If it’s February, it’s Groundhog Day, and the good people of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania get to find out if Spring is just around the corner, or still weeks away. If I’ve lost you already, watch the hilarious 1993 film of the same name, where a TV weatherman gets caught in a time loop re-living the same day over-and-over again.
Here in the UK we have our own version of Groundhog Day: The Movie - it’s called Brexit. To be fair though, we are (slowly) moving forward. A couple of weeks ago a majority of MPs did vote to approve the Government Withdrawal Agreement, subject to changes to the Irish backstop, and that remains a ‘work in progress’.
I support this approach because I want us to leave the European Union in a measured and managed way, starting on 29th March this year. Indeed, very few of my colleagues want a ‘No Deal’, but to take that option off the table would profoundly weaken our negotiating position, and we must hold our nerve.
From my own negotiating experience, opposing sides frequently come together at the 11th hour and the EU have significant form on this. It is therefore incumbent upon Government to publicly implement No Deal mitigation provisions and send a clear message to the EU that we will not blink.
This is particularly relevant to us here in Kent due to its frontier location and our MPs are acting together to protect the County’s best interests. Vital work is progressing on traffic fluidity measures for the M20, M2 and M26 and I have also written to the Government to request a greater proportion of the money set aside for No Deal contingencies to go to Maidstone Borough Council, to ensure their specific local plans can be enacted.
The Groundhog in Punxsutawney predicted an early spring this year - let’s hope the same is true for Brexit here in Britain.