The will of the people!!

Much is said about “respecting the will of the people” with regard to the 2016 referendum.

So why not respect the result of the 2017 General Election, when the people of the UK refused to give the Tories a majority which would have allowed them to force through a deal of their choice?

This is a fact that gets lost in the “will of the people” nonsense.

The Tories and Labour have two very different views of Brexit.  It should surprise nobody that a Withdrawal Agreement written solely to suit a Tory agenda would not suit Labour and thus fail to attract their support.  With the roles reversed, if Labour had pursued a Momentum-friendly Lexit, the Tories would have blocked it, probably together with mainstream Labour MPs believing it was bad for the UK.

It is also true that any MP who considers that the Withdrawal Agreement would cause harm to the country or its people was morally and conventionally bound to vote against it.

I look back to my article in the aftermath of the referendum.  Let’s be honest, it hasn’t aged well.

But I stand over it as what should have happened.  I pointed out in it that the EU don’t in fact need us as much as we need them (I later calculated that 3% of EU27 GDP is sold in the UK, 13% of UK GDP is sold in the EU27, even if the cash is in the EU’s favour).

Well, events have moved on.  The Government has secured agreement to roll over free trade agreements for 9% of all exports and 9.3% of all imports, and has secured an agreement with the EU that doesn’t particularly suit the Government, but because the Government didn’t line up its ducks, it doesn’t suit Parliament at all.

However, as we enter charades in both the Assembly and the House of Commons, with the Government attempting to resubmit the new Withdrawal Agreement for a “straight up-and-down” “meaningful” vote that ignores the Commons’ innate right to amend the motion as they see fit, and the DUP playing the “four out of five parties want the Executive back” card in Stormont while publicising no efforts to persuade the fifth party that they should return, there is no sign of the one thing that is required to move on.

It’s something that has never been fashionable in Northern Ireland with the “usuns and themuns” polarised narrative that has now been exported to Westminster, but as I have pointed out many times over the years in assorted arenas, it is the one thing guaranteed to make progress in any walk of life.

Consensus.