By Nze Nwabueze Akabogu (JP)
The British people are currently in a terrible political quagmire occasioned by the protracted negotiations with the European Union (EU) over the process of their final exit from the twenty eight member nations Union in March 2019. The negotiations between the U.K and EU had been a prolonged and tortuous journey right from the outset in June 2016 when the anti or “leave” E.U protagonists narrowly defeated the “remain” or pro EU proponents by a mere 3% margin of votes in the referendum that set into motion the current negotiation process.
The aftermath of that historic decision by the British people had obviously plunged the British government and its people into rather extremely precarious and dangerous situation even as the Brexit phenomenon had further polarized the entire British people. The future of the British people is currently hanging in the balance as the Brexit saga had already caused unimaginable political turmoil among the political gladiators both on the side of the governing Conservative party led by the Prime Minister Theresa May and the opposition Labour party led by Jeremy Corbyn.
The Conservative party has been severely turn apart and seriously divided right from the leadership to the members of the House of Commons (Parliament) over the current state of affairs in the Country. The air of uncertainty pervading the entire British national life is a great source of concern to the British people consequent upon the very shoddy handling of the Brexit negotiation by the beleaguered Prime Minister May with the European Union Leaders at Brussels.
The last straw that seem to have broken the Carmel’s back was the recent political debacle suffered by Theresa May when the E.U negotiators outrightly rejected her proposals tagged “the Chequers declaration” which were intended as a mechanism for the quick resolution of the impasse with the E.U on certain thorny issues such as the lingering debate over the custom border between the Irish Republic a member of the E.U, and Northern Ireland which is part of the U.K among others.
Prime Minister May for all intents and purposes could be described as a lame duck leader despite her posturing as a strong and fearless leader in the mould or stature of the indefatigable former British Prime Minister Margret Thatcher whose tenure in office (1979-1990) was one of the most glorious era in modern British history.
It will be a recalled however, that the British people seem to have shot themselves on the foot by their inability to foresee the devastating political cum-economic consequences of their rather unwise decision to exit from the fifty one years old European Union merely on the basis of British self-interest and nationalism.
It should be noted also that the former British Prime Minister David Cameron, who was an ardent proponent of “remain” or pro E.U had to resign after his crushing defeat during the referendum he himself had called and which later turned out to be a political misadventure that abruptly ended his political career. David Cameron’s successor May who was a pro E.U proponent suddenly found herself in a terribly awkward situation as she was confronted with the enormous challenges of defending the British interest based on the outcome of the referendum. P
rime Minister May had been facing growing rebellion both from within her cabinet as well as the conservative party members in Parliament who felt she was a weakling and lacked strong leadership qualities. Some of her outspoken critics within the cabinet including the flamboyant and loquacious former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson had to resign due to May’s style of leadership. Boris Johnson who had vigorously campaigned against the pro or “remain” in E.U proponents during the Brexit referendum and was widely expected to succeed David Cameron later conceded the Premiership to Theresa May.
In the mean time however, Britain seem to be at a cross roads even as many Britons are now calling for second referendum to avert the looming catastrophe presently staring the nation in the face as the prospect of “no deal” with the E.U is becoming increasingly apparent even as the deadline for the British final disengagement or “divorce” is fast approaching. The House of Commons (Parliament) is expected to vote soon in a crucial debate on the current deadlock in the Brexit negotiation with the E.U leaders headed by the President of the European Union commission, Donald Tusk.
According to British political analysts, the Brexit crucial debate in Parliament might lead to a snap or early general election should the Parliament eventually reject Prime Minister May’s “Chequers proposals” and which might also determine her political future as she had long been severely criticized for her lack of political sagacity and brinkmanship in the handling of the Brexit negotiation with the European leaders at Brussels.
It is pertinent to observe however, that the British in their characteristic conservative mentality had always stuck to their old fashioned arm twisting attitude of trying to “eat their cake and still want to have it”. In other words, trying to pick and choose whenever it suited them as exemplified by their subtle manoeuvres of dictating the terms of their final exit from the E.U.
In any human association or relationship, it is the general acceptable principle or norm that any party in an association who voluntarily opts out of such union has no moral authority to dictate the terms of his or her disengagement from the union but would rather be prepared to bear the inevitable consequences of such action.
The above scenario is very apt in the context of the present Brexit dilemma facing the British people who never considered the grave consequences of their decision to leave the E.U during the referendum. The British younger generation seem to prefer to remain in the E.U rather than opt out of the union due to the huge socio-economic advantages the E.U would offer them in terms of employment opportunities and free and unhindered movements across the European Union borders. It is also their contention that the British older generation had unwittingly mortgaged their future perpetually through their unwise decision to leave the E.U. otherwise known as Brexit which in their own opinion was a gross betrayal of trust.
To further compound the already messy and extremely dangerous situation in the Brexit saga, the First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon was recently reported to have served a notice to the effect that another referendum for Scottish independence had become imperative in view of the overwhelming votes by the Scots to remain in the E.U during the historic Brexit referendum.
In the alternative however, the British people could still reverse their earlier decision to leave the E.U should they decide to embark on a second referendum given the growing clamour among many Britons for yet another referendum as the permanent solution to the current alarming political tension in the country.
Nze Nwabueze Akabogu (JP) is a Regular Public Affairs Commentator and Analyst. He wrote from Enugwu-Ukwu, Anambra State.