Deidre Brock MP

Member of Parliament for Edinburgh North and Leith

Leaving the EU: a disaster in slow motion

Everybody with any sense of how the world works, or indeed, even the tiniest ability to listen to experts, knows that leaving the EU is a disaster in slow motion. It's an omnishambles. Like a train in a spaghetti western running onto a half-collapsed bridge we know that the plunge is coming but the people driving the train are shovelling more coal into the boiler; they've never looked over the side and they're fairly sure the train can make the jump over to safety on the other side.

The blank refusal to look at what is happening makes blind faith look like scepticism, the assertion that we'll trade jam with China and scones with Brazil to make up for loss of access to the world's biggest barrier-free market place, the claim that 27 countries will be crippled without our expertise – this is madness.

I don't know what is in the tea in Whitehall but it seems to be pretty strong

If the analysis is anything like as bonkers as the policy position then its value will be questionable in any case but I agree with Labour on this – it should be published and I'm happy to hear that we will get to see it but it should go further. The people who put us here and who pay for everything that gets done here and in our names elsewhere should be entitled to know just how much ignorance is at the heart of government strategy and what its best forecast is of just how much disaster we are facing.

We all know that it's a cliff-edge but none of us know how high the cliff is. We've seen some analysis, most pertinently from the Scottish Government, and no-one is predicting benefits. The best that anyone says is that there might be some way to ameliorate the worst effects, some way to make the pain a little less.

Leaving the EU is bad, walking away from the customs union and the single market is worse. Voters had many reasons for voting to leave; I have heard people offer different reasons, but none of them reckoned that we'd end up with better trading relations with anyone. The people who are going to have to suffer the blunt trauma of this exit deserve the scant respect of opening up the forecasts to scrutiny.

I know that Labour's motion today is for Members in this House to see them and I acknowledge the Government's movement on this but I regard that as only a good first step on the way to everyone getting sight of them and I don't understand why the Labour motion is so narrowly drawn.

I can't for the life of me understand why there is so little opposition to exiting the EU, the single market and the customs union on the Labour benches. I appreciate that there was a substantial leave vote in many of the seats that Labour worries about and that there was a bit of a UKIP vote against a fair number of Labour MPs, but I can't understand why an entire party would abdicate the responsibility of trying to lead. Contrary to the Tony Blair doctrine, politics is not always about finding out where people are already heading so you can try to lead them there, sometimes you have to stand and say that it's this way, that you believe that this is the right thing to do and the right thing to do now is surely to seek to protect, to the greatest extent possible, our membership of the single market and the customs union.

Since we are where we are, though, and we are heading down a track that comes to an abrupt and uncompromising end, and I am pleased that we finally have the courtesy from the Government of at least letting us see what they think the best and worst case scenarios are.

I think that the public should also be offered the courtesy of a glance at the research. We're told by the Brexit department that everything is going swimmingly and it will be alright if we just have faith and patience so I cannot see why there would be any reluctance to publish the intellectual musings of the Brexit Secretary and the underpinning in-depth research that went into those musings.

All might be for the best in the best of all possible Brexits but we have no way of knowing what kind of Brexit is coming our way, what the great vision of the Government is or what kind of economic disaster zone is headed our way. I have seen nothing to counter those who say that the economic outlook is almost apocalyptic nor anyone nailing any supposed lies or misconceptions.

We know from the leak that the Government's analysis says we're in deep manure and paddles are in short supply. What we don't know is what the details are.

Publish and be damned – or saved – but publish, for the sake of clarity, openness and honesty.

Surely nothing can go wrong?

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Sunday, 25 February 2018

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