I asked a friend who voted for Brexit whether she would have voted that way knowing what she knows now.
Without hesitation she replied: “No way. If I knew it was going to be this painful, costly and dragged out by a bunch of politicians who have bickered, squabbled and left people feeling uncertain and let down, I’d have voted Remain.”
It’s a sentiment I feel a lot of people share.
Tensions are running high and both Remainers and Brexiteers have been at full throttle as they push for a soft or hard exit.
When Theresa May called a Brexit summit at Chequers, the least we could have expected was intelligent, grown-up discussion.
A “united front” was shattered in days when David Davis and Boris Johnson threw their toys out of the pram and quit.
They resigned on the basis the that White Paper did not deliver a Brexit they believe in and so they could not stand by it.
I’m sure they see themselves as principled. Sorry to disappoint you, chaps, I see you as weak.
For those of you who don’t want to read the 104-page report, let me sum it up for you: Basically, nothing much is going to change.
For goods, we are in all but name part of the single market and will agree to EU rules and regulations – so this will please the likes of Airbus, which has threatened to quit the UK over a hard Brexit.
Will we be able to undercut the EU and attract foreign trade with this deal?
Donald Trump came out with mixed messages during his visit – saying this Brexit plan would “probably kill the deal” with the US, but then backtracking.
So again, the hardline Brexiteers’ dream of wanting the UK to be the Singapore of Europe – with free trade, low tax and regulation – seems more than a little unlikely.
Will this mean we are free from the European Court of Justice? The paper is not so clear on this, talking about a “joint committee” and “joint reference procedures”.
Ultimately, if we’ve signed up to the single market rules and regulations for goods it’s hard to see how we can ignore the ECJ, which oversees those very rules.
Now on to the topic that seemed to hijack the referendum vote – immigration.
Does this Brexit plan stop free movement? Yes, the agreement says: “The UK will end free movement, giving back control over how many people enter the country.”
Hold on, there’s a BUT – as it goes on to describe a “mobility framework” so EU and UK citizens can travel to other countries and apply to study and work.
Hmm… it sounds a lot like free movement to me.
I’m okay with the proposals, to be honest. But what about voters who expected a genuinely hard Brexit or an even softer one than this?
Or, like my friend, those Brits who now wish that there was no flipping Brexit at all?
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