There’s no more certainty with Brexit than there would have been if we’d voted to stay in the EU

There’s no more certainty with Brexit than there would have been if we’d voted to stay in the EU

Promoting her EU Withdrawal Deal to the people of Britain, to her Government and to Parliament, Theresa May’s central argument has hinged on the supposed virtue of ‘certainty’. I ask myself: for whom and for what purpose is Theresa May’s so-called certainty – and how can something so intangible be a virtue?

The Government’s own legal advice shows there is no certainty that the decision to leave the EU will be implemented by this Government. Instead the certainty which Theresa May promotes is certainty for big businesses who lobby the EU for preferential regulatory protectionism. And by certainty, Theresa May means continuity EU rule.

Much has been written against the deeply one-sided EU Withdrawal Deal: a deal that never misses an opportunity to favour the EU and ensure our Parliament remains powerless; and the inescapable and indefinite backstop arrangement is all but inevitable. Theresa May’s EU Withdrawal Deal is EU membership without the EU flags, and crucially, without an Article 50-type arrangement to ever let us out.

So much is read into the referendum vote. Never before have so many words been used to describe such simple concepts as ‘Leave’ and ‘Remain’. The revealed preference of the voting public was to Leave, regardless of what preferences were stated or assumed. Whilst stated reasons behind the decision are interesting to hear, our government is mandated to act and deliver the Leave decision, regardless of the disparate and potentially unreconcilable reasons of 17.4 million independently-minded voters.

Certainty was not on the ballot paper, and the decision to Leave revealed that certainty was not paramount, nor was it preferable to the outcomes of sovereignty, democracy and global free trade – outcomes which history shows are the foundations of peace and prosperity. Those who expect nothing to change by Leaving the EU need to reconcile themselves to the referendum result. Voters weighed up the choices before them, and they opted for the different and better benefits of life in an independent nation on the world stage.

Neither concept, Leave or Remain, could guarantee certainty; there is nothing certain except death and taxes. Had the decision instead been taken to Remain, continuity would only have lasted so long.

The EU, though immovable in many regards, has always marched with ideological zeal in pursuit of those hallowed words of ‘ever closer union’. Though such a concept may seem merely symbolic, the EU has shown a drive towards more EU bodies, regulations and protectionism, taking from nation states their agility, diversity and independence. Businesses should be clear that the EU project is not over, that changes would be forced upon us even if inside the EU. The largest and most global businesses need to look further ahead than the short-term effects of leaving the EU; what is the EU if not an Empire ready to fall?

How fragile must these large and global businesses be? More than certainty, businesses need innovation, technology and creativity. If businesses are truly global, they must understand the mechanics of operating in different countries, different regulatory jurisdictions, and how to operate across borders. We are unwise to listen to businesses who say one minute they are global, and the next minute say they cannot operate globally. Where the only differentiator for a business is scale and their percentage of the market, we know there is no strategy.

Businesses are vital, but businesses don’t vote. Businesses serve society, through employment, through tax contributions and they respond to people through the market. Free markets and free trade are components of a liberal and democratic society. The choices people make in a free market are expressions of individual liberty, as was the democratic vote in the referendum. Obfuscating the referendum result to favour businesses with so-called certainty is against the first principles of free markets and liberal democracy.

This deal is symbolic of the distance between people and politicians. In many ways the EU Withdrawal Deal is a sign of things to come if we had voted to Remain; less sovereignty and independence, more control by a small group of unelected elites in Brussels.

The EU body is inherently unresponsive to the people it rules over. Anti-democratic institutions with power but without accountability are not fit to be the guarantor of certainty, or anything for that matter. Look to the unrest in France and the unemployment in Italy.

Should Theresa May get her EU Withdrawal Deal through Parliament, the certainty she seeks will not last. To leave the EU was to achieve sovereignty and democracy. This deal takes us further away from where the people voted to be, indefinitely.

When the people were finally asked to reveal their preference, they said no to EU rule in June 2016. There is no certainty, none whatsoever, when people are ignored in a free society. Theresa May’s deal locks us into that from which we voted to escape; it prevents us being out in the world as an independent, free trading nation; that much is certain. There are no good outcomes if Theresa May, and Brussels, comes between the British people and their vote, their Parliament, and the world.