BY JAMIE FOSTER
Have we reached a point where trust has ceased to exist? Surely there was a time in the past when we could have trusted our leaders to negotiate on our behalf. Trusted that they would do their utmost to achieve our best interests. We may have been divided on the results but surely there was a time when we would have felt that our leaders deserved our trust. Sadly no more. Theresa May and her team go to Brussels with no trust at all. So whose fault is that? Is it the media who constantly seeks to undermine her every move? Is it her fellow politicians who manoeuvre to gain the upper hand? Is it ours for losing the ability to trust? Or is it hers for the way in which she has approached the Sisyphean task put before her? Perhaps it is a little of each.
Whatever else we can conclude it would appear that the deal she returns to us with is dead in the water. If we have lost trust in her to achieve a deal we have also lost any trust in the EU to sign up to a deal that is in everyone’s best interests. The deal she is proposing seems to have little to recommend it. It would prevent us entering into free trade deals of our own as we would be trapped in a backstop customs union for an indeterminate timescale. We would still be bound by EU laws and judged by the ECJ, again for an indeterminate amount of time. We would have to pay billions of pounds to the EU and would obtain what in return? Certainly not our freedom. It is the bad deal that Theresa May said no deal was better than. She was right as well. No deal allows us to make our own trade deals, our own laws and our own decisions about how much to pay the EU if anything at all. No deal is that Brexit we voted for. That is not to say that any deal isn’t, just that this deal doesn’t appear to be.
Theresa May’s deal does not look as if it will make its way through the House of Commons. Over 50 Tory rebels from Jacob Rees-Mogg’s Brexiteer wing of the party are against it. They view a no deal Brexit as an opportunity to throw off the shackles of Brussels with minimum interference to our freedoms. The Labour party will vote against it because they believe that may be the best way to get to a general election. All in all the numbers don’t look good.
If the deal is defeated in the House there would appear to be very little time to try to get to anything else prior to the March Brexit deadline. That doesn’t mean that the negotiations couldn’t in theory continue but it would require organisation. In some ways a no deal Brexit has the advantage of bringing both sides to the negotiating table knowing what dealing on WTO terms would mean in a practical sense. It may be that it would make clearer what sort of trade deal we need to trade without one for a period of time. Sure there is the possibility of disruption during that period but both sides would work to minimise that in any event.
Part of the reason why we have lost trust is the constant fear mongering that has gone on since the referendum became a reality. There would appear to be no end to the scare tactics associated with a no deal Brexit. In the end it is hard to believe any of it. We already trade with the US and China on WTO terms and we seem to get on with it rather well. There is no particular reason why we couldn’t do just as well trading with the EU on WTO terms.
In the end time will tell what will happen. Mrs May will either get her deal past the Commons or she won’t. The EU will either agree it or it won’t. We will either have a deal or a no deal Brexit. Hopefully in time talk of a second referendum will fade and we will be left to get on with it. Maybe in time trust will return and we will again trust our leaders to act in our best interests. It is a sorry state of affairs if we can’t.