We are all sick and tired of Brexit and would like to hear no more of it. Does Boris really think it can all be put behind us and we can then get on with everything else that needs to be done – the NHS, schools, jobs, housing, social care, and so much more? Nigel Farage talks about having a “Clean Brexit”.
But if Brexit happens on 31 October that will not be the end of it, especially a ‘No deal Brexit’. We will lose about 90 existing country trade deals and very few will be ready, despite what Liam Fox promised. It will just be the start of years and years of turmoil and uncertainty, with Britain in a weaker place than ever before.
After Brexit, out of sheer necessity, the UK will ask Brussels for an urgent trade deal. The reply will be “Pay what you owe, respect the rights for EU nationals, and fix the Irish border before we discuss trade”. Nothing will have changed. Except we will be in a far weaker position as a non-member of the club, a “third country” just like so many others throughout the world. Terms and Conditions will apply.
How many of us realise how prolonged and tortuous the process will be? Even the withdrawal deal which Theresa May negotiated is riddled with ambiguous statements and matters remaining to be resolved. Inevitably, the result will be far less advantageous than what we have now; that is perhaps understood as the price for breaking free of Brussels. But do we all understand just how contentious the process will be? Brexit will not be over, it will be just the start of another stage, with much litigation, but now from a position of profound weakness.
That new phase of Brexit – still dominating the news and political agenda for years to come – will be more difficult than anything so far. For example, any new trade deal with the EU will need to be approved by 27 sovereign governments but also by regional parliaments in a number of countries, as well as the European parliament – each one of these will have a veto, and not want to be weakened by a country no longer a member of the club.
Are we going to be told that all we need is a bulldog approach of “no-surrender”, with the Dunkirk spirit getting us through if we stand firm? An irrevocable exit from the EU will just be the start, not the finish, of a long and difficult journey to an unknown destination. Is that what we really want and deserve?
Better to keep what has been achieved over the last forty years, and put Brexit behind us. Give people the chance to decide what is really best for our country, now and for generations to come. In time, perhaps strengthened by the troubles and turmoil of the past three years, we will regain our rightful place in the top three most influential nations in Europe – and Europe itself will be stronger as a result.