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Nigel Hastilow: The week Brexit died

By Nigel Hastilow | Nigel Hastilow | Published:

Events in parliament mean leaving the EU looks ever-more like a pipe dream.

It gives me no pleasure to say this but today I do believe we can declare that Brexit is dead. All that’s left is squabbling over what to do with the body.

After yet another week of farce and foolishness, the chances of leaving the European Union in the manner 17.4 million people expect has vanished before our eyes.

It may not seem so just yet. There talks about talks which might deliver some sort of departure.

But whatever the outcome, the clean break we voted for is stone dead, murdered by the very people who wanted Brexit most.

By the time we reach March 29 - official Brexit day according to the law - the date will cease to have any meaning. We won’t leave then; we won’t leave ever.

Whatever happens in the next few weeks, I think we can be sure of three things.

Departure

First, the departure date will be postponed; second, we will therefore not leave without any deal, even though that’s what 17.4 million of us voted for; and third, if we leave at all, it will be Brexit In Name Only.

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And if we don’t go for BRINO we will endure the hideous anti-democratic farrago of a second referendum in which we will be under orders to vote Remain.

A few days ago, a Brexiteer MP was boasting to me we would leave without a deal on March 29 because there was no Parliamentary procedure available to stop that happening.

He was trusting the assurances of Jacob Rees-Mogg and Lord Peter Lilley.

This blind faith ensured MPs who desperately want us to leave the EU voted down a plan to leave the EU.

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Their naivety is breath-taking. Do they really think a Parliament full of Remainers will allow a no-deal Brexit?

Their belief in arcane Parliamentary procedure and an impartial Speaker is astounding. These supposedly intelligent people have become so divorced from reality they think their views will prevail in the face of overwhelming opposition.

They helped inflict the most hideous, embarrassing and humiliating defeat in the history of the Parliamentary universe ever by rejecting Mrs May’s deal.

Brexit

No fewer than 118 Conservative MPs voted against their Prime Minister’s Brexit yet 24 hours later these contemptible hypocrites rallied round pretending they still had full confidence in their leader.

In any other era, a Prime Minister couldn’t possibly survive a 230-majority rejection of the one thing which has occupied her time for the last two and a half years.

Mrs May was defeated by an unholy alliance of fundamentalist Brexiteers, appeasers who want a ‘soft Brexit’ and fifth-columnists who don’t want Brexit at all. She never stood a chance.

Which leaves us all in limbo-land, enduring what could be the most divided, incompetent and downright embarrassing Government of all time.

Until now, I fondly believed the propaganda about ours being the Mother of Parliaments and how our constitution evolved to give us the most stable, competent and successful system of Government in the world. Now the whole sorry myth has been exposed as a sham.

Some people admire Mrs May’s courage, tenacity, determination, dedication and fortitude. But the hideous truth is she has been inept, incapable and immovable from the start.

Why ask other parties what sort of Brexit they want now? She could have consulted them two and a half years ago.

We will be subjected to more posturing, posing and politicking. We may even face another General Election though it would solve nothing as far as leaving the EU is concerned.

Deal

The shroud-waving ‘project fear’ has not yet succeeded in closing off a clean break Brexit on March 29. But it will.

And, much as it grieves me to agree with Tony Blair, he’s right to say a watered-down ‘Norway’ version of Brexit would be even worse than Mrs May’s original deal.

Some people think it’s now our best hope. But it is a solution which gives us the right to trade with the EU provided we pay a hefty annual subscription, submit to European law, accept unlimited migration and enjoy absolutely no representation whatsoever. We would truly be a vassal state.

Remainers like Tony Blair rightly calculate this BRINO is so unacceptable there would be uproar. It would be worse than full membership of the super-state.

At which point, they benignly offer us the possibility of a second referendum and we, the plebs, gratefully seize the chance to change our minds and beg Brussels on bended knee to have us back because we’re no longer capable of fending for ourselves.

With every day that passes, it looks more and more like Brexit’s off. Sorry if you were ever excited about taking back control and all that stuff.

It turns out our country is not up to handling its own affairs and, like Italy, where nobody trusts the politicians, we need to be governed by Brussels because we are incapable of governing ourselves. The Brexit dream is over.

Nigel Hastilow

By Nigel Hastilow

Express & Star columnist

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