By James Melville.
Brexit is like the final scene from The Italian Job – a dodgy bus hanging over a cliff edge and Boris Johnson saying, “Hang on a minute lads, I’ve got a great idea”.
Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal is basically a hard Brexit on steroids for Britain (not Northern Ireland) with a transition period and no hard border in Ireland. No single market. No customs union in Britain. An end to frictionless trade between the UK and 27 EU countries and the spectre of a cliff edge that never quite goes away.
Brexiters boast that Boris Johnson’s Brexit Deal allows the UK to negotiate free trade deals around the world. They conveniently forget that his deal ends UK free trade with 27 EU countries and also UK access to EU free trade deals with 60 other countries around the world.
Boris Johnson’s Brexit Deal is just the start of a race to the bottom. Now the level playing field commitment has been ditched, it’s going to be a libertarian bonfire of employment laws, food standards, human rights, social protection and environment laws. Welcome to unregulated, isolationist Britain.
On Saturday, MPs will vote on the most important parliamentary decision in decades, but without any knowledge of what is in The Withdrawal Agreement Bill (the details). This is still a secret that has never been published. It’s like buying a house without a survey. It’s insane.
Chancellor Sajid Javid has confirmed that there will be no impact assessment on the Brexit deal. Basically, he has confirmed that the government can’t be arsed to provide any analysis and scrutiny on the most important political decision in decades.
No MP should vote through something that has huge ramifications for the country when it does not have the full legal texts and terms and conditions in place. To do so would be grossly negligent and a wilful disregard of the national interest and also in terms of what Boris Johnson previously promised.
Johnson’s Brexit deal is completely contradictory to what he said in his speech at the DUP Conference last year where he stated that no British Prime Minister should ever sign up to a customs border on the Irish Sea.
But, more than anything else, Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal is dangerous. Any Brexiter who likes this deal because it avoids a no-deal Brexit need to be careful what they wish for.
No-deal Brexiters / ERG know that if a trade deal with the EU is not reached by the end of 2020, we will end up with a no-deal Brexit after the transition period has ended. Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal not only keeps a no-deal Brexit on the table, it makes it a real possibility.
Any MP who votes for Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal because they are worried about losing their seat or damaging career prospects should be ashamed of themselves. Politics should be about rigorous scrutiny and principles, not wanton self interest.
Our broadcast media are culpable in this lack of scrutiny as well. They would be considered less obsequious and more rigorous if they asked less questions on “will Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal get approved by Parliament?” and instead asked more questions on “should Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal get approved by Parliament?”
So right now, Boris Johnson is like Michael Caine in the final scene of the Italian Job. The Brexit bus is hanging over the cliff edge. He has a desperate plan to try and get us out of this mess and the others on the bus are looking utterly petrified and unconvinced, but they have no alternative other than to believe him.