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Our leaders show no sign of leadership as crisis engulfs the country. Time for People’s Vote

Friday, 16 November 2018 3 Comments by Claire

Last night I heard the prime minister’s second speech in two days outside No 10 Downing Street.

As a constitutional crisis the like of which I have never seen in my lifetime unfolds before my eyes, and:

- as Mrs May stares into the gloomy abyss into which her Brexit plan has disappeared
- after an unprecedented NINETEEN cabinet members have resigned in disagreements over Brexit
- after media rumours that the required 48 signatures have been submitted to the chairman of the right-wing 1922 committee, enabling a vote of no confidence in the prime minister to be called
- as it is now patently obvious that Mrs May’s Brexit agreement will not make it through a parliamentary vote…

... One might have thought that Mrs May might be preparing to fall on her sword.

But no, far from it! 

Her speech last night outside No 10 was full of defiance.

And I might add guff, bluster, denial and actual delusion.

Basically, while Rome was burning, Mrs May was shrieking from the roof of the citadel:  “Hey everyone, everything’s fine!”...  even as the flames singed her clothing.

As I write, the latest speculation is that Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, will be the next resignation, after he more or less rejected the job offer of Brexit Secretary yesterday. A vacancy caused by the departure of Dominic Raab, who apparently couldn’t stomach the withdrawal agreement he helped to negotiate.

On Wednesday, it looked as though Mrs May’s last minute EU endorsed agreement had just squeaked through her cabinet after a five hour meeting.

But yesterday, it quickly became apparent that major trouble was afoot.  The sudden and dramatic resignation of Raab, quickly followed by Work and Pensions Secretary, Esther McVey, were followed by leaks from Wednesday’s cabinet meeting. 

The Times reported that shockingly, Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, had been unable to give assurances that people would not die as a result of ‘no deal Brexit.’

It seems impossible that the withdrawal agreement will make it through parliament. Those against it (for varying reasons) include:
-Tory Remainers
-Tory Brexiters
- DUP
- SNP
- LibDems
- Green MP, Caroline Lucas

So, let’s look at Mrs May’s Brexit plan a little more closely.  Why is there such opposition to it?

Well, Remainer MPs (and this is the position I concur with) are concerned that we are recklessly quitting a successful trade partnership with the biggest and most powerful trading bloc in the world, and according to the government’s own impact assessments, this decision will leave the UK country economically much worse off.

The UK has already plummeted from being the fastest growing economy in the G7, to one of the slowest, since the referendum in 2016.

Under May’s Brexit deal, we are in a position of having to accept the rules and regulations of the EU, without having a voice or a vote to influence or change them, as we have done up until now.

Unfortunately, many of the things that the EU legally protects (and we take for granted), including human rights, workers rights and environmental standards – have not been committed to by this government. 

Warm words have been uttered, but policy/lawmaking has not matched these warm words and there are currently major holes in these areas, as it seems to suit this government to write policy that benefits big business. And not its citizens.

Could this be because big business often funds the Conservative Party, on the proviso that laws and policy go its way, I wonder?

The SNP wants to remain in the single market for trade reasons and free movement of people.

The DUP is concerned that the Northern Ireland aspect of the plan has tied its country into a UK customs union to avoid a hard border with Southern Ireland (which will remain in the EU).

A hard border could compromise the peace process. But Northern Ireland would be in a deeper customs union arrangement than the rest of the UK.

The Brexiter MPs are angry that there is no time limit on this customs union and the UK cannot unilaterally opt out of it. They are also angry about a range of other issues which they claim relates to so-called ‘sovereignty.’

Essentially (and worryingly) most Brexiter MPs seem to want to simply leave the EU without a withdrawal agreement, which many business leaders, say would be catastrophic.

And don’t forget Mr Hancock said such a move could cost lives.

We hear from the likes of Jacob Rees Mogg, Boris Johnson and David Davis, that the EU has more to fear from a ‘no deal’ scenario than the UK. But just like most of their rhetoric, it is an untruth.

The latest untruth tripping from Mr Davis’s lips is the claim he made on this morning’s BBC Radio 4 Today Programme where he said there was time for more renegotiations, despite two and a half years of negotiations where Mr Davis himself was mostly at the helm!

There are now just a few weeks left until March the 29th and the UK is set to leave the European Union.

If we crash out of the EU without a withdrawal agreement we would be set to lose a whopping eight per cent of GDP, compared with the EU’s loss of 1.5 per cent.  It would cost each household £6,000, or the country £140bn, according to the IMF.

