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by Mandy Rhodes
02 December 2018
The Brexit deal is unashamed folly

Image credit: David Anderson

The Brexit deal is unashamed folly

We have surely fallen far down the rabbit hole when it makes front-page news that one of Theresa May’s own cabinet colleagues actually supports her, but that is where Brexit has taken us.

And instead of spending the little time she has left before the so-called ‘meaningful vote’ in the House of Commons on the 11th of December, trying to cajole her elected political friends and foes to back her, the PM has embarked on a blitz of Britain trying to persuade sceptical voters that she is acting in their best interests.

She landed in Scotland last week, as a fully-formed Brexit-braggart, on the very same day that the financial experts painted a doomsday scenario for any kind of exit from the EU: the pound would crash, inflation would soar, interest rates would rise, unemployment would skyrocket, and economic growth would plummet in the event of a no-deal, warned the Bank of England’s governor, Mark Carney.

And with the Treasury’s own analysis revealing that the UK economy would shrink under all versions of Brexit, including the PM’s, Philip Hammond said that it was “purely economic sense” that Britain would be poorer than if it was still in the EU.

And so, with the prospect of Britain being plunged into the worst financial crisis since the 1930s, the UK Government spin machine went into overdrive, attempting to put a gloss on a PM who has managed to negotiate a deal to make things very bad for the people she governs.

It took the EU27 just half an hour to agree and sign off May’s deal and while they pronounced it as “the best deal possible”, reading between the lines, that meant a good deal was made impossible.

May is not a good negotiator, she is a very bad negotiator. From triggering Article 50 too early, to agreeing a £50bn exit fee at the outset, to laying down the red-lines, to gambling with the livelihoods of fishermen and casting off any real commitment to the stability of her ‘precious union’, she has failed, failed and failed again.

Of course, she must sound upbeat, that’s politics, but this Brexit deal is no victory, it is unashamed folly. It diminishes Britain and is nothing short of a national humiliation.

Remember how pain-free Brexiteers told us exiting the EU would be? A halcyon time when Brexit would simply be a dive into the sunny uplands of global prosperity with trade deals being plucked out of mid-air, immigration halted and Britain once again ruling the waves, but now, faced with the catastrophic predictions, there’s simply no one of the real world pretending that this deal is anything other than an act of grievous self-harm.

Theresa May says she is doing this as a duty to democracy. But if we needed any more proof of her ad hoc contempt for a democratic process that she says she holds so dear, it is that one of her first stops on her national tour seeking support for her Brexit, is to the very place that voted 62 per cent to Remain.

Scotland is a country where every single constituency rejected the idea of quitting the EU, and where polls show that opinion has only strengthened.

She has ignored our vote, is deaf to the Scottish Government’s pleas, disrespected the majority opinion of our parliament, sold our fishermen down the river, risked the union, and now expects us to roll out the welcome mat to a deal that will demonstrably do us more harm.

What a brass neck, indeed.

There is little doubt, however, that the deal as it stands will not win support in the House of Commons, no matter how many knighthoods May can dangle, and so she plunges her own party into a Sophie’s Choice over national sovereignty and the preservation of the ‘cherished union’.

The so-called ‘backstop’ makes it clear that Northern Ireland will obey EU single market rules unless another way can be found of keeping the border open. And that means the UK must either follow EU rules or split from Northern Ireland.

Not only will this be opposed by the DUP but add succour to the SNP. And with the 13 Scottish Conservative MPs all working on their own agendas of what there is to support in a deal that lets down Scottish fishermen, the only certainty from them is that they would surely resist anything that could bolster the case for either a second independence referendum or the breakup of the UK.

Meanwhile, their leader is now faced with exactly the deal that prompted her and the Secretary of State for Scotland to threaten to resign.

And with Brexit prompting an ever-widening chasm between the Tory MSPs and their counterparts at Westminster, who some are privately calling ‘those British Conservatives’, the normally voluble Ruth Davidson, currently on maternity leave and noticeably silent, would surely not risk the survival of her own party north of the border, without considering her options?

Brexit has exposed Britain to be a family of nations tethered together but straining on that leash with very different views of what this sovereign state should look like.

And with support for Brexit falling, appeal for a People’s Vote growing, the Tory rebels failing to mount their promised coup, the dire economic forecasts and with the Brexit deadline looming, why when there is still a choice, would the PM carry on delivering on a vote that means we’re all sunk?

A lifeline. This Tuesday, it is very likely that the European Court of Justice will give an opinion on the case brought by a cross-party group of six Scottish MPs, MEPs and MSPs that could revoke Article 50 and stop Brexit.

Of course, there would be cries of democratic foul, but anything would have to be better than this shambles brought to us on the back of a lie.

Theresa May appears to be a woman driven by a conviction rooted in public duty. Surely, then, for her, it is a more honourable act to press the button on pause than on self-destruct?

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