So, where are we? In the month since my last newsletter, people have demonstrated in their tens of thousands in Scotland and across the U.K. to demand a People’s Vote and to stand against Trump and the ideology that he shares with Brexit; Theresa May has produced a negotiating proposal in the form of a White Paper that has cost her 10 resignations, including Johnson and Davies, and produced chaotic and bullying Parliamentary activity; there is a new Brexit Secretary and Foreign Secretary; Vote Leave has been found guilty by the Electoral Commission of cheating in the Referendum and prosecutions may follow; business and the Bank of England have stepped up their warnings of the cataclysmic consequences of a no-deal outcome or of any outcome that disrupts existing trade with the rest of the EU.
The White Paper is an unworkable mess that satisfies no-one. Remainers condemn it for its removal of our EU freedom of movement, influence and rights and many Leavers despise it for hobbling Brexit fantasies of bucaneering trade deals and a bonfire of the regulations. It fails to offer solutions for many of the difficulties Brexit raises – what about services? where’s the immigration policy? what part of “No Cherry-picking” have you not understood Theresa? The Prime Minister avoided total annihilation of the White Paper, and a No Confidence Vote, by a whisker last night in voting on the Trade Bill. She remains in thrall to the extremist European Research Group. Having failed to manage Leaver expectations from day one, by espousing the hardest of Brexits under Nick Timothy’s malign influence, is it any wonder that now she can’t sell an even slightly more realistic plan to the Tory Brexit heartlands, who are heading back to UKIP.
Michel Barnier and the EU27 have not commented in any detail yet on the White Paper – they probably weren’t sure it, or the PM, would survive long enough to bother. It is clear that May’s red lines will need to blur further to get a deal from the EU. And she has left herself very little room for manoeuvre. Preparations in all quarters for No Deal are being stepped up.
We don’t have to put up with this. We can think again and decide to stay as a leader and shaper of our European Union. Support for the People’s Vote is growing hugely, with twice as many of those polled saying it’s a good idea, compared with those against. Voices as disparate as Justine Greening MP and the union Unite have spoken out for it. Our future is far too important to leave to unreliable parliamentarians and a Government in thrall to right wing liars and zealots. Let’s keep working for the society we want, solving our problems together with our neighbours and building a European future for Scotland on values of equality, co-operation and human rights.
Read the full July Newsletter here.