Brexit is far more complicated than we were told. We now know that the promises made during the 2016 referendum cannot be kept and there is no such thing as a good Brexit.
NHS staff shortages, security co-operation weakened, unresolved risks at the Irish border, and the prospect of years of negotiating our future relationship with the EU are just some of the problems inseparable from Brexit. Ending freedom of movement means British citizens lose the right to study, live, work and retire wherever they wish in the EU.
And once we have left the EU as the government intends, our position will be even weaker, with the 27 on-going Member States being in control of future negotiations. Leaving is essentially irreversible, and we will certainly have lost forever the advantageous terms we now enjoy.
The government’s failure to gain parliamentary approval for its Brexit plan has resulted in great uncertainty. The government hoped to reach a compromise with Labour, however improbable that now seems. Recognising that no agreement could be reached by the previous dead-line, the European Council decided that Brexit could be delayed, but only until 31 October.
This could have provided sufficient time to ratify some sort of Brexit deal, or to hold a People’s Vote, but the Conservative party decided to embark on the lengthy process of choosing a new leader and prime minister. By the time a new prime minister is in place, the October dead-line will be fast approaching, yet again, leaving no time to resolve the Brexit impasse.
Meanwhile, an unexpected benefit of this delay was that Britain was required to take part in elections to the European parliament on 23 May. The results of the election showed a clear majority of voters choosing to support pro-Remain parties, indicating that sentiment in the UK is now swinging decisively against Brexit. People clearly would prefer a pro-European political outcome, rather than the government’s negative and damaging Brexit policy.
Pressure is growing for a People’s Vote. We now know that Article 50 can be withdrawn; we can change our mind about leaving if we wish. The public deserve a vote that includes the option to remain in the EU. Having a say now we know the terms of leaving is not the “travesty of democracy” that some politicians claim. Democracy cannot mean that we are bound forever to the outcome of a deeply-flawed referendum held almost three years ago. We deserve the chance to think again.