My first job was in a bank. In the first week, a colleague asked me to get a ‘left-handed key’ from security to open up for the day. It took me a few moments to realise I was being subject to the kind of joke often meted out to new recruits. There WAS no such thing as a left-handed key. It was a fool’s errand to test me out, and at least I hadn’t fallen for it completely.
I wonder whether, when Mrs May took on the job of delivering a brexit that is ‘in the interests of the people of the UK’, she realised she had been handed a left-handed key. It was something her front-bench either left politics to avoid or reluctantly accepted and which her back benchers knew would never work on the basis she thought.
Brexit is now such a contentious and bungled project, that we need to put the question back to the people.
Last week Trade Minister Liam Fox admitted that only 7 out of 69 trade deals with non-EU nations had been signed. These are to ensure the rollover of existing arrangements we have them in the event of a ‘no deal’ exit from the EU. They account for some £16bn out of a total trade with non-EU nations f £117bn.
Meanwhile, China canceled a trade trip by Chancellor Phillip Hammond due to comments made by Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson about sending out our ships to the China Seas as a show of our strength. And then Mr Fox sends a joint letter with Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt to the Japanese to tell them to get a move on with trade discussions. Their reaction? Fury at the insult to their intelligence and culture.
This is not how a global savvy country works. We are not back in the 19th century when we could bully nations into doing as we said. Just six months ago, we were the world’s 5th largest economy. We are now 6th and probably 7th behind China, the USA, Japan, Germany, France and India. In fact, in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per head terms, we stand at around 22nd in the world. We have a similar population as Germany but a total GDP of just 2/3rds of theirs.
I am sure that so-called diehard Remoaners and BeLeavers will never change their minds about the vote to leave the EU. But what of all those people somewhere between? Those who thought the promises about the benefits of leaving could be trusted? Those assertions have proven to be as reliable as a left-handed key. And now the left-handed keymeisters are telling us it would be fine and maybe even a good idea to leave without any proper deal.
The referendum delivered a strong message of disaffection with our politicians. It has been followed through by an embarrassing fiasco of party politics. We need to step past the politicians and demand they put the decision back to the people.