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Conservative Brexit shambles

Flags in Val Thorens
European flags, Val Thorens

25th February 2019

It should have been unthinkable, but here we are with a month to go until the Brexit deadline, and absolutely no idea what is going to happen. This is people's lives and livelihoods. The Conservative party is playing with them for ideological and political ends, or because of incompetence.

David Cameron called the referendum in 2016, not because EU membership was a top issue for the British people - it wasn't. He wanted a referendum for internal party management reasons, and to gain political advantage over UKIP, a party he saw as a threat. Having called the referendum, he was so complacent it never occurred to him that he might lose it.

Mr Cameron opened Pandora's box, and bitterly divided the British people. If this leads to the break-up of the United Kingdom, he will be the person at the root of it.

The referendum was lost partly because of Nigel Farage's Breaking Point poster, stoking fears of immigration and people with dark skin. When we look back at World War II, we recognise fascism; when there are echoes of it in the modern world, we should be alive to the risks, and the way people can be manipulated.

Vote Leave contributed to the result by breaching electoral rules, with illegal coordination of spending through a youth group. This resulted in a fine of £61,000. If there is no proportionate sanction for cheating in order to win a vote, it will keep happening.

Theresa May became Prime Minister, and was captured by the Brexiters. She called those of us who want to remain in the EU 'citizens of nowhere'. That was her choice, but she should not expect to be forgiven by us, nor ask for our support. Show some respect and consideration if you want any in return.

We were treated to endless repetition of vacuous catchphrases like 'Brexit means Brexit'. Mrs May said she wasn't going to call an election, and then did so.

During the campaign, Mrs May failed to engage with the electorate, and thought she would sail through on wooden performances, and more meaningless catchphrases repeated over and again, like 'strong and stable'. Instead, she lost her majority, and ended up with a hung Parliament. To cling onto power, she made an 'outrageous bung' to the DUP in return for their support.

In negotiations with the EU, Mrs May could have looked for a reasonable compromise to reflect the close result of the referendum. Unfortunately, she pandered to the idealogues and extremists in her party, who are obsessed by Europe, and have a visceral hatred of it. Nothing will ever be enough for them, and they don't care how much damage they do to Britain or British people.

All this has a real effect on real people, including those of us who work in the Alps. Some of my friends here have applied for French nationality. Others are just waiting to see what happens. None of us knows what the outcome will be - only that it will be more or less negative. There is no up side.

If you think Brexit is a good idea, wait until there's a vote to destroy your way of life, and see if you're still keen.

Over the last two years or more, Mrs May has been, at different times, nasty and incompetent. She has allowed the clock to run down, when a government doing a decent job would have ensured clarity well in advance. It is a difficult job, and she is doing it incredibly badly. Conservative Brexit is a shambles, and whatever happens now, Mrs May and her party have failed us.

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Snow-covered car, Val Thorens

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