As this mad week begins – where even the most hardened political nerd will almost certainly take time out to scream into a pillow – it may be wise to briefly reflect on how on earth we got here.
As you may have heard, on 23rd June 2016, the UK narrowly voted to leave the European Union.
The then Prime Minister, David Cameron, resigned. Theresa May reigned supreme, invoked Article 50 (the process which sets the two-year time limit for us to strike an agreement to leave the EU) & all was well in Brexit world.
Then two things happened; one unnecessary, the other inevitable.
The unnecessary event occurred in the summer of 2017, when Theresa May called an election to “ensure a mandate for Brexit”. Originally billed to gain 100 seats, she instead lost her majority and the accompanying mandate.
The inevitable was that the undeliverable promises of Brexit have since come home to roost. It was always clear that all the legitimate grievances of voters, which led to Brexit, were not going to be fixed by leaving the European Union. Nor could we leave our biggest trading partners, our closest allies and friends of forty years or more, without any negative impacts.
So, when the Prime Minister announced her Brexit Deal this summer, the negative response to it was inescapable. It takes power from the UK, making us a rule taker of EU laws, rather than the influential rule maker we are now – a total non-starter for Brexiteers. It will likely make the UK poorer, with limited access to the EU’s markets and institutions – unimaginable to those who wish to stay.
Tomorrow (after months of delays), the deal will finally get voted on in Parliament. It is almost certainly going to get voted down.
What happens next, you might ask?
Firstly, there’s a ‘No Deal’ Brexit, where we crash out, without a deal. This would be entirely catastrophic for the UK, and something that it’s clear Parliament would not countenance.
There are Labour’s ‘jobs’ first Brexit, or Norway Plus (me neither). It’s too late for these deals to be struck, even if they had a majority in the House of Commons (they don’t).
Labour say when the vote falls, they will initiate a vote of no-confidence of the government, causing a General Election. For this to be successful, a 2/3rds majority is needed, so again, this isn’t a probable outcome – it seems unlikely Conservative MPs will vote to take down their own government.
The final option would be a People’s Vote on the Brexit Deal – giving a voice back to the public. With Parliament and the government in deadlock, it may be the only way forward out of this mess, while also being the option overwhelmingly favoured by young people and students.
Whatever happens, it’s pretty clear that there will have to be a vote of some kind, soon. Therefore, I would urge anyone reading this to register to vote at gov.uk today.