Her initial response doesn’t sound promising. What will it take for these idiotic Tories (and Jeremy Corbyn) and those still blindly clinging to Leave to understand that there is no better deal than membership?
I wish I could feel triumphant but I actually believe the Conservative party is like a cult, with Britain the stockade, and having realised (or in some cases, not) that all their wild-eyed predictions were wrong, they now intend to blow themselves and everyone else up rather than accept reality.
From day one, the EU has resolutely defended the principle that you cannot have the same or better terms as membership having left the organisation. Boris can grandstand about “going back to Brussels” all he likes but there will be no negotiation on this principle, ergo, no movement on the backstop or Irish border question which would undermine the integrity of the SEM.
Likewise, variations on soft Brexit or Norway-style deals which will compel us to retain freedom of movement, pay into the budget and accept the jurisdiction of the ECJ. If you voted Leave to avoid all those things, the soft alternatives offer no solution and are even less attractive than the deal Parliament has just rejected. Why leave a club and then continue to be bound by its rules? That is the worst of both worlds.
Then you have Canada++ where the ++ are simply different expressions of having your cake and eating it. The Canada FTA is for two parties who respectively do 9% and 2% of each other’s trade. It’s a ‘coming together’ deal from a position of less harmonisation that serves as no basis for the UK (which has 43% of its export business within the EU and is fully embedded in the single market) to slip sideways and somehow be better off than it is as a full EU member.
And it’s that 43% that ‘no deal’ would torpedo, economic prosperity that no trade deal with faraway countries would replace – even assuming that under Most Favoured Nation constraints other trading partners would cut more favourable deals for Britain once isolated from the biggest free trade bloc on the planet. Even trading on WTO rules, the UK would still face being bound by EU non-tariff regulations owing to the principle of conformity – e.g. if our future trading partner has an FTA with Brussels that requires its industries to align with EU regulations, it will not sign a deal with the UK that enables British companies to export into its market from a lower standards base.
Corbyn’s notions of using state aid to revive defunct manufacturing sectors would be blocked by aggressive tariff regimes the moment other countries got a whiff of UK intentions. The idea that Labour could negotiate a better deal without (for example) accepting freedom of movement, single market rules and EU regulations on state aid is for the birds. Instead of doubling down on folly, Corbyn should be savaging the government for the root causes of the Leave vote in most of the traditional Labour heartlands: austerity and the parlous state of public services, housing and healthcare that eight years of Tory misrule have inflicted.
We are now reaping the consequences of a blind vote, facillitated by a hysterically partisan and misleading right wing press (aided by proven electoral fraud) that another General Election won’t solve. Painful though it will be, the only way to solve this mess is via another, but far more informed, referendum to ascertain the “will of the people”, the majority of whom will have a far better view of what they are voting for than they did in 2016.
Mrs May became PM solely to implement Brexit. The magnitude of her failure destroys her mandate. Her government is effectively dead at this moment. By rights, she should resign and call an election. But such is the fracture within Parliament, where Tory rebels and the miserable DUP (a party supported by fewer voters than live in Coventry) can reject the Brexit deal but support the PM in a no confidence vote, we cannot move forward. It shows an appalling lack of responsibility and weakness of character to cause so much damage to the status quo without having any credible alternative except ‘no deal’ which was the very last thing most voters believed they would be getting.
Sadly I don’t think we’re out of the woods yet, not by a long way.