Thursday 30th March
Theresa May today informed parliament that she had written the letter triggering Article 50. She said that she was negotiating for every single person in the United Kingdom, and for all the devolved Governments. A rather strange thing to say, as a few minutes earlier she said that we would be definitely leaving the Single Market, as we had to be able to control our borders and could not therefore accept free movement of people. Well, I, along with 15 million other people voted to remain in the EU and in the single market and implicitly accepting that free movement of people was part of that. So she certainly isn’t speaking for me, and she is negotiating for something I fundamentally disagree with.
This is exactly the argument that Nicola Sturgeon is using; Scotland overwhelmingly, and by a far larger margin than those voting to leave did in England. Voted to remain in both the EU and the Single Market. And Theresa May has refused to compromise or even answer the various proposals the Scottish Government gave her, so she definitely isn’t speaking for them. Considering what a divisive referendum we had and the fact that there was not an overwhelming majority (quite a slim one actually) to leave there is no way that Theresa May can please everyone, and it is insulting to our intelligence to suggest that she is trying to do so. If she were really trying to satisfy us all, Leavers and Remainers alike, she should have had further discussions with the EU, holding the referendum result above their heads, and negotiating for them to amend the single market; maybe so that there should be free movement of people only if they had a job to go to, and that benefits, if any, should be paid by the immigrants home country. It may have transpired that given the sudden seriousness of the situation and the knowledge that if they refused we would be leaving, there may have been some room for compromise. By choosing the current path, there is no going back. We are leaving, no matter what deal we may either be offered or eventually settle for. Now there is no chance to try to amend the free movement of people element of the single market, I doubt very much that we will get a trade deal anything like as advantageous as the one we are throwing away.
But Theresa May’s sole ambition is to be re-elected. She thinks that if she goes along with the Leavers most of those 52% will vote her in in 2020, when whatever deal we end up with will not be in force yet. No doubt she is right and the Tories may well win, but this was not the only way. A brave Prime Minister would have told the British Public to wait a year or two to see if she could negotiate a different EU membership. But bravery is not the name of the game, or even, despite the words, to unite the country. Winning the next election is all Brexit is about. Well. She doesn’t speak for me…