My article for the Edinburgh Evening News on Theresa May Brexit sloganeering. You can also read the article on the EEN website here.
Well, that was the year that was – 2018 will be remembered for a lot of things but Brexit will be the dominant story.
Remember back in 1992 when the Queen described her year as an “annus horribilis”. Well, 2018 was an annus horribilis for our politics and we must prevent Brexit creating a 2019 “annus horribilus-plus” for the country. When parliament resumes next week, we will re-commence the postponed debate on the Prime Minister’s worst-of-all-worlds Brexit “deal” with the meaningful votes to come the following week.
It is worth emphasising why I will be voting against the “deal” and continuing to press for a People’s Vote.
The Prime Minister robotically repeats that we will be able to “take back control of our money, borders and laws”, but that soundbite is as disingenuous as it is infuriating.
Let’s look at “our money”. All the estimates are that the Prime Minister’s deal could lead to a loss of income of around £1,000 per person per year over the next decade. That’s a lot of money to ask people to pay. Compare that to the £40 per person per year for EU membership and that doesn’t include any of the economic, social and cultural benefits we accrue. To put that in perspective, our NHS costs us all approximately £1,026, education £715 and the state pension £650 per year.
The “divorce” agreement alone will cost every single one of us £600 each.
And what about “our borders”. I have been inundated with correspondence from EU nationals that live, work and study here. Many of whom have been here for decades. Our public services, world-class universities, and businesses would not survive without the talents and skills of the very best from the EU. This is important but so is our ability to live, work, travel and study in other EU countries. We lose that too, assigning “Auf Wiedersehen Pet” to the dustbin of history. And given most migration to the UK comes from outside the EU, how will the Government meet the impossible target of net migration to the “tens of thousands?”, especially given all new post-EU trade deals will require a lessening of the UK hostile environment immigration policy.
Then “our laws”. The PM’s “deal” keeps us bound by EU laws as a rule-taker rather than a key rule-maker. For years, we will be giving up control, rather than taking it back. It is ironic to think of our country with its nose pressed against the glass while others take the decisions that affect our economy when we used to be at the forefront of shaping those laws.
So, the PM’s soundbite is merely that. And MPs should not be intimidated by the empty threat of a no deal. There is another way.
It is clear that there is a very large majority in Parliament to prevent a no-deal scenario as that would be utterly devastating for the country. So, we must vote down this deal, rule out a no-deal, then let the public back into this process.
One thing is certain, I will be putting the national interest first and foremost. It is too important to be clouded by party politics, especially as we are at risk of making our constituents immeasurably poorer. I say we let the public decide in order to break the parliamentary deadlock.
If we can’t stop this Brexit catastrophe then 2019 will be an annus horribilis for all of us that will be felt for decades to come.