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Brexit and Alice



“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.

“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

(Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter 6)



Since it seems to be rather in vogue to quote Alice in relation to Brexit, if you simply exchange Brexit for Alice’s stated destination, so rather than ‘somewhere’ read ‘Brexit’, then you have a wonderland sense of where we are or aren’t now. A sense that it does not much matter how we get there or what the collateral damage might be as long as we are seen to be setting out on the stated path to Brexit.


What I have missed in the parliamentary debate about triggering the start of our Brexit journey is any real discussion about ‘rights’, most importantly about the loss or removal of European rights from UK citizens. I find this strange as it was such a key aspect of the both judgments in the recent court cases; the basic principle that it must be Parliament which decides on the removal of rights granted to UK citizens under decades of EU law. It is clear the courts felt that those rights begin to inevitably disappear with the triggering of Article 50 that was why it was such a huge deal that should necessitate the involvement of Parliament as the representatives of the people. However those representatives in turn are saying that the people have clearly understood those implications, implications that it took eminent judges weeks to agonise over, and are happy to wave away those rights. I wonder what the uproar would be if the rights were seen to flow from Magna Carta? Yet they are still rights; check and balances, opportunities and possibilities that as European citizens were protected and guaranteed across a whole continent.


The strangeness will continue as we contemplate a Great Repeal Bill / Act that will relieve and free us of all that EU legislation but then will immediately re-enact much of it into UK law ( so no repeal? ). Yet of course much of that law will then be insignificant or useless without the reciprocal requirements currently contained and relevant and helpful to us in the law of 27 other countries. So not really a ‘repeal’ at all rather a disappearing act. Curiouser and curiouser one might venture to say.


So we might be excused for feeling a bit like Alice

Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said: “one can’t believe impossible things.”

“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

(Through the Looking Glass, Chapter 5)



About Diana Wallis

A European from Yorkshire interested in people, politics, democracy, history and cultivating my garden!


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