Another few weeks pass by in politics and the country finds itself in the throughs of a mostly unwanted general election in the cold winter month of December. It’s widely acknowledged that no one really wanted this election, more that is was a requirement to attempt to break the Parliamentary deadlock that has so badly damaged trust in politics, our constitution, and our standing on the world stage. Other political parties, like the increasingly anti-democratic and illiberal Liberal Democrats, would tell you that the problem is Brexit and the lack of ability to deliver on something so complicated and potentially risky.
However, I take a different view. The problem is not Brexit; the problem is Parliamentary arithmetic.
More specifically, the problem is politicians and their inability to come out of their own entrenched positions. That is why this election is so important; it is the public’s chance to break that deadlock and deliver a majority government that can finally begin to get things done and unite the country after three years of bitterness and division.
So how does the Prime Minister propose we ‘Get Brexit Done’ as he so frequently – sometimes rather too frequently – repeats? Well, the answer to that is simple – pass the Withdrawal Agreement that has already been negotiated. Labour’s plan is to cobble together some new deal, the details of which they have not outlined, and present that to the public in another divisive referendum, with Jeremy Corbyn himself peculiarly not taking a position.
This would mean months of negotiations, and up to six months running a referendum many people do not want; referendum that would make many more feel fed up, angry, and betrayed. Indeed, if Labour’s poll numbers are correct, then they would rely on the support of the other parties such as the SNP, perhaps leading to another referendum in Scotland too, which would risk the Union. That’s why the Prime Minister’s plan is more logical.
We have a deal on the table, let’s pass it and move on.
Of course, things are not quite as simple as that. A future relationship and trade deal would have to be negotiated, and within a relatively small amount of time that the Conservatives have pledged not to extend. Even if they do, the passing of the deal ends the case for a second referendum and Remain because those options would become almost impossible with a majority Conservative government in power.
If we have another painful minority government or, heaven forbid, a Labour-led coalition in power, then Brexit continues to drag out and would potentially not happen at all. That’s the risk that voting for anyone but the Conservatives (and yes, that includes the Brexit Party) carries, and as a country we can’t afford any more of this agony to continue.
But no party is entitled to your vote – they have to earn it.
Simply passing a very complicated deal for the sake of ‘getting Brexit done’ neglects an analysis of the finer details of the actual deal itself. This deal is certainly a compromise for all sides. It will involve a transition period, the paying of a hefty divorce bill and a Northern Irish solution that, while better than the backstop, is quite regulation heavy and still creates a customs border however light that border is.
However, the deal has been improved since the previous government and those improvements make this deal a fair compromise that I believe Leave voters should get behind. One of those improvements is, as I said, the removal of the backstop. This will leave no risk of the UK remaining indefinitely within the EU; instead, we will leave completely which means we can pursue our own independent trade policy by becoming our own customs territory.
Further to that, the removal of the level playing field aspects of the deal ensure we can diverge from EU rules, which means a real ceasing back of control of our own laws that any real sovereign nation should have. We can begin taking advantage of that straight away with the Prime Minister’s deal, with the new ability to negotiate trade deals within the transition period. These deals will also be able to deliver benefits to the whole UK, including NI who was left out of the arrangements with the previous iteration of the deal. Finally, passing the deal is the most sensible way to move forward.
The Brexit Party demands we leave without a deal, but the huge questions that would leave for the Irish Border issue and the chaos of tariffs and trade barriers being imposed overnight is a risk we don’t need to take when we can leave in an orderly manner with a genuinely good deal.
So, what can we draw from this? Well, the deal is by no means perfect, but it’s a vast improvement and something that I think is entirely acceptable. After all, there’s a reason hard-line Eurosceptics like Steve Baker have endorsed it. Couple their Brexit Policy with the sensible levels of spending and tax cuts within their manifesto, and it’s clear to me that the only real choice in this election is between Boris Johnson’s Conservatives who can pass the deal and unite our country, or a Corbyn-led coalition that really would be the stuff of nightmares – a rather fitting to wake up to on a Friday the 13th.
In regard to predictions – which I always enjoy making – I believe this election is going to be a heck of a lot closer than people think. With a few weeks to go, everything can change and, like in 2017, Jeremy Corbyn can seize control of the narrative away from Brexit and damage the Conservatives. To me, this is an election where we can’t let tribal policies and party loyalties get in the way of the bigger picture. With that in mind, every vote counts, and I implore you to exercise your democratic right in what is one of the most important general elections that this country has ever had.
Photo by Andrew Parsons on Flikr.