Deal or No Deal: that is the question.
Outside Parliament these last few months there have been numerous protestors from both sides of the Brexit debate and by and large, they seem to co-exist amicably.
There have been occasions of course when some extremist brexiteers have threatened MPs and one was in court recently – although the case had to be adjourned when his supporters caused a disturbance in the public gallery.
But I am alarmed at what seems like a growing trend amongst fundamentalist Brexit supporters to support leaving the EU without a deal at all. I see these protestors outside Parliament with placards showing slogans such as “No Deal? No problem.”
Leaving without a deal would be catastrophic for the UK. It would jam up our ports with customs checks (including Holyhead and the A55) and would very possibly lead to food and medicine shortages, not to mention the terrible impact on our manufacturing sector, which relies on precise just-in-time delivery schedules to work efficiently.
Rules on businesses transferring data, rules on regulating flights for our holidays, and even rules on using our mobile phone abroad, cheaply, will be lost.
Yet these fundamentalist brexiteers are now claiming that this was the UK’s intention all along.
They suggest that our negotiating position will be weakened if we take ‘No Deal’ off the table. But surely that is nonsense: our EU neighbours don’t want ‘No Deal’, but we will definitely be the ones to suffer if it comes about.
It is not a negotiating position for the UK: it is a bit like an armed robber walking into a bank, pointing the gun at his own head and threatening to shoot himself unless the cashier gives him the money.
I am clear that there is no majority support for such an outcome. We know that 48% did not want to leave the EU at all, and of those who voted to leave, many had other reasons for that vote – such as worries about immigration, or they trusted the Leave campaign’s lies about extra money for the NHS.
Perhaps the saddest argument for ‘No Deal’ is when it is portrayed as an act of national defiance – and that we will come through stronger in the long term. But the EU was promoted and founded by the generation – led in the UK by people like Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee, Dennis Healy and Ted Heath- who had all fought in wars and had had enough of national sacrifice, and just wanted peace and stability.
The polarisation of UK politics is alarming and we seem to have lost decorum and good sense. I for one will be fighting to bring it back.