- The Labour party’s Rupa Huq says Brexit is not “not carved into concrete, untouchable and unchangeable.”
- Writing for BI, the British Member of Parliament says Brexit promises have been broken and the public must be given the chance to vote on the final deal.
- “If the cost of Brexit reaches a point where the British people decide it’s not worth it, then they’re perfectly entitled to change their minds about whether it’s the right path,” Huq argues.
LONDON – With Parliament now in recess for Easter, we all have a chance to take a deep breath and look at where things stand with Brexit, as well as what lies ahead.
When asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, George Mallory is famously said to have replied: “Because it’s there.” Brexiters are increasingly resorting to a similar argument as, one-by-one, the benefits of Brexit that were promised to people during the referendum fall away.
People were told there’d be no more money sent to the EU: instead, we’ll be paying billions until 2064 for a worse relationship than we have now.
People were told we’d have countless new trade deals with countries all across the world to replace the trade we’d lose with Europe: instead, there’s no sign of a single new trade deal and our International Trade Secretary Liam Fox is instead scrabbling around trying to protect the existing deals we enjoy as part of the EU.
People were told there’d be £350 million extra a week for the NHS: instead, our health service is in a deepening crisis, with vital EU nurses and doctors leaving in record numbers.
Clearly, Brexit is a much more complicated and costly process than people were told during the referendum by Leave campaigners. So, when asked why we are still pursuing Brexit when the promised benefits are disappearing by the day, Brexiters are forced to answer: “Because it’s there.”
Businesses want certainty. Whether it’s the gift shop in Ealing I spoke to, who opened in June 2016 and have to reorder different lines so customers don’t accuse them of hiking up prices when its stock prices have risen due to our tanking pound, or the gadget manufacturers in Chiswick, whose staff are drawn from all across the EU 28, but who are experiencing an exodus as we look like an increasingly parochial, peripheral island.
This myth about the irreversible nature of Brexit must be confronted. We live in a democracy, and living in a democracy means always having the right to change your mind if you want to. The referendum result is not carved into concrete, untouchable and unchangeable, no matter the consequences. It was, to quote Whitney Houston “one moment in time,” and surely we cannot be tied to 23.6.16 forever.
If the cost of Brexit reaches a point where the British people decide it’s not worth it, then they’re perfectly entitled to change their minds about whether it’s the right path. No politician and no government can insist otherwise.
The future of the country is for the people to decide.
The rest of the Brexit negotiations look set to follow a pretty clear pattern, once described succinctly by that great pragmatist Brian Clough when asked whether he ever listens to the opinions of his players: “We talk about it for 20 minutes and then we decide I was right.”
Well, in the case of the Brexit negotiations, the format seems to be that our Brexit negotiator David Davis gives his opinion, the EU gives theirs, they sit down and talk about it for a while, then they decide that what the EU said was right. Even if it were ever possible, the chances of our country getting a deal that’s better than EU membership looks increasingly like a fantasy. That means that Parliament and the public should have a chance to properly scrutinise the deal on offer from the Government and decide whether it’s in the best interests of the whole country.
If not, we all have the right to change our minds.
Rupa Huq is the Labour MP for Ealing Central and Acton and a leading supporter of Open Britain
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