I have tried, and am now failing, to avoid writing about Brexit which has obsessed the nation for so many months. But here goes. It should have been obvious that a 45-year membership of a continuously evolving and complex association of nations could not be unravelled at a stroke and that when the referendum in June 2016 by a narrow majority required us to leave it was the start of a complex process. It should also have been obvious that an open border with Ireland was guaranteed by nearly 100 years of bilateral agreements and that Ireland’s open border with the EU would cause problems: two open borders, front and back as it were, constitutes a corridor but that was never mentioned in the referendum campaign.
Constitutionally it was an advisory referendum, advising the government that the electorate wanted to leave. The government did as it was bound to do and negotiated the detail needed to unravel the relationship. The deal appeared to meet the wishes of almost all of those voting leave: no more freedom of movement, leaving the customs union and the single market so no more regulation from ‘Brussels’, the right to set our own fisheries and agriculture policies and no more contributions to the EU budget. But for their own reasons the hard right brexiteers decided to oppose it and swayed public opinion against it. The conservative party was split and the parliamentary labour party, most of whom want to remain, wouldn’t support it. It seems extremely unlikely that the Prime Minister will get her legislation through Parliament on the fourth vote so there are two options: we revoke Article 50 which leavers say would be undemocratic or we leave without a deal which Parliament has expressly voted against. It is, as the say, a complete bugger’s muddle with no happy outcome.
There, that’s got that off my chest.