Everywhere I go people ask me “What’s going to happen on Brexit?”
Everyone has their pitch on what should happen next. Everyone is frustrated with a process dominating the news feed 24 hours a day. But the danger is everyone is also sick of it. And while the proverb of choice for some right now is “any port in a storm”, I prefer to point out that we mustn’t leap out of the frying pan and into the fire.
We’ve seen, until a few weeks ago, peaceful and good-natured demonstrations outside Parliament hijacked by extreme right wing protagonists making for a hostile and altogether very different atmosphere. Brexit is not bringing out the best in our system, our country, and is a stark reminder, as if we Scots needed reminding, how divisive referendums can be.
Theresa May chose to interpret the 2016 result through a blue-tinted lens. She has not engaged with Parliament. At every turn choosing to shut out all opinions but hers.
Last week her plan was overwhelmingly defeated. In normal circumstances and without the Fixed Term Parliament Act, her premiership would have ended. She reluctantly offered talks with the opposition. So far signs are nothing has changed.
The threat of No Deal is simply a tactic to bully Tory rebels into submission. It’s not an option that should still be on the table at all, but with less than 70 days to go and after two years of botched negotiations, Theresa May does not appear to comprehend the gravity of the situation she has put us in. Headed straight for the rocks this lady, like Thatcher, is not for turning.
Labour’s position has been consistent. We secured the meaningful vote which prevented Theresa May’s dead deal from being a done deal.
But it is now inevitable the Government will have to seek an extension to the Article 50 process if it is to find a constructive route through this impasse.
Breaking the deadlock will require patience and involve bringing the country together around Labour’s positive vision for our future relationship with Europe. It will also involve facing up to some harsh truths about how people voted last time round.
To ignore the wishes of the 48% who voted to remain or the 52% who voted to leave would be incredibly dangerous for our democracy. The lesson through these last two years is surely that the aim of all responsible politicians now is to find a way to unite the country and begin to move forward. After all, there are more issues that we have in common that we all want to resolve.
In a week where we discovered the richest 26 individuals on the planet own as much as the poorest 50% of the world’s population, the only gap which continues to matter and which we must strive to bridge is the one between the haves and have nots. And that, sadly, is the true dividing line in our society.