In my first column of 2019, I would like to wish you all a very happy and prosperous New Year. I hope you managed to find some time to switch off over the festive period.
Of course many readers may not have had the luxury of time off work over Christmas, including our emergency services who worked hard to keep us safe. For that, we should offer them our immense thanks.
As the festive period begins to feel like a distant memory, the debate that has been dominating British politics steps up a gear.
This week, MPs voted against Theresa May’s Brexit deal and as I write this, we await further details of what her next move will be.
Readers will be aware that the Prime Minister pulled the first vote on her Withdrawal Agreement. The reason for the delay was, in her words, that she would have lost the vote by a significant margin.
She told those MPs who refused to support the deal because of the Northern Irish backstop that she would return from Brussels with concessions.
Instead, the deal we were presented with was exactly the same as when parliament closed for Christmas.
In essence the Prime Minister wasted three weeks of what could have been important negotiation time.
As a result of the seemingly never-ending incompetence of the Prime Minister and her Cabinet, we find ourselves with a government on its knees and the country drifting closer to a no-deal Brexit by the day.
As members of parliament, we have a duty to protect the economic interests of the people we represent.
If we are presented with a piece of legislation that fails that test, it would be a dereliction of duty to vote for it.
Almost every forecast shows that the Prime Minister’s deal will lead to a reduction in living standards and a loss of jobs, with those struggling most being hit hardest.
Whether it’s leaving the EU with an amended version of the deal or with no deal at all, we would face higher prices and squeezed wages, more local businesses struggling and less money available to fund our public services.
It would also mean fewer opportunities for future generations, ending the rights for UK citizens to live, work and study across the 27 EU countries.
Theresa May’s New Year’s resolution should be this: take the prospect of a no-deal off the table and extend Article 50 to allow time to change tact.
This would allow time for a second EU referendum, allowing citizens to clarify what they want from Brexit, including the opportunity for the UK to remain in the EU.
I hear the arguments against the second referendum, however no-one voted for the mess we are in today and as the damage of Brexit becomes clearer, the decision must go back to the people.
That is not ignoring the will of the people, but acknowledging that circumstances have changed.
Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain – and we have other options should the Westminster parties fail to secure a way out of this Tory Brexit mess.
We can, and should, take our future into our own hands with independence.