December 16, 2019 9.22 am This story is over 21 months old

Barry Turner: Let’s leave the Brexit debate to the historians

Brexit is now an absolute certainty

Brexit is now an absolute certainty, so it is time to get down to the business of tomorrow.

Sir Ivan Rogers, Britain’s former envoy to the EU, has observed that the time pressures created by Boris Johnson’s commitments could force Britain into accepting major concessions. He also doubts that the size of the parliamentary majority would change the debate with Brussels.

The Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, said on Friday he feared the negotiations would be far tougher than those over the withdrawal agreement.

That debate is over boys, it’s time to move on!

Everyone knows that Boris Johnson will have to make compromises, even he does. Compromises are the essence of any relationship, trading or otherwise. It is also the case that the EU will have to make compromises as it does already to maintain its continued existence in the face of many pressures apart from Brexit.

It will not however be necessary to force the UK into making concessions, concessions will be made anyway. The UK will not need to force concessions out of the EU, the EU will make concessions to accommodate the new status quo.

If this adversarial posturing were to take root, the result would be a trade war and that would damage all. It is all very well adopting the “my economy is bigger than yours” bullying tactic, but bullies often get hit back. There is absolutely no need for this and certainly nothing to be gained by it.

The talks will be long and complex, but there is no reason to see them as some new manifestation of conflict. It is time that mindset woke up to the reality that the UK will leave the EU and that a new relationship needs to be built.

It does not matter if the short deadline was unrealistic, that was for domestic political consumption, not a real position by which future trade and bilateral relationships will be established on. If the deadline needs to be extended, it will be.

The tedious arguments of the last four years are over. The last glimmer of hope for the remainers is gone. That story can now be put to one side for the historians to consider over the years to come. The priority for now is looking to the future, not raking over the past and dreaming of what might have been.

Yes, there will be difficulties ahead and concessions will have to be made by all. Aspirations and desires will sometimes be met and at other times will not, that has always been the case. What needs to be understood is that the trade talks will go on forever because trade talks always do. It is remarkable that so many people think that a deal is forever, that once the ink is dry on any treaty, that it will be with us forever.

During our nearly 46 years in the EEC/EU, the terms of our membership and that of the other states changed many times. The EEC changed to the EC and then the EU. New countries joined and now one has left. There is no deadline for the EU or for the UK, both will be subject to continuous change, some for the good and some for the worse.

Our relationship with the EU and the relationships of all the states within the EU was in a constant state of flux. Even if we had voted differently on that fateful day in 2016, there would have been both smooth and rocky times ahead.

Whether we all prosper or fail is down to us all in post Brexit Europe co-operation, and compromise will be part of that process as it would have been if the UK had remained as a member.

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Barry Turner is Senior Lecturer in Media Law and Public Administration at the University of Lincoln.