One of the favorite tactics of the usual suspects is to attack the good guys in order to provoke a response. Then they use that response as an excuse to wage war against the good guys, claiming it is in self-defense. The game is to find a Fort Sumter and if one is not available, they manufacture one. That’s why the Left is attacking Trump people in public places. They hope someone will lose their temper and throw a punch. Then they can claim they are the victim and their crazy demands are justified. It’ll be proof Trump is a Nazi.
A corollary to this strategy, one popular with so-called conservatives, is to undermine the efforts of their supporters, then claim they were justified in their reticence, because it was doomed all along. It’s a weird game of “I told you so.” The Tea Party movement is a great example. The Republicans were dead in the water after 2008, until white voters revolted and resuscitated the party on populist issues. The GOP repaid them by systematically undermining their efforts and ideas, then yelling “I told you so!” after the inevitable failure.
It’s tempting to think this is unique to America, where our two party system forces everyone to choose between the turd sandwich and the giant douche. It means the two parties can collude with one another, without fear of a third party stealing away their voters. As we see with the Brits, a multi-party system does not prevent the so-called conservatives from selling out their voters. After two years of foot-dragging, the Tories have figured out how to comply with the Brexit referendum, without actually doing it.
The UK position crucially “evolves” in two ways that would allow for a Norway-style Brexit deal covering at least part of the EU single market. The first is Britain’s proposal for a “free trade area for goods” involving the UK and the EU that in effect continues existing regulatory and customs arrangements for manufacturing and agricultural products after Brexit. This is achieved by the UK becoming a rule-taker, with a treaty-based commitment to “ongoing harmonisation with EU rules on goods”. Just as important is Britain’s concession on enforcement. UK courts would pay “due regard” to European rulings in cases relating to EU-set rules. In other words, while Britain is a separate legal jurisdiction after Brexit, the European Court of Justice would be supreme in interpreting the UK-EU goods rule book. There are caveats — for example the British parliament could veto changes to the rule book if it accepts the “consequences for market access”. But taken together, the safeguards offer no more freedom than Norway enjoys as a member of the European Economic Area. In his resignation letter Mr Davis dismissed the sense of parliamentary control as “illusory rather than real”.
The short version of this ploy by the Tories is that Britain will technically leave the EU, but continue to abide by all of the rules of the EU. It is an elaborate game of make believe, where everyone is supposed to pretend the government is complying with the will of the people, but nothing really changes. Of course, the Brexiters in government have no choice but to resign. Brexit Secretary David Davis resigned, followed by Boris Johnson a day later. This split in the party could lead to the fall of the government and new elections.
Of course, the usual suspects are out in force saying, “See? We told you so! Britain can’t leave Europe.” Just in the Atlantic, we have all the examples of the typical tactics from these guys. There’s blaming the victim, claiming the Brexiters are responsible for the failure. Then there is the claim the Brexiters are getting what they deserve. Then, of course, the claim that Brexit could never work. Since the usual suspects have had no luck with Trump, they are keeping in shape by plying their trade on British topics.
This is just another reminder that the first enemy of the populists must be the legacy conservatives, who work as bodyguards for the ruling class. The whole point of the Brexit referendum was to undermine the populists. When that failed, the Tories shifted to a policy of killing the initiative with an endless process. If the result of this is new elections, they will try to frighten the voters, by claiming Jeremy Corbyn will scuttle the whole deal, which he probably would do, if given the chance. Years will past and nothing will happen.
What needs to happen in Britain, as well as the United States, is for the conventional conservatives to collapse. What must replace it is an authentic Right that offers a reasoned and practical alternative to the neoliberal order. In Britain, it means the Tories become UKIP without the eccentrics and trouble makers. In the US, it means the GOP becomes the party of Trump. That can only happen with a populist intellectual movement to provide energy and ideas to the New Right, while delegitimizing the legacy Right.