The Prime Minister is about to present to her cabinet, Parliament and the country with the worst deal in history. But ironically, after all these months of subterfuge and bullying, it now seems that she cannot win as all possible outcomes end with her removal as leader of the Conservative Party, a new cabinet, a new PM and a new policy.
For some time I was a little gloomy as to the prospects of a proper Brexit being delivered, the Brexit that people voted for, but the passage of time – the proverbial ticking of the clock – has filled me with optimism as I can now see little prospect of the country avoiding a clean Brexit.
Brin (Brexit in Name Only) is being strangled by the rope which the government, the EU and the Remainers have given themselves. The campaign group, Leave means Leave, have organised six rallies across the country in recent weeks, which have been attended by nearly 10000 paying participants, all massively enthusiastic activists and which were viewed via livestream by nearly 1.4 million people.
What was palpable on this tour of our nation is that, once outside of the M25 bubble, there is steely determination and massive anger amongst the people of Britain at the way they and the referendum vote have been treated.
The consequences of the Prime Minister betraying democracy by breaking the Conservative manifesto commitments and her repeated promises is incalculable. The consequences of the Labour Party breaking its manifesto commitment to leave the EU and abandon its leave supporting voters will be grave. However it is dressed up, the people of the UK are not fooled by the worst deal in history, they are insulted. The establishment appears to have no idea what they are in for, or do not care.
Given all of this, Mrs May cannot succeed and the UK will see a no deal exit in March next year, or will accept a Canada style free trade arrangement (FTA) as part of the process of moving to World Trade arrangements.
When the Prime Minister puts this awful deal to Parliament she will be faced with a phalanx of opposition from within her own party and from the DUP. The only way she will be able to get her legislation through Parliament will be to rely on Labour votes. If this were to come to pass and it is by no means likely, it would be unprecedented since the abolition of the Corn Laws in favour of free trade in the early nineteenth century. The then Prime Minister, Robert Peel, was removed from office for his trouble and the Conservatives split. On this occasion, Peel was on the side of the angels, fighting for free trade, Prime Minister May is fighting for protectionism and vested interests! The Prime Minister would undoubtedly be removed under these circumstances as would her proposals. She cannot win.
What is more, this scenario would almost certainly also precipitate the formation of a new political party, a threat to both the Tories and Labour.
If the Prime Minister tries by executive order to extend Article 50 or even to withdraw it, it would be unconscionable if the PM were not removed.
Another favourite of the Tory whips is that the House of Lords will introduce a Customs Union into the Trade Bill. Nothing is more sure to see the end of the House of Lords than this. In any event, the Commons would reverse it, time would see us leave the EU and if it were not reversed, no doubt the Prime Minister would be removed.
None of these outcomes need lead to a General Election. After all, turkeys rarely vote for Christmas. None of these outcomes lead to a second referendum.
All of these outcomes lead to a new Prime Minister, a new cabinet and to a new approach to Brexit. They all lead to the fulfilment of manifesto pledges and promises. They all deliver, sooner or later, the democratic will of the people, as was set out on the referendum ballot paper.
The people of our country voted simply to leave the EU and that is what we should do. For all the salivation of the Remain supporting media and the convoluted gymnastics of our Houses of Parliament, despite the Machiavellian plotting of the European Commission and the protest of the “alt-Remainers”, I now believe that is what we will do.
MPs and business would do well to prepare for it.
John Longworth is an entrepreneur, chairman of Leave means Leave and is on the Advisory Board of a Economists for Free Trade and the IEA. He was formerly director general of the British Chambers of Commerce.
9th November, 2018: The Daily Telegraph