Tommy Sheppard

MP for Edinburgh East

Brexit ‘chicken’ is a risky game for all of us

EU

Tuesday. Another day spent discussing Brexit. Another day of my life I’m not getting back.

We are no further forward. As the clock ticks down to exit it’s only fair to ask: What the hell is Theresa May playing at?

Two weeks ago her proposals for leaving the EU were rejected in parliament with a history-making 230 vote majority. You’d have thought that might have led the person in charge to think again. Maybe to reach out to those who opposed her and see if a new compromise is possible. Not our Theresa.

The Prime Minister has been consistent if nothing else. From day one she has focused on how the keep the Tory party together rather than trying to unite a divided electorate. So it’s no real surprise that rather than reach out to opposition parties she is concentrating on getting tweaks to the deal she has already done which will satisfy her own hardliners.

And the thing they are most upset about is the so-called backstop. This is an agreement that if a future trading deal cannot be done in time which keeps an open border in Ireland (the UK’s only land border with the EU) then temporary customs arrangements will be put in place to make sure this happens.

It’s necessary because otherwise the UK would be breaking the Good Friday Agreement which brought an end to The Troubles. The hardliners are livid -saying it keeps UK trade under EU control indefinitely.

The alternative, just allowing Northern Ireland to align with the Republic drives them wild too because that, they say, would break up the union and lead to a united Ireland. And they’re really not keen on that.

So what’s the PM’s game plan? It’s this. She let it be known that she wanted an amendment to pass which called for an alternative to the backstop – even though that’s what she has negotiated with EU. It did pass, allowing her to argue that if she can get the EU to change their position then she is in sight of a deal that she can get through the Commons.

Next she goes to Brussels and demands a quick renegotiation. They will look at her with disbelief. But as the clock counts down she will insist that it’s either agree to her changes (which she hasn’t specified by the way) or no deal. She calculates that the EU want to avoid no deal, and they certainly want to avoid being blamed for it. So they’ll blink first.

This is a very high stakes game of chicken. If it goes wrong a lot of people are going to get hurt – but Tory MPs won’t be among them. And by blaming everything on the EU the Tories will crank up xenophobia and the far right.

MPs from all parties are trying to stop this madness by ruling out a no deal approach – but it’s not enough just to pass a resolution to that effect, we have to pass a law.

The SNP and others have been arguing that it is time to let the people decide if they really want to go through with this. This is not to disrespect the 2016 referendum result, or ignore it, or over-turn it. But simply to allow people to confirm whether they agree with what is being proposed.

Without a “People’s Vote” we are stuck in a perma-crisis.  Even if there is no deal on Brexit and the UK crashes out of the EU on 29th March, this isn’t going away for a long time.

Thankfully, in Scotland, we have an alternative. We can decide to take control ourselves. An independent Scotland could determine its own relationship with the European mainland, developing trade, encouraging investment, and attracting people to live here. I hope we’ll move in that direction soon.

Written for Edinburgh Evening News - 31st January 2019

 

It's Brexit Groundhog Day at Westminster
Jeremy, It's Not Too Late To Change Your Mind And ...

Related Posts

 

Comments

No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Already Registered? Login Here
Guest
Monday, 18 November 2019

Captcha Image

Tommy's Blog Articles

Tommy Sheppard
13 September 2019
Tommys Blog
Media
At two minutes past ten on Wednesday morning I was sitting in court number one just behind St Giles on the Royal Mile. A minute later Lord Carloway announced the unanimous decision by the appeal court judges that the British government had acted illegally in proroguing parliament.  There was an audible intake of breath as the decision hit.I was pleased to join my colleague Joanna Cherry QC, and ot...
Tommy Sheppard
09 September 2019
Tommys Blog
My work for you in Westminster
I've had a few emails recently from people who are asking about the SNP position regarding a general election.While I recorded some video updates last week, one of the limitations of social media is that it mitigates against context and nuance, so it is not always an adequate medium to communicate one's ideas. Also, while the instant nature of social media is useful it is limited in a situation li...
Tommy Sheppard
03 September 2019
Tommys Blog
Media
Under the new Prime Minister, the UK’s headlong dash towards the No Deal Brexit cliff edge has accelerated. Johnson makes demands he knows the European Union cannot accept. He demands the removal of the Backstop. The Backstop was designed to protect the Good Friday Agreement and thus peace in Northern Ireland and is, let’s not forget, an international treaty which is overwhelmingly supported by th...
Tommy Sheppard
26 August 2019
Tommys Blog
Media
And so the parliamentary summer recess draws to a close. This week Westminster opposition parties meet to plan their autumn attack. The week after, battle commences in the palace by the Thames. The parliament and the premier, each with a death wish on each other. The question: who will get the killer blow in first?What is clear is that a General Election is coming. Either the government will colla...
Tommy Sheppard
19 August 2019
Tommys Blog
Media
Dearie me, what’s going on in the People’s Party? First, shadow chancellor John McDonnell states that a Westminster Labour government wouldn’t block a request from the Scottish Parliament to hold an independence referendum. He says it twice just in case anyone thinks the first time was a mistake. And this week Jeremy Corbyn says it again to be sure.Now, in one sense, it’s an unremarkable statement...