Column: Too Obsessed With Brexit

By Ashutosh Mishra

London: Political analysts here appear worried that Brexit fixation of major party leaders is going to make the Christmas elections terribly skewed. One commentator calls it the hijacking of the elections by Brexit which, by all indications, has turned into an obsession. Everything else has become secondary.

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, who regrets missing the October 31 deadline for walking out of the European Union (EU), now seems to be backing the deal his team has negotiated. On the other hand, his main rival, Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn is promising a better deal.

“Whichever leader you support, you have their reassurance that, were they to become the next prime minister, Brexit will be dealt with once and for all. Unless, of course, there’s a hung parliament,” writes a newspaper columnist.

So the obsession with Brexit is too obvious. Johnson in a recent interview apologised to his party members for failing to deliver on his ‘do-or-die’ promise to implement Brexit by October 31. The Prime Minister felt ‘deep regret’ over missing the deadline which he was compelled to extend to the end of January.

Johnson also said there was no reason why the UK should extend the Brexit transition period beyond December 2020 but he underlined that a ‘right parliament’ will be necessary, hinting that a hung parliament could make things difficult again.

The Prime Minister, who said Brexit delay was ‘painful’, defended his EU deal after the American president, Donald Trump said it could harm UK trade negotiations with the US. ‘I don’t wish to cast any aspersions on the president of the United States, but in that respect he is patently in error,’ Johnson was quoted as saying.

Political analysts are beginning to ask what should be the new government’s priorities once Brexit is done and dusted. One of them answered his own question saying the government should focus on “economic growth or, to be more precise, the lack of it.” Citing figures to back his claims, he writes, “ Since 2007 — the economic “peak” on the eve of the global financial crisis — UK living standards have, on average, rising at a paltry rate of 0.4 per cent per year. That compares with a 2.2 per cent annual increase in per capita incomes in the 17 years that followed the 1990 peak. Put differently, at the lower rate, our incomes would rise a mere 12 per cent over 30 years while, at the higher rate, they would almost double. Such are the joys of compound growth.”

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has himself on several occasions in the past expressed his exasperation at the delay in getting Brexit done as this could help the government focus on other priorities of which there are many. The people, too, appear to be getting sick with this excessive attention being paid to Brexit but then it is crucial to the country’s economy and sooner a decision is taken the better. It is rather unfortunate that a single issue is hijacking an entire election.

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