C Gopinath

Absurdity of Brexit

C Gopinath | Updated on April 10, 2019 Published on April 09, 2019

Britons need a bout of ‘colonial decisiveness’

The UK still does not have a plan for Brexit. The British voted in a referendum in June 2016 to quit the EU on March 29, extended to April 12.

It all began rather inauspiciously. Conservative Prime Minister Cameron at the time of the referendum quit. His successor, Theresa May, although personally in favour of remaining in the EU negotiated an exit in keeping with party policy. It soon became clear that both the ruling Conservatives and the opposition Labour were split with regard to Brexit. The negotiated plan has been voted against thrice in parliament. The option of exiting without a deal is thought of as a disaster by some and not so by others.

May is now even talking to the opposition leader to arrive at a compromise. Even the date when Brexit will take effect is shifting. In short, this is a situation that can only be described as confusion worse confounded.

When you read British colonial history, there is no shortage of examples of decisiveness by British politicians. They decided who would be kings in India and whether a successor was eligible to rule. They drew lines on maps creating the countries of the Middle East. United parts of South Africa into a whole.

Many Britons are at a stage where they just want a decision. Businesses hate uncertainty. Any decision, favourable or unfavourable, can lead to appropriate plans being put in place and risks being covered. The uncertainty about the immediate future puts lots of plans on hold and multiplying expenditures. Companies are stockpiling inventories, all of which may turn out to be a waste. Investments have been delayed. Headquarters are being moved. The EU Council president has suggested a longer extension of time for the UK, perhaps a year, with the option of leaving earlier if they can strike a deal. He cannot even begin to imagine the uncertainty this would cause businesses.

Which makes you wonder about the source of all the confusion among the political leadership today. One possible explanation is the lack of true committed leadership that monarchy provided. The British monarch today is dressed up for ceremonial occasions and then relegated to the palace for the rest of the time.

My considered solution (and not a bit facetious) is that British politicians should be reminded of their great past and to take pride in themselves. The spate of recent literature glorifying colonialism can be pulled out of library bookshelves and put on display. An even better reminder would be to install a statue of Queen Victoria right outside the Palace of Westminster. As the members enter for their next vote, they would be inspired looking at her crown, and the ubiquitous globe in her hand and do the right thing to take charge of their own country.

India has several fine statues of Queen Victoria that the British left behind. It will even be a fine gesture by the nationalist party in India that hopes to retain power to send her back to help Britain at its time of crisis. Perhaps, the British government may reciprocate by returning the Kohinoor diamond or the Amaravathi marbles.

So, I conclude that it is not that the British cannot make a decision but a haze has made them forget their skills. They need to be shaken up and I suggest a fair exchange.

The writer is a professor at Suffolk University, Boston

Published on April 09, 2019
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