This really is five minutes to midnight—for this Parliament, for this Government and for our country—and we desperately need to find a way out of this mess. Our country has spent two years tied up in knots by the Prime Minister’s incompatible red lines, which offered such a narrow interpretation of the referendum result. A 52% to 48% vote was certainly not an instruction for a disastrous no deal or for a hard, Canada-style, job-destroying Brexit. It was an instruction to move house, but to stay in the same neighbourhood.
The European Free Trade Association/European economic area model offers just such a possibility. It respects the referendum result without wrecking the British economy. Not convinced? Well, it is worth remembering what Nigel Farage told a “Question Time” audience in 2016:
“I hear people say ‘Wouldn’t it be terrible if we were like Norway and Switzerland?’
Really? They are rich, they’re happy and they’re self-governing countries.”
Mr Paterson, a passionate Brexiteer, told us in 2015 that
“only a madman would leave the market”,
and Boris Johnson has also been supportive of the single market in the past. The point I am making is that, in 2016, Euroscepticism meant something that it apparently no longer means today.