It is now well established that the Government’s Brexit deal makes more sense. Theresa May’s Brexit proposal for Britain leaving the EU will see us continue to be part of the European Economic Area. So, we will remain subject to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), we will not have the power to set our own tariffs, we will still be obliged to pay huge amounts of money, and we will have to accept a new customs union between the UK and the EU. The alternative of no deal, as the Prime Minister has said, is a downright catastrophe.
Even those inside the Government who accept that the Prime Minister’s deal is better than no deal cannot be allowed to stop the debate. The risk of a no-deal Brexit is a daily reality. We have to save our industry. The risk to the South East and Ireland is enormous. Any deal is better than no deal and the government need only respond to a meaningful vote with a white paper – which we, along with other Brexiteers, hope to see very soon.
We are not cowed. The government is struggling. The PM is trying to cut down a deep and complex issue into a story about sheep going out to abattoirs, while ignoring the big issues facing the country. We should not allow the government to be distracted by shouting “rebates!” so she can focus on complex issues instead of providing certainty. This government is staggering round in a car without its steering wheel – Theresa May is trying to drive on what is a driving seat that has been ripped off. It has been stolen because it is incapable of executing the basic tasks that we demand of her in our democracy.
We are not going to roll over and, like a dog, I believe that if the talks go wrong, we will find a way. That is what I believe. There is no point in waiting for someone else to provide the answers, for ignoring and letting things get worse. I believe we have the power to make change – if we all do what is necessary to support the actions and words that we, the people, choose. If you do not want to be part of a disorderly Brexit, let the Government know you care. Tell them that you want a deal, a deal that is better than no deal. Let them know how you feel.
And please use your ability to listen, to learn, to understand. You can sit and shut your mouth, if you want to. You can threaten and muddy the waters and talk over and obfuscate. Or you can decide to have the guts and brains to understand what the Prime Minister is doing and to put your concerns into action, to take part in the debate.
I know there is a passionate debate about Brexit in Westminster – you have people on both sides, those whose commitment to the UK’s future as a member of the EU is unquestioned, and those who want a bonfire of Red Tapes that will leave our country open to attack and challenge by various negative forces from within our country and from Europe. The fact is, it all needs to be sorted out, sooner rather than later.
If you do not want a no-deal Brexit – you have the power to deliver one.
– Bertie Ahern was the first leader of the Free Democratic Party, and was Ireland’s first ever Taoiseach.