They say that a week is a long time in politics, and it’s rarely been more true than the last week.
We’ve seen European elections in which parties gained most votes for advocating either leaving the European Union without a deal, or remaining in the EU.
In High Peak, as elsewhere, voters were very divided. I spent the day as I spend every election day, speaking to as many people as I could around the constituency. From early morning commuters at New Mills, the school run at Whaley Bridge Primary, many homes around Glossop and Hayfield in the daytime, school gates at Chapel Primary, and Buxton in the evening.
Many I spoke to felt they hadn’t understood Labour’s policy as it had evolved quickly in the run-up to the elections, so Labour’s vote was disappointing, and I’m pleased that Labour nationally is now advocating for a vote on our final deal with the European Union.
This isn’t about undermining democracy. It’s about making sure that we go into our most important trade deal knowing the full details and consequences.
I’ve always advocated doing the best deal that we can. That was the duty of every party following the 2016 referendum.
But having seen what Theresa May said was ‘the best deal we can do’, the vast majority of people across the country – and MPs – heartily rejected it.
So the Labour Party spent time trying to agree a compromise deal that would have less impact on our trade and jobs, and more guarantees for our rights and protections that come from Europe.
But in practice, most Conservative MPs were not prepared to agree such a deal. More Cabinet members resigned and we were left in an impasse.
The Prime Minister’s announcement that she’s stepping down may be necessary after the years of delays and obduracy, but won’t bring a resolution closer.
11 candidates have put their names forward. Most are advocating a ‘harder’ Brexit, and leaving the option of ‘No Deal’ on the table.
So we’re likely to see another game of ‘brinkmanship’ with our country’s future – waiting until the last minute in the hope that Europe will ‘blink first’.
But the stakes are very high. The government forecast that leaving the EU without a deal would make our economy 12% smaller. That’s a lot of jobs, a lot of investment in our public services, already at breaking point.
I’ll continue to advocate to put the best deal we can to a vote of the people. It seems the most sensible way forward, and although we may be in for a summer of political theatre, we have to hope that the sense which the British are renowned for will prevail.