After 12 months of chaos, what next? The year in Brexit

Best for Britain's Naomi Smith runs through a chaotic year - and sets out a resolution for 2019.

In many ways, 2018 was the year everything happened but nothing changed.

We started the year with nobody having a clue what Brexit meant and both main parties in a bitter civil war. It’s now Christmas time and nothing has changed.

It was the year of three Brexit secretaries, votes postponed and Corbyn forgetting he always had a camera on him – now that was stupid.

We also learnt the hard-Brexit European Research Group (ERG) can’t count to 48, and are neither European nor prone to doing much research! Definitely more a cult than a group.

But here’s the great news, a year ago, less than 20% of the British people wanted a people’s vote – now the majority want a final say.

By Spring, Brexit was unravelling. In March, Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie told Parliament the Brexit result could have gone the other way if it wasn’t for fraud at the heart of the Leave campaign. Downing Street fought back by publicly outing another whistleblower.

Russia attempted to murder two British citizens by Novichok poisoning. Thankfully the EU and European Arrest Warrant had Theresa May’s back. A timely and shocking reminder of what we will lose if we Brexit.

In April, UKIP got its fifth leader in two years, and by the end of the year he had appointed EDL leader Tommy Robinson, aka Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, as special adviser. That was too much even for Nigel Farage who quit his party.

In July, all eyes were on the cabinet meeting at Chequers and Theresa May explaining her deal. It was such a good deal that President Trump trashed it and the Brexit Secretary who negotiated it quit. Arch-Brexiteer Dominic Raab took over – how long would he last?

Days later, the ever opportunistic Boris Johnson also quit. Fearing he would be on the breadline, he returned to writing his column for the Telegraph for a miserly £250,000 a year.

The 2016 Leave camp were referred to the police for breaking electoral law. Also, under investigation, this time by the National Crime Agency, was the ‘bad boy of Brexit’, Arron Banks, because of alleged involvement with foreign donations.

Come September and the Labour conference gave Shadow Brexit Secretary, Keir Starmer a standing ovation for saying that the party wasn’t ruling out the option of remaining in the EU. Their leadership inch slowly but ever more closely towards supporting a final say on the Brexit deal.

In October, 700,000 people took part in a march calling for a people’s vote – the biggest protest since the Iraq war. The Labour and Conservative leadership were conspicuously absent, as were a few of the (then) 12 Lib Dem MPs.

A month later, the Withdrawal Agreement was unveiled after a laborious cabinet meeting and within minutes we all, except the PM, knew the deal didn’t have the votes. Trump piled on the criticism with another trashing.

Jacob Rees-Mogg immediately stood up and announced a motion of no confidence in the Prime Minister.  Trouble was he had miscounted. This would have been hilarious were it not for the fact that they want to run the economy? Counting to 48 should be easy, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, etc.

Then out went Raab – no surprise – and in came Steve Barclay – yes even I had to do a Wikipedia search on him.

It seemed May had reunited the left and the right. Trouble was it was united in opposing her.

Another Johnson resigned. This time it was transport minister Jo. Big difference this time was the ever level-headed Orpington MP wanted a second referendum.

In December, the meaningful vote on Mrs May’s deal was scheduled. Nobody could work out why she was bothering. This was going to redefine humiliation. With hours to go, she pulled the vote and promised to rework the controversial backstop.

This time, the ERG managed to count to 48 and got its no confidence motion. The PM won but the naysayers did muster a surprisingly high 117 votes.

Meanwhile, the PM flew to Berlin to meet the German Chancellor only to be scuppered by child locks on her car. Surely we weren’t being locked out of Europe? When things don’t go well they only seem to get worse.

And Corbyn continued to dilly and dally over a vote of no confidence.

Putin ended the year supporting Mrs May, saying a second referendum would be anti-democratic. If the will of the Kremlin isn’t to vote again, I say bring it on.

Here at Best for Britain, our data shows that a staggering 66% now want a second referendum.

If 2018 has been tortuous then our resolution for 2019 has to be to deliver what the British people want – a final say.

As you read this, we as a country have spent over one billion on Brexit so far. Simple maths, how many bus’s worth of £350 million could have been invested in the NHS? Let’s hope the ERG aren’t doing the sums…

Naomi Smith is Chief Operating Officer of Best for Britain.

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