Wednesday, 17 Apr 2024

It's time to settle this Brexit mess and get out of the European Union with a deal

AS the Kinks put it, it’s a mixed-up, muddled-up, shook-up world.

Something as simple as taking back control of our own country has been made to look impossibly complicated.

Nation states around the globe make their own laws and trade successfully with or without free trade agreements. The UK itself has been more successful in recent years in growing its trade with markets outside the EU than with those that are inside the single market and customs union.

It baffles me that so many British politicians have so little faith in Britain that they think we would be sunk if we had to stand on our own two feet.

The mistakes that have brought us to this point are well known: agreeing to decide the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement before settling the future trading relationship with the EU; agreeing to a “backstop” to prevent a “hard border” in Ireland; allowing the militant Remainers in Parliament to damage Britain’s negotiating position by taking “No Deal” off the table and allowing our exit date to be deferred.

By voting for the pretty threadbare deal Theresa May brought back from Brussels, we can ensure some sort of Brexit

If only we had accepted the EU’s offer two years ago to have a big Canada-Plus free trade agreement, we could have locked in certainty for business and spent the last two years trying to improve upon it!

The question now is what’s the best way to achieve the proper Brexit that the British people voted for nearly three years ago?

I understand why so many of my Tory and DUP friends have voted against the PM’s deal. I told her in November the “backstop” made it impossible for anyone who wanted to leave the EU to vote for it: it could lock the UK into the EU customs union for ever.

That is why I voted against it the first time. It’s also why I tabled the “Brady amendment” — which was voted through at the end of January, telling the PM to go back and ensure the “backstop” couldn’t become a permanent trap.

When the Government’s lawyer Geoffrey Cox said the changes agreed would allow a way out in most circumstances (but not all) we were faced with a tough choice.

To take a risk and support the deal or keep voting against, hoping something better would emerge. It was defeated a second time, with a big majority against.


Those of us who really want Brexit to happen and British politics to be able to get on with other things are now faced with taking a massive political judgment.

By voting for the pretty threadbare deal Theresa May brought back from Brussels, we can ensure some sort of Brexit and then a new negotiating team that believes in what it’s doing can work to get something worthwhile out of the future relationship after we have left.

If we don’t vote the deal through this week, it no longer looks like Theresa’s promise that “no deal is better than a bad deal” will be honoured. Two years ago, 85 per cent of you voted for a political party — whether Tory or Labour — that promised to implement the referendum decision.

Two years on Labour is angling for a second referendum (would the question be: I was too stupid to make the right decision last time, yes or no?) and lots of other MPs are pushing for a Brexit that amounts to staying in. Some want endless delay, a few are at least honest enough to admit they really want to ignore the decision of 17.4 million voters altogether.

Meanwhile, the EU is creaking. Just as the EU is set for crisis, this country is poised for success.

British businesses are sitting on big cash balances but are crying out for the certainty that will allow them to invest.

If we deliver on our promise to leave in the coming weeks, Britain will prosper. If we get stuck in the departure lounge, our country will suffer.

For heaven’s sake, let’s settle this now.

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