AT 11pm this evening, it will be precisely 50 days until Britain is set to leave the EU. More than two-and-a-half years since the referendum, and nearly two years since Theresa May triggered Article 50, we still have no idea what Brexit is going to look like.
We don’t even know what the divorce deal will be, let alone the final outcome, and Donald Tusk, the EU Council President, has angrily said: “There should be a special place in hell [for] those who promoted Brexit without even a sketch of a plan of how to carry it out safely.”
As we hurtle towards this unrealistic deadline, the Tory government is becoming increasingly panicked.
This week the idea has been floated of surveillance cameras and tracking devices as a solution to the Irish border – a crackpot idea as that won’t tell you what is inside a van carrying goods across the border. It is being promoted by Brexiteer MPs who can’t even use a smartphone. The irony.
International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has flown the equivalent of 16 times around the globe and still hasn’t managed to deliver a single trade deal, despite the promises of dozens on the day we leave the EU.
There has been talk of an evacuation plan for the Queen, and even the possibility of declaring martial law with troops on the streets.
While some of this might sound far-fetched, there is also the very real impact of Brexit already being felt in terms of job losses. Japanese car producer Nissan has U-turned on its decision to build the new X-Trail model at its plant in Sunderland.
The financial reality of investing in post-Brexit Britain is clear – it’s not worth the risk for large employers. I fear this could be the tip of the iceberg, and with financial services and our universities most at risk it could have a profound effect on Edinburgh.
In the weeks ahead, I will be doing everything I can to stop this madness.
While the Prime Minister is hunting for unicorns, it is beholden on MPs to stay grounded in reality. It’s vital that we work together, across parties.
That’s why I supported a cross-party amendment which would have paved the way for parliament to authorise the Government to seek an Article 50 extension to the March 29 leaving date. Unfortunately it failed, but as we edge closer to a disastrous no-deal Brexit there will be opportunities to try again, with more votes promised on Valentine’s Day. Parliament has twice voted for amendments that would oppose us crashing out without a deal, but Tory intransigence is making it difficult to sanction anything that could prevent it.
Not all Tories are putting up roadblocks, however, and as the SNP MP for Edinburgh West, Joanna Cherry, told constituents last week, she has no problem working with some Conservatives on this vital issue. She is right. Everyone who has a principled stance to stop this impending catastrophe must work together.
When the country’s future is at stake, cross-party co-operation is essential. That is grown-up politics in the national interest. And grown-up politics must prevail if we are to save jobs, livelihoods and workers’ rights.
Nobody in 2016 voted to make themselves poorer. People were lied to by a campaign that cheated, failed to present any semblance of a plan, and broke the law.
There is now only one route out of this crisis, and that is to put power back into the hands of the people.
Other options have been exhausted, and it is incumbent that we build a majority in parliament for a People’s Vote with the option to remain in the EU – and fast. The Labour frontbench must get fully behind it.
If we fail, what happens next doesn’t bear thinking about.
Ian Murray is the Labour MP for Edinburgh South