Friday, 14 July 2017

“Remain” is the option for failed negotiation, not no-deal Brexit

We were told by the Right that the economic crash was the fault of Labour spending yet for years after Labour failed to dispel this untruth. Now we are told that Brexit is the “will of the people” and nobody has the courage to deny this either.  Labour must, if it is ever to win again, learn the lesson that it must gainsay the mantras fed to the public by Lynton Crosby et al.

We are told that the Brexit negotiations are aimed at minimising the negative impact of leaving the EU.  By implication as well as by all available evidence, any other future model will be worse for the rights of citizens and worse for our economic future. Brexit “hard” or “soft”, Norwegian models or joining EFTA are all worse than where we are now, so why not say so? The negative impacts can be avoided completely if we stay, yet our leaders fail to say so, terrified of gainsaying “the will of the people”, the latest mantra of the xenophobes.

The referendum should not have been allowed to go unchallenged. Cameron should not have been allowed to decide that a simple majority could change our Constitution for ever nor that the vote should be mandatory. These went unchallenged and were accepted into Labour thinking, so much so that they joined forces with the Right to enable the signing of Article 50. This brought Brexit back into Parliament’s aegis and rendered arguments about the referendum’s validity redundant. We know that most MPs are Remainers yet allow them to continue to act as if we must now accept a second-best future or worse.  Anyone who dares to suggest that “the will of the people” makes Remaining impossible is shouted down. Are they all so pathetic that none will stand up for what they actually believe in and for the country’s best future?

Perhaps it would help those with vestiges of backbone if they were to see the triggering of Article 50 not as about accepting whatever outcome this weak government can negotiate but as being about starting the process of negotiation, to see if an acceptable deal is feasible. Thanks to Gina Miller, Parliament will have a say before we actually leave. To make this have any point, surely we have to have the option not of “no deal is better than a bad deal” – ie exit on the worst possible terms – but of staying a member of the EU – of saying, “we have tried to find a future outside but failed”? The EU will welcome us staying and so, one suspects, will a majority of the people by then.
Tom Serpell

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