My article for the Herald on a Brexit plan B. The article is also available on the Herald website here.
The old adage in politics is that you only start to win an argument when the rhetoric is played back to you by your opponents.
Look at what the Prime Minister has done in the last couple of days. She has broken with all convention and, arguably, the Ministerial Code, by releasing to the media on Sunday that she would specifically rule out a “People’s Vote” during her statement to Parliament the following day.
This poses the question – has the Prime Minister just run the Brexit white flag up the flagpole and essentially made a People’s Vote more likely?
Four senior members of her Cabinet have said that a public vote may be the only way forward. Are they softening up the ground?
So what happens next?
The Prime Minister is in a difficult position of her own making. She has lost all authority and integrity. Remember back in 2017 when she declared she would not call a snap General Election – she called one.
Remember when she promised not to delay the “meaningful” vote last week – she delayed it.
Remember when she said her deal was non-negotiable – and she subsequently went back to the EU to renegotiate it.
So, when the Prime Minister categorically rules out a People’s Vote to break the parliamentary impasse we should all ask ourselves when it will be.
We now know that the “meaningful” vote on the Prime Ministers Brexit “deal” will come back to Parliament in the week after the festive recess. That means a vote in the week beginning Monday 14th January.
Over a month lost so the Prime Minister can try and bribe Parliament into supporting her botched deal in order to prevent a no deal.
The Prime Minister and the overwhelming majority of MPs do not want a no deal scenario, so why doesn’t the PM rule this out in order to prevent the need for our public services and businesses from spending billions of pounds on no deal contingency planning.
She has no plan B and is ploughing on trying to win a majority in Parliament for a deal that has as much chance of passing as Boris Johnson deciding to put the country before his naked ambition to be PM.
I think the most likely outcome to come from the Parliamentary paralysis is a public vote. Whether you were a Leaver or a Remainer, we can all agree that the Government has singularly failed to deliver for any side.
We also know that all the promises given by Farage and Co at the 2016 referendum were false and that any deal that is done with the EU will never give us the same positive benefits to what we enjoy today as a full member.
And a new public vote would be different from the 2016 referendum. We now know what Brexit means for our country – it will make us poorer.
Any effort by the Prime Minister to force her deal over the line without checking with the public will only reinforce the division in our country, especially when we become much poorer as a result.
It is, therefore, vital that the Prime Minster prepares a Plan B for when her worst of all worlds “deal” is voted down in January. That Plan B should be to make preparations for a public vote in order to sort out this Brexit mess.
One thing is certain. The Prime Minster must reach out across the political divide, in the national interest, before it is too late. We have a mere 46 Parliamentary sitting days until Brexit.