AT the time of writing, the Cabinet is sequestered with the Prime Minister while she reveals the secrets of the Brexit deal to them. As Boris Johnson predicted, the carefully confected sense of anticipation was rewarded by a last minute agreement, miraculously enabling Mrs May to get her deal set up in the nick of time.
No one is holding their breath about the contents. As always, news of the proposed arrangements have leaked, particularly as it appears they were shown in advance to the Irish and Gibraltarian governments.
Despite all the promises, Northern Ireland looks likely to remain indefinitely in a customs union which is wider, deeper and more lasting than the one the rest of the UK will sign up to. Simply put, this is nothing less than the betrayal of Northern Ireland and a harbinger of the ultimate break-up of the United Kingdom.
The DUP ‘loyalists’ are so named for a reason. Their commitment to the Union is unarguable and leaving them to founder alone as the last bastion of unionism is perilous in the extreme. It plays into the hands of the Irish government and Sinn Fein, who still long for a united Ireland.
And, already, Scottish Conservative MPs have warned that this will renew calls for Scottish independence, particularly as Scotland, like Northern Ireland, voted largely to remain. Rightly, the DUP have vowed to unite against the deal in any ‘meaningful vote’ in Parliament.
Sovereignty, which mattered so much to so many as they cast their votes, will be history if this deal goes through. Far from taking back control, it appears that we are about to sign away our independence, at first during the transition period and then after 2020, during the emergency backstop, which can only be ended by arbitration under the aegis of the EU.
The US and Australia have already said that if we remain in a customs union with the EU, free trade agreements will be impossible. The medieval state of ‘vassalage’, which several of my colleagues have invoked as a description of our condition, is absolutely real and a threat to our nation’s future prosperity in the 21st century.
For many of us, from all sides of the party, Mrs May’s Brexit is a complete capitulation to an EU, which has no interest in releasing us from its federal ambitions.
Despite the PM’s insistence that we are leaving the EU, we will remain wedded to its institutions, its lawmakers and its rules – but this time, without being able to represent our own interests, as we will have no MEPs and no place at the table.
This is emphatically not what was promised during the referendum, or afterwards during the Lancaster House speech and on many, many other occasions.
I can now only call on Cabinet members to show some spirit and refuse to send the deal to Parliament for a vote.