Dear HIP,

In case you didn’t hear the Commons debate on Brexit earlier this month, may I urge you and your readers to look at these extracts from Kier Starmer, the shadow Brexit Minister.  It’s a devastating analysis!

“There is no hiding the fact that the Government are in a real fix. There are two parts
to that fix. The first is the reckless red lines set out by the Prime Minister two years ago, tearing us out of the customs union and single market with no European Court jurisdiction, which meant that a deal that safeguards our economy and avoids a hard border in Northern Ireland simply cannot be negotiated. The second part of the fix is the Chequers fudge, cobbled together nearly two years later. It satisfies no one and is being attacked from all quarters. It is obvious that something is going to have to give. The only question being asked up and down the country is, what is going to give?

Time is running out. The summit is on 18 to 19 October. When the Secretary of State last updated the House in July, he said: “Our expectation is to reach agreement in October”. I note that he has not repeated that today. The reality, of course, is that no one now seriously expects the deal to be agreed by then, hence the talk of a special summit in November. The trouble is that even November only buys four extra weeks. It is impossible to see how the Chequers proposal could lead to a deal that would command a majority in Parliament in that time. Meanwhile, the confidence of businesses and working people in the Government’s ability to reach a deal sinks by the day.

Hence what we have seen is a summer of debate about no deal. There have been two sides to that debate. On one side is the Secretary of State talking up what he calls the “countervailing opportunities” of no deal—something he repeats today—and the Prime Minister saying that no deal would not be “the end of the world”, which is an interesting but hardly inspiring description. On the other hand, we have the Chancellor warning that there will be “large fiscal consequences” of no deal and the recently appointed Foreign Secretary saying it would be a “mistake we would regret for generations”.​

May I gently say to the Secretary of State that all his talk of no deal is not kidding anyone? Being told that we only need to stockpile medicines for six weeks and that there are no plans yet to deploy the Army to maintain food supplies has not reassured anyone.

The Brexit negotiations are in serious trouble. It appears that the Government’s strategy is simply to plough on regardless, to pretend everything is going to plan and to hope that, somehow, the dynamics of the negotiation and the arithmetic in this House will magically change. That is incredibly irresponsible. It will reassure no one.”

What Labour must do now is promise a second referrendum in Brexit!

Yours sincerely,

Laurence Gotch


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