Phelim Mac Cafferty: Brexit, ‘What a fine mess you’ve gotten us into’

Phelim Mac Cafferty
Phelim Mac Cafferty

Laurel and Hardy were possibly not anticipating Brexit when they coined the phrase ‘another fine mess you’ve gotten us into’ but it neatly sums up the last few weeks.

The Brexit economic impact assessments summarise the chaos. First there was ‘excruciating detail’, then they didn’t exist, then they were shared with MPs... now they don’t exist again. For a man who readily comments on Parliament ‘taking back control’ David Davis has shown nothing but contempt for democracy.

One of the reasons Greens campaigned to stay in the European Union was our concern that Brexit would hit those hardest with the most to lose. In Brighton and Hove, key projects on transport and preventing drug addiction were EU funded. Brexit will not just cut those vital income streams at a time of corrosive cuts, but leave our city worse off for generations.

This is the biggest decision in a lifetime and so much of it was built on lies. While a key ‘Leave’ argument focused on how the UK public could ‘take back control’, on core issues like human rights, or our trading relationship with the world post-Brexit, the public are being frozen out of the debate.

The DUP, a party representing only 0.9 per cent of UK voters, is calling the shots; the party that has refused to mirror UK legislation on abortion or equal marriage now hypocritically wants a Brexit deal identical to Britain’s – even at the expense of a hardened Irish border.

This is exactly the time that opposition parties could forge a different approach – but that needs Labour to get its act together, instead of struggling to figure out its position.

There is a way out of the mess. Defiance is the only reasonable response in the face of such political incompetence. A recent Survation poll showed 50 per cent support a second vote on Brexit. At next Thursday’s Full Council meeting, Green Councillors will request that Government gives our city more clarity on the impact of Brexit.

Now the shambolic ‘deal’ is coming to light, people deserve a genuine say over the future of the country through a ratification referendum.

Phelim Mac Cafferty is the convener of the Greens on Brighton and Hove City Council.