Avid followers of Brexit will aware that things aren’t going well. What is remarkable is that each week brings a new and completely unexpected catastrophe. Last Monday week we were looking forward to a relatively benign week. But on Monday afternoon, the Speaker dropped the first bombshell, letting it be known that the government cannot keep bringing back the same old motions in the hope that we would get a different result. Could things get worse? Of course! On Wednesday, the Prime Minister decided that the right way forward was to insult all MPs – both those loyal to her and those she needs to win over. She then followed this up by having a less than ideal meeting at the European Council meeting. The result is we are not now leaving the EU on Friday. We might leave on the 12th April without a deal, or we might leave on the 22nd May with a deal. Or we might not leave at all; or we might extend for longer and thus “enjoy” holding European Parliament elections here in the UK.
This week, to add to the fun, the government has lost control of the business of the House and we have indicative votes on what to do next. This may result in a way forward, but I’m not hopeful. But just to be even more glum than usual, all this is relatively irrelevant as none of this really addresses the key point, that of our future relationship with the EU.
Meanwhile, British businesses have stockpiled inventory against a no-deal Brexit this Friday (at an estimated cost of £4.5 billion to our economy) only to discover that their plans have been wrecked by having to carry these extra costs longer than expected. And car manufacturers, planning for a difficult time, have brought forward their summer plant closures to next week in anticipation of problems, only to discover that they might need this in three weeks, or two months, or not at all.
Readers may detect I am less than impressed with all this. Governments should be giving economic certainty, to the extent that they can, to our business community and economy. The government has singularly failed and ministers are resigning in unprecedented numbers – more in the last two years than in the whole of either Margaret Thatcher’s period in office, or Tony Blair’s. The government really should try harder.