‘Our best hope of getting any Brexit at all is to pass the Withdrawal Agreement.’
That’s what we’re being told. That’s what Conservative Brexiteer rebels are being beaten about the head with. On the same theme, immediately after today’s failed (yet again) vote on the PM’s Brexit deal, official Conservative Party social media went into overdrive, alleging that ‘Labour just voted to stop Brexit’.
A great many of those Labour MPs did vote against the WA because they don’t want Brexit to happen, but that’s not the whole story. That’s not the only reason to vote against Theresa May’s deal.
These Conservative Party lines rely on three false assumptions:
1) That the WA is a proper Brexit.
2) That a no deal Brexit is off the table.
3) That the electorate is daft enough to believe those first two points.
Do I need to explain again why the WA is bad a deal that it doesn’t qualify as a proper Brexit? Do I need to explain again why it poses an unacceptable threat to the Union and would put us in the worst possible negotiating position for the next stage?
Parliament won’t allow a no deal Brexit to happen, says the PM. It’s not up to Parliament though, is it? It’s up to May to decide whether or not to seek an extension beyond April 12th, and it’s up to the 27 leaders of the EU to decide whether or not to grant such an extension.
Not Parliament. We know this because the latest change – stopping today, March 29th, being Brexit day in favour of an extension – was done without the involvement of Parliament. It was done on May’s initiative. This means that May can decide not to ask for any further extension. She can stick to her promises and get us out of the EU.
And the EU…well. They want this to be over.
Now, the final point is important; especially as hints are dropped and speculation rises that a GE could be imminent.
At this time of year – with local elections coming up – social media is usually flooded with ‘positive response on the doorstep’, ‘good reaction on the doors today’, and similar cliches.
But not this year. Because Tory activists are being hammered out there: broken promises (do we need to talk again about Brexit Day being cancelled?), fear of a betrayal of the democratic vote, and sheer frustration at May’s command and control approach. #ToryCanvass.
I’ve experienced it first hand. It’s brutal, and it’s justified. Most people make some concessions – ‘well she has worked hard’ – but the ultimate frustration remains.
I have lost count of the number of times I have heard voters say almost the exact same form of words: ‘we voted to leave, and we should just leave – with or without a deal’. And people aren’t daft. They know that Parliament not passing the WA doesn’t mean no Brexit. They know that if it wasn’t for May’s asking for an extension, today would still be Brexit Day.
What’s more, they’ve bothered to look at the deal on the table. Because guess what, when people care about an issue they make an effort to inform themselves. I know; shocker! And people know that this is a bad deal. Some just about come down on the side of backing it, just to get it over with, whilst others oppose it completely. What’s clear is that virtually nobody considers this a good deal. And a great many people consider it to not be a proper Brexit.
And so the house of cards that has been built by Theresa May comes tumbling down.
Our best hope of getting any Brexit at all is not to pass the Withdrawal Agreement; it’s to hold our nerve, hold the line, and leave the EU on April 12th. We have an extra two weeks to prepare for a no deal Brexit, and we should get on with it.