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The Word on the Week

Brexit without Exit

Of all the games people play, politics must be the craziest! It has been described as ‘the art of the possible’. What is possible may change during the game so the rules are changed and the game goes on as happened with the Brexit negotiations this week.
Perhaps it was thanks to the Irish intervention which insisted on a ‘Soft’ Border i.e. no customs between the North and the South nor, barriers to East- West trade between N. Ireland and Britain. This gained agreement and so the talks can move on to the next stage.
This deal which has just been signed contains the following:
1. The continuation of the common travel area between the UK and Ireland.
2. The citizen rights of the 1998 agreement (new name for the Good Friday agreement) will be maintained.
3. A commitment that there will be no ‘Hard’ Border between The North and the South of Ireland.
With such commitments there would appear to be little room for negotiating new trade deals with the EU that depart from what is currently in place. It would seem that the UK might as well remain in the customs union and the single market if it is to fulfil these obligations!

However, we need to remind ourselves that the UK wishes to escape from the EC laws, control its own immigration and have trade deals with other countries. Achieving these goals while retaining access to the existing arrangements is a bit like having your cake and eating it!

In this situation creative ambiguity can make impossible situations, such as the present, develop into something possible. It depends on how willing those negotiating are to reach a conclusion. Usually words are redefined and terms restated so as to make agreements work. In Alice in Wonderland Humpty Dumpy gives us a good example when he asserted, “words mean what I choose it to mean, no more and no less”!

Jesus taught his followers to avoid oaths which are usually made to bolster a weak case. He was more interested in the truth being spoken and said that our ‘Yes’ should mean ‘Yes’ and our ‘No’ mean ‘No’ (St Matthew Chapter 5 verse 37). An example of this truth occurs in St Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus. The difficulty then as indeed even today was to reconcile Jew and Gentile. This was not to be done by any creative ambiguity but simply by stating the truth in love. Reconciliation has been made by the blood of Christ. The Gentiles have been brought near – that is they have access to God by the one Spirit (Ephesians Chapter 2 verses 13/18).
‘Truthing’ in love can inhabit our speech as well as the politicians’ through faith in Jesus.