If you’re reading this, well done! You’ve survived one of the most shambolic, confusing and counterproductive episodes in recent political history. The Prime Minister’s exhausted deal proceeds to a third meaningful vote with MPs, yet they still refuse to cooperate and be constructive.
Westminster is a heavily pro-Remain body who don’t want the UK to fully leave the EU. MPs such as Mary Creagh, Ruth Smeeth and Anna Soubry are willingly frustrating a deal being passed and are deliberately obstructing Brexit. Oh, and I forgot to mention their constituencies voted, on average, 62% to leave the EU.
This ‘I know better’ mentality has resulted in parliamentary deadlock. Let’s first have a look at what the deal proposes. Firstly, a transition deal is a sensible approach. We have been part of the EU for over 40 years, we cannot simply leave overnight. However, in this period, Britain abides by EU rules but loses membership of any EU institutions. Budgetary contributions are also mandatory during this period. I can’t help but think of the disrespect the EU is showing to a country that cancelled the debts European nations owed Britain following the Second World War.
Secondly, the Withdrawal Agreement assures that EU citizens will keep residency and social security after Brexit: A simple and common-sense policy. There is cross-party support for this.
Now we come to Northern Ireland. The PM agreed that if no long-term trade deal is settled, the UK will enter into a backstop. Essentially, we will be in the Customs Union, legally prevented from creating new trade deals with other countries. The impasse in Parliament here is that Conservatives, DUP and Labour all see the backstop as detrimental in forming new trading partnerships with the wider world. As Boris Johnson argues, the UK will attain ‘colony’ status: Paying into the EU budget, economically stifled and still subject to EU laws. The UK will be tied into this limbo-like backstop indefinitely until all 27 EU leaders vote to approve its exit, and let’s face it, these are politicians like many our own: selfish, condescending and seemingly incapable to think that a country could dare to leave the EU.
This Withdrawal Agreement has stalled in Parliament. Why? Because Labour are deliberately voting against it for political reasons. Labour’s Brexit stance has changed to supporting a “People’s Vote” (in reality a loser’s attempt to remain in the EU). However, what is striking here is that the deal actually fulfils Labour’s criteria for Brexit, including membership of a customs union, citizen’s rights, a close relationship with the EU and a transitional break-away from the bloc. The hapless and failed leadership of Jeremy Corbyn tries to control the Brexit process by calling endlessly for different things: a general election (he probably can’t win) or a second referendum. Yet he can’t seem to control rampant anti-Semitism in his own party.
Furthermore, the European Reform Group (ERG) has allied itself to the DUP, refusing to accept anything but their idea of Brexit. This completely dogmatic position has led to the deal, the closest they have ever come to Brexit, being rejected twice. They argue further concessions are possible from the EU: wrong, they believe that if they vote against the deal over and over again they will eventually get their way: wrong. They have become ideologically blinded and have a tunnel vision where it is easy to get what they want and what they want is easy to get. If they lose Brexit, they are as much to blame as all the parties which want to stop Brexit, Labour seemingly now included.
How Theresa May will break this deadlock is still debatable. My perspective is that she will use the threat of a prolonged extension to Article 50 with further legal assurances on the backstop to force the ERG and DUP to vote for her deal. She has created this mess herself. Her tenacity must command respect. However, her failure in securing a good deal alongside the concessions she has made to the EU cannot be ignored. How the woman doesn’t scream into her pillow every morning is beyond me. Although - perhaps she does.