As I write this, Parliament is engulfed in controversy over Brexit. Nobody knows how this issue will be resolved. What is certain is that there are no easy answers. Some would say that we should simply walk away from the EU. If only things were that simple. We have a 40 year relationship with the EU and if we walk out, without any agreement or sufficient preparation, the economic and legal problems would be massive. Jobs would go and criminals would have a field day.
But the question I want to address, is why did we get into this mess? Was it inevitable or could it have been avoided?
Although leaving the EU was always going to be difficult, I believe our exit could have been done very differently.
Like all the main political parties – Labour, Conservative, Plaid Cymru and Liberal Democrat – Theresa May had campaigned in the referendum for a ‘remain’ vote. When she became Prime Minister, soon after the referendum, Theresa May could have said to all the other parties, “We have to get together in the national interest to secure a good deal for Britain to leave the EU. I want all the parties to contribute to building a consensus which will have widespread support”.
But Theresa May didn’t. Instead, she brought in some of the right-wing Brexiteers from her own party and tried to reach agreement within the Conservative Party on what was the best way forward. But Theresa May failed to reach agreement within her own party, even though she tried to do so for over two years. Whilst Minister after Minister was sacked or walked away, the Prime Minister still refused to have any kind of discussions with other parties.
Even during the last few weeks, after Theresa May suffered the biggest defeat in modern parliamentary history, there has been no real attempt to create a political consensus. As one senior MP said, “Her door has been open, but her mind has been closed”.
To be frank, I do not know how this sorry saga is going to end. I am firm in my view that the majority view of the people of this country should be implemented. But, and it is an important but, a no deal Brexit or Theresa May’s Brexit would be bad news for this country and this area. A way must be found to have a Brexit which does not lead to huge job losses and widespread insecurity.