I don’t often write about national issues in this column. But these aren’t normal times and, with the EU ‘Chequers agreement’ and Cabinet Ministers resigning, this week is an exception!
There will be a huge amount of hot air about what we should or shouldn’t be asking for in the Brexit negotiations. But, for me, there’s a simple test.
Forget people hyperventilating about obscure details most of us had never heard of a year ago. The first question is whether we’re really, genuinely leaving at all.
However each of us voted in the referendum (I was Remain), we’re all democrats first and foremost and, as one of the oldest democracies in the world, we’ve got to be able to look ourselves and our neighbours in the eye and say that we did what the vote decided. Otherwise, when the next General Election comes along, why should anyone pay any attention to the result then either?
So if, six months after we’re supposed to have left, a European judge decides a case which still directly affects us here in the UK, we won’t really have left at all.
That’s why the ‘three freedoms’: to control our own laws, money and borders, matter so much. An EU deal which includes them means we will have genuinely have left. One that doesn’t, means we won’t.
The good news is that, once we’ve delivered the three freedoms, we can have the softest, most frictionless, cleanest Brexit we want.
And before everyone gets too excited about the ‘Chequers Deal’, remember that no-one knows what Brussels will say in reply. Chequers is only the opening shot, and the final deal will inevitably be different. But at least the test gives us an easy way to work out if it’s any good or not. Let’s see!