Europe and Brexit

The Green Party supported the idea of a referendum on Europe although we campaigned to remain within the EU.  As a remainer myself I supported our continued membership, but wanted to see real reforms in the way the EU operates, particularly in terms of democratic process and localisation. The future of Europe, and our place in it, needed to be based on mutual support and benefit, not on greater centralised power in Brussels.

I was very sad and disappointed by the referendum result, but I accept it as far as it goes.  Unfortunately that isn’t very far.

We were given a hastily concocted referendum offering a simple binary choice.  There was little in the way of serious factual debate, and very little time in which to conduct proper consideration of the consequences one way or the other.  all we had were slogans on the side of a bus (that turned out to be bare-faced lies) and counter claims from both sides about how great or terrible leaving the EU would be.

The result, with an almost evenly split vote, has divided the country and threatens to split the United Kingdom apart.   After decades of EU membership, the imponderables and unintended consequences of our departure are very worrying.  No one really knows what will await us after Brexit and both sides in the debate continue to posture and postulate about what will happen after we leave.

We have a PM who previously supported our remaining in the EU, now apparently advocating the hardest of Brexits for her own political gain.  Time and again she has sought to out-manoeuvre our democracy and go around Parliament, rather than seek proper ratification from MPs who represent us all.  Time and again she’s been dragged through the courts simply to make her take proper notice of the political reality of our system of government.  This is not someone I trust to look after our best interests in Europe.

There’s little or no backup plan for what will happen if the negotiations don’t go in our favour.  In triggering Article 50 when she did, Theresa May shortened what little time there is for negotiation as there were elections imminent in France and Germany.  To top that off, she then throws us into a further election ourselves.  By the time we actually get around to starting negotiations we will have wasted months of valuable time.

To add insult to injury, Theresa May is now attempting to use these negotiations to whip up nationalistic fervour simply to further her own electoral chances.  As with the referendum itself, the Conservatives are using our relationship with Europe as a way of dealing with their own internal squabbles, something that we’re all potentially going to be paying the price for.

Already food prices here are rising while our currency continues to nose-dive.  I think it’s highly likely that a post-Brexit Britain will see very many economic impacts that could even throw our economy back into recession while the rest of the world continues to recover from the crashes of the last decade.

We still have no real idea of what kind of deal we’ll get from the Brexit negotiations, only hollow promises and sound bites from the likes of David Davis and Boris Johnson.  I believe we need to know what we’re signing up to before leap over the cliff edge.

That means we should be offered a second referendum, not on the original result (that’s already decided) but on the actual deal we are faced with after negotiations are complete.  Only then will we know what we are letting ourselves in for.  Only then will we know the consequences for all of us both nationally and personally.

If we make an offer to buy a house and the survey report says the roof is about to fall in, we don’t simply go ahead because of a decisions we made previously.  We re-negotiate, we make an alternative offer, or we walk away.  I believe we need the same options for Brexit.

I believe we should wait until the Brexit negotiations are complete and then be given full disclosure about the result and the potential impacts and/or advantages.  We should then be given the chance to vote on whether we’d like to complete the deal as it stands, ask for further concessions or re-negotiations, walk away without a deal, or petition to rescind Article 50 and remain within the EU.  Those are proper choices, that we should be allowed to make from a position of full understanding of the consequences of our actions.

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