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Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Soft Brexit is Remain: Hard Brexit is Brexit

I simply don't understand the notion of a “soft Brexit”. Take this basic definition from the BBC:

“Soft Brexit: Leaving the European Union but staying as closely aligned to the EU as possible. It could keep the UK in the single market or the customs union or both.”

It gets worse (or better if you're a Remainer) than that. Here goes:

“Soft Brexit could involve British compromises on free movement of people, allowing European Union citizens rights to settle in the UK with access to public services and benefits.”

Thus the words “soft Brexit” sound like what the philosopher Jacques Derrida called a “sign substitution”. That is, the substitution of a new term for an old one. However, the new term is conceptually indistinguishable from the old one – except for extremely superficial differences. In other words, such a sign substitution is a gimmick designed to hoodwink people and perhaps even the neologists themselves.

The term “hard Brexit” (coined by Remainers), on the other hand, is hardly a description of policies at all. It is based on futurology and value judgements. So let's return to the BBC to show that. It writes:

“Hard Brexit: This phrase is often used by critics of Brexit who think it will harm the UK economy.”

The prophesy continues in the following manner:

“A hard Brexit would be one where few of the existing ties between the UK and the EU were retained leading to more disruption than a Soft Brexit.”

It's of course the case that there will be “disruption” because all large-scale political and economic changes result in some kind of disruption. Indeed even small-scale changes can have large-scale effects.

So think about this. Remainers are seriously attempting to convince Brexiteers - and others - that remaining part of the customs union, single market, the free movement of people (perhaps with less less or even more movement than exists today), etc. is Brexit - if a “soft” version of Brexit. Not many snobby Remainers clearly believe that Brexiteers are dumb. (Many explicitly say that and other hint at it.) Yet to believe that anyone will buy the gimmick that Soft Brexit is Brexit Lite is truly dumb. That is, assuming that your political opponents are dumb is dumb. Such a condescension (as with the “false consciousness” of Marxists) often backfires.

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