Prime minister gives tough speech outlining government’s 12 priorities for Brexit negotiations
Which ever way you may have voted in last year's referendum on continued membership of the European Union, one thing is today, in January of 2017, abundantly clear. The United Kingdom is in complete and utter chaos regarding our exit, or even non exit of the EU. There is no doubt that 17,410,742, (51.89%) of those voting, opted for Brexit, while 16,141,241 (48.11%) voted Remain.
There is also no doubt that Cameron was completely unprepared for a Leave result, and quickly scurried off, standing down as first as Prime Minister and then as the MP for Witney, to do other things outside Parliament. The departure of Cameron left others to clean up the mess that the lack of planning and foresight had created, but unfortunately for the Country, the new Prime Minister and her party had even less notion of "the next move" than Cameron had. The problem we are facing today is deep and complex.
Firstly, the division between the Brexit vote and those voting to remain, varies not only between geographic locations but also within historic political affiliations.
For example, Scotland as a whole, voted to Remain taking 62% of the votes cast and resulting in the whole country opting to remain as a member of the European Union. Strangely, this was a major issue in the Scottish independence referendum, where the government argued that voting to remain part of the UK, was the only way for Scotland to stay within the European Union.
Wales on the other hand, voted to Leave the EU taking 52.5% of the vote, compared to Northern Ireland where the Remain camp took 55.8% of the vote, with just 44.2% voting for Brexit and in England, 53.4% opted to leave. All in all a vote which has split not only the country, but also created division within families.
After some 6 months of dithering and confused thought, Theresa May now breaks cover with her plan for "Brexit", announced not in the chamber of the House of Commons where she would be, faced with questions from members, but in the relative "safety" of a Lancaster House press conference convened specifically for the purpose of unveiling her 12 point plan. She may as well have continued with the dithering and confused thought as the plan as presented has more to do with appeasing her own backbench MP's, than with ensuring that the British people obtain the best possible agreement, which may be salvaged from the predicament created by the Cameron government.
In effect, the Theresa May plan abandons huge elements of European employment legislation which safeguards workers rights. Health and safety at work, Agency worker protection, Anti discrimination legislation, limits on working hours provisions, all these and others are at risk under the Prime Minister's proposals. She also, probably for the first time, concedes that the United Kingdom will rule out membership of the single market and by implication rules out any "relationship" with the single market, consigning this country to the prospect of huge tariffs against our goods and services which could result in a "trade war" with the continent.
Interestingly enough, she still refuses to concede that Parliament should debate the issue of triggering Article 50 even before negotiations commence, (still seeking to bypass Parliament and disregarding what the Supreme Court may actually rule) relying instead on some vague "promise" that the House will be able to debate and vote on the "final terms" of the deal which is of course completely meaningless.
The question arises of course, that as each layer of lies, distortions and misrepresentations are peeled away from the arguments and scare scaremongering tactics employed by the Leave camp during the referendum campaign, would the result be any different today?
There are already many indications that a significant number of people feel cheated by the lies and distortions, which suggests that opinion may well have shifted in favour of "Remain". The result may still be very close, but might certainly be very different.
There is still much water to pass under the bridge before the United Kingdom's relationship with Europe is eventually finalised, but it is abundantly clear that Theresa May and her necessity to satisfy her own MP's is contributing to the problem and not resolving it. There is clearly a distinct possibility that she could be the Prime Minister who presided over the fragmentation of the United Kingdom, in pursuit of Conservative party interests rather than national interest.