To save Brexit, Theresa May must resign as Prime Minister.
To save the Conservative party, Theresa May must resign as Prime Minister.
To save Britain, Theresa May must resign as Prime Minister.
Everyone understands this. It’s the simple solution to all our problems. But there’s just one wrinkle in the ointment. Can you guess what it is?
Theresa May does not want to resign as Prime Minister.
But really at this stage it’s our only hope. Over the next few days, Britain is in danger of signing what future historians will surely recognise as the worst deal in history.
The “deal” — as was always the intention of the European Union’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier — is so bad that most of the people who voted Leave will wish they had never bothered because, amazingly, it will actually leave Britain worse off than if it had remained a member of the EU.
That’s certainly the view of Daniel Hannan — Member of the European Parlaiment, co-founder of the European Research Group, and one of the architects of Brexit — in a must-read column in the Sunday Telegraph.
Hannan argues that Brexit voters are being sold a pup. And are being treated like idiots by the Remain establishment:
We keep being told that unreasonable Eurosceptics are their own worst enemies and that, if Brexit is now thwarted, it will somehow be their fault. But it is hard to think of a more unreasonable proposition than that all that matters is coming back with something that can technically be termed Brexit. Even after 30 months, Leavers are still being subtly patronised. It is assumed that the dim-witted oafs cannot possibly have weighed the costs and benefits before voting, and that all that the government needs to do is to show them something that has BREXIT written on it in bright, shiny letters.
In fact, Leave voters understand that some forms of Brexit are better than others. They understand, too, that some are so bad that they would be worse than either staying or leaving. The EU, of course, has understood this from the start. As Michel Barnier put it in 2016, “I’ll have done my job if, in the end, the exit terms are so bad that the British would rather stay in the EU”. Such an attitude on the part of Brussels was to be expected. The readiness of our negotiators to go along with it was not.
Coming from Hannan, this is quite something. He has long been a voice of moderation in the Brexit debate: pro-Brexit, obviously, but not nearly so gung-ho as some of us.
Now here he is out-Brexiting even Jacob Rees-Mogg (who is in danger of looking like a bit of a squish) and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).
And when a doggedly reasonable diplomat like Hannan starts talking in this way we should sit up and pay attention: Theresa May’s deal is so awful, he says, that “no self-respecting country” would accept it. Therefore Brexit MPs must screw their courage to the sticking-place — and vote it down.
If this means delaying Brexit so be it:
A postponement, undesirable as it is, is less damaging than accepting permanently disadvantageous terms.
As Lord King, the former Bank of England Governor, put it: “There are arguments for remaining in the EU and arguments for leaving. But there is no case whatever for giving up the benefits of remaining without obtaining the benefits of leaving.”
A delayed Brexit would have at least one huge advantage over the current situation: Theresa May would likely no longer be Prime Minister.
No-one bears more responsibility for the failure of Brexit than Theresa May. That’s because she always was and is a Remainer at heart and has done everything conceivably possible to ensure that real Brexit never happens.
Hannan is scathing on this score:
A new prime minister could start again with a better approach. It is hard, after all, to imagine a worse approach than that we have pursued since October 2016. If you had told me before the referendum that we’d end up quitting the single market but keeping the customs union – the worst of all worlds – I’d have laughed.
And in the Sunday Times another of Brexit’s leading intellectuals, Dominic Lawson, makes a similar point. In a chess-themed piece he argues:
The most spectacular of all moves is the queen sacrifice, in which a player gives up the most valuable piece for a greater advantage — and the prospect of victory. This may now be exactly what is required. The withdrawal agreement contains nothing about binding the future relationship between the UK and the EU. That is its weakness — we are giving about £40bn in return for nothing of substance — but it also means that a new Conservative leader could start those negotiations as a complete patzer (chess term for a useless player).
At the end of this month Britain is supposedly leaving the EU. The official departure date is March 29th and I’m booked for a boozy dinner with like-minded friends.
But I’m not looking forward to that evening one bit because I suspect that if we have “left” the EU by that evening it will be on terms so disadvantageous that we are effectively still in.
Most people who voted Brexit are, I suspect, as hardcore as I am on this issue.
The weak spot are our Brexit MPs. The European Research Group (ERG) and the DUP have to stand firm. No Deal is better than a bad deal. But, if we can’t get No Deal either then a delay is the next best thing.
Pushing through a “deal” no matter what isn’t pragmatic compromise. It is, as Hannan says, an act of national suicide.
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