"No deal is better than a bad deal."
At least we know what will be written on Theresa May's tombstone when that day finally comes. It must be hard for her to realise that her legacy will be the poisoning of our domestic discourse for a generation, but that's exactly what she's achieved.
Our looming constitutional crisis could so easily have been avoided if she'd played anything resembling a straight game with the British public. Instead the Prime Minister has secretly conspired not only to negate the benefits of Brexit, but to force this unwilling nation into an even more restrictive and abusive relationship with the EU, the polar opposite of the electorate's clearly expressed desire. This shoddy stitch-up has no democratic mandate whatsoever, and it is in direct contradiction not only to countless public statements she has made, but it is also in conflict with the Conservative Party's 2017 election manifesto. Now the PM is shocked…shocked that her re-heated helping of the toxic status quo has been roundly rejected by MPs of every political stripe. In short, it stinks.
Whatever their true motivations, parliamentarians are right to torpedo this outrageous attempt to re-join the EU through the back door, but I suppose we shouldn't really be surprised at May's behaviour. After all, the EU establishment is a Michelin-starred master of rebranding rotten legislation as some new and democratic concession to public opinion. Just as the Lisbon Treaty became a de facto EU Constitution, so the Irish Backstop would become a de facto cancellation of Article 50, with a few spicy "aspirations" thrown in to cover the stench.
Back in July of 2017 I said we were unlikely to strike any kind of meaningful exit deal with the EU, chiefly because Brussels would never willingly surrender the sovereignty it had so cunningly captured over the past forty years. On the other hand, I also wrote that the Brexit process has been invaluable in forcing the establishment both here and in Europe to show its true colours at last. If nothing else, the past two years have stripped away the veneer of collegiate co-operation and shared sovereignty to reveal the EU's true, ugly, vengeful, authoritarian and devious face. There can no longer be any doubt about who this organisation represents and what its true motivations are. Anyone who still believes we should be a willing part of such an enterprise should ask themselves some hard questions about their own motives.
Following the referendum, I still naively believed that our new PM would at least make some effort to stand up for the British electorate, even if Brexiteers like me couldn't get absolutely everything we wanted. Instead, she has deliberately run down the clock and is now trying to bulldoze us into a treaty that would make it even harder to escape the legal labyrinth of the EU. This is no accident, and it's impossible to avoid the conclusion that the establishment has set out to teach the uppity electorate a lesson by ensuring the calamity of voting incorrectly can never again threaten their house of mirrors.
As a result, Theresa May's disastrous and frankly insulting deal looks set to be consigned to the dustbin of history. Good riddance to it!
Where we go from here is less clear, but if Remainers think they can use the confusion to prevent Brexit from happening, then they're the ones being naive. The genie is out of the bottle, and the revolutionary idea of honouring the largest democratic mandate in our history won't just go away, no matter how much our elected rulers officials hope that it will.
Images courtesy of Guido Giardino & Marc Puig at FreeImages.com