1. Exquisite Tweets from @JeremyCliffe

    PreoccupationsCollected by Preoccupations

    Amid the excitement in Westminster it's worth keeping sight of the bigger picture.

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    JeremyCliffe

    Jeremy Cliffe

    1/ Britain's membership of the EU never had much emotional resonance and worked because it lacked domestic political salience (for historical and cultural reasons too extensive to list now).

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    JeremyCliffe

    Jeremy Cliffe

    2/ For decades the really convinced pro- and anti-Europeans - those for whom the EU was about the national character first and transactional pros and cons second - resided closer to the fringes of British politics than to its centre.

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    JeremyCliffe

    Jeremy Cliffe

    3/ But post-Thatcher trauma gave the anti-Europeans a home deep in the Tory party. And New Labour, partly in its quest to escape old ideologies, gave pro-Europeans a foothold in its camp.

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    JeremyCliffe

    Jeremy Cliffe

    4/ There was always an imbalance: pro-Europeans never had the grip on Labour that anti-Europeans had on the Tories.

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    JeremyCliffe

    Jeremy Cliffe

    5/ This fact, the traumas of coalition (a very un-Tory concept) and a big dose of hubris promoted Cameron in 2013 to promise a referendum on EU membership.

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    JeremyCliffe

    Jeremy Cliffe

    6/ Calling the Brexit vote for party internal (but deep-rooted) reasons, Cameron was dishonest about the real trade-offs. He suggested a vote between two political chimeras: an EU whose benefits to Britain depend on unilateral renegotiation and a Brexit bearing certain benefits.

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    JeremyCliffe

    Jeremy Cliffe

    7/ That choice of chimeras has defined events since. Remain and Leave have for years been more symbols than pro-active, long-term, defined policy choices.

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    JeremyCliffe

    Jeremy Cliffe

    8/ In other words, Britain's current mess - which is once more coming to a head tonight in Westminster - is the pile-up of decades of unresolved contradictions and disputes. No wonder it's ugly.

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    JeremyCliffe

    Jeremy Cliffe

    9/ At the heart of the Brexit debacle is a majoritarian political system that trades precision for consensus, but has run out of consensus.

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    JeremyCliffe

    Jeremy Cliffe

    10/10 It will take years, perhaps decades, to fix Brexit and/or the causes of Brexit. Doing so begins with fixing a political system that clearly isn't working and whose flaws have been building up for a long time.

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    JeremyCliffe

    Jeremy Cliffe