Opinion: Politicians’ Brexit failure is a national humiliation

And so it goes on. Just when you thought the end of this cringeworthy farce was nigh, the mother of all parliaments has bestowed upon us another six months of the mother of all cock-ups.

Six more excruciating months of vacillation and national self-humiliation.

Six more months of our elected representatives failing to deliver any recognisable form of political leadership at a time when the country most needs it.

See also: Wake up and smell the reality of Brexit

It is said that people get the politicians and hence the government they deserve.

What this whole process has proved beyond doubt is that we are most definitely not living in an age of political giants; and whatever the final outcome, we all have to take collective responsibility for the self-inflicted mess we currently find ourselves in.

Like so many Britons, I have always been a rather uneasy European and my decision to vote “remain” in June 2016 was more pragmatic that idealistic, despite many concerns over the direction of travel of the EU.

However, for me the bigger picture prevailed – namely, 70 years of peace in a continent hitherto ravaged by regular bloody conflicts and, on a more personal level, a feeling that the UK as a nation had lost sight of the value of the industry I so dearly love. This meant that there was only really one way I could vote.

The events of the intervening 30 months have done little to change my view.

Despite having to endure listening to the patronising jibes of foreign heads of government and assorted Euro-factota, the utter dearth of anything remotely resembling political leadership domestically makes me struggle to see how we could possibly be better off outside the world’s largest economic trading bloc with this lot at the helm.

Given the utter incompetence with which this whole process has been handled, I dread to think how we will fare negotiating the trade deals that will shape the future of our industry, from a position of political and economic isolation, armed with little more than whisky and sheepmeat as bargaining chips.

The rest of the world is greedily eyeing up our food market.

The relative weakness of our industry lobby outside Europe, compared with that of other sectors that have so much more at stake as potential exporters, means that we can expect little more than token support from any government of whatever political hue.

“Chocolate box environmentalism”, I fear, for the moment at least, carries more votes than the abstract concept of declining food self-sufficiency, particularly when food is cheaper and more plentiful, in real terms, than it has ever been.

It is this, more than anything, that made the pro-Brexit position of so many involved in UK agriculture so baffling.

Giving up membership of the world’s biggest free-trade area for the sake of regaining national sovereignty and self-determination is, to my mind, a hubristic conceit; a triumph of misguided idealism over pragmatism.

The fact that so many have subsequently opined that the vote to leave was an expression of dissatisfaction at politics generally, rather than a totem of resurgent nationalism, is sadly ironic, given where we currently find ourselves. 

President De Gaulle of France originally vetoed the UK’s application to join the then Common Market in 1963 on the grounds that we were “not European enough”. Will a six-month stay of execution be just enough for us to prove him wrong?

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