Time for more courage and a greater sense of the national interest from our political leaders

Time for more courage and a greater sense of the national interest from our political leaders

One can’t help but admire how well Theresa May has defended her indefensible deal and the perseverance, firmness and skill with which she’s done it. If only she’d shown the same skills in negotiation with a tricky eurocrat whose brief was to ensure that Britain suffered from leaving…

Instead she’s negotiated on her knees, surrendered her cards and agreed massive payments (without securing anything) and become trapped in a Northern Ireland cage to end up with a deal unacceptable to both Brexiteers and Remainers. Now the Government is committed to the last resort of madness: repeating mistakes in the hope of producing a different answer. It may work, but it probably won’t. In which case it’s “no deal”, which the Cabinet will be scared to face.

That puts Britain in a desperate end game which can only be won by putting the ball back into the EU’s court, testing their unity and ability to negotiate sensibly, and facing up to damaging both Britain and their trade with us. So far, they’ve had the easy job of saying “no”, relying on their Remainer allies in Britain to undermine our government and its case.

Crunch time removes all the evasions and excuses for rejecting the will of the people, makes the pirouetting of Grieve, Benn and Cable irrelevant and forces government to firmness. Who else can now act?

The favourite excuse of those whose soft hearts control soft heads is a second referendum (the so-called “People’s Vote”). Not only would this take a year – and another £185 million – to organise, but it can’t happen unless there’s something to vote on. Which there isn’t until Parliament agrees a deal.

And the new centre party which Chuka Umunna and Mathew Parris prefer would have a gestation period longer than that of a mastodon. It really is wishful non-thinking. So is an agreement negotiated with the opposition, because Labour has no agreed alternative? Even if it had, it’s bound to conceal its disunity by futile demands for an election which ain’t going to happen.

The rising hope that Parliament will seize power from the Executive and impose its own decision, is another impossibility. Parliament can’t agree. Most MPs are Remainers in a nation which voted the other way. It can’t negotiate. Its aim is to give instructions to the Executive and it can’t even agree on what those are.

So, we come back where we started, to a Prime Minister and her divided Cabinet. All the ultra-Brexiteers have been dropped, but the Chancellor and his mates are ready to cancel withdrawal if their weak deal for Brexit without Brexit fails. Another section will resign if there’s a sellout.

So far, they’ve failed to get the EU to agree to any of the usual fudges or accept the essentials from control of immigration to the ability to negotiate new trade deals. Emboldened by the British Remainers with whom they collude, they’ll be as unhelpful to Theresa as they were to David Cameron.

Which leaves only two ways forward: Leave without a deal, relying on the fact that they desperately need our money and can hardly deliberately damage us without arousing the anger of the British public and a world which will be eager to displace their exports on our market; or go back with new proposals for a better deal, which they can hardly refuse to discuss seriously.

Both demand more courage and a greater sense of the national interest than anyone has shown so far. They also require an understanding that the manufactured fears about “no deal” are enormously exaggerated. But either is the only way Britain’s elite can avoid humiliation and alienation by serving the will of the British people.

Photocredit: © UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor