All hell is breaking loose in Westminster but the zealots are still in controlby Jonathan Lis / February 22, 2019 / Leave a comment
This is your gentle reminder that in five weeks the economy will go into full cardiac arrest. It will be the worst economic disaster in modern British history. The country will seize up in the short term and decay in the long term. Jobs and lives will be destroyed overnight. Everything about this disaster is predictable and predicted, avoidable but still not avoided. Nothing—literally nothing—is happening to prevent this historic catastrophe. Repeat: five weeks.
I confess that I was wrong about something important on Brexit. I assumed that if we were going to hurtle off the cliff-edge, it would be apparent from the start of the year and both parliament and the public would rise up to stop it. I assumed that if the government had the intention of leaving without a deal, it would display the basic decency and courage to at least confirm it. But as the now Independent Group MP Sarah Wollaston remarked on Wednesday, unashamedly running down the clock amounts to the same thing. The government is playing chess, badly—and using ordinary British citizens as its chess pieces.
I still do not believe we are going to leave without a deal. But I never believed that five weeks from our scheduled departure date, we would still be fully ignorant about the nature of our departure or whether we would leave at all. This is not how countries behave. It is not how democracies treat their citizens.
Meanwhile the bad news accumulates and accelerates. Honda is the latest harbinger of impending misery, confirming the closure of its Swindon plant with the loss of 3,500 jobs. Honda in Swindon bears much of the symbolic weight that Nissan does in Sunderland, and that company, too, is withdrawing investment. Britain’s car industry, the modern jewel in the crown of our manufacturing heritage, is imploding before our eyes, and our leaders simply avert their gaze.
The legal and political situation of Brexit is unchanged from November, when the UK and EU concluded the withdrawal agreement. There is no parliamentary majority for the agreement in its current form, and the only move that could even hope to enable a majority—amending or replacing the Northern Ireland “backstop”—will render it unacceptable to the EU. Nothing has happened in the last three months to change any of these basic facts.
The government has settled…