Seventy-seven days to go and breaking up is hard to do—disentangling ourselves from 45 years of arrangements that touch every aspect of our lives. This is bigger than any piece of legislation, any Budget and anything that any of us has ever voted on. It is a big deal. This is existential stuff.
I will not be voting for this deal because it is the culmination of a string of calamities. This week I received 373 emails in one day asking me to oppose it. People cannot understand why we had the referendum at all. We then had the triggering of article 50 with no plan. Holding a general election in that timeframe did not work out very well either, did it? The abandoned vote of last year then added another 30 days of wasted time. Now we have this bastardised compromise before us, uniting a whole pile of departed ex-Ministers, every living former Prime Minister, the ideological purists of the ERG and every single Labour Member here today.
Never mind the backstop, my constituents—13,000 outraged EU nationals among them—are worried about their financial passporting rights or their carbon credits when the EU emissions trading scheme ends. We are now told not to make the perfect the enemy of the good. That is a mighty big downgrade from “the easiest deal in history”. It is a bit of a downgrade from, “They need us more than we need them.” But there is plenty of material for any student essay on “Can a minority Government ever behave like an autocracy?”
There are desperate measures from No. 10, including evenings of drinky-poos for Tory MPs and knighthoods for some. A meeting was even offered to the 218 cross-party MPs imploring the PM to rule out a catastrophic no-deal Brexit, which would be like jumping out of a plane with no parachute, without even a safe landing space. That is one in three of us who are concerned about just-in-time supply chains and rules of origin. Indeed, I ended up at that meeting myself. Alas, nothing new came from the Prime Minister—same old, same old. There comes a time when being resolute becomes being pig-headed and stubborn. Meanwhile we see the farcical scenes of a multi-million-pound ferry contract paid to a firm with no vessels. We see the stockpiling of drugs. We have become the biggest buyer of fridges—that is one thing we can revel in.