Brexit is no ‘Dunkirk’ movie; it’s real life

A recent article in Politico says that some European Union policymakers believe that Brexit negotiations are so chaotic on the British side because of a cunning plot to swamp the EU with well-prepared, profoundly thought-out position papers at the last minute.

“Having seen the movie ‘Dunkirk’ over the weekend, history might suggest that the British could turn disaster and disorganization around,” it quotes an European official as saying.

Many people in the UK wish that were true in the case of Brexit. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be. The simplest thing on which the government could have agreed — the rights of EU nationals in the UK — is fraught with problems, the biggest of them the fact that the new regime threatens to take away rights that these people already had.

Another issue that the UK needs to resolve relatively quickly is the issue of the Irish border. The new Prime Minister of Ireland, Leo Varadkar, suggested that Britain could enter a new, special customs union with the EU after Brexit.

That would perhaps solve the issue of the border, but it would defeat the point of Brexit: in a customs union, the partners must act together when it comes to protectionist measures, whereas the UK wants to be free to negotiate its own trade agreements.

An opinion poll by YouGov showed last week that 40% of the Leave voters said that Brexit would be worth it even if it means that they, or a close relative, would lose their job because of it.

Of course, that is easy to say from the (still secure) position of having a job. But even so, it is worrying that people brush off so easily what economic hardship post-Brexit could mean.

Probably those who are so dismissive of their jobs think they would immediately get another one. But if jobs do begin to disappear because of Brexit, that will not be the case. When that happens, it will probably be too late to reconsider.

Main things to watch in the week ahead:


— Eurozone Sentix confidence index for August

— Germany industrial production for June


— China trade balance for July


— China new yuan loans for July


— US consumer price inflation for July