Even at this late stage, Brexit is not inevitable

Loads of bills need to be passed before Brexit can happen

March 29, the scheduled date for the UK leaving the EU, is only a few weeks away, but Brexit is still a mess.

Only last week, MPs pushed the government into opening up the possibility of delaying that exit date.

Mass resignations are being threatened by government ministers who refuse to countenance the government’s strategy of running down the clock,.

As a result, the Prime Minister will now bring her deal to the House by mid-March, before handing MPs further votes to block a damaging no deal Brexit and extend Article 50.

Delaying the UK’s exit date wasn’t a shock. There’s a huge backlog of bills that would still need to pass through Parliament in the event of leaving the EU which simply haven’t had the space to be debated while MPs tussle over the basic form Brexit should take. Those who think we can leave by the end of March still have their work cut out for them.

Indeed one of the main reasons Brexit is still not a foregone conclusion is that Parliament still hasn’t agreed a viable form of Brexit.

The Prime Minister’s deal, when put to MPs in January, was defeated by an unprecedented margin of 230 – while subsequent votes have shown no form of Brexit can command a majority in the House.

Parliament’s uncertainty over Brexit mirrors that in the country at large. Since the referendum in 2016, new facts have come to light. Businesses and communities across the country are suffering already and fear future challenges created by leaving the EU. Polling on Brexit now consistently shows a majority of public would prefer to stay in the EU.

And it’s clear why. To take one example, British manufacturing is on its knees – with the car industry in particular in the midst of a Brexit-fuelled crisis which has seen big names like Ford, Jaguar Land Rover and Honda announce job losses across the country. Meanwhile, EU nationals, the pillar of our NHS and other public services, have been leaving in their droves – with the latest ONS figures showing a fall of 61,000.

The Labour Party has embraced holding a public vote as the only way to prevent a damaging Tory Brexit driven by ideological extremists like Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson.

It’s been clear for a while that Labour’s members and voters overwhelmingly support staying in the EU.

But after MPs rejected Labour’s alternative Brexit plan last week, the Opposition front bench has now come to accept that it must make handing this decision back to the people it’s Brexit priority.

And with the Opposition front bench onside, the numbers in Parliament for Brexit dwindle even further.

With Parliament gridlocked on finding an acceptable solution, Labour supporting a public vote and the country’s mood changing as the facts become clearer, the argument that Brexit is inevitable is full of holes.

Brexit is most certainly not inevitable. Those prematurely celebrating are simply reacting to the growing momentum against it.

Virendra Sharma is a Labour MP and Best for Britain supporter

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