The sooner we stop kicking the Brexit can down the road, pick it up, and put it in the bin, the better, Andy Martin writes.
First published in May 2019.
Article 50 was triggered by Parliament over two years ago. Since then, two withdrawal dates have come and gone with a third date now set for 31 October. Halloween as it happens, which is rather appropriate when you consider that the whole thing has been a complete nightmare from start to... well, now.
I would, of course, have said start to finish but there just doesn’t seem to be any end in sight. Even if parliament does, by some miracle, manage to thrash out some sort of deal, and we do leave the European Union, it will still be far from finished. Every treaty with regards to our future relationship with the European Union will have to be re-negotiated and re-written. But let’s put that to one side for a future debate and consider why we are simply not getting anywhere right now.
Every time the date has been put back, due to parliament being unable to find a way forward, they have been accused of “kicking the can down the road”, and we should just leave so we can get on with every other issue affecting the country. This would, of course, imply that they are simply putting off the inevitable, i.e. that we will leave. However, it must surely become increasingly apparent to the people of this country that the reason that this is dragging on and on is that – to put it bluntly – it is simply undeliverable.
In order to successfully deliver a real Brexit a whole host of issues need to be considered. The economy, workers’ rights, house prices, immigration issues, environmental protections, defence, security co-operation, farming, fisheries protection, education, human rights, customs’ arrangements, single market access, travel visas, work visas, the NHS, free movement, the pound, trade tariffs and of course two huge issues which most people didn’t consider at the time of the referendum – and I am sad to say, people don’t seem to care about now – Northern Ireland and Gibraltar.
Now, as we very well know, the reason for the “can being kicked down the road” is quite simple. It is because the reasons I have listed (and there will be many more missing) are complex and many. There are also 650 MPs representing 9 political parties covering the 533 constituencies in England, 59 in Scotland, 40 in Wales and 18 in Northern Ireland. The problem therein is the sheer volume of differing opinions on a whole host of issues associated with Brexit.
Parliament’s primary purpose is the welfare of the citizens of the United Kingdom. Full stop. It is far more important that MPs remember this before anything else. Yes, we had a vote on the issue of Brexit that returned a Leave result, however, since then the full scale of the complexity of trying to deliver it whilst considering the fact that almost half the country voted against it, coupled with the fact that a large number of the electorate may have changed their minds (local council results of 2 May appear to point to this) will surely be affecting the positions of MPs.
In parliament, Nicola Sturgeon is pushing for another referendum on Scottish independence because she doesn’t want Scotland to be taken out of the EU against its will, Theresa May is determined to keep pushing blindly forward with her deal, Vince Cable is openly supporting keeping our seat at the EU table, Nigel Farage and Change UK The Independent Group want to Leave and Remain respectively with no clear plans on anything else. Caroline Lucas wants to remain, and nobody seems to have any idea whatsoever about what Jeremy Corbyn wants.
Among the general population, you have countless views. There are those that wish to stay and have a say in the future shape of our continent. Those who want to leave on WTO terms with no treaties in place whatsoever. People who want a customs union. People who still want single market access. People who still want the freedom to live and work abroad. There are people who want a Norway model, a Canada model, a Norway plus model, a Canada plus model. People who think we can be like the Swiss… I could go on and on.
650 different opinions in parliament. Millions of different opinions in the general public. No clear plan from anyone on anything. The most complex issue any nation has ever faced seems to have no clear answer.
So, I suppose the answer to the question I asked in the title of this article is this – It is both. The can is being kicked down the road because solving the Brexit issue is impossible.
Brexit – the idea of becoming a free-trading, self-governing, global-leading state that doesn’t require a close union with its closest neighbours and friends is a pipe dream, a political impossibility. The sooner we stop kicking the can down the road, pick it up, and put it in the bin, the better.
Our future lies with our friends, and we need to wake up and open our eyes to that.🔷
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(This is an original piece, first published by the author in PoliticsMeansPolitics.com. | The author writes in a personal capacity.)