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We must fight on two fronts: against no deal and a bad one

by Hugo Dixon | 23.08.2018

We must strain every sinew to avoid crashing out of the EU with no deal. But we mustn’t then breathe a sigh of relief if Theresa May produces a miserable one.

With its first batch of advice on how the country could manage without a deal, the government is trying to mitigate the damage. But we shouldn’t kid ourselves: even if the government was well prepared (and it isn’t), the economic and geopolitical consequences of charging over the abyss would be terrible.

Anybody who cares for their country should do what they can to prevent this outcome. We should not be tempted by the argument that the country should be taken to the brink so the people will have such a fright that the entire Brexit project is cancelled.

Yes, if we get to the cliff-edge, the public may recoil in horror. But we may also lose our footing and slip – particularly if Brexit ideologues such as Jacob Rees-Mogg hoodwink voters into thinking there’s no danger.

Some pro-Europeans think we can rely on the government to kill off “no deal”. This, too, is complacent. Yes, May herself doesn’t want to crash out. Nor do the vast majority of MPs.

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But we also know the prime minister often puts the unity of the Tory party ahead of the national interest. If talks break down, she and her minister will try to pin the blame for the looming disaster on the EU, when they and Brexiters outside government are the ones to blame.

But that doesn’t mean we should relax if there’s a deal. The prime minister’s “Chequers” proposal – which would damage both our power and prosperity – is dead. But she may be able to clinch some “son of Chequers” deal if she offers to follow even more EU rules and pay money into its coffers.

We must not be so grateful that we have avoided the abyss that we go along with a proposal that would “shackle us to the EU forever” – as Rees-Mogg rightly puts it today in a letter to Tory activists.

Fighting on two fronts sounds hard. But May and the Moggites are also fighting on two fronts. And for each of them, the path to get what they want is strewn with obstacles, as I argued this week for Politico.

Meanwhile, momentum is building behind our campaign for a People’s Vote. Our latest opinion poll shows that even the North East of England, which backed Leave by 16 points in the referendum, is now evenly split on whether we should quit.

We can defeat both “no deal” and a bad deal. Yes, we can.

Edited by Luke Lythgoe

One Response to “We must fight on two fronts: against no deal and a bad one”

  • Now that we have a written comment from Rees Mogg on the Chequers proposals and his proposals for the future ( for the first time ) I hope that our dear friends in INFACTS will be able to carry out a close analysis of his statements and give us the fruits of their labours i.e. does what RM states have any validity at all ?

    Having requested this, I hasten to point out that at the geo-political level, the most important level at all, and which is not even touched on in RM’s letter to the Conservative Associations, it is quite clear that the UK is leaving not only the EU but Europe as well. How could it be otherwise ? The behavior of the present UK government is poisoning our relations with Europe with lasting consequences.