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Brexit has made us the laughing stock of the world

PUBLISHED: 14:02 29 October 2019 | UPDATED: 10:56 30 October 2019

Our reader questions the impact of those who didn't vote in the Brexit vote. Photo: PA

Our reader questions the impact of those who didn't vote in the Brexit vote. Photo: PA

PA Wire/PA Images

And it's not even the most important issue of our time, says James Marston

We in this country, as in other liberal and democratic countries, have a perfect right to exalt the principle of self-determination. Somebody once said.

This week we have a new word - flextension - oh my goodness.

The national humiliation that is Brexit - a word of which we have heartily all heard of enough - must surely now be complete. Not only can we not agree to make the best of a difficult job, we have turned once again to our European neighbours to make a decision for us. We have relied on other countries to determine what we do next.

Paralysed by a parliament that wants a deal but not any of the two offered, a Labour party that wants an election but doesn't, a Conservative government that cannot govern, while the far right and far left make ground all the time and other far more serious issues than our membership of basically a customs union to which we were never, as a nation, whole heartedly committed, are being ignored. How can any of us seriously believe, in the face of climate change or rising sea levels, or extremist terrorism, or the way we treat our elderly, and poor, and those with mental illness, or the way we simply behave towards one another, that leaving or staying really is the greatest challenge our nation faces since the existential threat of the Second World War? It is poppycock.

And so is the language of "crashing out", "no deal" "surrender" "do or die".

And all the while the nation I love is the laughing stock of the world.

It is like watching a nation busily engaged in heaping up its own funeral pyre.

I rather reluctantly voted to leave the EU because I believe in free trade and democracy and others voted to remain for probably the same reasons. I don't for one moment think both sides don't want the best for Britain. I also don't believe we should blame all MPs or act in any violent or threatening way towards them or one another.

But we live in a world where political conversation has stopped. Our adversarial political system has been exposed in the harshest of spotlights as one which now precludes acting in the national interest-which, in my view, involves following the plebiscite and trusting in the wisdom of the British people first and foremost; the vote was to leave and that ought to be respected. By all means have a referendum - but on the question of "no deal" or "Mr Johnson's deal" or "Mrs May's deal" and act on the result - by all means have a general election when parliament is ineffective: depart, I say; and let us have done with you.

Neither side will budge, neither side will listen - least of all to us - the political system doesn't allow for compromise, whether in the national interest or not. So worried are our political class - the very people who won't be affected by Brexit at all - they are all about their pride and cannot see the damage they are doing to us, our nation and themselves.

Thwarting our nation from making a decision, allowing ourselves to appear weak and ineffective on the global stage, is causing untold economic and reputational damage, by missing the bigger picture week after week, and now year after year, we are wreaking the damage we think we are avoiding.

Cicero was right: More is lost by indecision than wrong decision. Indecision is the thief of opportunity. It will steal you blind.

I will end by saying what everybody would like to ignore or forget but which must nevertheless be stated, namely, that we have sustained a total and unmitigated defeat. A defeat of our own making caused by our own pride.

Is James right? Are you fed up with the Brexit debacle? Do you think delay is as dangerous as the wrong decision? Let him know at james.marston@archant.co.uk

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