Mark Casci: Britain is a house divided over Brexit, this must change

Abraham Lincoln memorial in Washington
Abraham Lincoln memorial in Washington
Have your say

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.

“I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.

Boris Johnson - PA photo

Boris Johnson - PA photo

“I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided.

“It will become all one thing or all the other.”

Read more: All today's Yorkshire business news
Read more: What Yorkshire can expect from No Deal Brexit
Read more: Rolls Royce prepares for No Deal by boosting inventory

So spoke Abraham Lincoln in 1858 as he accepted the nomination to be the Republican Party’s nomination to contest the state’s senate seat.

Lincoln would ultimately lose the election for the senate but would become President of the United States two years later, an office for which he is widely regarded as the finest to have held.

Brexit is due on Oct 31

Brexit is due on Oct 31

He would deliver many timeless speeches during his life but these words are among the most momentous he would deliver in a political career which changed the shape of his nation.

And today they chillingly ring true for our own country.

It seems like a lifetime ago that Theresa stood on the steps of Downing Street and promised to deliver “a country that works for everyone”.

This promise would not even come close to becoming a reality and in her troubled three years as Prime Minister the nation has become more polarised and divided than at any period in its modern history.

Mrs May had an historic opportunity to bring the nation together when she took office.

She could and should have sought to deliver the result of the referendum in a manner which satisfied the slender majority of those who wished to exit the European Union whilst at the same time doing so in a manner which was palatable to those who opposed it.

She ended up pleasing nobody and her Withdrawal Agreement was the closest she came to unifying the country in the respect that both Leave and Remain voters bitterly opposed it.

Her failed tenure as Prime Minister saw her ousted by her Conservative colleagues and led to Boris Johnson succeeding her.

Mr Johnson has made clear he has no appetite to repeat the same mistakes and is adamant that no further delays to Brexit occurring will be countenanced.

Faced with intransigence from the European Union officials who are unwilling to engage on a new approach to Britain’s departure he has placed his Government on a footing which is squarely preparing for a No Deal exit.

Such a policy has few supporters in the business community who fear the disruption to supply chains and trade arrangements it will bring.

However consumer confidence appears to be literally unmoved.

The latest analysis from YouGov and the Centre for Economics and Business Research shows that consumer confidence stayed static at 105.1. Any figure over 100 denotes that consumers are more confident than unconfident but the number is lower than that seen prior to the 2016 referendum.
And of course Brexit continues to divide with Leave voters significantly more upbeat about the UK’s economic future prospects than those who voted Remain.

Meanwhile business, which has been gearing up for No Deal for some months, is now seemingly doubling down on this process.

I have for some time now argued that No Deal is bad for Yorkshire and bad for the UK. It is quite simply a failure of diplomacy and not in keeping with our history of finding common ground with trading partners.

However I must salute the confidence of consumers and business leaders who remain upbeat about the next chapter in our history.

It is a mind set we must all try to embrace. We can no longer be defined by how we voted in the 2016 referendum.

The future success of Britain will be defined by the ability we have to identify opportunities and potential in what lies ahead.

I remain adamant that a new course be found with Europe rather than simply pulling the plug and believe that the majority of the onus for this happening lies in Brussels.

If we are to cease to be divided than we must focus on being a truly united kingdom.