Two years on from the Brexit referendum and out of the lull we crash into political upheaval again. At the moment UK politics has more drama in it than your worst soap opera. The trouble is, when the field is evenly split it is going to be a dirty drag out scrap to get the job done and there is not going to be any friends at the end.
From Monday last week we have lurched from one drama to another but not making any progress. First, Mrs May tried to prevent legal advise on the Draft Agreement being made public. This brought her in contempt with the House and then she lost the vote and had to make it public anyway. If there was nothing to hide why waste the energy? However there was something to hide, well not really because everyone I spoke to saw it for what it was. The backstop arrangement ties us to the EU until another arrangement that the EU agrees with. Why Mrs May tried to say differently is unknown, but it cost her on Monday and for the rest of the week the debate on The Draft Agreement raged on.
The two politicians that stood out for me were firstly John Redwood, one of the old guard who has worked for a female leader before. He seemed to understand what the Leave voters said, that we have more faith in them to do the right thing for our country than the EU. Also, that we believed in ourselves to put our shoulder to the wheel to make a success of it. He said instead of being scared of this vote of confidence, they should celebrate it and start planning for the future instead of hiding behind EU skirts.
The second was a former prime minister of Australia, Tony Abbott who wrote the article ‘How to save Brexit’. He clearly stated how we could implement WTO, maintaining zero tariff between us and the EU, and the worst they could do to us is implement a tariff of between 4-5%, which would not be in their best interest. He explained residency, free movement with employment restrictions for foreign workers and a new relationship with Ireland which could finally start healing old wounds. He expressed a belief in us that is heart warming as is his disbelief at the lack of faith our politicians had in independence and its own population. For that I would like to say: thank you, sir.
The debate raged on with expectation of a vote on the Draft on Tuesday 11th. However, Mrs May seemed to trust Tony Blair’s advice and cancelled the vote, stating she would go back to the EU to seek reassurances regarding the backstop. When questioned she either didn’t answer the question at all or repeated the same rhetoric she has been peddling all along. She also refused to state when the new date would be for a vote, saying vaguely it would be before January 21st.
This dictatorial style leadership convinced Conservative MPs to submit the final ‘no confidence’ letters which made up the necessary amount of 48. This had been happening since the Chequers meeting but not in a rebellious rush but in a considered trickle, MP’s possibly recognising this was an action of last resort or maybe this is giving them more credit than they deserve. The vote happened on the evening of Wednesday 12th, causing a flurry of media speculation about future leadership contenders, with no real mention of her surviving the vote.
However, after promising she would not lead them through the next election, she won the vote 200 to 117 which means she can remain unchallenged for a year. A year is a long time in politics and after the past two weeks will we or she be able to handle what is to come? In real terms it changed nothing. She is still going to Europe to seek meaningless reassurances on an Agreement no one wants. The date for the vote is still outstanding with defeat still possible. The only power MPs have is to make her life as miserable as possible so she resigns.
Personally, I have come to the conclusion that this whole thing went wrong 2 years ago. The referendum result showed an unconvincing split in belief systems. The Leave campaigners should have done a better job then, had faith in the facts to sell Leaving and No Deal, instead of stupid soundbites and battle bus slogans. This would have resulted in a better result which would have left no room for the arguments we are now witnessing.
The future could be bright but it is disappearing fast and we only have ourselves to blame. We chose personality over substance. Chose to resign when we should have stayed and fought. Threw away an opportunity to elect a fighter instead they backed a compromiser. My message to the politicians – get out of my sight. You disgust me.