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The Brexit wrangle shows exactly why we needed to leave in the first place

28 January 2020

11:48 AM

28 January 2020

11:48 AM

Last Friday marked the signing of the Withdrawal Agreement. I know that some people in our country are still a bit upset. But what happened last week matters. We all know that we’ve just had three and a half difficult years. But we had them together – we shared them. Three and a half years of parliament being gloriously frustrating, entertaining and overall a bit odd. Three and a half years of our courts and our beloved institutions forcing us to try very hard to recall why we love them. Three and a half years of democracy.

After these three and a half years, our parliament, the body of 650 parliamentarians we voted for, has only just told our Prime Minister that he could sign the agreement. If Boris Johnson had tried to do it without their permission then we would have skinned him alive. He could not sign it until our parliament said he could. The PM before Boris wanted to sign a different agreement. Those elected representatives, on our behalf, said no, so she couldn’t.

The small difference between us and our negotiating partners is that before Boris Johnson signed this agreement, two of the EU’s Presidents (they have a long-established surfeit of presidents) had already signed it. Did those Presidents have to get permission from their elected parliament before doing so? They did not. No, the parliament their voters chose will stamp it later.

As we move towards reconciliation over Brexit, those people at drinks parties who now declare how ambivalent they had been all along are going to have to notice this small thing. Because Brexit doesn’t end our concern for our friends. It is the start of a process for us, but more importantly, our 27 allies are still trapped inside.

Those voters inside the EU never got a say on how the bloc should negotiate Brexit. They aren’t being consulted now. Do we feel any responsibility towards them? The EU uses dullness as a weapon to dampen the hearts and confound the minds of its citizens. Their voices were all but silenced when those two Presidents signed the Agreement.


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