In a desperate attempt to get the public to back the her botched Brexit deal, the government has today put out a press release entitled ‘40 Reasons to Back the Brexit Deal’. But these “reasons” crumble the moment they’re subjected to event the most cursory level of scrutiny.
We are told that the UK will be leaving the Common Fisheries Policy – despite the fact the French President Emmanuel Macron – and the text of the Withdrawal Agreement – clearly states the EU will seek to negotiate the same level of fishing access in UK waters as it currently enjoys. Should the UK refuse, then the backstop will be weaponised.
The government also claims that leaving the EU will give the UK ‘control’ over its money and allow it to invest in ‘our priorities such as the NHS’ – this is nonsense. The EU has never prevented the UK from funding the NHS. Under New Labour the NHS received real-terms funding increases of up to 6% per year whilst under this Conservative and past Conservative governments the NHS has seen paltry rises just above 1%. The recent report by UN rapporteur Philip Alston has also made clear that austerity has been a political choice.
Theresa May also claims that the UK will extricate itself from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. This was a red line set out in her Lancaster House speech. Yet again, this is a lie. The Brexit Withdrawal Agreement has made it clear that the EU and EEA member citizens will be able to seek recourse to the ECJ in order to enforce their Treaty rights in the UK post-Brexit.
The end of freedom of movement and the implementation of a ‘new skills-based immigration system’ is also touted as the number one achievement of Brexit. Setting aside the fact that the National Health Service and social care is hugely dependent upon EEA labour – it is also laughable that the government is pretending it can be entrusted to implement a fair and skills-based immigration system. This year we have seen skilled Indian doctors recruited by NHS Trusts refused access to the UK under the Tier 2 Visa System despite a recruitment and retention crisis in the NHS.
A government presided over by a xenophobic Prime Minister who sent ‘go home’ vans into ethically diverse communities can hardly be trusted to implement an immigration system that isn’t fuelled by xenophobia – she can’t even be trusted not to deport her fellow citizens.
The press release includes other lies and mistruths; such as ‘Gibraltar’s British sovereignty will be protected’. This has already been conclusively disproven by the Prime Minister’s handing a veto to Madrid regarding Gibraltar’s access to any future UK-EU trade deal. In Madrid this has already been greeted with talks about future ‘co-sovereignty’.
On her own terms the Prime Minister has failed. It is time that she stopped insulting the intelligence of the British people. If she is as confident in her Brexit deal as she says she is then she should put it to a People’s Vote with this deal and the option to remain being on the ballot paper.
If the Parliamentary arithmetic is too difficult for her to navigate now – as Jeremy Hunt recently admitted in an interview with Andrew Marr – then surely winning a People’s Vote would give her the legitimacy she and this ramshackle government so clearly lack.
The people were trusted to vote once before they ought to be trusted again in light of all the facts.