How Brexit became a Groundhog Day nightmare – leader comment

Brexit is starting to feel like the 1993 film Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell
Brexit is starting to feel like the 1993 film Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell
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Theresa May will today present a Brexit plan to the UK Cabinet in the hope she can persuade her own ministers, then the rest of the EU and MPs to finally break out of the seemingly endless Groundhog Day disputes about the issue of our time.

In the 1993 film Groundhog Day, Bill Murray’s self-centred, arrogant and rude weatherman Phil Connors is forced to relive the same day over and over again until he finally realises the error of his ways.

For much of the last two years, the endless debates about Brexit have developed a similar Groundhog Day feel, as if the progress of time has somehow stopped.

So, here we are again, on another absolutely vital day for the future of the United Kingdom, its economy and its people.

This morning, Theresa May will put her Brexit plan to the Cabinet in the hope of convincing them that it’s the best Britain is going to get. It will reportedly kick the weighty can of the Irish border question down the road by signing up to a UK-wide customs arrangement with the European Union – but only on a temporary basis.

Already, the plan has come under attack from all sides. Boris Johnson called it an “absolutely stinker” and a “surrender to Brussels”; Labour’s John McDonell said Labour would vote against any temporary customs arrangement; and Ireland made clear an arrangement designed to avoid a hard border between the Republic and the North that was either time-limited or could be ended unilaterally by the UK was not acceptable.

READ MORE: Brian Monteith: Shedding new light on Prime Minister’s Brexit duplicity

However, despite all that, if May manages to get her own ministers onside and somehow persuade the EU, she will then put the plan before parliament for a “meaningful vote” by MPs, relying on support from the DUP and MPs from other parties who fear the alternative to her deal will be a chaotic no-deal Brexit.

And there may indeed be considerable support for “anything but that”; whether it’s enough to win the day for May’s plan, which almost no one appears to particularly like, remains to be seen.

But whatever happens in the next few days, voters need to make their elected representatives aware that they will be held accountable for their decisions about one of the most important issues facing the UK since the end of the Second World War.

Because, if Brexit goes badly wrong, our only solace may be in the song that begins each Groundhog Day nightmare, Sonny & Cher’s I Got You Babe: “They say our love won’t pay the rent, Before it’s earned, our money’s all been spent, I guess that’s so, we don’t have a plot, But at least I’m sure of all the things we got.”

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon calls for UK Government clarity over Brexit cost to NHS