Like so many of us, I am horrified by the crisis engulfing our country. Some in parliament are convinced they are right and 99 percent of economists around the world are wrong, as they try and edge our country towards ‘no deal’.
That is not what we were promised in 2016. It would mean chaos for supply lines in everything from the isotopes used in radiation to treat cancer patients to the food staples we import. A new report from the University of Sussex out this week warns ‘no deal’ would lose three-quarters of a million people their jobs. Parliament must vote to exclude ‘no deal’ without delay.
Then there is the unique issue of Northern Ireland. As a cub reporter I was sent to spend time with the squaddies of the Cheshire Regiment in what was then, just before the Good Friday Peace Agreement was signed, still dangerous country in County Armagh. It was a sobering experience moving about in an armed convoy. Back in London, a bomb went off nearby, blowing a colleague out of his chair. Now, friends with relatives in the ‘border communities’ tell me tensions are quietly rising again.
The best solution we have for keeping the open border is not the ‘backstop’ but what we have right now. It is this that keeps the hundreds of roads that people use every day in their daily lives as well as the flow of goods, open. Britain’s place in the European Union brought to an end a century of conflict in Northern Ireland and the mainland, as well as delivering an unprecedented period of peace on the continent. From this cooperation, trading, working together, we have prospered, no longer the ‘sick man of Europe’.
Any exit will lose us billions of pounds for public services. No part of the medical profession wants Brexit for very good reason. In visa documentation for incoming staff the Royal College of Physicians says it will cost the NHS £490 million every year. What could that have bought in terms of already badly-needed nurses, doctors, medicines and cancer drugs?
I happen to believe that only truth really leads to reconciliation in any society. That is why I am supporting a People’s Vote, decided on the actual deal available. No champion of democracy should fear asking the people, with humility, for their view, to give or not give our informed consent to the deal that is really on offer. Yes, I hope we stay in Europe. As a middle-aged woman I agree with the vast majority of young people who see the UK’s place as leading Europe, and defining it, not leaving it.
And if I were to lose, I’d know we took the decision based not on a false manifesto, not against the clock, but on the facts before us, as we would for anything in life, from starting a business, to marriage, to buying a home, indeed everything that mattered.