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Analysis

Nothing ‘patriotic’ about grinding through May’s deal

by Luke Lythgoe | 18.03.2019

Backing her Brexit deal is the “patriotic thing for MPs to do”, insisted Theresa May in the Telegraph this weekend. It’s nothing of the sort.

There is nothing “patriotic” about voting for a deal which even the government’s own analysis shows will make our country poorer, and which we know will leave us following rules made by others.

But the prime minister went further, talking of the “honourable compromises” that need to be made to get Brexit over the line. There is nothing “honourable” about wilfully ignoring the fact her Brexit deal has been defeated twice by record margins, and trying to grind MPs and the public into submission with yet another vote.

And it looks like MPs might not get behind the deal anyway – the government is ready to pull a third “meaningful vote” if the support isn’t there, reports suggest.

The type of compromise May is willing to want to make is particular cause for concern. Her ministers are deep in talks with Northern Ireland’s DUP, in the hope that their support on the controversial Irish border “backstop” will help unlock the votes of Tory Brexiters too.

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Talk of simply paying the DUP off has been dismissed by both sides. What the DUP really want is to ensure that, should we enter the backstop mechanism, then Great Britain’s rules should keep in line with Northern Ireland. Because the backstop agreement forces Northern Ireland to stay aligned to the EU on many things, the DUP’s demands would see the entire UK following EU rules without a say. Brexiters would call that “vassaldom” – and there’s nothing patriotic about it.

There’s no guarantee that convincing the DUP would even get May the numbers she needs in Parliament. Boris Johnson, in his Telegraph column today, said it would be absurd to hold the vote before more changes to the backstop had been attempted.

But even more absurd is the behaviour of Johnson’s fellow Brexiters throughout all this. Esther McVey, who quit Cabinet over the deal and voted against it last week, has now said she will back it. However, David Davis – another cabinet resignee but who voted for the deal last week – told The Times that if the Ireland problem wasn’t sorted he “might not vote for it this time”. Literally nothing has changed to make these Brexiters change their minds!

Meanwhile hardline Brexiter Charlie Elphicke says his support will only come if May herself resigns. This should be pause for thought for pro-Europeans and soft Brexiters among the Tory ranks. It seems ever more likely that it won’t be May implementing this deal in the long term. There’s a lot left to decide after Brexit – and it could get much harder if the ERG captures the party.

There’s nothing patriotic about backroom deals, selling out the UK or handing the keys of government to hardliners. The patriotic thing to do now is to have faith in our democracy, and in the British people. Politicians can’t solve this mess. Instead of giving MPs endless chances to vote on Brexit, it’s time to give a say to the public. Join us this Saturday on the streets of London to demand that Brexit is put to the people.

4 Responses to “Nothing ‘patriotic’ about grinding through May’s deal”

  • Have you or anyone else produced a poster the march on 23rd March, for us to print off and display? Julie Harrison.

  • I am trying to find out whether the temporary tariff schedule proposed is legal under WTO rules, or, if WTO agree to it, whether it becomes ‘permanent’. My reading of the rules suggest it would be difficult to raise tariff rates from zero if and when the ‘temporary’ period ends.

  • May’s attempts to bribe MPs to do in their principles and her country, are no different than the bribes paid to the 20+ Scottish “nobility” to sign the Treaty of Union in 1707. Nothing new.

  • The sort of reasoning that many Farage supporters have was summed up by a guy on the first day of his march in Sunderland. He said:
    ‘I do not want to see my grandson conscripted into an EU army led by the Germans.’
    A shocking comment based on myth and prejudice. We cannot allow this ignorance to take us out of the EU. When you ask a leaver to state what their vision of life will be like outside the EU and to provide evidence to prove things will definitely better, they do not give an answer. The answer is, of course, it won’t be. They have no understanding of the issue at all, other than prejudicial dislike of things ‘foreign’.