Divided Nation

IMG_1582This week Theresa May has invoked the European Article 50 and the formal negotiations to leave the European Union have begun. So, this Prime Minister is now marching her troops out to the battlefield of intense negotiation. However, before even stepping on this turbulent pathway she has effectively given her game plan away. By turning the clocks back towards a Hard Brexit, the amount of wiggle room she has at the table is minimal.

On the other side of the table is a well-prepared and methodical European Union. These extensive negotiations will be some of the most complex to ever take place in a short period. Consequently, it’s likely they will exceed the two year window the Treaties currently allow.

The Conservatives are determined to pull us out of the European Single Market. In my view, it was ludicrous to make this case even before the formal discussions begun. This position has had the impact of dividing a dived Country even more than it need be. There is the real undesirable possibility that this will take the UK down a dangerous path of isolation.

I fervently hope that pragmatic minds will prevail as these negotiations will require compromise, flexibility and skill. The “no deal” scenario cannot be an aim. The simple foolishness of such an approach does not require explanation. Just imagine doing that in any relationship you may cherish.

The UK remains a divided nation. This is not a time to throw salt on the wound. To arrive at a new relationship with Europe the Prime Minister needs to quell the noisy right-wing guns and offer the hand of friendship. Brexit has done nothing to unify a divided country. Great leadership, on all sides, must now act to rise above vitriol and distrust that spewed out during the referendum campaign.

Hand withdrawn

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The joining of hands is such a symbolic emblem.  That’s what we did in 1973.  I’ve got one of those 50p coins that celebrates this holding of hands.  I shall put it in a prominent place today.  Pulling our hand away from that European partnership is not just an economic issue, it’s an emotional one too.   

Today, the European Article 50 is to be triggered.  The tearing up of half a century of work will have significant consequences.  Deep rooted consequences spreading across the generations.  

I hope we think about where we, Britain and the EU, want to be in a decade.  Classic British short-termism will be disastrous in this situation.  The discussions and negotiations of the next two years will need visionary thinking.  Looking over the current horizon. 

Control of our borders and sovereignty may be in the public mind.  That said, at the end of this debate this island will be no less or more immune from the ebb and flow of international events than it has ever been.  It’s going to be frustrating for those hard-line isolationists when they wake-up from their dream. 

#Brexit will continue to dominate the domestic news but as a real phenomenon rather than a theoretical concept.  It’s like the difference between seeing a storm on a weather forecast map and the experience of flying into it.  As we emerge out of the other side of the storm there will be a new direction set.  That’s the time that the British people must be given a say.  A second referendum is a basic democratic right. 

If you are planning to vote for a Party with a positive European vision, there’s the Lib Dems, at the local elections on 4th May.