How Britain has drifted towards a ‘no-deal Brexit’

By | August 24, 2019

Helen Lewis writes:

Brexit isn’t what it used to be. In the months immediately after Britain voted to leave the European Union in 2016, two flavors were on offer—“hard” and “soft.” A soft Brexit generally meant leaving the bloc’s political structures but not its economic ones, such as the single market for goods and services. The hard version meant leaving those, too. Crucially, both versions would see Britain formally agree to a new relationship with the EU.

“In the summer of 2016, everyone was a soft Brexiter, really,” Anand Menon, a professor of European politics and foreign affairs at King’s College London, told me.

Now no one is. The political landscape is polarized. What was once considered “hard” is now denounced by the loudest Brexiteers as a squalid compromise. Instead, “no deal” has become the purest, truest form of Brexit—“No deal is the best deal,” the official account of the Brexit Party, the most doctrinaire of Brexit-supporting groups, recently tweeted.

Advocates of a soft Brexit, meanwhile, have disappeared from the airwaves altogether, replaced by those who want to overturn the result and stay in the EU. Many Remainers who were once reconciled to the idea of leaving—arguing that the result of the referendum had to be respected—have now looked across the aisle and decided, They’re not compromising, so why should we? Campaigns to reverse Brexit through a second referendum have emerged and helped drown out the moderates. [Continue reading…]

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