Most Sunday afternoons I have developed a habit of going along to the FILO in Hastings Old Town and spending a few hours poring over a new novel with a few pints of Churches – FILO’s best bitter.
This Sunday was no different, except as I commit myself wholeheartedly to Dry January I exchanged the Churches for a Soda Water and Lime. What I have come to notice is that my new ritual is one held by several other people. In particular, there is a chap, perhaps in his early 70s, short in stature but large in personality, who comes in and every Sunday he indulges in his weekly comfort of a few pints of beer.
Over the months I have come to grow quite fond of him and I have come to know him quite well. Like many people in Hastings he has found the last few years tough, having to watch his household budget every week, making sure he has enough in the bank for rent, bills, food, insurance and much more besides. His only indulgence being his few pints on a Sunday afternoon.
Last Sunday there was something different about his weekly ritual. He only had half a pint of beer. Slumped at the bar, he seemed out of sorts and with some subtle enquiries I found his household budget had become tighter than ever before. His landlord started the new year by jacking up rents on his properties in preparation for a rise in interest rates and the impact that would have on his monthly mortgage payments.
Why has his Landlord got a fear of a rise in interest rates? A no deal Brexit.
This week in Westminster will saw the start of a five day debate, followed by a vote next week on the Prime Minister’s Brexit Deal.
As Members of Parliament gather in the corridors of power – meeting, plotting and debating – there will be some who will look at this debate as an opportunity to enact their ideologically pure form of Brexit. Some call this ‘No Deal’ others ‘WTO terms’ other ‘crashing out’. No matter what you call it, there will be practical consequences if this is the route that Parliament goes down.
It’s sad to see some MPs viewing this current situation as one to be mocked and joked about. You only need to open up the pages of Monday’s Daily Telegraph and read Boris Johnson’s latest opinion piece in which he writes about Mars Bars, Viagra and carrots being in short supply. It just shows what little regard one of the chief architects of Brexit has for the practical implications of the dogma he espouses. This isn’t about the headline grabbing comments, on which Boris jests, but about the everyday getting by that many millions could struggle with.
There are some in this Brexit debate who hold a different view to me, and that I once had great regard and respect for, who now treat this as an opportunity to either topple a Prime Minister they have a personal vendetta against, or to pursue a purity of ideas that will have no practical impact on them, but will on individuals like the chap sat at the bar on a Sunday afternoon in Hastings.
I have only one thing to say to those MPs now blinkered by ideology, and unable to see the practical realities of what they are pursing – it’s time to grow up and face reality. A no deal Brexit is not going to hurt you, but it will hurt the very people in communities that can least afford more hardship and pain.
Sitting in the glistening offices of Westminster, plotting and scheming, a no deal Brexit might seem harmless, but down here on the rickety stools of a Hastings pub, a no deal Brexit is already having consequences.
I have no doubt some will argue that I’m being a ‘Remoaniac’, indulging in a metropolitan snobbery, talking down those who voted Leave and accusing them of being stupid, not knowing what they were voting for. Well I say to them, you could not be farther from the truth.
As a lad from Hastings, growing up in one of the most deprived seaside towns and living here all my life, I am starting to see how those most worst off in our communities could be suffering. If there is even the smallest of chance that a no deal Brexit could cause pain and suffering for the most deprived, then we should do all we can to avoid it.
So, as MPs continue their debate on Theresa May’s Brexit deal, I ask them to think of those individuals living in some of the most deprived parts of our communities, now struggling to get by. Some voted Remain, many voted Leave, but what is clear, is that no one voted to be worse off or poorer.
Stop with the ideological purity and look at the practicalities that your dogma could inflict – it’s time for common sense to prevail again. It’s time to ensure no deal does not become the policy of this Government.