis as their British counterparts, the blow has been blunted by the efficiency of linked auctions which in short spreads costs across the Union and allows competitive bids. As a result, British energy is currently almost twice as expensive in comparison to mainland Europe, where prices are already triple the standard rate for this time of year.

The biggest Brexit victories so far seem to be the reintroduction of the Imperial units of measurement, the return of the Queen’s stamp to the pint glass, the independent procurement of a world class vaccination programme and the return of the famous blue passport. 

Although it must be noted that none of these things have anything to do with Brexit, they were all possible within the European Union. The same way The United Kingdom kept using the pound sterling and miles per hour on their signposts after joining in 1973. The same way the UK could always control its own borders. The same way the UK could always have invested more money in the NHS during three successive Tory leaders, although funnily enough they haven’t seemed that interested in doing so before or after Brexit.

In an utterly foreseeable turn of events, ‘Global Britain’ hasn’t quite turned out to be the diplomatic triumph the ERG once dreamed of. Foreign aid contributions from the United Kingdom have been slashed, Johnson’s government has been continuously castigated by the Biden administration for failing to fully commit to the principles of The Good Friday Agreement and relations with Brussels have never been worse. 

The Northern Ireland Protocol and its subsequent unilateral rejection by Lord Frost is just the latest example of a nation totally at odds with the outside world. This document was signed by two parties with all conditions being known, clear and fair. There was no deception by the European Union, there has been no change in Government in the UK, so why did they sign the protocol knowing they couldn’t agree to its terms? Perhaps a welcome distraction from the chaos engulfing Britain is the most logical answer. Playing games with the peace and stability of Northern Ireland shows how the British administration views the people of Northern Ireland. It is nothing more than a piece of the puzzle in Boris Johnson’s grotesque trivial pursuit of total power in a Union already profoundly damaged by rabid English populism.

As Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said, “Surely the message must go out to all countries around the world that this is a British government that doesn’t necessarily keep its word and doesn’t necessarily honour the agreements it makes.”

Then there is the question of the very existence of The United Kingdom. There seems to be a growing mandate for independence in Scotland, Northern Ireland will undoubtedly endure a similar trend in coming years. For The Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to catalyse and motivate the destruction of his own nation is the very greatest failure possibly achieved while holding that office.

Britain faces this winter of discontent that will last far beyond March, and the reason is ultimately Brexit, no amount of spin will ever change that fact. The United Kingdom in the space of five years has derailed its own future thanks to the ambitions of amoral populists like Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, Priti Patel and Michael Gove. Modern Britain is living proof that tearing up your membership of multilateral institutions in a globalised economy and world is a path to disaster and destruction. Destruction of economy, nationhood and diplomatic stature. It will be Britain’s young who pay the steep cost of their forefather’s folly, indeed the young saw it coming, yet will bear the brunt of its injustice . The rest of the world, and our generation, must take note before they choose to engage with isolationist populism catalysed by the greedy gameplayers which lurk in the depths every society.

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