Slowly but surely it is beginning to feel as though the Brexit cogs are turning and all we can hope for now is that they’ve been greased enough not to get stuck. Article 50 has had its nod from the House of Commons vote – an overwhelming 494 to 122 in favour achieved on Wednesday – as a Bill with no amendments. Of course that doesn’t give Theresa May’s target end of March deadline a guarantee until the House of Lords pass it, too.
Yes, the “House of Lords” – the unelected Lords who decide on laws that our sovereign Parliament has independent power to enact without EU participation. It might be extremely close to Article 50 being triggered and Brexit becoming a reality, but there are still those who are shaking their heads at the number of lies told by the Brexit campaign that were swallowed so easily by the public.
Assuming that the Lords don’t oppose the Bill – or oppose parts of it and require changes – the Brexit cogs will be fully lubricated, ready to be triggered. But where is the weapon pointed? We don’t eradicating our allies with friendly fire. Nor do we want to find ourselves in a dangerous game of Russian Roulette.
Article 50 not entirely Green-Lighted
The main objection raised to the Article 50 Bill that has gained the most political ground with the public was the fully expected Labour stance that current EU nationals. It wasn’t that long ago that Theresa May was championing our EU nationals and assuring us all they would have the residential and working rights safely secured. Now she has reneged on that promise and left many EU migrants uncertain and worried: not to mention betrayed over the previous promise they would be given automatic Permanent Residency (PR).
The fears surrounding the status of EU nationals have been felt greatly in the NHS. Nurses applying to the UK have dropped by 90% and many are currently wondering if they need to apply for PR or citizenship now – if indeed they are eligible – just to feel secure. The knock-on effect of this is the Home Office slowly but surely beginning to crumble under the pressure of additional applications. And all this at a time when the NHS is struggling to recruit UK nurses too.
But that is only because the government cut training bursaries…
So the one area that the Article 50 Bill clearly doesn’t seem to cater for is the effects on industries that rely on EU nationals working in the UK – especially skilled workers. It’s easy to understand the frustration caused by the collision between political grandstanding on the immigration front being at odds with the needs of specific industries like the NHS. No amount of target-setting to reduce net migration will be able to account for factual staffing shortages, even in the current supposed “high immigration level” times. Isn’t that just basic economics? Or is it more about not shooting one’s nose of despite the face
Is it democratic to resign?
There is still a problematic anti-democracy narrative being played out in British politics, one that seems to always avoid being openly discussed. Numerous MPs have resigned over the white paper and the House of Commons Article 50 vote. Clive Lewis MP is the latest to have resigned, citing the the failure to get what his constituents wanted. This seems a rather odd thing to do in a democracy, where an MP is supposed their constituents’ interests. How does resigning achieve anything? We understand that our MP is just one in hundreds and will be unsuccessful with a great many votes in their time. As long as the MP has gone in representing the voice of their constituency, their vote being defeated is not that shocking. They can’t win them all.
The same can’t be applied to Brexit. We didn’t all vote for Brexit – 48% of us didn’t, in fact – and we can’t just say we have had enough and just walk away. We’re stuck with it now. The only difference is that the White paper might have told us roughly what the plan is, but that doesn’t mean we know what the future holds. Article 50, for all its grandiosity and political jargon, is still nothing more than an prototype for an instructional manual for vehicle that has never been driven along a map that no-one has seen before.
Let’s hope that with all the grease the gears have needed we don’t just slip up and fall squarely on our sore British backside.