Trust me! Brexit is not going to happen.
1 July, 2016
Let me start by saying that the YDM is ambivalent towards the European Union. They have provided Yorkshire with considerable, much needed development funding over the years but, like everyone else in the EU, we have had to put up with their, sometimes seemingly, strange and inflexible regulations and their aloof and often infuriating Brussels bureaucrats. On balance, Yorkshire has probably done quite well out of the EU but we managed before it came into existence so we could probably manage without it, even though the EU does get a mention in the YDM Constitution.
So what about the referendum? Are we suggesting that it should be ignored? The answer is of course not but, as I understand it, the legal status of the referendum is advisory. In other words, it does not force the country to do anything. The government has said that it will abide by the results of the referendum. You can take that to mean all sorts but I would have thought that as soon as they got the “leave” result, they would have invoked Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and put their plans to leave into operation. This has not happened and it is now fairly obvious that there are no plans to leave in place. David Cameron has resigned though he is still hanging on as a zombie prime minister until the Conservative Party goes through the process of choosing a new leader. Fair enough, a prime minister who campaigned at the head of a government seeking a remain result could hardly lead us out of the EU but the problems for Brexit do not end there.
The government is still deeply divided on the issue of EU membership and it is quite possible that the Conservative Party could elect a new leader who favours remaining in the EU. In order to unite the party, they will no doubt pursue a leave policy but how serious the new leader will be in pursuit of this policy remains to be seen. All this is, of course, pure speculation. The Conservative Party could elect a pro-leave leader.
The next hurdle for Brexit would probably be the need for the government to get some sort of legal mandate to open discussions and invoke Article 50. Presumably this would be some sort of Brexit Bill but this would have to be approved by parliament where much of the government; most of the opposition, if you can call it that; and much of the rest of the House was recently in favour of “remain”. It is quite possible, therefore, that any Brexit Bill could be defeated. What becomes of Brexit then? Will the government call a snap election and campaign on a Brexit platform? It can hardly ignore the will of the people. This would probably be the sensible thing to do but what would be the implications of this on the Conservative Party?
Brexit is, therefore, far from a done deal. The referendum was only the beginning of a long and tortuous process, the success of which is far from assured. The problem for us here is Yorkshire is that this process has set in train a series of events which will distract the powers that be from concentrating on the vital interests of our region whilst instead spending time trying to sort out the ramifications of leaving the EU. This process has already done untold damage to our relationships with our allies both in the EU and in the rest of the world. It has probably put the very existence of the EU at risk with all the ramifications that this will have for economic progress and security throughout the western world, in particular, and the world in general and for what? If we are to believe the most fervent “leave” campaigners, the EU was pretty much doomed anyway so why not just wait a couple of years for the inevitable? Now the UK is in the unenviable position of probably being the number one fall guy for whatever chaos overtakes the western world for years to come.
Whatever your views on the referendum, failures by the government (was there any need for the referendum in the first place?) and by both campaigns (not fully engaging with the people, not properly explaining the process but most importantly not to plan for a leave outcome) have resulted in a political disaster. Yorkshire, always with no voice of its own, will be left to pay a heavy price. The political irresponsibility of Westminster, and of this government in particular, could have dire consequences for us all and should not be taken lightly. Those responsible must be held to account. Never has there been a greater need for Yorkshire to have its own voice, a parliament for Yorkshire!
01 July 2016