The nature of the deal which the government secures – if they manage to secure one, at all – will have major implications for the British economy, for the Union, and for our standing in the world. It will shape our future as a nation.
Theresa May is very attached to the idea of “strong leadership in the national interest”, which is why it is all the more baffling that she has chosen to pursue the most extreme and damaging form of Brexit. And this is her choice, she alone is responsible for pursuing this course.
She could have chosen to be in the Single Market. Brexiteers like to pretend that this is not possible, but three non-EU countries have done so: Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
She could have chosen to be in the Customs Union. One non-EU country, Turkey, has done so.
She could have tried to persuade the EU to reform the free movement rules to re-focus them on work, instead of giving up without a fight.
Instead, she shunned the Single Market and the Customs Union, elevating immigration and a set of arcane arguments about the role of the European Court of Justice over the needs of the economy and the needs of millions of hard pressed families.
In cash terms, by the time it’s finished in 4 years time, Brexit will have dented the public finances by £59bn.
Let’s be very clear: this has serious consequences for the NHS, social care, and schools. At a time when vital public services are desperately in need of additional funding, the Conservatives are pouring billions into the Brexit black hole.
This is why we need a referendum on the final agreement, so that the people can judge for themselves whether it is right future for the country. That referendum will offer two choices; accept the deal, or remain in the EU. Liberal Democrats will campaign for a remain vote.
By allowing the Brexit hardliners in their party to call the shots, the Conservatives have thrown away our place in Europe and inflicted a needlessly harmful cost on the country.
Don’t let them get away with it. They don’t deserve to rule our country unopposed.
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