BREXIT is at risk. It’s under attack from all sides.
Jeremy Corbyn is offering Parliament a path to overturn the referendum through a so-called People’s Vote.
AFP – Getty Theresa May may soon be able to exit No10 with her dignity intact – if she can pull off mission impossible
A cross-party group of MPs are desperate to postpone Brexit.
And passionate Eurosceptics risk letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.
Ever since the Prime Minister lost the Conservative majority in June 2017, it has been squeaky bum time for Brexiteers.
If we are not careful we could lose Brexit altogether, with a long extension leading to eventual reversal. That would be a democratic disaster.
Yes, this Government has made a catalogue of errors from triggering Article 50 with no plan, to letting Brussels decide the sequencing of Brexit talks.
But at this stage, with the clock ticking towards midnight, there is no time for “coulda woulda shoulda” about what went wrong when.
Sun readers knew all along that in a negotiation there’s always give and take.
You can’t get everything you want.
And although the Prime Minister’s deal has flaws, it’s actually far better than many critics will admit.
Alamy Live News The PM’s deal does everything Eurosceptics wanted and with a legal change on the backstop it deserves to pass
Those same critics can also be wildly unrealistic about the actual alternatives on offer now.
The most likely alternative is in fact a far softer Brexit, which leaves Britain with less not more control.
Imagine if David Cameron had won from Brussels a deal that took back control of immigration, let us set our rules covering the key services sector, and allowed us to scrap the wasteful Common Agricultural Policy.
Let’s suppose it gave us control of our fishing waters, let us choose environmental and employment laws as long as we kept to certain general standards, and which got us out of the EU’s political project. He would have been a hero.
Yet that is precisely what Theresa May has secured. Even in a worse-case scenario — if we end up in the backstop — we will have achieved all those things and will get a veto over new EU directives.
We wouldn’t have to pay a single penny of membership costs.
I’m not pretending the deal is flawless. We need to improve it to know we can’t be trapped in the backstop forever, and to ensure the EU can’t impose different rules in Northern Ireland from the rest of our country.
But it sometimes seems that the Prime Minister’s critics cannot see the wood for the trees.
Eurosceptics used to say what we wanted was to turn off the tap of endless new European laws, to stop the ratchet where the answer to every question seemed to be “more Brussels”, and to go back to a trading relationship. That’s literally what this deal does.
So why did her deal suffer such a historic defeat last month?
HOC/JESSICA TAYLOR Mrs May hasn’t been able to pass her deal through the Commons – but Brussels will eventually give some reassurance on the backstop
Some MPs have deeply held concerns, particularly about the backstop, that the Government is rightly trying to address. Some are pursuing perfection. Others — especially in the Labour Party — are just playing politics.
But there’s also a group for whom the real issue is personal as well as the policy.
They just don’t have faith in the Prime Minister. This is no big secret.
More than a third of Tory MPs — 117 of them — voted against her leadership back in December. To get through that, Theresa May had to promise she wouldn’t lead the party into the next election. But now she may have to go further.
I’ve heard senior backbenchers on all sides of the Conservative Party say that their concern about voting for the deal, is that it could mean the Prime Minister stays in place to negotiate our future relationship with the EU.
They want someone else to take forward the next phase.Politics is unfair.
If Theresa May manages to agree a deal — and I think she ultimately can — she will have achieved Mission Impossible.
But to scrape that deal through the Commons she might, as Sun columnist James Forsyth has suggested, have to throw the kitchen sink at it by agreeing to step aside.
Downing Street aides privately acknowledge that she doesn’t want to “go on and on”. They know she faces another inevitable and painful leadership challenge by the end of the year — they want to see her leave with her dignity intact.
It’s likely Brussels will eventually give some reassurance on the backstop.
This might not quite be the full open-heart surgery changes to the deal some want.
But the test should be whether the legal position changes. If it does, then the deal deserves to pass.
And then, come the end of March, we can stop endlessly re-running referendum arguments about whether we should or shouldn’t leave the EU.
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We can get on with arguing about what sort of country we want to be after Brexit.
We can discuss what we want to do with our newly won freedoms.
And as a country we can start to move on together.
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