We did not vote for this

We did not vote for this

by Ewen Stewart
article from Monday 9, July, 2018

MUCH HAS BEEN written over the last few days of the Cabinet’s agreement on its negotiating position with the EU. Having reflected on it, over the weekend, I am not surprised.

It clearly is a betrayal thrice over of a clear mandate – initially supported by the Prime Minister in her prospectus for the job after Cameron resigned, followed up by her Lancaster House Speech and then her solemn manifesto promise during her personally disastrous and incompetent handling of the election. Now Friday’s ‘deal’ after pre-marketing her suggestions to the German Chancellor before her cabinet colleagues, clearly crosses her own red lines and leaves the UK effectively as a semi-detached member without a say in the framing of new rules in legal perpetuity.

Let us be clear the Referendum endorsed overwhelmingly by Parliament was not advisory. If the other side had won by one vote that would have been it. No backtracking, no olive branches, just a Federal Europe. ‘Sorry old chaps, that’s democracy you know,’ they would have said. 

Leave won, however, and clearly despite every disadvantage of not being the status quo, against an Establishment who came up with fear and tale of economic collapse and job loss than has subsequently been shown to be bunkum and with every agency and foreign head wheeled out to explain to leave would put us ‘at the back of the queue‘.On the contrary the UK economy has continued to grow, unemployment is the lowest since 1974 and never have more people actually been in work.

David Cameron spent £8m of taxpayer’s money sending every household in the land a leaflet explaining that to leave would mean leaving the Single Market and cost 500,000 jobs immediately and hit GDP by 5 per cent. No ambiguity there save his economic forecasts were a bit awry. Just a bit. 

Conservative and Labour both fought last year’s election on leaving the Single Market and Customs Union. Today, there is a legal fig leaf around that outcome but it is very clear Theresa May’s proposal is the worst of all worlds and clearly breaks her manifesto pledge.  

£40bn plus of our treasure to be sent to Brussels;continuing supremacy of ECJ in many areas; no say say on any future framing of goods and agriculture policy; even worse than a minimal say today, despite an £80bn deficit with the EU on rules that plainly hamper British business by severe over-regulation. A near complete inability to strike third party trade deals. More than that, I will wager that the final deal will effectively see barely one single EU directive repealed and all this locked-in in perpetuity by Treaty.  Those that think it can be revisited with a new leader are severely misguided

 This proposal is clearit will not be amendable by a future parliament without both UK and EU agreement. 

May probably will get her way, in the short term. But the price she will pay for this is to disillusion millions of voters who can see through her weak, dishonest (relative to the clear remit of the referendum and her subsequent manifesto pledge) and spineless sophistry.  

No doubt the Conservative Party might think it will all be forgotten, a bit too complex for those pesky voters. The fear of Corbyn is simply too great and the troops will rally round once May is replaced, as I expect three months after this deal being ratified, she will. 

Well let me wager they are wrong. They might squeeze the next election, who knows, but they are playing with fire for more and more decent minded people, on both sides of the divide, can see this deal is a betrayal of democracy and is probably even worse than remaining in the EU given the treasure to be handed over and no say on the framing of much of the law. She has poisoned the well. The cabinet is also implicated – all of them – and that should be remembered in any forthcoming leadership election. 

There are two chances left. 

Perhaps Barnier, smirking all the way to the bank, will simply over-stretch too far,resulting in the not at all catastrophic no deal. But I doubt it. The last realistic chance is for the fair minded backbenchers to realise the complete folly of May’s approach and ensure that the £40bn divorce payment cannot be made on such clearly disadvantageous terms. 

Ewen Stewart is Director of Global Britain

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