Article 50

I have favourite numbers. They are almost always even. I was born in the eighth month of the year (albeit on a day that is an odd number), my favourite number is 2, I like any number with a 2 in it really. Odd numbers have some negative feelings for me. Not a year goes by that I don’t remember every single feeling I experienced on 7/7 or 9/11. But I’m not stupid enough to think that all of my bad experiences have occurred on odd days and all good experiences on even. The Warrior’s birthday (even), Christmas Eve (even), Christmas Day (odd). They’re all just a jumble of numbers really. Some matter. Some don’t. But I like even numbers.

Except for the number 50. I hate that one. The grown-up in me tells me to suck it up and face it. It’s going to happen anyway, I might as well accept it. The grown-up that is also not quite there yet (I’m not even 30 – an even number – yet) tells me to hell with that, I want it to go away. I want all of the number 50s eradicated from this country. From history! Door numbers, page numbers, people can just go from their 49th birthday to their 51st. Just skip it altogether. In everything.

Speaking of which, there is this little thing called Article 50 that may or may not have been the bane of your life since June 2016. That thing which could, in effect, determine just how long it takes for the Government to pull us out of the EU, has become such a focal point of this country that I am already sick of hearing it. It is a number that I can only thing of in the negative. Because it means triggering an article holding that number (gosh, it’s like a real life “He Who Must Not Be Named”) puts the country at the mercy of a ticking clock. One that lasts 24 months and no more.

And that would all be fine if we had seen or heard of some semblance of a plan since Theresa May became Prime Minister. I mean an actual plan. Not the objectives she released last week. Not those. Because those don’t say anything about her thinking, what the thought process behind each one is, what happens if the EU decide to not budge on anything, what is the contingency plan, what is the back up offer, what is non-negotiable, what does “the best possible deal mean”? Objectives mean nothing really. I could have objectives. I could intend to do this or that at any given time at my job but if I don’t come up with a concrete plan as to how exactly I am going to fit in 5 meetings for a Founding Partner at my agency when he has zero time to make them, why would he employ me? If I don’t have a back up plan for when things go tits up and he has to cancel 4 meetings at 10am on a Friday when clients are expecting him, why would he trust me to run his work life – to get him to where he needs to be? Why would he trust me to know what he needs prioritising, how much of his time is negotiable, what he can forgo, what is immediately pressing, what he wants from me.  If I wrote both of my dissertations without submitting a plan and simply wrote a list of the things I intended to write with no reasoning, context or evidence, I would have been lucky if my supervisor hadn’t thrown the paper in my face with an “are you serious?!”

Theresa May and her cabinet should not be exempt from doing their job. It is the bare minimum this morning’s Supreme Court ruling on Article 50 asks of her by ruling that her Government cannot trigger Article 50 without an act of Parliament. It essentially means that she would need to put together something that would have some measure of detail regarding her strategy, the deals that she is willing to leave on the table and walk away from, those that she is not, how she will replace many, many laws this country enjoys as part of the EU, the regulations, somewhat of a plan for our services (particularly the financial sector), importing and exporting tariffs, EU citizens both here and within Europe, the list goes on. And it is something Parliament must rule in favour of before she can trigger Article 50. She needs to be able to showcase that she has some control, some forward thinking on our exit from the EU and that we will come out of it knowing that the best possible deal was brokered.

Jeremy Corbyn has already said he will not stand in the way of triggering. That’s a conversation to have another time. The Liberal Democrats have expressly said that they would only rule in favour of Article 50 if there was a guaranteed referendum on the bill first (fat chance of that happening but that’s just me!) And the ruling specifically states that Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales need not be in agreement anyway so it is going to happen. We must accept and move on from this argument because it has been long over.

What the ruling is not is a way to halt Brexit. I think we Remainers know by now that there is literally no way to avoid exiting the European Union. We live in a democracy and lost. It was a dirty fight filled with lies, but a fight we lost nonetheless. She is an impossible position either way but the way she has gone about things since taking over at Number 10 has been nothing less than incompetent. Her cabinet hires, the lack of knowledge, the unwillingness to listen to those who are quite obviously smarter on every single thing to do with leaving the EU like trade, like free movement, like alienating EU leaders (you know, those with whom she will be attempting to make certainly impossible deals with), all of this cloak and dagger nonsense surrounding her plan to exit (which even now just makes her look like she really just doesn’t know what she is going to do), all of these things are what the entire court case from Gina Miller et al. has been about. Which is quite simply to hold Theresa May and her government to account, to force them to take responsibility and to perform their duties to the absolute breadth of their knowledge, experience and more importantly the resources available to them to see to it that this country thrives. Not to turn this country into a tax have with arms wide open for any country outside of the EU looking to take advantage.

If she hadn’t wasted so much time and public money trying to avoid doing her job, to push her duties to the very limits of what she can achieve as the leader of this country, who knows where we would all be right now in regards to Article 50. Maybe one day I won’t shudder whenever I see that wretched number.

I won’t hold my breath.

-Smurf x



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