The Brexiters criticise May for failing to adequately “prepare” for no deal. But the notion that the UK could ever successfully manage the upheaval that would result – punitive tariffs, medical shortages, grounded flights, chaos at ports and on roads – is absurd.

We also keep being told by Brexiter MPs that we can trade on World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules. But this is another lie. There is NO OTHER COUNTRY that trades on these rules alone. Economies are generally organised into trading blocs.

And the EU is the biggest and most successful with 500m consumers.  It‘s the top trading partner for 80 countries.

Let’s also not forget that despite all of International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox’s boastfulness, in two and a half years, just one measly trade deal has been brokered, with African countries. And that’s one that critics have dismissed as a rollover of an existing EU trade deal in any case!

Brexit is costing the UK an eye-watering £500million a week - or £26 billion a year, according to research by the Centre for European Reform.

A far cry from the set of abject fallacies put about by Mr Gove and Mr Johnson, during the referendum campaign, promising a dividend of £350m a week for leaving the EU - a campaign promise the Leave side famously declared on a Vote Leave bus.

An untruth that in my view, they should be held to account for by the criminal justice system.

Messrs Rees Mogg, Johnson and Davis and their colleagues, despite pretending otherwise, share a frightening hardline right-wing ideology that promotes a shrunken welfare state and a business tax haven, that will benefit the most wealthy and leave the least wealthy in dire poverty, without access to proper public services.

It is a similar ideology that Trump signs up to. And it’s stinkingly corrupt.

Aside from looking like total fools to the outside world (and we really do) to sum it up, thanks to the blinkered idiocy of our political leaders who tried (and are still trying) to outwit Mr Farage in 2016, our parliamentary system is now in crisis and the way ahead seems impossible to navigate due to the totally divided nature of parliament, let alone the government, which has its own implacable divisions.

Trying to marry these divisions while keeping within the rules that 27 member states must abide by, is in short, not possible. 

And it never was.

It. Never. Was.

We’ve been lied to.

Had.

Duped.

Hoodwinked.

From the very start.

But finally, the game is up.

The time has come for our political leaders to be honest with us. They should always be honest with us of course, but that mostly seems beyond them for some reason. 

So I am now calling on Mrs May and East Devon MP, Hugo Swire, along with his Devon parliamentary colleagues, to be honest, admit that the country is now in a constitutional crisis. And actually do something tangible to save it.

After all, they caused it. And some of those involved are being investigated by the National Crime Agency (Arron Banks).

This government cannot possibly seriously consider dropping out of the EU without a withdrawal agreement, without wreaking appalling damage to the economy and to the lives of its citizens…it would be unforgivably irresponsible…

... And there is no appetite in the Commons for such a disastrous outcome.

So the only way out is a People’s Vote.

Put Mrs May’s Withdrawal Agreement against a Remain option, back to the electorate.

As Dr Wollaston has pointed out. Based on the principle of informed consent, it is the only democratic and responsible thing to do.

And Mr Swire really needs to stop focusing what is the best option for his career during this tumult and instead help move things forward and do what is right for his constituency and the country.

We need action. And the time for action is NOW.

Please write to Mr Swire urgently urging him to support a People’s Vote at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Pic: Outside the Houses Of Parliament in July on the day of David Davis’s and Boris Johnson’s resignation. With tireless anti Brexit campaigner, Steve Bray.

Comments

1. At 12:24 pm on 16th Nov Dean Stewart wrote:

Wish someone, anyone in Westminster had your integrity and the balls to stop this madness. Imposing economic, trade and travel sanctions on ourselves, voluntarily, because…erm…well anyway….er what Boris said…. Who is ready to lead the country and stop these stupid, petty, meaningless games? Its not a boarding school where the house chess team calls the other house rotters. This is the real world. Its our lives. And no one in Westminster has shown the maturity or integrity to put our lives before their own stupid self interest.

2. At 11:01 pm on 16th Nov Paul F wrote:

We can only trade on WTO rules if we are a member of the WTO.

Unfortunately that is not likely to happen for 5-10 years because other nations are concerned about how quotas for trade with the EU inc. the UK will be split between UK and rest of EU when we leave and that once the split is agreed they will have less flexibility to switch goods between UK and EU.

So we will NOT be able to trade even on WTO rules.

The genuine truth is that if we leave the EU we will not have the EU dictating to us but neither will we have trade for those little luxuries like food and medicines. This is not a scare tactic - but it is certainly scary - very scary - because it IS what will happen.

