Most of my Brexit Select Committee colleagues hate the referendum result and simply want to frustrate it

Most of my Brexit Select Committee colleagues hate the referendum result and simply want to frustrate it

The Brexit Select Committee is a divided body, but unfortunately does not divide in any way reflective of the country on the issue of Brexit, the constituency results of many of its individual Members, nor on the promises made in the manifestos of the main parties upon which the General Election of 2017 was fought. That said, the Plaid Cymru and SNP members are at least consistent throughout in their opposition to the referendum result and are open enough to say it.

I wish I could say that it is a constructive committee upon which to serve. A majority of Members are concurrently seeking to overturn the referendum result by either:-

(i) promoting Parliament to a level that constitutionally it does not occupy in asserting new rights to overturn the democratic will of the people and usurp government, the ‘we know best’ gang, or;

(ii) seeking another referendum as the people did not know what they were voting for, the ‘let’s have another go and really ramp up the fear and hope a previous democratic instruction can be overturned’ gang, or;

(iii) pushing to extend or revoke Article 50, the ‘let’s spin this out and hope time allows for a referendum, a general election or reversal of the vote’ gang, or;

(iv) demanding a departure deal that looks very much like the EU, the ‘Norway Plus’ gang, or;

(v) arguing for the setting up of self-selecting undemocratic people’s forums across the country, the ‘desperately find a uniquely daft but obstructive, furry and friendly Remain’ gang.

Take your pick, the frustraters of Brexit on the Select Committee can’t even agree the best way of delivering what they each passionately believe but will not clearly say – that they hate the referendum result and will do anything they can to frustrate it.

The latest report, published today, advances both fear for the future and loathing of the June 2016 referendum result in equal measure and attempts to be all things to all people opposed in their various ways to the referendum result. The usual Project Fear hyping up of shortages of fresh produce, the threat of essential pharmaceuticals being unobtainable, citizens’ residency rights on both sides being restricted, hard borders and the danger of restricted security co-operation litter the 71-page document.

It advances arguments of the absurd that we’ve heard a multitude of times, but I suppose it will give the usual outlets some dramatic phrases to use. The doomsday of restrictions on data transfers looms large, despite the committee previously taking evidence that data adequacy decisions and data transfer freedoms have been successfully granted to countries as diverse as Argentina, Uruguay, New Zealand, the USA and Japan – and yet none of these started from a position of full alignment and adherence to GDPR rules.

Never mind the truth, it’s the soundbite that’s important.

The report does, at least, graciously confirm that ‘no deal’ is the default outcome given the state of the legislative programme already passed. It makes a passing dismissive reference to the WTO and the possibility of a 10-year standstill agreement on tariffs and mutual recognition allowed for under Article XXIV of the GATT.

Those of us who both personally want Brexit and recognise the frustration of the public, who want us to get on with the job, voted against the report. Is it worth a read? I wouldn’t bother. Save yourself either the trees or the pdf electrons.

The Exiting the European Select Committee’s Twelfth Report of Session 2017-19, Response to the vote on the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration: Assessing the Options, is published today. It was agreed by the committee on a vote with 11 Members in favour and five against: Sir Christopher Chope, Craig Mackinlay, Jacob Rees-Mogg, John Whittingdale and Sammy Wilson.