New Year’s Day, 2021
Alan Moore, in the appendices to his graphic novel From Hell, uses Koch’s Snowflake to illustrate the historiography of his subject.
Moore’s point is that every book on his subject – either with new minor details or imaginative theories – cannot go beyond certain central facts.
New details and new interpretations can be added infinitely – but the significant events were finite.
(On the Whitechapel murders, do click and buy here for Hallie Rubenhold’s outstanding book.)
What Moore says can, of course, be said also of any group of connected historical events.
Take, for example, Brexit.
The central events of Brexit are: (1) the decision to hold a referendum on 23 June 2016; (2) the referendum result; (3) the Article 50 notification on 29 March 2017; (4) the extensions of the Article 50 period; (5) the United Kingdom departing the European Union on 31st January 2020; and (6) the end of the transition period yesterday, 31st December 2020.
These are the six tips of the Koch’s Snowflake of Brexit.
Now and in the future there will be far more detail: about the politics and the negotiations, about the content and effects of legal instruments; and about the impact of decisions made.
And there will be endless interpretations of what actually happened in these five or so eventful and exhausting years, and endless explanations of why it happened.
The amount of new detail on Brexit, and of new ‘takes’ about Brexit, is no doubt infinite.
But all the new details and all the new interpretations will not change the six central (procedural) facts of Brexit.
None of those six events were inevitable, of course.
Each event could have happened differently, or even not happened at all.
But those were the events that did happen, and so they are the things which ultimately do need to be explained.
And, as this blog has previously averred, even if certain crucial events of Brexit had turned out differently, we could have ended up with just a different form and manner of Brexit.
Now that this stage of Brexit is over – though the overall story of Brexit is far from being at an end, and may never end – it is time for me to finally complete the book I was asked to write on Brexit.
You can pre-order the book here – though the actual publication date will be later than April.
I had been waiting for the outcome of the transition period, and to discover whether there would be a relationship agreement, or not
I needed to know what would be the sixth tip of the Koch’s snowflake of Brexit.
The circumstances of the departure from the transition arrangements may explain more about else has happened since the 2016 referendum.
Of course, I could have told the story of Brexit with indifference to what happened at the end of the transition period – and there are many excellent books on Brexit already published.
But that was not the story I wanted to tell – or was able to tell in book form.
The story I want to tell as a book is how the United Kingdom went from a general election in 2015, where each major party was in support of European Union membership, to the United Kingdom leaving not only the European Union, but also (with the end of the transition period, and with special arrangements for Northern Ireland) the Single Market and Customs Union, in just five years.
People in the future will be struck by how much happened, so quickly.
(As some people are already.)
Brexit is the most extraordinary political-policy-legal-constitutional-economic group of connected events in the modern history of the United Kingdom.
It should be an interesting story to try to tell, and I hope for you to read.
A Happy New Year to all my readers and followers.
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