Monday, 9 December 2019
LAST CHANCE TO STOP BREXIT !
This Thursday’s General Election will be positively the last chance to prevent a disastrous Brexit at the hands of Boris Johnson and his Brextremist friends. The Tory election slogan (“Get Brexit done”) is as mendacious as all Johnson’s other lies and obfuscations. If Johnson wins an overall majority, so that he can rush his Brexit Bill through parliament with only the most perfunctory debate (thereby avoiding all the serious defects of his vaunted ‘deal’ becoming obvious before it passes into law), then the country will be faced with a disastrously hard Brexit, and the likelihood that the UK will still crash out of the EU at the end of 2020, with no agreement having been reached as to our longer-term relationship with the EU, in terms of trade, security, scientific cooperation and the many other important benefits that the UK derives from its current membership of the EU.
Contrary to Johnson’s assertion, his deal is not “oven-ready”. It will not ‘get Brexit done’. It will be only the overture to long and difficult negotiations with the EU, which could drag on for years, not to mention even more difficult horse-trading with other nations with whom the UK currently has advantageous trade terms, as a result of Europe-wide trade deals that the EU has made with those countries on behalf of all its member states. It is naïve to believe that these agreements can simply be rolled over on substantially the same terms as we currently enjoy. As a much smaller trading entity than the EU, the UK’s bargaining position would be substantially weakened, and the terms that might be negotiated will be nothing like so good as those that we currently enjoy with those other countries. After three years clocking up a prodigious number of air-miles, Mrs May’s trade minister (Dr Liability Fox) had only succeeded in agreeing to buy oranges from Israel and cuckoo clocks from Switzerland, plus some miscellaneous items from Iceland and the Faroe Islands. Johnson’s motley crew are unlikely to do any better (especially when it comes to negotiating with the USA).
And does anyone seriously believe the Tory Party’s death-bed repentance, after nine years of unnecessary austerity (which, contrary to their assertions, has still not been brought to an end), which has prompted them suddenly to promise that they will reverse at least some of the cuts that they have savagely imposed on public services throughout their years in office?
People are understandably fed up with Brexit, but they would be tragically mistaken if they think that voting Tory will “get Brexit done”. What people really want is to “get Brexit over with”, which is not the same thing at all. This can easily be achieved, simply by cancelling Brexit altogether. No more long and difficult debates; no more tricky and risky international negotiations. As soon as we pull the plug on Brexit, that’s the end of all our problems. The reaction to the Lib Dems’ proposal to cancel Brexit without letting the voters have a final say on the matter shows that people do want a chance to vote on the matter one last time in light of all that has transpired in the past three and a half years; so there clearly needs to be a referendum on the terms of Johnson’s deal, with the alternative of simply staying in the EU on present terms.
It has therefore become vital at this General Election to prevent Boris Johnson from getting a parliamentary majority. The problem is that our ‘first past the post’ electoral system can all too often result in a candidate being elected on a minority of the votes cast in their constituency. Labour and Lib Dem votes might add up between them to 60% in that constituency, but the Tory candidate could still win with just 40% of the votes cast. Unfortunately, Labour and the Lib Dems have refused in most cases to cooperate with each other to prevent this happening, and so it is left to individual voters to do the job for them. If you want to prevent a Tory MP being elected in your constituency by default, then old party loyalties must be laid aside and you should vote for the one candidate in your constituency who, with the benefit of the combined anti-Tory votes, could defeat the Tory candidate. This is the only means that is now left to us to prevent a disastrous Brexit, from which this country might never recover.
Once again, the Tories have wheeled out their old trick of threatening the electorate with an invented bogey-man. This time, it’s Jeremy Corbyn; last time it was a “coalition of chaos” with the SNP as well, but what we got instead was Theresa May’s very own coalition of chaos, with the DUP. This old Tory trick of waving a white sheet about and talking darkly of ghosts and ghoulies and things that go bump in the night won’t wash any more. As the doyen of psephologists, Professor Sir John Curtice, observed recently, the chances of Jeremy Corbyn gaining a working majority in this election are as close to zero as it is possible to get. So blood-curdling prophesies of economic disaster under a left-wing Labour government can be entirely discounted. If we can avoid a majority Tory Brexiteer government, then what we shall get is another hung parliament. (Cue more Tory weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth – but only because it will frustrate their knavish tricks, and prevent them once again from forcing a hard Brexit on the country). In a parliament where no party can command a majority, the compromise of a second referendum then becomes the only practical way forward, and it is one that this next parliament should seize on as the best way of “getting Brexit over with”.
Friday the 13th (in the cold, clear light of dawn) : So that’s it, then. Boris Johnson now has his majority, and the country is doomed. Goodbye, Great Britain; welcome to Little England – an insignificant little offshore island, with no influence in the world and a slowly declining economy, left only with its dreams of past glories.
But the Tories and other Brexit supporters had better not get too carried away with any sense of triumph. Reality, in the form of ongoing Brexit negotiations and other difficult trade talks, will impose itself all too soon, and electors in the Midlands and the North of the country, who elected Tory MPs for the very first time in some cases, will be expecting Johnson’s government to deliver on their generous election promises. Those electors will punish the Tories at the ballot box for any delay in rolling back austerity and spending generously to provide new hospitals, properly funded schools and much improved public transport and other public services.
© MARTIN H GOODALL