If you haven’t been watching the Brexit debates in the House of Commons I envy you. I’ve had to sit through them and the same things keep getting said. Time ticks by but we don’t get any further forward and too many politicians are busy trying to work out what will win them votes instead of doing what they think is right.
The Prime Minister’s EU Withdrawal Agreement (her deal) has been voted down twice now – with huge majorities against it. It was a terrible deal for Scotland so I and my SNP colleagues voted against it, as did some other Scots MPs – including all of Edinburgh’s MPs.
We also voted to say that we shouldn’t leave the EU without getting a deal in place and to extend the Article 50 negotiation period. Theresa May’s response was to say that she would bring her deal back for a third go. She keeps coming back to ask MPs whether they’ve changed their minds on Brexit but she isn’t polite enough to ask the voters whether they might have changed their minds on Brexit.
I think leaving the EU is the wrong thing to do. I think leaving without getting a deal in place will be catastrophic for Scotland’s people, businesses and culture. I think the deal we were offered isn’t much better than no deal at all. I think we need to ask for an extension to the negotiation period and take the time to have a proper discussion about where to go now. I think the UK Government has failed and that it is time to wind this whole thing back in and see what the position is.
The Prime Minister and her Government are continuing in this unproductive rut simply because they don’t have the imagination to find a better way to do things and that is no good for any of us. Repeating her defeats in Parliament while the EU watches time ticking down to Brexit Day does nobody any favours.
It’s time to stop and take stock because carrying on as we are will not only cause enormous damage in the meantime, it will cause lasting damage that will last for decades. Trade negotiations and negotiations on our future relationship with the EU will only start after Brexit – we have all of that to look forward to – and getting things wrong now will mean they stay wrong for a long, long time.
All kinds of industries have warned how bad leaving without a deal would be but here’s something that makes it very clear. A friend of mine runs a restaurant in Edinburgh and her suppliers say prices will go up without a deal – wine costing 20 per cent more immediately, for example. Small businesses will face massive challenges, big businesses will just move away.
Take a breath, Prime Minister, take a breath and pause. Whatever path we decide to take next we shouldn’t be stumbling down it and hoping for the best.
Deidre Brock is the SNP MP for Edinburgh North and Leith