In my last column I forecast a week to remember with the prospect of the first Saturday sitting since the Falklands war. That came and went as a complete waste of time as Parliament refused to vote to consider a ‘Meaningful Vote’ required under s13 of the EU Withdrawal Act 2018.
Perversely this requirement to hold such a vote was inserted by a contentious amendment into the Bill during 2017 as it progressed through its Parliamentary stages by the usual suspects intent on wrecking Brexit. It was therefore ironic that the same people led the charge to prevent such a vote from taking place when offered in the terms that they had previously successfully argued for! This exemplifies what we Brexiteers have been up against over the past three and a half years within this remain dominated Parliament.
As to the revised Withdrawal Agreement itself: it is far from perfect, but does remove the ‘Backstop’ and the previous direction of travel towards perpetual alignment with EU rules and a Customs Union as the final destination of our future relationship within Theresa May’s dreadful deal which was truly Brexit in Name Only (BRINO). The revised Political Declaration points to a Canada style free trade agreement and complete freedom to pursue new international trade deals. Commentators said that the old Withdrawal Agreement would never be re-opened but the new Prime Minister proved them wrong.
Some will say that this deal is an incomplete Brexit. In some ways it is, but it is infinitely better than the previous offering. As in life, we need to consider all options, make, at times, unwelcome compromises in an imperfect world and move on. If I felt that further delay would lead to a ‘No-deal’ Brexit or an improved deal around the corner if I’d have voted this down as I did three times previously when faced with Theresa May’s deal, then I would have done. You can be sure that the temptation for me to continue a path of purity was there, but this does not recognise the facts as to where we are, and the real danger as to where we may end up – with no Brexit at all. Hence I voted for it at second reading.
We have a remain dominated Parliament intent on giving more of a say on Britain’s future to the EU than to ourselves. The Benn/Surrender Act, shamefully pushed through Parliament after seizing control of the order paper with one day’s notice and four hours of debate, showed too clearly what we are up against. A general election is the cleanser we need.
This would, historically have been the case were it not for the Fixed Term Parliament Act which has delivered the choice of when to hold an election to the Opposition. Despite calling for an election, virtually weekly since 2017, they don’t now seem to want one now it’s offered. I want an election, the country needs an election but we are unable to have one because of HM Opposition who are simply frightened of one. What a mess, meaning our imminent departure from the EU is unlikely and has been stymied by others.
More game-playing is forecast this week; I won’t even attempt at a forecast. A General Election in early December? Maybe not until the spring of 2020 or 2021? Your guess is as good as mine, but all the while and understandably, any remaining trust in democracy ebbs away still further.
In the constituency, I was delighted to nominate Sharon Goodyear’s Thanet Summer Kitchen for a national ‘Kids Count inspiration award’. Sharon and her team won and I was delighted to present her with the award in Parliament. Truly amazing. I’ve been at many meetings with Cabinet Members responsible for Kent Brexit planning. All is at a good state of readiness no matter what happens; do not believe the scare stories. The annual Thanet branch of the Royal British Legion’s Festival of Remembrance at the Winter Gardens was, as ever, superb. Congratulations to all.