It was the 21st anniversary of the Good Friday Belfast Agreement this week.
Twenty-one years of a fragile and hard-won process of peace and reconciliation. A settlement now sadly taken for granted by Brexiteer politicians pretending they can drag the UK out of the EU and magically keep all the benefits of an open Irish border. The risks to the Good Friday Agreement were overlooked in the 2016 referendum. As were the risks to frictionless free trade, to just-in-time manufacturing, to services maintained across the continent.
But now we know more. And we know – because the Government themselves have told us – that every form of Brexit will leave the country poorer.
Yet this week saw the British Government continue to take risks with jobs and livelihoods. After nearly three wasted years, Theresa May continues to prioritise the hardliners in the Conservative Party – without accepting that their ideological fanaticism can never be satisfied.
The Opposition are also preparing to facilitate their own form of Brexit. If you have a strong sense of foreboding that Jeremy Corbyn and the Prime Minister are about to carve up a deal for their own mutual party advantage, then you’re right to be worried.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
The EU Council decision on Wednesday night to extend the Article 50 deadline to 31st October means we can, if we want, take this window of opportunity to conduct a People’s Vote and let the British people bring this whole debacle to an end far sooner than the many years of drawn-out negotiations needed to strike a long-term trade relationship with Britain outside the EU.
That’s why I’m determined to fight for Britain’s voice in Europe – and if the European elections do take place, we must send this message loud and clear: we want a People’s Vote to give the public an option to ‘remain’ so we can champion the reforms needed in the EU.
Our country should be a rule maker, not a rule taker. Brexit shouldn’t proceed without the British people giving their consent. While Labour and the Tories prioritise their internal party management issues, it’s about time the best interests of the country came first. If we act now, we can all make the difference – and change politics so that those on the ideological fringe no longer call the shots.