P.S. Whilst we are talking about sovereignty, I hear that the people of Devon are fed up with those mindless bureaucrats in Westminster dictating what happens, and have decided to leave the UK. Devon is hoping to be able to remain within the UK trading block (within the European trading block) and not have hard borders with surrounding counties, but that is not guaranteed. But Devon does import most of its goods from the rest of the UK, so the rest of the UK does have a vested interest in giving us a free trade agreement - but if not Devon can always trade with the rest of the UK (and the rest of Europe) on WTO rules. Unfortunately, unlike the EU, Devon did in the past join the UK’s single currency, so that is an additional hurdle to unwind.

P.P.S. Once Devon has left the UK and is a sovereign nation in its own right once again, it seems likely that East Devon will decide that it is fed up with being dictated to by those mindless bureaucrats in Devon’s County Hall, and will decide to leave Devon in order to regain its own sovereignty. East Devon is hoping to be able to remain within the Devon trading block (within the UK trading block (within the European trading block)) and avoid hard borders with surrounding districts, but this is not guaranteed. But since East Devon does import most of its goods from Devon and through Devon the rest of the UK, so Devon does have a vested interest in giving us a free trade agreement - but if not East Devon can always trade with the rest of Devon (and the rest of the UK (and the rest of Europe)) on WTO rules. Unfortunately unlike the EU, East Devon will likely be a part of the Devon common currency, so that will be an additional hurdle to unwind.

P.P.P.S. Once East Devon has left Devon and is a sovereign nation in its own right, the Ottery St. Mary parish is likely to decide to regain its sovereignty from the mindless East Devon bureaucrats in their new(ish) HQ in Honiton and decide to leave East Devon, hoping to avoid hard borders with the other parishes - but please make your application for your Ottery St. Mary passport early just in case there are border checks when you want to go shopping in the neighbouring town of Honiton.

3. At 09:30 am on 20th Nov Chris Wakefield wrote:

On Paul F’s Brexit subdivisions of sovereignty: the plan may fail because we’ve now almost completely run out of mindless bureaucrats to blame things on, and it would appear that we are simultaneously running out of the public services they used to provide in health, education, public safety and so on. It’s almost as if they were a good thing after all.

But let’s look at the brighter side of Brexit and applaud the new opportunities that are coming our way. What springs to mind almost immediately is the forthcoming revival (with the no-deal scenario) of a great west country industry and tradition - smuggling. Local boat owners may already be checking over their craft for seaworthyness against the day that a few trips over the briny can net desirables for profitable disbursement in local pubs. Customs and Excise will not be a problem - what is left of it will probably lay in the hands of G4S or some other witless private organisation. So to outwit them, smugglers need only pay a decoy to dress up as a pirate, and stand on a remote beach, spitting tobacco and looking anxiously out to sea, while they land contraband booze or whatnot on Exmouth seafront to wild public acclaim.

I used to think paying tax was a respectable social duty, to support the great public enterprises in heath, education, transport, and so on. But thesedays much of my contributions seem to be ending up in the pockets of private individuals seeking profit from the commonweal. That’s not greatly to my liking, especially as in many cases said individuals seem often to have more than enough income already. So smuggling a few cases of spirits or American beefsteaks seems instantly less reprehensible. It also strikes a blow for free trade - which I know is close to any Tory heart - and as Adam Smith tells us (in his influential best-seller ‘The Wealth of Nations’) ...‘The Smuggler… would have been in every respect an excellent citizen had not the laws of his country made that a crime which nature never meant to be so’. I’m still keen that Amazon and Google cough up though, but they will obviously be concerned that governments are not sliding taxpayers contributions by diverse routes into competitors’ coffers, so their preference for a low-tax, small-government environment is understandable, if distasteful.

It is some comfort that a 2nd Brexit vote is being talked about, but I worry that if it comes about, the dark side will once again stoke up the hopes of those suffering the awfulness of austerity, and that the same constituency will be the target for the next batch of mendacious enticements to support the current elite in power. The final insult will be clear enough when the result is found to be even worse than what we already had. Mrs May’s claim to the moral high ground of ‘respecting the referendum result’, and the endless citing of ‘The British People’ as the beating heart of her political commitment, is also a convenient insurance policy for the survival of the Conservative Party if things go pear shaped post-Brexit: ‘It’s not our fault - it’s you that voted for it’. It’s not explicit just yet, but a concept as indeterminate as ‘The British People’ is just the very place to hang any policy failures with a potentially lethal backlash.

Must away now to check if our vicar likes Cognac…

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