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Why a bad deal is better than no deal when it comes to next Brexit decision

PUBLISHED: 05:32 22 November 2018

It might be just a little bit better than crashing out, but a bad deal is better than no deal at all. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

It might be just a little bit better than crashing out, but a bad deal is better than no deal at all. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

I have thought this several times over the last few years – but the last 10 days have been among the most surreal I’ve ever seen in British politics.

I’ve also heard some real anger among local Tory MPs aimed at those Brexit-extremists in their own party who are seeking to use the current political crisis to get rid of the Prime Minister and offer Jeremy Corbyn a route into Number 10 (sorry, I do of course mean see the need for a true Brexiteer to take over the reins of power in this country).

What I do find frustrating about the current situation is that we now seem to be heading inexorably to a final position that the vast majority of people in the country, and in the House of Commons, recognise would be the most damaging outcome possible for the UK economy.

Because after the parliamentary votes of the last two years, the default position is that the UK ceases to be a member of the EU on March 29. If nothing else happens we leave with no deal.

Many of us see this as crashing out. We have no trade deals except World Trade Organisation terms (which would make it very difficult for many businesses) and the economy would face a huge convulsion.

The only alternative to this is the deal negotiated by Mrs May with the EU which has critics from all sides in this country and within other EU countries.

I don’t know of anyone who thinks this deal is perfect. From an economic point of view there is no deal to leave the EU that is better than staying in the Union.

But the fact is this is the only alternative to a Hard Brexit and all the disruption that would cause. I’m sorry but Mrs May is wrong – a bad deal is better than no deal.

That’s the view of business which is overwhelmingly in favour of this deal going through. It’s the view of the MPs from Suffolk who backed the remain side in the referendum but who want to respect the views of their voters who backed the leave argument.

But it doesn’t seem to be the official view of the Labour Party which seems more interested in the Brexit crisis as an excuse to get a general election than it is in finding a solution to the current political crisis.

It’s all very well to say “We want our six points met by March 29.” We want Ipswich to get promoted this season, win the Premier League next season and the Champions League in 2021. You have to be realistic.

Since I tweeted at the weekend that there are only two options now facing us – the May deal or no deal – I’ve had several replies that there could still be an option of staying in.

Technically, yes. But look at the numbers in the House of Commons. Yes a majority of MPs backed Remain in the referendum, but does anyone seriously think there’s anyway of getting a majority of MPs to back staying in as an option now?

The Labour leadership is against it. The Tory leadership is against it and the Ulster Unionists are against it. It’s not going to happen.

The Brexit situation is so serious now it’s time to stop playing Fantasy Politics and recognise that politics is all about the art of the possible.

What worries me is that so many people will find a reason not to make a compromise that there’s only about a 20% chance that the deal will go through the House of Commons.

Its only hope is that enough Labour MPs will have their ears bent by employers, unions, and worried employees in their constituencies that they pick up the courage to defy their party leadership and back the deal.

I don’t think enough opposition MPs will go through the lobbies to back the deal.

I might be wrong, but I fear that it will be rejected, we’ll crash out without a deal and MPs from this area will be scratching their heads to work out how an outcome favoured by only about 100 Brexit fanatics actually got through the Commons.

Within a decade things might be getting better again – but with a no deal departure there will be a great shock to the British economy.

I fear we will lose jobs as businesses relocate to stay within the single market. I wouldn’t like to be young worker with Nissan in Sunderland, Honda in Swindon, or even Avent at Glemsford near Sudbury.

My suspicion is that within a decade or two there will be a clamour for a third referendum on going back into the EU after people find out things aren’t better outside. Whether I’m still reporting in the area when that day arrives remains to be seen!

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