Jack Simpson’s column from yesterdays Journal
As 2019 marks the dramatic finales for some of the most dramatic shows such as Avengers, Game of Thrones and Line of Duty, the Brexit omnibus refuses to end, being tediously dragged out as far as it can go, with boring characters, repetitive gags, and us rummaging for the remote hoping to change channel.
The country and economy are in no man’s land. Two months after our supposed Brexit date, the UK will be holding elections for the European Parliament this week, and the main parties have been left wanting.
Third and protest parties are surging ahead on radical Leave vs. Remain Brexit platforms. Public frustration has seen the revival of forgotten characters and has left the governing Conservative party polling in sixth.
Speaking of frustration, Theresa May plans to put her three times rejected Withdrawal Deal before Parliament in June, after which she will resign. Rebels within the Conservatives mean that May cannot rely on her own party for support and has had to reach out for opposition support.
Crossbench talks between May and Labour were supposed to find a compromise that would unite Parliament to pass the Deal, allow May to resign and launch negotiations on our future European relationship. However, as the weeks have worn on, talks have collapsed, with both parties’ blaming each other.
Labour wanted to ensure the compromise will not be ripped up by the new leader, subtly labelled a “Boris Lock”, while outraged Conservatives rejected Labour plans for a custom union or “confirmatory” referendum. So much for unity.
We are wasting away the precious time afforded to us by the six-month extension. Whilst no-one wanted another series, the extension was vital to avoid a No Deal scenario that would leave NE businesses 16% worse off.
I was hoping, maybe foolishly, that we would see Parliament unite to protect national, rather than political, interests, and forming a unified platform for future trade talks, but it appears that is not the case.
Instead we have lost all Brexit urgency, leadership hopefuls are showing off their lavish kitchens, and businesses still left in the dark about their future trading environment and unable to prepare.
The UK is currently set to leave the EU on October 31st 2019, but rather than a dramatic and intense finale, Government must provide business a smooth and orderly departure that allows them to prepare and put this whole saga to bed.