‘Now comes the monkey out of the sleeve’: a Dutch idiom. Letter to the editor

Meme by Neil Kelly

Nu komt de aap uit de mouw

A couple of hundred years ago, Dutch sailors returning from long voyages sometimes tried to smuggle monkeys into the country. Hidden inside their coats an unfortunate pet would, on occasions, poke their head out of the smuggler’s sleeve at the dock gates and give the game away.

This is the origin of a saying that graphically describes trying to hide something that suddenly appears in plain sight.

And here we are with Brexit… at last!

Anyone with any intelligence in government or in business knows that Brexit is an absolute disaster. The Bank of England knows it, the OBR knows it, Johnson knows it, Sunak knows it and Hunt knows it. 

More importantly, a majority of adults in the UK know it.

So that is why the adoption of a ‘Swiss-style arrangement’ has been rumoured. Instant denial from Sunak proves that it has been seriously considered.

The Swiss EU deal has evolved over 20 years, is particularly complicated, and there is no reason why the EU would allow the UK to emulate it; indeed, neither side is very happy with the arrangement.

There is no doubt that the EU would consider a Norway-style deal; in fact, they actually suggested it. It would entail common standards, freedom of movement and the ECJ ruling on disputes, all no-nos to the Tory right.

However, a fact-based campaign could sell this to the British people by clearly setting out the advantages.

Even the apparently neutral BBC has outlined, graphically, the loss to GDP and growth that Brexit has brought about, as well as pointing out how pathetic the trade deals with Australia, Japan and New Zealand are, doing nothing to dent the impact of the downturn in trade with the EU.

Norway is fiercely independent and, unlike us, have made their North Sea oil bonanza benefit their people. They are now, per capita, the richest nation in Europe and live happily alongside the EU.

My hope is that the awful financial crisis will finally concentrate people’s minds on the dreadful mistake that is Brexit.

Maybe then the Labour party will stop being scared of talking about it and explain that there are no viable alternatives to being close to our biggest trading partner.

All of the recent polls confirm that the Brexit we have is nothing like the Brexit that was promised.

Brexit was always theoretical, a land flowing in milk and honey, Singapore on Thames, control of our borders, massive new trade deals…. all unicorns.

The reality is dire.

The monkey has shown its face.

Ian Jacques