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What if they go on without us?

The news this week of further Brexit wrangling in Parliament, complemented by the bungling of the foreign secretary in matters dealing with a British national presently in prison in Iran, don’t really fill one with hope about how smoothly the transition to life outside the European Union will go for the United Kingdom, in light of the current government.

Indeed, how united the whole kingdom might be, if Northern Ireland goes with its geographic neighbour Ireland and stays in the trading bloc without the rest of the UK. Interestingly, NI voted leave, and they may well wind up staying while the rest of the UK departs, including those in the south who were definitely for staying in.

Meanwhile, there continue to be signs that the European Union is not waiting for the UK to sort out its house. This week, an Irish trade delegation is in Japan, discussing what types of dairy the Japanese market would like, among other Irish exports. I kind of feel like if matters were different, the UK might be there as well with its fellow EU delegates, discussing how much Stilton the Japanese market will have for the next few years. Maybe it would not have happened anyway, but when I travel in Europe now there’s a “well, they decided to leave, and we’re just getting on with our lives” sort of feel to the place. Who can blame them?

Certainly not me. It’s making the best of a stupid situation, which is all anyone who is operating in the European Union can do. I suspect the UK will be poorer but wiser in years to come, and bemoaning the fact that a referendum based on internal Conservative party politics spun so out of control that the UK fell out of the EU.

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