Tobias Ellwood thinks it’s time to address the elephant in the room; Brexit.
The Conservative chairman of the defence select committee has called on the government and Labour to show courage, admit that Brexit has failed and look at ways to rejoin the single market. He told the i: “Nobody dares mention Brexit on the Labour or Conservative side or look at the numbers to see whether economically it would be wiser for us to be in or outside of the single market.”
He added: “Surely we should have that strength of character, the courage to look at the biggest generational decision which [has] now clearly not gone in the right direction. I didn’t know anybody who voted Remain or Brexit, who expected us to be where we are today, but we dare not go there.”
As well as harming the country’s economy, Ellwood believes that leaving the European Union distanced the UK from its allies at a time when international cooperation was needed.
These remarks are of no surprise. Ellwood has long been a critic of Brexit, warning in May that Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal was damaging the economy. In the same month, writing in The New European, Ellwood called for a Brexit inquiry with an audit of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement being the only way to foster better relations in the post-Brexit world Britain now navigates. He was also among the first Conservatives to call for Boris Johnson to quit.
Ellwood claims he’s not alone. Behind closed doors, he argues, bouts of Tory in-fighting rage on with many MPs, privately, believing that the UK needs to negotiate a Norway-style relationship with the bloc. However, he remains the only Tory MP to publicly call for this.
Remarkably, he may have found support in an unlikely place, among the readership of The Express. In a recent poll, two-thirds of readers saw rejoining the single market as a way to boost Britain’s failing economy.
A comparable show of character from the leaders of the government and opposition may have to wait another day. Instead, Rishi Sunak is focused on holding his party together, while Keir Starmer appears more instead in holding oracy lessons in schools. An admirable policy – hopefully Starmer himself will be speaking up soon, on Brexit.