While I truly hope that Britain leaves the European Union, and I am desperate to avoid any new delays and further brinkmanship between the UK and the EU, I am also determined to hold MPs accountable for their failures. Our democracy is in an appalling state: listening, voting, scrutinising, and passing legislation. A manifestation of these failures, “politics as usual”, is dictating what happens next.
We are going down a mountain of trouble on our hands. Before I even thought this through, I would have said that we could simply opt not to leave the EU, rather than agree to the terms of Brexit the government has already, upon reading in the polls, morphed into something described as “the People’s Vote”. My colleagues and I will walk through the hostile no-deal fog and place a second referendum – asking the question, “Do you think this is a better way to leave the EU than the current deal?” – into the ballot box on an as-yet-unspecified date, sometime in the next few months.
If we succeed, or have better (or at least more legal) clarity, we will bring the election forward and get a new government. This government would then negotiate, rewrite and vote through another deal.
But this is not about winning a public vote. It is about taking action and influencing our future leaders. It’s about preventing a no-deal with the EU, or a “hard” Brexit, which in both the EU’s terms, and those of the Conservatives, is no deal at all.
The first task, the task we need to start now, is to say to our colleagues in the European Research Group (ERG) and the Conservative Party: enough. Time has run out. Whatever your view on Brexit, don’t worry about holding your own. Your job is to hold the prime minister, your colleagues, and the Conservative Party to account. Get on board, however different you may see it. If they want to be as defiant and obstructive as the ERG faction, fine. If they want to compromise, fine. If they want to back-down in parliament, fine. The job now is to present a united front.