It has been a long week in politics.
In politics, as in other aspects of life, it is often easier to criticise than to create. The Prime Minister this week presented a deal in which the UK would leave the EU, honouring the result of the Brexit Referendum. This deal, approved by the 27 remaining nations of the EU, enables us to leave in an orderly way.
We were told that the “four freedoms” of the European Union were indivisible: that we could not “Cherry Pick”. That is exactly what, under the agreement, we have achieved, the UK escapes the jurisdiction of the ECJ and the Common Agricultural Policy; we take back full control of immigration policy and our fishing waters; we cease to be a rule-taker; we will no longer be sending vast sums of money to Brussels. Trade in goods between the UK and the largest single market in the world will continue without tariffs or quotas. There is a clear path to a long term trading agreement, negotiations being conducted in a two year implementation period which gives continuity to businesses across the UK.
The country wants a resolution of this debate, it wants Parliament “to get on with it”. Parliament, having voted overwhelmingly to hold a referendum and by an equally large majority to trigger Article 50 cannot now leave the country in limbo.
The massive majority against the one deal on the table for leaving the EU comprised MPs who want to leave with no deal, MPs who want to leave with a much closer deal and MPs who don’t want to leave at all. It comprised MPs who passionately support a second referendum and the MPs who most passionately oppose one. In voting down the deal Parliament has exercised its power, a power which an activist Speaker is keen to not only protect but, it appears, extend. In exercising that power Parliament must also exercise responsibility.
The Government has negotiated an agreed deal with our closest economic partners which withdraws the UK from the EU. Not only must the Government think carefully about its next steps – the same is true of all MPs. It is easy to pontificate about what one is against. One must also be prepared to take hard decisions and determine what deliverable option one is for.
Photo caption: Jeremy Quin joined Turners Hill Parish Councillors, Royal British Legion and local people in Rowfant on Saturday for the unveiling of a plaque commemorating, one of the fallen of the Great War on his old home: a project initiated in the year of the 100th Anniversary and which still continues.