Mike Vickers' Blog

October 19, 2018

It’s an uncomfortable truth but many now believe Brexit can’t be delivered

Filed under: Brexit, History in the making, Politics — derryvickers @ 9:56 am

I am not a Tory but Anna Soubry has it right.

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It gives me no pleasure to observe the chaos and mess of the Brexit negotiations. I do not doubt our Prime Minister has done her best to deliver the result of the EU Referendum and leave the EU. But as many now see, it is not only considerably more complex and difficult than anyone believed or was told, trying to find a Brexit that meets the demand of many Leavers whilst securing peace in Northern Ireland is all but impossible. Parliament’s Northern Ireland Select Committee, whose members are almost exclusively fierce Leave supporters, produced a lengthy and considered report on how to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. They concluded there is no technology to solve the problem and recognised the importance of making sure the old fixed border did not return.
The free movement of people and goods across the border is critical to the maintenance of peace. It is also very good for business across the United Kingdom.
When we leave the EU we are set to leave the Customs Union and Single Market which allows what we call frictionless trade – that free movement. As you know I have argued and voted for both, notwithstanding the threats of de-selection, violence and considerable abuse.
Our continuing membership of the Single Market and the Customs Union is also what British business wants as they are critical to the delivery of prosperity and jobs. But the Prime Minister and many Leave supporters, notably in Parliament, insist we must leave both and strike some new trade arrangement with the EU.
You were promised such a deal would be sorted before we leave the EU next March. Those negotiations have barely begun and there will be no deal to implement in March. So, some “back stop” is needed to ensure there is no hard border in Northern Ireland until the technology is developed or some magical trade deal is agreed that confers the free movement of a soft border.
As we saw last weekend, the Cabinet and parts of my party can’t even agree on that back stop. The reason, I am sorry to say, is both stubbornness over “red lines” and ideology.
But there is also this, and it is an argument I admit is powerful. If we stay in some form of Customs Union and/or the Single Market, we have no say over the rules that would govern our trade – we would be a rule taker not a rule maker, even though we would be paying a lot of money in effect for membership of both. Many argue they voted leave to restore our country’s sovereignty (I don’t believe we ever lost it) but in any event, they make an important point.
We cannot walk away without any deal as the consequences would be profound and I do not see any prospect now of Parliament agreeing to any deal.
There was such a time but the Prime Minister failed to seize that opportunity and build a consensus which would unite our country.
The only solution to the mess and chaos in my opinion and amongst a growing number of colleagues, is a People’s Vote – to take this most important matter for decades back to you the people. That’s what I shall be marching for in London tomorrow. Let me know if you would like to join me.

I [Anna Soubry] asked the Prime Minister a question in the above terms on Monday and you can read it here and watch it here

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