Journal column - 2/4/19

DONKEY derbies are run with greater dignity than a race to succeed Theresa May as chaotic as this Conservative Brexit shambles.

Tory kamikazes jockeying for position after nobbling a leaderene they pledged undying fealty are concerned only with personal and Tory Party interests.

The national interest didn't get out of the starting gate, tethered to a railing by deceivers with huge egos we find are usually in inverse proportion to their actual abilities.

If slippery Boris Johnson thinks he’s the answer then the Tory twister’s asking what’s best for a blunderer who committed a string of gaffes in his two years as Foreign Secretary, rather than what’s best for the country.          

I wouldn't trust Johnson to fill a bath and his criticising child sex abuse inquiries was nauseating when he wasted £53m of taxpayers' hard-earned cash on a vanity London garden bridge promoted by his celebrity chums without a brick every being laid.

The question we need to ask in the North East is what's best for Britain and it isn't Johnson or any of his Conservative cronies when they had their chance on Brexit and failed miserably.

Watching Sunderland with 85,000 football fans cruelly lose on pens to Portsmouth at Wembley in the Checkatrade final was gut-wrenching on Sunday but seeing the Tories destroy our country is stomach-churning every day.

For months now, even years, Brexit's dominated politics. It's discussed in homes, pubs, clubs, workplaces, boardrooms and, of course, Parliament.

Theresa May's 29th March leaving date's come and gone with nothing resolved and her Government and party split deeper than our 27 European neighbours who've displayed surprising unity.

Brexit's frequently sidelined discussion of crucial issues from jobs and livelihoods to schools and the NHS without a resolution to the thorny issue of Britain's future relationship with Europe and the wider world. No one is more exasperated than me.

The vast majority of MPs, irrespective of political party, voted to trigger Article 50 to commence the arrangements for the UK to leave the EU following the referendum result.

MPs put aside their personal preferences to set divorcing the UK from what at the current count is a 46-year marriage.

I, like you, grasped it would be far from an easy separation but I never imagined the farce that would unfold over the next three years.

May, Johnson, Michael Gove and Nigel Farage weren't straight with us by suggesting this would be pretty simple and all must take their share of responsibility for letting people down.

The more I've delved into the detail of getting out of the EU, the more complex it appears yet I've stuck with it - determined to honour the referendum result.

Some people have said I am wrong to do that but I spelt out clearly ahead of the June 2017 General Election what my approach would be and I have not wavered.

Even though the process is difficult it was entirely possible for the UK to be fully ready to leave the EU on March 29th.That day has now passed and the blame lies with May and her Ministers, MPs and party when they are in power.

Her style throughout has been more like that of a dictator than of a democrat as she focused on one-party rule and ignored reaching out to other leaders and politicians until it was two minutes to midnight.

May's mulish and the donkey derby Tories behave like asses, braying noisily without making any sense. It's time they owned their crisis and let the country decide how to move forward with a General Election.


Meet your MP


Stephen Hepburn has served the Jarrow Constituency as MP since 1997.

He was last elected to serve in June 2017 and won the seat with a conclusive 17,263 majority.

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