The current course of Brexit is bleak to say the least. The deal that has been proposed and all but signed off between Theresa May and the EU has sunk like a lead balloon among MPs. In fact, the withdrawal agreement is likely to be voted down when it is brought back to the Commons in the second week of January in the new year. To persuade those that oppose the deal, May must somehow squeeze something out of the EU over the Christmas recess.
If the deal is voted down, a likely outcome given its lack of support prior to the meaningful vote being pulled from the order of business in the Commons, then we as a nation face uncharted and potentially dangerous territory.
If the deal is voted down, there are very few options that could be tabled as an alternative. There is the Norway option, which would see the UK remain in the EU’s economic institutions as well as the political, whilst having no say in lawmaking. This is being championed by the likes of Stephen Kinnock, but I cannot see that being popular amongst MPs or the people.
Another option, which is the default under current law, is on 29 March 2019, we leave the EU without a deal if one is not agreed by that time. This is the apple in the eyes of the eurosceptic Tory European Research Group, who believe that a no-deal scenario is the best possible outcome. However, this is easily the most opposed outcome of all, and would likely lead to the government potentially collapsing in the face of a no-confidence motion tabled by opposition parties.
The final option that is currently gathering noticeable momentum is the option of another referendum – a people’s vote. This is something that MPs like Jacob Rees-Mogg vehemently oppose, labelling it a ‘loser’s vote’, but one must consider that a people’s vote may be the only logical outcome should there be a major impasse or change in government policy, or the government itself.
I make no apologies for being a Brexiteer, although I do admit that I was a skeptic running up to the referendum over two years ago. I dislike the EU and its bureaucracy, and the over-bearing sense that it believes that individual nation states should willingly surrender political sovereignty for the sake of trade deals.
However, there is now an increasing trend among those who are determined to leave by any means necessary, to blame the EU for the current state of play between the Union and the UK and I for one cannot understand.
This attitude is something that I believe to be counter-intuitive to resolving the current crisis the UK finds itself in. Whilst it can be argued that the EU has made parts of the negotiations harder than necessary, one has to respect the fact that the rules-based economic bloc is comprised of 27 individual nations – infinitely more powerful than one island nation in the North Atlantic.
The belief among the puritan Brexiteers within Parliament, especially those who say the EU has negotiated in bad faith for the past two years, need to take off the rose-tinted glasses and look at the wider picture. The frankly astonishing belief that the EU should have thrown out its rules and regulations for the sake of one negotiation is a fantasy among those who advocate no-deal and believe this to be the case.
Whilst I do not particularly like the EU, I will respect their right to defend their integrity in a negotiation that could potentially have serious implications on industry, not to mention manufacturing and agrifood imports. The belief of some Brexiteers within the Tory Party that the EU must give all of their responsibilities away and pander to us is something that I feel has severely undermined the entire negotiating process and has ultimately led us to the current situation.
The prospect of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, in my opinion, is destructive. Whilst some may wish to brush aside the economic impact analyses conducted by the Treasury or the Bank of England as being a part of ‘Project Fear’, I would rather analyse the findings and then come to a logical conclusion. One thing that must be asked of Brexiteers who advocate a no-deal scenario is that are they willing to risk an economic shock potentially worse than that of 2008 in order to get what they want? If any politician does, then that is an egregious dereliction of duty.
That is why I believe that the logical end to this entire process is no longer May’s deal or no-deal, but in fact a people’s vote will likely be the final act of the Brexit show that has been running for two years. There is of course the question that faces those who want a people’s vote, will the result be respected if the people vote to leave the EU once more? This is an important question that needs to be answered with a resounding 'yes' from the People’s Vote campaign if the process is to be taken seriously.
The people’s vote option may be the poison chalice that should not be touched by many a Brexiteer. Yet, if we are to somehow overcome the current impasse in Parliament, I fear it may be the only option on the table which could somehow bring an end to the horrific state of affairs.
The question that would be on the ballot paper is not for me to decide, and I honestly can say that I don’t know what should be on the ballot. But what I can say is that the current discourse between and indeed towards politicians by calling them traitors and the like, is not healthy for our democracy.
Should there be a people’s vote, then there must be a guarantee from all sides that the argument will be settled, whatever the result. There must be a sincere effort then to make good on the promises made during the second campaign to the winning side, whilst addressing the grievances of the losing argument. I firmly believe this will help calm tensions in the long-run.
I am by no means saying that I categorically support a people’s vote. This is simply an observation that is the result of watching the past two to three weeks unfold in politics. I believe that May’s deal, despite its many and well documented flaws, is the best possible option we have. Should this be agreed, then the responsibility relies with the EU and the UK to come to an agreement which would finally see Britain free from the EU and have the ability to reassert her power on the world stage.