Brexit is a total waste of time


This may be the time for pause.

As the views of the ‘metropolitan liberal elite’ have now been so comprehensively rejected within the last six months on both sides of the Atlantic this may be time for pause. For us all to button it for a while. Find some humility. Try to understand. Stop fulminating on Twitter. Hand over the airwaves to the JAMs from Lincolnshire, the ‘forgotten’ angry white males from the rustbelt Mid West and their mouthpieces like Milo. Let them take back control.

This is a tricky one if you believe Brexit and Trump’s election remain profoundly wrong decisions both of which are, in leftist jargon, hard to ‘normalise’. Both are events that are highly unlikely in the long run to be of benefit to very many of those that voted for them. (Outside Trump’s immediate grimly avaricious family it’s genuinely hard to see any American being better off in four years time by which time he may even be in Sing Sing.) Palpably false premises have been used to encourage millions of disaffected voters – cheesed-off since 2008 and before – to back very bad ideas. Even the OBR – which is not allowed to have an axe to grind – has said that Brexit will blow a £58 billion hole in our public finances in just the next few years.

The side of Brexit that I find most infuriating is what a total waste of time it all is. If a stop could be put to the process now it would be worth all our while. When there was so much everyday knitting to be done on all sorts of worthwhile and worthy projects in government, all attention has been diverted to an impossibly complex and difficult negotiation that could go on for years. All for what? All those thousands of civil servants scratching their heads trying to work out how to find a plausible way forward without pissing off the Daily Mail.

It’s not often one finds oneself agreeing with Polly Toynbee but she’s right when she says: ‘Everything that moves and breathes from now on will be infected by Brexit. It’s a dry rot whose tendrils will creep into every last aspect of national life, twisting around every newborn baby and frail pensioner’.

Over the last few weeks I’ve heard senior folk from business – pragmatists all – start to chastise the Financial Times and The Economist for their unrelentingly negative views on first Brexit and now Trump. They are out of touch with popular opinion, it is said. And, anyway, what’s the point in having an extended ‘whingeorama’ about it all? We are where we are. There is no going back. We just have to make the best of it.

Indeed, there is something that is starting to feel utterly futile about reading AC Grayling’s elegantly reasoned correspondence with HMG or the 16 essays in this week’s New Yorker about what a calamity Trump is – Hilary Mantel’s one, incidentally, is sublime. What actually works, makes things happen, gets its way is the savagery of the post-truth world. We lost. It feels like we’re in our own echo chamber. We yelled to each other, the sound waves bounced off the metal and nobody outside listened. But that doesn’t mean we just stand by and say nothing. You have to keep on telling the emperor and the masses that support him that they are all stark bollock naked. Lenin, of course, always knew exactly what was to be done. But what we actually do for the time being is hard to fathom. Wait for 2020 and get behind Tim Farron? (Don’t laugh.) Get Blair back on the road in his Ford Galaxy? (How way out of time he feels now.)  Spring Sadiq from the mayorage to depose Corbyn? Fume quietly while working out how to get a second referendum?

Matthew has been editor of Management Today for the past nine years. 

Sign up to be kept up to date