The latest Brexit delay provides a window for a second EU referendum, writes Alex Cole-Hamilton.
I can understand why Scots are despairing. Both of our governments, in Holyrood and Westminster, are consumed by constitutional questions: how to get smaller, how to be more insular and how to break up close ties with old friends.
The news is a revolving cycle of Brexit misery. Labour and Conservative politicians are bickering and booing each other like kids. The SNP are plotting independence at every twist and turn. And all the while, people across the country have real worries about medicine supplies, low wages, poor housing and long waits for the doctor. It feels like these priorities are poles apart.
I don’t share these introverted ambitions to go it alone. I could run a relay without any teammates, but I wouldn’t do very well. Being part of the EU and the UK is of immense value to us. My party is keen on unions, not unicorns. We want to share knowledge and work with others to get things done. We need to cooperate with our neighbours on the continent to solve the migrant crisis as a collective. We want to be part of EU-wide medical trials to find the medicines of the future. Our young people benefit from schemes like Erasmus. Continent-wide security co-operation makes us more safe.
Over the last two years we’ve seen the curtain slowly pulled back on a future of complete chaos outside the EU. Chucking the towel in on all this collective progress is backward and blinkered. You can just picture history lessons in 20 years with kids who can’t get their heads around why we thought it was a good idea to leave. No one will have a logical answer for them.
Now the EU have granted another extension of the Brexit date through to Halloween and the spooky significance of this latest change won’t be lost on anyone. Putting people through prolonged panic and worry without the opportunity to voice their opinions is cruel. We’ve all endured the turmoil of the Prime Minister’s endless trips to Brussels. The fights in her party, the fragmenting of the opposition, the countless waste-of-time votes. People are truly sick of it and the chaos needs to end.
Last week the Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox, compared Brexit to birth. For most people that painful analogy just shows how deluded the Government has become. We don’t want pain, or job losses or companies to move abroad. The Tories’ unwillingness to put this decision back to the people displays a telling lack of confidence. If your deal is so great and your proposals so strong why wouldn’t people vote for them?
What’s more, this stalemate won’t come to a close on Halloween even if the Prime Minister’s deal does go through. That’s just the start. The negotiations on proposed free trade agreements will cripple our country for years. And then to make matters worse the SNP are planning to swoop in with the next ill-thought-out separation plan. They argue breaking up the 40-year-old partnership we have with Europe is devastating, but tell us breaking up a 300-year-old partnership would be simpler. That’s not credible.
We’ve now got a window to put the Brexit question back to the people. The solution cannot be a stitch-up between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn. Whatever the outcome in the Commons, Brexit must be signed off by the British people. Why on earth should it be within the individual gifts of that untrustworthy troupe to trade freedom of movement, customs union access or other prizes millions of us hold dear? Parliament and politicians have failed. The public should have the final say.