JULY 26 ― “You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.”
That was one of the most important messages the song Hotel California gave us.
No country can expect to leave an economic union and expect a bed of roses to follow.
But in trying to be different, the British people hit the ball out of the park, almost causing the world to turn on its head.
Since then, the United Kingdom has had a new prime minister, seen the villain of this mess Nigel Farage quit his party and witness the pound collapse to its lowest level in 30 years.
As if that wasn’t enough, Boris Johnson is now Britain’s Foreign Minister.
As much as I dislike it, the easiest way to look into a post-Brexit future is by drawing similarities to marriage and divorce.
If I were married and things went south, calling it quits will not take me to where I would have been had I not walked down the aisle.
There will likely be kids to manage, finances to split and properties to deal with, not forgetting the emotional distress which is part of the package.
This is where the complications kick in, and from experience, this can be a terribly complicated one.
Deciding who gets what can take anywhere from a day to a decade.
Simply put, there is collateral damage a couple has to deal with if they decide to go their separate ways.
However, divorce today is no longer as taboo as compared to the public pressure Mr and Mrs James Langford had to go through; their case being the first divorce in recorded history, December 3rd 1639.
But there’s one difference between separation at a micro level ― marriage ― compared to the macro level ― Britain attempting to leave the European Union in this case.
At the micro level, the impact of separation does not overflow to another family, except in very rare instances.
When it is at a macro level though, it is impossible to contain the after effects of a country leaving an economic/monetary union like in the case of Britain.
For one, there is the huge complication involving settling people who could be displaced as there are British living within Europe and Europeans residing in Britain.
Then, there is the massive problem of mom and pop stores operated by both EU and non-EU residents who live in Britain and face closure as a result of the soon-to-be-tightened UK immigration policy.
Worst of all though, Brexit has legalised a terribly worrying racist dialogue in the UK against non-British people, with racial tensions at its highest levels since the World War 2.
These elements cannot be managed at a macro level, and this will certainly not take Britain back to those heady days of pre-1973 when they were still considered one of the world powers.
And that’s the reason I think there could be a compromise made by Theresa May and her new Cabinet before thinking about invoking the dreaded Article 50 which would kick into gear the Brexit process.
As far as I can remember, no country has ever left a multilateral economic agreement as the costs are just too great.
Like Hotel California, economic agreements are “programmed to receive.” Leaving is unthinkable.
So to Malaysians who bought into Datuk Seri Mustapha Mohamed’s “we can leave TPPA anytime and not suffer penalties” argument, maybe it’s best to hit rewind on Hotel California.
* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.