Why Is Brexit Taking So Long? Five Whys.

brexit-five-whys

This is an unedited first draft – I’ll tidy it up later.

I am very impatient about Brexit. I really want the process to start and to get us outside of the EU as quickly as possible. My reasoning for this is quite simple. I want to get back in. At the moment if you complain about leaving the EU when the decision has been made to leave it you sound a bit pathetic. The argument has been had and my side has lost it. It is quite reasonable for people to say we should move on. And indeed we should. I am not looking forward to leaving, but it does have the consolation that when we are outside people campaigning to get back in will be the radical outsiders and the outers will be the establishment. (Actually I think they always were the establishment, but being opposed to the status quo gave them a sort of faux radicalism.)

The big question is why is it taking so long for the Brexit process to even begin let alone to be completed. There is a process in the Quality Assurance industry called the five whys. When there is a problem you ask the question why. You then look at the answer that question generates and ask the same question about the answer. Each question takes you deeper than the previous one. At the end of the exercise you should have an overall picture of the problem so you can work out the level you need to apply the solution.

I have used this technique quite often and it works very well. To really work well you need an open mind to begin with, and to concentrate on the problem. To do this I have simply sat down and started typing. I am using an app that will destroy what I have written if I don’t keep typing. So this is effectively a stream of consciousness. Let’s get going.

Fist why – why hasn’t the Brexit process been triggered? The reason given is that it is too complicated to get off to a quick start and the teams of people that are needed are not yet in place. There is a twist on that in that there are important elections coming up in Europe that it would be inconvenient to get Brexit mixed up with.

These are all sound practical reasons. The second why is then why is Brexit such a complicated process? The answer to that is again a fairly straight forward one. We have 40 years of deals, arrangements and joint projects to unpick so there is a great deal of stuff to undo.

Why is our involvement with the EU so deep and entrenched? The plain fact of life is that no project gets very far if it doesn’t in some way further the interests of the parties involved. We work closely with the people who are currently our European partners because it leads on to good things usually for both sides of the arrangement. Trading on the whole is a good thing both when you are talking about formal economic deals in goods and services, and when you are talking about more nebulous things like culture and sport.

So why does trading relationship matter so much? This goes to the heart of the kind of species we are. We no longer need to worry about our personal well being in terms of food and shelter. We aren’t going to starve or freeze. But how we fit into the world still matters a lot.

So why are all these things so important with respect to the EU in particular? Couldn’t we do just as well by establishing equally valuable links to other parts of the world? To which the answer is that our ties with Europe really are deep. The UK is a part of Europe and has played a big part in its history since Julius Caesar turned up in Kent 2100 years ago. We share a culture. We have contributed to that culture. We have benefitted from that culture. Whatever we do we can’t drop all that. We might be able to forget it for a while, but as soon as we start looking at the details it just brings home that the small strip of water that makes us an island has almost no effect on the fact that we are Europeans and turning our backs on our neighbours is going to be something that is really painful. It is no wonder that we are reluctant to get started on the process.

2 Comments

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2 Responses to Why Is Brexit Taking So Long? Five Whys.

  1. Joe

    I don’t think it’s taking very long. Modern-sized governments need years to (e.g.) turn off disused navigation beacons. There are a lot of interests involved in any decision, these days, and people don’t get that.

    We’ve all been living in this amazing economic system so long that nobody in Europe or North America can remember anything else. That’s causing us gigantic problems in the US, where our largest political is party dedicated to economic policies that are the equivalent of removing the pillars from a bridge because people only drive on the top part.

    In my dreams, the BBC would get somebody like Kenneth Clark to make a grand television program (“Trade”?) that shows how transportation networks, military alliances, financial markets, and communication all contribute to the way we live now, so people won’t be so eager to smash it.

    • Yes that’s a good point about the bridge Joe. Even such basic things as roads and plumbing don’t appear spontaneously. I watched a couple of episodes of Civilisation a while back. I like your idea of a trade version.

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