Unusually, this post will change as time runs out on the run up to Brexit. So feel free to bookmark this page and visit often.
(The following is a speech I presented at Full Council on October 24th requesting that Council support our call for a People’s Vote. It was defeated as the DUP and UUP united to vote it down)
As a result of the EU Referendum and the subsequent disastrous negotiations we find ourselves at a pivotal point in our nation’s history when decisions made over the next few weeks will affect the lives of generations to come.
But at this time of national crisis when we need political leadership of Churchillian proportions, we instead find ourselves administered by a dysfunctional government – one more obsessed with its own survival than with our national interest.
And as a result, one that has lost the trust of its own backbenchers, its partners in government and most importantly, of the people it has been elected to serve.
Two and a half years ago the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU.They did so on the explicit guarantee that the Prime Minister would negotiate a positive deal that would allow us to leave with our dignity and economic future assured.
They did not vote to lose their job: they did not vote for a poorer economy and nobody – particularly in Northern Ireland – voted to create problems for the peace process or to undermine the Good Friday Agreement.
Yet job losses, a weaker economy and a challenge to our Peace Process is exactly what we can expect as our Prime Minister has failed spectacularly to secure the easy deal we had all been promised.
Not only that, she has also managed to alienate so many on all sides of her own Party that it is now mathematically improbable for her to secure the support of Parliament.
No matter how many backstops to backstops, extensions to transitions or other political contortions she might attempt there is now no way that the Prime Minister can achieve Westminsters support for any Brexit deal.
As a result we now have a Government which is actively developing emergency contingency plans for the growing possibility of a No Deal Brexit as presented at Cabinet yesterday. This includes stockpiling drugs; scrabbling to find routes other than Dover for bringing goods into the country; security risks at the border.
Some politicians tell us that we are ready for a No Deal scenario
But anybody who says they are ready for a No Deal Brexit is either economically illiterate with no understanding of how modern business works, has no concept of the damage a Hard Border would do to our fragile Peace Process, or is ignoring the recent National Audit Report which clearly states that Britain is not – and cannot – be prepared in time for a No Deal scenario in March 2019.
The most disappointing of all is that this disaster has unfolded over the heads of the majority of the people in Northern Ireland who did not vote for this direction of travel in the first place.
Since the Referendum the wishes of the 56% of Northern Ireland’s electorate who voted to remain in the EU have been ignored, unrepresented and treated with disdain by a Government which has been led by the nose by the DUP: a Party which does not represent a majority in Northern Ireland one that has been singularly unable to articulate a vision of how Northern Ireland’s economy might grow and prosper post-Brexit
A real life example of a useless tail wagging a clueless dog.
For over two years DUP MPs at Westminster have spent more time representing the preferences of the people of Sunderland who voted to Leave than they have the people of Northern Ireland who voted to Remain.
In the circumstances in which this Government finds itself, we simply cannot trust it to negotiate on our behalf and therefore, we must to be given the opportunity to make the final decision on this deal-of-all-deals for ourselves.
The outcome of these protracted negotiations will affect the people of Northern Ireland for generations to come, and that is simply too important to be left in the hands of politicians whose focus is on their political survival rather than our children’s future.
I have no doubt that in their response to this Amendment at least one Member will mention the 17m people who voted Leave in the EU Referendum.
But in doing so, they will forget once again the over 16m who voted to Remain, over 400,000 of whom live in Northern Ireland and some 40,000 of whom are residents of this Borough.
And it is for those people who are angry, frustrated and worried – for whom I speak this evening.
- Our business owners and entrepreneurs who fear for their businesses survival
- Our University researchers who see their efforts ending as EU collaboration is removed
- Our sheep farmers who fear that the Ulster Farmers Union are right when they say their markets will disappear overnight
- And our young people who see their educational and carer opportunities curtailed
The people of Northern Ireland have the right to make the final decision of how they want theirs and their childrens’ future to look. We deserve and demand a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal.
If you would like to add your voice to the over 300,000 people already calling for a People’s Vote, then join us now, here – TODAY! www.peoples-vote.uk/petition