The scores of new Tory MPs that make up Boris Johnson’s "stonking majority" have descended on Westminster, where they will be given a warm welcome by the Prime Minister and his colleagues. Rightly so, as this Parliament will get so much more done than the last one.
The election of 365 Tory MPs swiftly led some Remainers to realise the writing was now on the wall. The so-called People’s Vote campaign abandoned their fight for a referendum in order to focus on campaigning for a "fair deal" and the arch-Remainer Lord Heseltine admitted that "we’ve lost, we have to face up to that, we’re going to leave Europe."
But others still seem to think they are working in a reheated version of the hung Parliament…
Brexit and the NHS have featured strongly in the election fallout but silence surrounds the impact of AI
As Britain’s election campaign approaches a climax, there is one glaring issue which seems to be curiously absent from the debate.
Amid quarrels over Brexit, anti-semitism, Scottish independence, the NHS and future investment in public services, few candidates seem willing or able to discuss the elephant in the room.
Britain is on the verge of a sweeping economic change which poses a serious threat to millions of jobs.
It is a change which is probably unavoidable – and whoever enters Downing Street after the polls close on December 12 will be forced to grapple with its many implications…
Free full-fibre broadband delivered by the state to every home and business by 2030? As election promises go, that’s a Labour whopper in every sense: a headline-grabber, a crowd-pleaser, possibly even, for a day or two, a campaign-changer – and an ideological fantasy that shadow chancellor John McDonnell must know in his heart he can never deliver.
But he’s certainly hit a hot-button issue. With a miserable eight per cent full-fibre coverage so far, reaching only 2.5 million households, the UK ranks 35th in the world broadband league. To find the best, you have to emigrate to Japan or South Korea. In Europe we lag Spain, Portugal and tiny Latvia; only Belgium, Cyprus and Greece score worse than…
Despite the Remainer attempt to crush Brexit, I am working flat out to ensure we leave on October 31
Let us be in no doubt as to what has really happened in Parliament in the last couple of weeks. Let there be no ambiguity about the underlying motive.
A large number of MPs – though by no means all – are simply trying to crush Brexit. In spite of all that they promised – and voted for – they just want to stop this country from ever leaving the European Union.
This isn’t about trying to block a so-called “no deal” Brexit. Any such claim is utterly disingenuous. It’s about trying to stop Brexit from happening at all – and the opposition parties have emerged in their true anti-democratic colours.
They are united in wanting to cancel the referendum result – Labour, SNP, Lib Dems – and overturn the will of the people. They are so desperate to get round the electorate that they will not even agree to an election. They have turned it down twice. Why?
I am afraid there is only ever one explanation for such hesitation. They fear they would lose. So instead they have engineered this country’s biggest ever exercise in pointless parliamentary procrastination. They hope that Brexit can be somehow delayed beyond Oct 31, and that the calls for a second referendum will (so they deceive themselves) become overwhelming, and Brexit would be at least temporarily abandoned.
I believe they are making a huge mistake. It is not just a question of the extra dither and delay – more long months of rancour and division, and all at huge expense in payments to Brussels. It is worse than that. This is about democracy. The people of this country were asked to vote on whether they wanted to stay in the EU, or leave. It was right and proper that they should be asked. After more than 40 years of membership, the EU has avowedly morphed into something very different from the proposition of the mid-Seventies.
It has become a political union, with a conscious and self-proclaimed ambition to take ever more powers to central federal institutions in Brussels, and to build a European political “identity”. Naturally, there will be many who regard this project as a high ideal. But as a system of government, it is – even according to its supporters – remote, bureaucratic, costly, opaque and its signature economic project, the euro, has had harsh consequences for many member states.
When the British people were asked to vote on their future in this steadily federalising body, they thought hard. When they voted, it was the biggest exercise in democracy this country has ever seen. If that result is now cancelled, it will be telling the people that their votes don’t count. It will be telling them that if they decide on a course of which the establishment disapproves, then they will be fobbed off for three and a half years, and then contradicted. We are witnessing an attempt to humiliate the verdict of the nation.
As for the impact of these parliamentary manoeuvres upon our friends in the rest of the EU – the Surrender Act is of course making any Brexit deal harder to achieve. That is because the very purpose of the Act is to weaken the UK’s negotiating hand in Brussels, and to give crucial cards to the EU. There has been nothing like it in history. The intention of the Act is to force the UK prime minister to go to Brussels and beg to stay in beyond Oct 31; and – incredibly – it would in practice allow the EU to decide how long the UK should remain locked in.
Leaving aside any real and practical consequences, its effect is completely contrary to the UK’s interests – because it has at least given the impression to our partners that the UK is no longer either fully able or determined to leave on Oct 31.
In so far as that impression has been given, it is wrong. We will leave by that date – deal or no deal. Yes, it may now be harder to get a deal, since MPs seem set on tying the Government’s hand behind its back. But we are working flat out to get one.
If we can make enough progress in the next few days, I intend to go to that crucial summit on Oct 17, and finalise an agreement that will protect the interests of business and citizens on both sides of the Channel, and on both sides of the border in Ireland. I believe passionately that we can do it, and I believe that such an agreement is in the interests not just of the UK but also of our European friends.
We have all spent too long on this question. And if we can get that deal, then of course there will be time for Parliament to scrutinise and approve it before the end of October. But be in no doubt that if we cannot get a deal – the right deal for both sides – then the UK will come out anyway. It is not and never has been the outcome that I want, but our preparations are by now very extensive. Yes, there may be difficulties ahead, but we will overcome them all. Recent reports reflect a very worst case scenario for which officials are obliged to plan, and we have made huge progress in dealing with those issues. We are confident, and we will be ready.
And then we will be able to put this whole divisive debate behind us, and get on with uniting the country and unleashing its talents. We will get on with cutting crime, and investing in hospitals, and in our schools, and we will finally be able to take advantage of Brexit.
We will be able to do things differently, and in the interests of the UK economy – from launching free ports to cutting VAT on sanitary products; from a points-based migration system to new tax breaks for capital investment; from new global free trade agreements to banning shark fin soup and the cruel export of live animals.
What on earth is the point of any further delay? Jeremy Corbyn would keep us in at a cost of £250 million a week. That’s enough to build a new hospital – pointlessly blown on the EU. It’s madness. Let’s end the wrangling, get this thing done, and set this country on a brighter, more cheerful, more confident and more global path – and let’s come out of the EU on Oct 31.