By the time MPs get back after the summer, there will only be a year left to sort the UK’s relationship with the EU. Here is an agenda that the country could agree on
Next week, parliament goes into recess for the summer. Save for a few days in September, MPs are not scheduled to be back at Westminster until 9 October. By then, six of the 24 months allotted for negotiating the UK’s exit from the European Union and Britain’s future relationship with the EU will have passed. In practice, there will only be a year remaining until all the big issues are supposed to be provisionally settled and the process of confirmation begins. As the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, keeps saying, the clock is ticking.
British politics and British society remain in denial about what is at stake, about the issues involved, and about the wasted time so far. Political debate about Brexit has struggled to move on from the 2016 referendum and has barely begun to adjust to the result of the 2017 election. Many in Britain continue to refight the referendum. Ministers remain divided, vague and in too many cases merely flippant. The public remains largely in the dark about the decisions that ministers are on the verge of having to take. That has to change. The country’s future is on the line. Millions of livelihoods are affected.