The Prime Minister has tried to kick her EU Deal this into the long grass. The problem is that the Article 50 lawn mower has left precious little long grass to hide in. As the time for negotiation shrinks from months to weeks, the dark shadow of a no-deal Brexit - of economic chaos, medicine and food shortages - looms large on the horizon. That’s why Parliament must avoid a catastrophe and demand that either we agree a deal that is ratified by a public vote or simply stay in the EU.
We are in a painfully predictable situation. The Article 50 two year count-down was triggered ahead of the French and German elections which would get in the way of negotiations. Then Theresa May called her own election which lost her majority and left her even less time to negotiate a deal.
The Government still boasted it could negotiate a deal with “exactly the same benefits”. But, two and a half years and three Brexit Secretaries later the deal is not yet cooked, so we are putting it back in the oven for a few more weeks hoping that, with a bit of salt and sugar, everyone will want to eat it. But most MPs either want more salt or more sugar and not both. The “let’s-Brexit-without-a-deal” MPs want to cut away from the EU completely. The other side unreasonably expect “exactly the same benefits” after leaving the EU.
Brexit is a fundamental betrayal of Conservatism as it withdraws the UK from the most advanced trading zone in the world, only to be able to impose our own tariffs. It also undermines the Union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland as No Deal entails a hard border between Northern and Southern Ireland and any deal with an open border would mean uncontrolled migration.
Brexit is a also betrayal of Socialism as it would mean a smaller economy – a smaller cake – to be divided more equally by a future Labour Government. It would also allow future Tory governments to reduce workers’ rights and environmental rights beneath EU minimum standards.
It is a betrayal of Leave voters, in particular Labour ones. It will mean less money and not the £350million a week promised for the NHS. Instead, voters face a €40billion divorce bill, lower wages, higher prices and less trade. Britain will have fewer jobs, less Parliamentary control (as Ministers now rule by diktat) and will still abide by EU rules. Migration from the EU will be replaced by migration from countries which do not have the same cultural history we share with Europe. This is not what Leave voters wanted and so their rage from Brexit will ultimately dwarf any anger from giving the people the Final Say.
That’s why I’m presenting a European Union ‘Revocation of Notification of Withdrawal’ Bill today which says that if a deal isn’t agreed by Parliament and the People before the time for negotiation runs out then we should revoke Article 50, avoid a catastrophic no-deal Brexit and continue as members of the EU.
The British public is entitled to reject the deal should it not fulfil their reasonable expectations and they would prefer to stay in the EU. It is for voters to decide which future delivers a stronger, fairer and more united future for all our children and the Bill would make sure that they do.
Geraint Davies is Labour and Co-operative MP for Swansea West