Re­al­ity of what Brexit means

Stirling Observer - - FIRST WORLD WAR CENTENARY -

It was Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Harold Wil­son who coined the phrase“a week is a long time in pol­i­tics”.

With 24-hour news cov­er­age and sto­ries break­ing by the hour on Twit­ter, I can only imag­ine what he would make of the pace of pol­i­tics to­day.

Yet if a week is a long time, then the time spent dis­cussing Brexit can feel like an eter­nity.

After months of ne­go­ti­a­tions, ar­gu­ments and res­ig­na­tions, the UK Gov­ern­ment in­formed the coun­try that a deal had been agreed and, stand­ing in Down­ing Street, the Prime Min­is­ter told us that this was the“col­lec­tive de­ci­sion”of her cab­i­net.

Yet rather than be­ing the be­gin­ning of the end, this is only the end of the be­gin­ning.

Less than 24-hours later she had lost the con­fi­dence of the per­son we were told would be in charge of ne­go­ti­a­tions, her Brexit Sec­re­tary, along with her Works and Pen­sions Sec­re­tary, Ju­nior Min­is­ters, and Par­lia­men­tary Pri­vate Sec­re­taries. Back­bench Con­ser­va­tives pub­lished let­ters of no con­fi­dence and hour-by-hour peo­ple won­dered if she would sur­vive the day.

Yet sur­vive she has, tour­ing the coun­try in the slim hope that she can pass her deal. Yet no mat­ter how you look at it, the num­bers do not seem to add up. Many Brex­i­teers in her party do not back it, some Re­main­ers in her party do not back it, op­po­si­tion par­ties do not back it, and her coali­tion part­ners do not back it.

As Deputy Con­venor of the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment’s Euro­pean Com­mit­tee, I re­cently joined col­leagues of all par­ties in vis­it­ing Brus­sels and hear­ing the other side of ne­go­ti­a­tions. This is part of a num­ber of meet­ings and ev­i­dence ses­sions we have held to en­sure that the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment’s voice is heard.

That is why this week, in an un­prece­dented move, Scot­tish Labour, the SNP, Greens and Lib­eral Democrats will ta­ble a sin­gle agreed mo­tion op­pos­ing the With­drawal Agree­ment and the ac­com­pa­ny­ing Po­lit­i­cal Dec­la­ra­tion.

Why? Three re­ports is­sued last week high­light the stark re­al­ity of what Brexit ac­tu­ally means.

First of all the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment pub­lished a re­port that found Scots would be the equiv­a­lent of £1610 worse off per per­son com­pared to con­tin­ued EU mem­ber­ship. A re­port from the in­de­pen­dent Bank of Eng­land looked at the worst case sce­nario, a no-deal Brexit, and warned that it could see a re­ces­sion worse than the re­cent fi­nan­cial cri­sis, with the econ­omy shrink­ing by eight per cent and house prices fall­ing by al­most a third.

The most dam­ag­ing of all was a re­port by the UK Trea­sury, from the very Gov­ern­ment that is pur­su­ing the Brexit agenda. This found that the UK will be worse off eco­nom­i­cally un­der any form of Brexit. Of­fi­cial fig­ures show that their own plan could see the econ­omy be­come 3.9 per cent smaller after 15 years, than if we stayed in the EU.

The over­whelm­ing view of the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment is clear. ‘No deal’is com­pletely un­ac­cept­able as an out­come but that doesn’t mean we ac­cept a bad deal. We must re­ject the of­fer and look at the other al­ter­na­tives that are avail­able.

A Gen­eral Elec­tion, new ne­go­ti­a­tions, a peo­ple’s ref­er­en­dum. This is not a sim­ple choice be­tween a bad deal and no deal. We de­serve bet­ter than that.

His­tory The former Labour Prime Min­is­ter Harold Wil­son said “A week is a long time in pol­i­tics”

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