More questions than answers on Article 50

31 March 2017
By Justin Postlethwaite

Like many people I find myself with more questions than answers on Article 50.

These MPs are serving Secretaries of State in the May government but before that they were leading committee members for the officially-recognised and publicly-funded Vote Leave Campaign: Boris Johnson, Liam Fox, Chris Grayling, Priti Patel and Andrea Leadsom.

The UK electorate voted last June to leave the EU based on pledges made by those same members acting as spokespeople for the Vote Leave Campaign Committee. These pledges allayed fears and ultimately sold their case, playing down the pitfalls of leaving the EU and convincing the electorate that Brexit was a win-win situation

When is a pledge an enforceable pledge and when is it just a political ruse or just plain rhetoric? How is anyone supposed to tell the difference? Did they promise the undeliverable and if so at what the cost to us? And what should the cost be to their careers?

These are the pledges:

  • Delivering the same benefits on trade as currently enjoyed by single market membership.
  • Having new trade deals ready to be signed on the day of departure from the EU.
  • Investing savings from Brexit in public services, including £350m a week for the NHS.
  • No changes to the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
  • Full protection of rights currently guaranteed by membership of the EU, including on employment and the environment.
  • A security deal that “maintains and enhances” such cooperation with the EU.
  • The integrity of the UK protected.
  • A strengthening of science and research partnerships with the EU.
  • Full exit, including ratification of a new deal, in 2019.
  • A dramatic reduction in net migration while “keeping the UK open to the talent and skills that UK businesses need”.

Who will see these pledges are met and if they prove undeliverable who will make those unfit politicians stand down in disgrace, never to darken the doors of the Palace of Westminster again.

The rabidly anti-European press in the UK also has a great deal to answer for with their decades of misrepresentation but I hold out no hope whatsoever that they will be held to account in years to come for the consequences of Brexit.

Maggie Clarke

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