Dear Michael Gove,
Please prove me wrong.
Your government seems set to take an irreversible and damaging step for the country this Friday. You take this step without the informed consent of the country as you have articulated no consistent achievable direction with the big decisions left up in the air apparently not even agreed by cabinet that come after Friday. You have the Parliamentary majority to enable you to do this but as is normal that majority was won on a minority of the national vote. You take the step of exit from the EU without my consent and against my will and the same is true of many others.
The withdrawal agreement has notably been unanimously rejected by the Northern Ireland Assembly which is largely unsurprising as the price accepted by the government for the deal from the EU was essentially a surrender of Northern Ireland putting the customs border down within the U.K.; quite a spectacular move for the “Conservative and Unionist Party” completely selling out your DUP allies. The Scottish Parliament also denied its consent to the withdrawal agreement.
As to the future your challenge is to prove me wrong, and I hope you do. I see the options before you as being either a fair pointless Brexit where there is a deal struck with the EU that keeps us closely aligned but the country doesn’t suffer too badly apart from the ignominy of having surrendered so much control and influence. Or you reject alignment and do a great deal of damage to economy beyond that already done (pound is still down over 10% against the US dollar and this devaluation has come without boosting exports so every salary has effectively been cut). I have little doubt that you will do a deal either with the EU or the US within the year as you have shown your willingness to capitulate to get deals done but I doubt either such deal would leave open the possibility of doing a good deal with the other or do much to replace the benefits of membership. As I said, I hope you prove me wrong.
You have the time and majority to completely control Brexit, unfettered by the opposition or even modest rebellions but this means that you own the results. This is your Brexit. As a Labour supporter this is the one upside of the election result: clear accountability. Your challenge is to produce a result that works, especially for the most vulnerable communities, many of which voted for leave and some of whom backed you in the election across the Midlands and the North. If I was part of a fishing community I would be concerned that I would be about to be thrown under the trade deal bus as the DUP and Northern Ireland were thrown under the withdrawal deal bus.
It isn’t too late to revoke article 50 until Friday, present it as a tactical masterstroke to win more concessions from the EU by threatening to stay or perpetually repeat the exit process. Your majority and Cummings/Johnson distortion field would I think let you get away with that and you could ride the economic boost (combined with some regional investment) all the way to the next election.
However, if as seems more likely and Brexit does happen your job is to prove me wrong, retain frictionless trade and gain some meaningful control that isn’t then surrendered in a US trade deal. And that isn’t even the sunlit uplands that was promised but a bare minimum standstill situation which is a lower bar than I should be setting. A real sign of success will be be the strengthening of the pound against the dollar and the euro at least to the early 2016 levels. You have the opportunity to implement brexit as you wish, you must bear the responsibility for the outcome.