Angela's December Farmers Guardian Article
As I write this article the Prime Minister has just decided to delay the meaningful vote on the ‘Withdrawal Agreement’, to allow her to get some sort of assurance from the other 27 members of the EU on the Irish backstop.
As we know, the Prime Ministers Agreement includes an Irish backstop which would leave Northern Ireland in a different place to the rest of the UK. This is a mechanism the DUP, hard-line Brexiteers and many others could never tolerate. Whether the Prime Minister can get further assurances from the EU is debatable and whether these might satisfy her opponents is highly unlikely.
So where now? Well, to be honest your guess is as good as mine. The truth is we are as a country in uncharted waters, with a full blown political crisis on our hands, if not a constitutional one, with maybe an economic one thrown in for good measure.
What is certainly true is this is not a great place to be. I know, though, that ‘No Deal’ would be utterly disastrous and hopefully Parliament will work to take this option off the table.
Some are saying we need a General Election, to be honest I think that’s the last thing the country needs right now. And who could guarantee it would deliver a radically different outcome to the 2017 result?
I’ve therefore come to the firm conclusion the only way out of this gridlock is to put the issue back to the people in a ‘People’s vote’. This would offer on the ballot paper May’s Agreement alongside staying in the EU as the alternative option.
It has been suggested this would be undemocratic and a betrayal of the 2016 result. I disagree. First of all, how can more democracy be the wrong thing to do? A further vote would offer a final say, an opportunity for voters to give informed consent to May’s proposed Brexit. And the betrayal belongs to those who campaigned for leave on the basis of a fantasy vision of what leave would look like.
As we move on to an uncertain Christmas and New Year, one thing is clear – the Government has not got on with Brexit. Moreover, if May’s Agreement is adopted, we will be focused for many years on agreeing with the EU the future trading relationship.
Brexit is not over and done with and won’t be for many years to come. Hopefully cooler heads will prevail in the New Year and the country can start to chart its way out of the stormy seas it finds itself in, towards calmer waters. If we don’t all of us will all suffer the consequences, not least the farmers who work so hard to feed the nation.