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Hard Brexit or no Brexit: Calling bluff on this (not so) Scottish play

Being English, naturalised Spanish and living in Spain, sometimes it is difficult to know what position to take on Brexit. Seen from afar, the spectacle of a country self destructing over an issue that could have been avoided, -had David Cameron been more statesmanlike and avoided basing national policy over such a fundamental issue purely on the interests of his party-, is at the very least fascinating. One British (well, admittedly, Scottish...) commentator told me how exciting it was to watch, comparing it to a train crash in slow motion. Given how tiresome the country's eurosceptic mob has become over so many years, it is not difficult for that German word schadenfreude to come clearly into view when contemplating which of all the negative or not so negative scenarios for the country could possibly end up top should they fulfil the dirtiest of their fantasies.

Among those scenarios are options ranging from slow decline to forecasts of something not far short of the Apocalypse. Clearly none of those options are desirable and given the sore state of Europe in general, with an increasing number of populist governments and overt hostility coming from across the Atlantic, any form of Brexit will benefit nobody. Yet, given how absolutely pig headed those in power in Westminster have been over the last few years, it is perhaps understandable to wish they just get on with it, stop trying to keep one foot in the door and go down the hole they have dug for themselves once and for all.

This sounds pretty awful, especially when you have a stake in whatever is the outcome thanks to links and relationships on both sides of the divide. However it is increasingly becoming clear that a  fudge would not be of any benefit to either side. Anything that looks like cherry picking or as the Italians would say, "volere la botte piena e la moglie ubriaca," as some in the British cabinet seem to desire, would lead to similar demands across the EU and would put an end to any likelihood of salvaging whatever remains of the European project. And meanwhile in the UK, any deal that allows them to keep up the appearance of having left the EU with little pain would only strengthen the hand of the pro-Brexit media while ensuring that the more fundamentalist of Tory politicians continue to complain that the government has sold the country down the river and failed to make a clear break.

That is not to say of course that we really dream of the country going down the road to perdition. From my own perspective the ideal result would be for voters at some stage in the process to experience a  moment of lucidity, see what they are doing to themselves and cancel the whole rotten enterprise. This of course begs the question of whether, having seen what they are capable of,  anyone else in the EU would want the UK back on board. For heaven's sake, we've already got the Hungarians, Austrians and Italians to deal with! Yet, to coin a phrase, precisely for this reason I assume most people would rather have the UK on the inside pissing out than on the outside pissing in. For pissing the other way round, Putin and Trump, and that is two too many.

Yet just as May insists, Brexit is Brexit and jumping is jumping; and if they insist on jumping, regrettable as it is, it is their own sovereign division. All we can do for the moment is, through soothing words, firm pressure or a combination of both, try to talk them out of it.

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