As I write, the Prime Minister looks to have just about run out of Brexit road. Discussions with Brussels, ahead of the European Council later this week, are at an impasse over the Irish border back stop. Chancellor Merkel describes the situation as “difficult”. European President Tusk is saying that “no deal” is looking more likely. Reporting to Parliament on Monday, Theresa May was under assault from Brexit extremists – including in the Cabinet, despite threatened resignations there failing to materialise today – demanding a clear backstop end date; from the DUP threatening to bring down the Government if there is any form of differential treatment for Northern Ireland, now supported in that by David Mundell and Ruth Davidson; and from voices across the parties calling for an extension to Art 50, a permanent Customs Union, a General Election and/or a People’s Vote. It is very hard to see how she can can bring back a deal which is acceptable to the EU – and their reasonable position that the Single Market and the Good Friday Agreement cannot be undermined – that will also win a majority among the factions in Parliament. The timing is slipping for finalising anything in Brussels, into November or beyond. It is not impossible that language will be found to cobble together a convoluted fudge on the Irish issue in order to deliver withdrawal deal, but the accompanying political declaration is likely to be sketchy in the extreme – not a basis on which to bet all our futures. This is not what was promised in June 2016, and we cannot passively permit 650 politicians to determine the “will of the People” by way of their own electoral advantage.
We still wait in vain for any examples of the prize that Brexit is supposed to deliver. There is none – from loss of our EU rights and freedom to live, work and travel without constraint across our continent, to lost investment and public funding, exclusion from lucrative trade arrangements to a weakened voice in the World and on and on – it is a bleak con.
EMiS is more confident than ever that we can defeat Brexit. The Prime Minister herself admitted in response to Heidi Allan MP that if there is no deal, then it is for Parliament to decide what happens next. It is entirely feasible to pass legislation and and organise a further consultation of the public, if there is the political will to do so. The EU 27 will extend the Art. 50 period to allow that. Good support for a People’s Vote came at the Labour and SNP Conferences in the last weeks. A majority of citizens across the UK now prefer to Remain and many more would like to see a second EU vote than are against it. In Scotland, Aberdeenshire Council has the honour of being the first local authority in Britain to back and People’s Vote. We have written to other Councils to ask them to do the same – please feel free to write to or lobby your councillor too; all pressure helps. Just in the last days, Dundee City, Angus and Fife Councils have called on the UK Government to commit to the UK remaining in the EU’s Regional funding programmes.
We are working increasingly closely with the People’s Vote Campaign which brings together the parties and organisations who want to have a vote with the option to Remain in the EU. That includes leading politicians in the All Party Parliamentary Group led by Chuka Ummuna, Anna Soubry, Caroline Lucas, Stephen Gethins, and Jo Swinson. All parties will speak at what promises to be a massive March in London on Saturday, together with Sadiq Khan and other high-profile activists for a People’s Vote. And we demand this whatever the outcome of the negotiations – deal or no deal. EMiS will have a sizeable contingent marching under our EMiS logo flags and a forest of Saltires and Stars. Look out for them and join us if you’re at the march – meet up details in Events section below. If you can’t make it to the march, please share our photos with friends and on social media, and make this the occasion you contact your MP via this link – especially if Labour or Conservative – to ask them not to fall for a bad or blind deal, just because no deal is worse. It is not too late to stop Brexit altogether, but it does need all of us to keep demanding an EU future.