It issummer, parliament is in recess, and the Prime Minister is on holiday in France with President Emmanuel Macron.
For those of us left in Britain, its a good time to reflect on the political drama of the last month – and what we can do about it.
Ive grown frustrated at the spin surrounding the Prime Ministers Brexit plan, agreed during a tortuous cabinet session at Chequers at the start of July.
We are told that the Chequers plan means leaving the EU, restoring the supremacy of our courts, and that its a pragmatic compromise. But this is fictional spin that will do more damage to the country than good. And heres why.
First, in her Lancaster House speech in January 2017, Theresa May told the country that being in a situation where we were out of the Single Market but had to apply EU rules would mean “not leaving the EU at all”.
Yet the Chequers plan seeks to “establish a new free trade area and maintain a common rulebook for goods, including agrifood”.
This is staying in the Single Market in all but name. It means that, instead of freeing ourselves from burdensome EU regulation, we will continue to be tied to the very regulations that small businesses keep telling us they want scrapped. This would apply to all goods produced here in the UK, even if they are just for the UK market.
Worse, Britain would be compelled to follow future EU changes and new rules. Having left the EU institutions where these rules are decided, the UK would become a voiceless rule-taker.
It is argued that, in future, parliament could decide to diverge. However, as the Chequers plan itself states, our refusal to implement EU regulations would result in “consequences”, with the EU allowed to impose penalties and sanctions.
Second, at Lancaster House we were told that the jurisdiction of EU judges in the UK would end. Yet being forced to comply with a “common rulebook” means that EU rules would continue to be supreme in the UK, as would the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
The ECJs jurisdiction would also cover environment, climate change, social and employment laws, as well as consumer protection.
Further, ECJ judges would be the final arbiter in disputes between the UK and EU over the UKs £39bn Brexit bill and the wider workings of the Brexit process. This means ECJ jurisdiction in perpetuity.
And third, the golden opportunity of Brexit is to sign new trade deals with the growing economies across the world. However, under the Chequers plan, Britain would be aligned and tied to EU standards on traded goods, making it impossible to strike these new deals with countries such as the US.
Rather than seize on the opportunities for Global Britain, the Chequers plan hands that prize away to the EU, and locks us out of that future economic opportunity.
After a series of cabinet resignations, we have been told that Chequers is the only way forward to secure trading certainty and maintain stability around the Irish border. But this is not the case.
Remember, a border already exists between the UK and the Republic of Ireland – in currency, VAT, excise duties, and security. These do not present any problems at all.
Implementing new technology, as well as extending schemes such as the Authorised Economic Operator Scheme, mean that any post-Brexit customs checks can be done without a hard border.
The EU insists on customs checks, but in reality no UK or Irish government would ever accept a hard border. The problem is thorny politically, but in practical terms, the logistics can easily be solved.
It is also imperative that we bear in mind that the Chequers plan is not a deal. Its an opening offer to the EU, to be compromised and watered down further. It is in no way in the countrys best interests.
Dont just take my word for it, listen to the public. A recent survey found that: “by more than two to one, voters do not believe Theresa Mays plan keeps faith with the referendum result”.
Polling since the details of Chequers emerged shows that the Conservatives have averaged 37 per cent in popularity, and not led Labour in a single poll.
Concerned Conservatives have heard it argued that we have to back the practical Chequers plan, or else well end up with a leadership challenge, a snap election, and Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street. That is a ridiculous argument.
In reality, if we dont deliver Brexit fully, the public will feel betrayed. We will lose seats like Mansfield, Middlesbrough, Moray – and many more. To fail on Brexit will usher in the chaos of Corbyn. Get Chequers, get Corbyn at the next General Election.
The Chequers plan is not the Brexit we were promised. It does not deliver on the referendum result. If Chequers isnt ditched, the country will pay the price for a generation.