The simple fact with Article 50 and the whole act of getting Brexit underway is that we do not know what will happen over the next two years, with any certainty. However, that shouldn’t negate the need to have a good idea of what could happen, or what plans we want to put forward.
In Prime Minister’s Question time today, Angus Robertson asked the PM about the promise she had made to discuss with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland the details of the plan before triggering Article 50. Which she didn’t. So that was another promise broken by the PM.
Article 50 is all a matter of trust
Trust is a really big problem for Brexit, and it has been throughout the campaigns leading up the referendum. The £350m promise on the side of a bus has become almost synonymous with the deliberate misinformation spouted in the campaign, and it was brought up in PMQs again today. Perhaps we need to be a little more mindful of what pattern is emerging here.
Theresa May gave a heartfelt, emphatically written speech about triggering Article 50. She spoke of the unity we needed to show. She spoken of the determination. She spoke very meaningfully about the need for careful negotiation. And above all, she said the words: we hope… we seek… we aim… we want… with each one followed by a vaccuous statement of desire. And not a shred of fact, guarantee, or even intention.
However, it’s hardly worth her making promises. Every time she said “this Government” I was reminded that she has no real mandate, and since the Tory’s election into power came about by roughly half the number of votes as those achieved for Brexit, it hardly fills me with confidence that she can deliver.
And why should she? Why should we trust her?
The Tories have systematically attacked the jobless; betrayed the sick; targeted the disabled; undermined education; cut funding to essential front line services; and yet protected the interests of the wealthy. And yet we are supposed to trust the very same people to truly act in the interests of us all, regardless of how we voted? If we cannot trust them with our own economy and laws when we have the backing of the EU, what should make us think they will suddenly play “nice” when we are out on our own?
We’re all in out of this together
Indeed we are.
Leaving the EU will not solve the 124,000 homeless children crisis that has grown and worsened during the Tory party’s governance and it will not simply vanish even if we were able to stop immigration today – because the two issues are not interdependent.
The housing crisis will not vanish – and could even worsen – for the same reason. If EU workers and labourers feel they have to return to their home country I dread to think what could happen to our construction industry. The glut in skilled trades is not going to be plugged immediately – it will take us years to educate and train such a workforce.
The “burden” on the NHS is caused by under-funding and under-staffing – or more accurately, over-staffing at the top end, where CEOs are paid salaries up to 7 or 8 times that of nurses, for example. There will be even more of a staffing crisis if EU workers are forced to return to their home countries. And since the training bursary for nurses has been cut, many UK citizens simply can’t afford to train.
I could go on…
However, the big question mark that must hang over this whole Article 50 triggering, and process of negotiation: can we trust the government to act in all our interests when they systematically and repeatedly prove not to do so with so many domestic issues?
Maybe we should worry that we have shot ourselves in the foot…with a cannon…on the deck of a tired old frigate which is being captained by a leader who has literally left millions of the crew who actually sail the ship to starve, whilst filling the bellies of all her officers who know nothing but showing off the shiny swords to each other.