Thanks to the parliamentary farce (yet another one!) on Saturday 19 October and the passing of the Letwin amendment, this article is published with Brexit undecided. All options are in the air. But for the people of Britain, those who live and work here, there is only one option.
Boris Johnson’s proposed treaty is not acceptable and never will be. It commits Britain to continued subjection to the European Court of Justice. It deprives Britain of an independent capability on tax, trade, foreign policy and defence. It effectively allows Northern Ireland to be split from the United Kingdom simply because the EU demands it. And it commits us, too, to paying at least £39 billion.
Many people are understandably wearied, and want the Brexit issue to be over. Looking at the deal through tired eyes, some have convinced themselves that it is palatable. But they are not actually looking at the deal, just listening to others.
Read it yourself
To those people we say, don’t take anyone’s word for it (Karl Marx’s motto: “Doubt everything”). Look at the Withdrawal Agreement yourselves. Read the Political Declaration. Then make your mind up. It’s tough reading, but it’s much easier than living under the EU.
And of course there would be the transition period, when Britain would effectively become a colony of the EU, subject to decisions but not allowed to be involved in them. Does anyone seriously think that the transition period would end at the end of 2020?
Just wait: in a year’s time, with much left to be negotiated – no comprehensive free trade agreement as per Johnson’s deal could be negotiated by then – there would be another “cliff edge”, renewed talk about “crashing out”. And, as night follows day, another extension. (That’s if Westminster doesn’t opt for never-ending extensions anyway.)
A second referendum? That would be a denial of democracy. It would also damage, mortally, the concept of a referendum itself – when over the past 15 years the use of referendums over Scottish separation, English regionalisation, and proportional voting has shown how valuable they can be in asserting the will of the people against the machinations of the establishment.
No deal has always been the option for Britain. No deal means no strings, and the EU’s strings are in fact chains. But even if the EU’s internal politics, parliament’s own disunity, and the naked opportunism of Westminster’s constituent parties result, miraculously, in no deal – in Brexit, in other words – the job will be only half done.
Leaving with no deal will be an important, and vital, step on the road to independence. But we will need to go much further (see feature, page 6). Brexit has blown away many of the cobwebs stifling politics in Britain, but the main obstacle remains: the people must stop leaving politics to the politicians and claim the governance of their own country for themselves.