In 2016, people voted in a historic referendum to leave the EU and Theresa May said she would deliver Brexit. She was also elected on her own manifesto in 2017 to do just that.
As many will know, I have been a Eurosceptic for a very long time. I wanted Britain to leave the EU – not only because of the huge stranglehold and undue influence it had over us as a country, but because I believed Brexit to be one of the most exciting opportunities of my lifetime.
So, I share the frustration of those who voted to leave the EU who cannot understand how unnecessarily difficult we have made this.
The EU was always going to make it hard for a leaving country. The whole mechanism is, in reality, stacked against any country trying to untangle itself from the EU web. This is why it was, and is, so important to have someone strong to stand up to the rest of the EU.
A resolute leader would have said that, as the fifth-largest economy in the world and a huge market for European firms, the EU had better not make the mistake of pushing us too far.
It also required someone strong to ensure that those who voted to remain, and wished to stop Brexit, did not get their way either. I have lost count of the number of times it was stated by those on the Remain side that the referendum was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and that the result would be honoured.
Yet, despite the combined might of the leadership of all the main parties, big business, the EU and all the ‘Project Fear’ tactics, the people of the UK still voted to leave the EU. And leave must mean leave.
If Labour had won the General Election by the same majority as in the referendum, would they have pursued some Conservative policies in government because they owed it to the minority?
Of course they wouldn’t. This is why it is so frustrating to watch what has gone on and how those ardent Remainers are having such sway.
We should also be in no doubt that, had the referendum gone the other way, the whole issue would have been shut down for a long time. Remainers would have ensured there was not even any talk whatsoever of a second vote – and there certainly would not have been an actual campaign for one.
This whole withdrawal process has been like a re-run of the referendum campaign – only longer!
No wonder the public are fed up with the whole thing. Brexit has become almost something to sigh about rather than something to smile about. Theresa May is always talking about delivering Brexit rather than embracing Brexit – and the exciting opportunities – it presents for our country.
The current Theresa May deal really sets the alarm bells ringing. This agreement has quite rightly been likened to the hokey cokey version of Brexit and yet she was the one who said in her Lancaster House speech that she did not want “anything that leaves us half-in, half-out”.
In the same speech, Theresa May also said: “I do not mean that we will seek some form of unlimited transitional status, in which we find ourselves stuck forever in some kind of permanent political purgatory. That would not be good for Britain.” Well, I agreed with that then and I agree with it now.
Unfortunately her determination to stick to her doomed plan now does not seem to have matched her determination to fight the EU for a better deal for Britain and political purgatory is certainly on the cards.
She has consistently said ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’, but her actions speak louder than her words. It now seems that she really believes that any deal is better than no deal.
The very expensive billion pound Brexit deal she has negotiated – with what looked like the effectiveness of Oliver Twist – is certainly a bad deal in my opinion.
Instead of saying “Please, sir, I want some more” and accepting the clear “No” that followed, she should have, at the very least, been making it clear that, unless the rest of the inflexible EU come up with a deal that suited us, they could whistle for the £39bn that she put on the table.
In fact this has not been a negotiation by the Prime Minister, it has been a capitulation. It seems that her definition of a negotiation is simply to ask the EU what they will accept.
As I have said before, politics is all about trust. Once that has been lost it is very difficult – if not impossible – to win it back. I am not the only one who has lost trust in Theresa May to fully deliver the referendum result. This is too important and historic a matter to get wrong – and that is why I reluctantly submitted my letter of no confidence in her as leader of the Conservative Party.
Philip Davies is the Conservative MP for Shipley.