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Some of my best friends are opposed to Theresa May’s Brexit deal. I know the arguments against her version of Brexit all too well. I was appalled that May closed the deal prematurely, and that she didn’t, as she was urged to by the then Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, fight the EU on the right to get out of the backstop. I argued that she had to try again.
But here we all are months later, just two and half weeks from the supposed date of departure from the EU. Her efforts to get movement on the backstop got very little indeed and it looks as though May’s deal will go down to another heavy defeat in a couple of hours unless something changes.
This is a disaster for the cause of Brexit, and it is bizarre that those on the Tory side planning to vote against May’s deal cannot see what they are unleashing. The risk of an accidental general election is now very high amid the chaos and there is no guarantee it will produce the pro-Bill Cash populist uprising the purists dream of.
Why an election? This Parliament is bust and in the British system that leads to an election.
Meanwhile, the broken House of Commons hates no deal and will move to take over control of the talks, begging the EU for an extension.
Even if all that fails, and an accidental purist no deal somehow happens, it will be under a Prime Minister who has lost all authority, with half of the cabinet and many ministers walking out, with the markets on fire. As Lord Bridges, former Brexit minister, put it on Reaction yesterday: the government should have prepared flat out for no deal. It didn’t. A smash will be messy because of Tory incompetence.
Avoiding all that is one reason to vote for the deal, but ultimately it comes down to the following.
Tory MPs unsure what to do should switch on their brains. Vote for this imperfect deal and cut off the risk of Remain getting a proper shot at halting our exit from the EU.
Why vote for the deal? It is 75% Brexit but at this rate you’ll end up with 0% Brexit out of sheer public boredom and farce to come.
The deal is imperfect, but then so is life.
Accept it and fight afterwards under a new PM. Goodness, there will be life after May. Imagine how naughty and bold a new PM in the early 2020s might be with gumption and imagination.
As a Brexiteer with reservations about the deal, I urge any MP unsure to think again. Vote for this deal. Respect the referendum. Leave the EU.