Having spent the last week marching across England with a merry band on the “March to Leave” and talking to ordinary folk along the way, I have no doubt that the voting public are looking upon the tragicomedy that is Parliament with dismay.
As far as Leave voters are concerned they, without exception, say that they voted to leave, “just leave”, and don’t understand why some sort deal has got in the way. After all, David Cameron said his pathetic deal was the only deal and that the referendum would be the final decision. The ballot paper said Remain or Leave, there was no mention of a deal.
While the people hold in contempt much of our political class, the pygmies that now occupy the Palace of Westminster, I strongly suspect they will be even more astounded to see those few MPs – who hitherto were regarded as giants and who have, correctly, held up the PMs deal to ridicule – deciding at the eleventh hour that it is “with a heavy heart” – that they must vote for May’s deal because all the other options are worse.
There is an old adage in business that you are only as good as the last thing you did, and it is certainly what you do when the chips are down that defines who you really are.
Worse still those who are now seemingly changing their minds – Jacob Rees-Mogg and Esther McVey for example – have been at pains to, in the past, point out the inadequacies of the PMs proposal. It is now common currency that the Withdrawal Agreement will lead us to vassalage in relation to the EU, in permanent orbit, and that the backstop provides no way out of the EU, a permanent prisoner with no say.
Only if the backstop were removed in its entirety would it be acceptable, it has repeatedly been said. What has changed? In the words of both May and her compatriot Barnier, nothing is the answer.
I might have some sympathy with such nay sayers, that some of the options being put forward are worse even than May’s deal; the euphemistically named ‘Norway plus’ is actually ‘minus minus’ and Common Market 2.0, both of which appear to not only keep us in the customs union but also the single market. It is nonetheless the case that May’s deal is Remain in all but name too.
The proponents of these can use as much “snake oil” language as they like – after all you can put oodles of lipstick on a pig, but it will still be a pig. Asking MPs to choose between the options is like saying “do you prefer strychnine or arsenic”.
What is remarkable is that people in Westminster and Whitehall seem to think that the people of our country don’t understand this. Believe me they are way ahead of the curve by comparison with our MPs. The people are lions led by donkeys, or perhaps it is just that our political elite don’t care. I suspect they will realise when it comes to the ballot box.
A recent ComRes survey for the Daily Telegraph found that 46 per cent of adults back a no-deal exit, and most do not think that Theresa May’s deal delivers Brexit. Many think that a failure to deliver Brexit will damage our democratic system forever.
Since that takes the revoking of Article 50 and a second referendum off the table, and the other options are Remain in all but name, that just leaves a no deal exit, a long extension with Euro elections, or a general election as the only legitimate paths for government – and even then Brexit must be delivered in the end.
Brexit-supporting MPs should hold their nerve and be prepared to see if the Remainers in Parliament (and government), who are betraying both the country and democracy, are prepared to be judged by the electorate.
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