I am indeed biased - I think that the whole thing has been a fiasco from start to finish and will stifle much needed debate about how the EU is structured. But I do wonder what facts it is that I am supposed to wake up and sniff along with the fresh coffee?
The meme that the EU is “punishing” us persists. In fact we seem to be doing a very adequate job of doing that ourselves. I am not clear that if the EU insists that if we wish access to the EEA we must play by the rules of the EEA just like anyone else is punishing us - except that we are under the illusion that we somehow deserve special privilege and are in a huff because we are not getting it. “I say old chap, don’tcha know we’re British” does not cut it any more.
Soft vs hard Brexit are broadly accepted terms to describe Brexit either with or without a deal to access the EEA on roughly equal terms to that which we enjoy at present. This is separate from our membership of the EU so it is certainly possible to have a “Soft Brexit” in theory.
However in practical terms I think it is unlikely. My personal view is that leaving the EU while remaining a member of the EEA is, frankly, a bit daft. It would not save us much money, nor excuse us from the “4 freedoms”, nor remove us from the influence of EU legislation, nor allow us to freely associate with other nations for trade. It would, however, remove our influence upon the regulations which affect us - so arguably it is the worst of all possible worlds with respect to self determination.
It is also politically unacceptable. Partly for the reasons above and partly because May is now too weak to ignore the “hard Brexit” support within the party, or pressure from the more extreme of the leave crowd outside the party.
So, “Hard” Brexit is a reality, however because of the incompetence and intransigence of our negotiating team it looks more like we will be headed for “kamikaze Brexit” - i.e exit with no deal. Unfortunately I think that Peter North is broadly correct in his assessment of what the future holds, unlike him I do not for a moment think that it is acceptable. His suggestion that somehow today’s youth need to be shaken from their complacency is execrable. It seems only a hair off the suggestion that war is good for us all as it is the crucible in which heroes are forged so why not arrange for someone to invade Poland again so we can all have a jolly nice European fight just like in the old days.
It is utterly arrogant of my generation (and those a little older than I am) to think that we have a right to tell young adults how to run their lives - they will be getting on just fine after we are dead and gone. Society changes, fashion changes but heroes are still forged whatever the age.
Back in the here and now we are stuck with Brexit and stuck with hard Brexit. If we are very lucky we will negotiate a deal - c.f CETA and claw our way back to where we are now economically in 10-15 years. We will find that we have to accept EU standards to do so and somehow square the circle of also having to accept whatever is dictated by trade agreements with the US and China - what then of sovereignty? We will probably continue to have high levels of immigration as we lack the political will or ability to force, cajole or train the benefit classes into work. We will need someone who is not afraid of a hard day’s graft. What then of border control? It will cost us billions, what then of £350million a week saved?