Wednesday 20 November 2019

Electionwatch: the latest Great Brexit Lie

The whole Brexit project was and is based on lies, and one particular lie is now central to Boris Johnson’s campaign – that electing him as prime minister will ‘get Brexit done’ and that the country will then be able to forget about it.

Why anyone would believe anything Mr Johnson says is a mystery to me, but apparently some people do, so let everyone understand that the one thing a Tory win will not do is ‘get Brexit done’.

Let’s assume Johnson gets a majority. He then presumably brings his ‘deal’ back to parliament. It passed second reading once with a majority of 30, but with Brexit, the devil is in the detail. When the UK decided to join the EU nearly half a century ago, MPs gave approval by a much bigger majority – 112, but when the detail was voted on, the margin shrank to 8 votes, so Johnson is likely to be extremely vulnerable.

If MPs decide to do their job and read the legislation properly, there will be lots of amendments and, bearing in mind his ‘deal’ is even worse than Theresa May’s, on some of them Johnson is likely to be defeated – People’s Vote, giving MPs control over negotiations? Which, is why he pulled his ‘deal’ from parliamentary scrutiny in the first place.

That is obstacle one. But let’s assume Johnson clears that and gets his deal through parliament. Brexit done and dusted? No way. Far from being the end of anything, that is just the start of a long and complex negotiation of a new trade deal with the EU.

It took Canada seven years to reach agreement with the EU. Some people will tell you the UK can do a deal much quicker, but they tend to be the same people who promised that we would be able to have our cake and eat it, that the Withdrawal Agreement would be the easiest negotiation in history, that Brexit would make us richer not poorer etc, etc.

All their promises have turned out to be worthless. And the UK’s position is fatally weakened by the Brexiters’ inability to agree on what they want: no deal, May’s deal, Johnson’s deal, soft Brexit, hard Brexit. They fooled you once. Are you really going to fall for it again?

Far from ‘getting Brexit done’, uncertainty will rule for years with Johnson landing the UK with a whole new set of nail-biting cliff edges. 31 January - if we have not agreed a deal, we will have to ask for another extension or leave without a deal. If Johnson can negotiate that obstacle, the UK goes into a transition period. By 1 July, Johnson has to decide whether he wants to extend that beyond the current end date of 31 December 2020. If he agrees, and if the EU agrees, the next cliff edge comes on 31 December 2022. At every cliff edge, a disastrous no-deal with food, medicine and fuel shortages looms.

Meanwhile, Scotland, Northern Ireland and probably Wales will be determinedly fighting Johnson’s plan to take them out of the EU against their will.

There’s as much chance of a Johnson victory ‘getting Brexit done’ as there is of me playing centre forward for England. If you want to stop Brexit dominating our politics for the foreseeable future, the only way is to stop Brexit altogether.

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