Tim Dawson: Is it legal?

Downing Street’s refusal to publish its full legal advice on Mrs. May’s Brexit ‘Deal’ has been a great concern. Now things seem to have taken an even more worrying turn with suggestions that the deal is illegal.

As Sir Bill writes, we are in the midst of a constitutional crisis.

The machinery of government is breaking down. The train is off the rails. The ship is holed below the water line. The mortar is crumbling from the brickwork.

That the government should be in this position – with papers circulated at the last moment, and key legal advice locked in the bottom drawer – highlights the desperation which has gripped our battered but obstinate Prime Minister.

It would make a great subject for satire, but the resultant chaos is too serious to precipitate anything but the wryest smiles. Mrs. May’s ‘Deal’ will almost certainly tie us into the EU in perpetuity, with no unilateral mechanism of escape.

The questions flow from here. How is Mrs. May’s plan anything other than a wilful defiance of the referendum result? And how does this abnegation square with the UK’s noble history of democracy? The answer, regrettably, is it does not.

Mrs. May’s entire Brexit ‘Deal’ sales pitch is based around half-truths and misinformation.

On the key issue of free trade – so important to the future prosperity of our country – it is now quite clear that, as things stand, a Free Trade Agreement with the United States is impossible. President Trump, when he implied this was an excellent deal for the European Union but not for the UK, was  absolutely correct.

It’s hard to understand what the British people have done to deserve such chicanery.

Perhaps events simply ran away from Mrs. May, a figure known to be over-reliant on advisors and under-committed to Brexit. But that is to be charitable, and distracts from the appalling position she’s put our country in.

We voted to Leave the EU, rightly expecting that is what would happen. It isn’t – and never was – an impossible task and politicians who feel that they are not up to it should have stepped aside with grace and allowed those with the vision and practicality to implement the instruction to do so. They needn’t necessarily have been Brexiteers; Shailesh Vara is a fine example of a Remain supporter who would be a huge asset to any serious Brexit government.

So, yes – we have for the most part been let down by our elected representatives. But our elected representatives can still save the day.

The first step must be to vote down the Withdrawal Agreement. The next step – for The Conservative Party, at least – is confronting the reality of where we are and the leader who got us here.

One of the key rolls of a Prime Minister – a little like a President; and we were reminded of this at the weekend with the sad passing of George H W Bush – is respecting and upholding democracy.

Regardless of the legality of her ‘deal’, questionable though it might be: is Mrs. May, really – still – the right person for that job?