Just as Boris Johnson digs himself further in on his October 31 deadline, rising numbers of British voters are coming out against a no-deal as bad for Britain.
Last month a poll by Hope not Hate showed 46 per cent said a no-deal Brexit was bad for Britain and 21 per cent thought it good.
In a new poll 49 per cent think it bad and only 16 per cent think it good.
Three million men and women who were Leave voters now say no-deal is wrong for Britain.
No amount of prime ministerial flying visits to European capitals nor expensive government advertising campaigns can dislodge the growing hostility to us crashing out of Europe in 65 days’ time.
There are good reasons why.
Last week Boris Johnson stage managed a so-called peoples’ question time with a carefully-selected group of British voters and a more carefully-chosen set of questions.
But the only real question he has to answer is: What are the consequences for our lives and livelihoods of a No Deal Brexit?
I would ask Mr Johnson to tell us what advice he has had on the vital medical drugs that we buy from mainland Europe and to name the supplies that won’t get through and how many lives his officials are telling him are at risk.
I would ask him to explain why the Health Department commercial director – the man who organises and purchases supplies of life-saving drugs so many of which come from mainland Europe – says that even after stockpiling and flying drugs in by air, we face severe shortages immediately after October 31 and serious shortages for six months ahead.
And it’s not Boris Johnson’s City friends who will suffer most: it’s the most vulnerable who rely on the NHS for life-saving treatments – and all those whose jobs are on a knife edge because their company’s workload depends on the uninterrupted flow of components from Europe.
I ask the PM to be honest with us about what private assessment he has received from government departments of the impact on jobs, of Channel port hold ups and motorway pile ups on the supply of components – from the car industry to pharmaceuticals -and how many small businesses are at risk of going under?
Boris Johnson will undoubtedly present the October 31st cliff edge as brave Britain standing up to inflexible and perfidious foreigners.
But pushing British businesses off a cliff is a self-imposed and self-inflicted wound and he cannot dress up this wilful self harm as a patriotic act.
Of course some still believe we should keep up the threat of no-deal to get Europe to the negotiating table but even the Europeans we are bargaining with can see that putting a gun to your own head – and saying you’ll shoot yourself if you don’t get your own way – is a self-defeating tactic.
So it’s time for MPs to listen to the rising opposition of British people – and do everything in their power to stop us crashing out on October 31.
Instead of the silly season madness of self-indulgently nominating each other to a so-called ‘national unity government’, Britain’s opposition parties should this week be talking to European leaders, and asking them to be willing to drop the October 31 deadline.
If Nero fiddled while Rome burned, my advice to Jeremy Corbyn, Jo Swinson, Nicola Sturgeon and other opposition leaders is stop wasting time filling Government positions that are not vacant and instead use your efforts to persuade the Europeans to abandon the Hallowe’en ultimatum.
Let us remember: Boris Johnson is deceiving us when continuously repeating his claim that there is only a ‘one in a million chance’ of a no-deal.
Remarkably, until Thursday – one full month into his premiership and with just 65 days to go to the cliff edge – he had not met one European leader since becoming PM.
Even now he has still not bothered to have even a courtesy telephone call with the vast majority of fellow PMs among the 27 other EU states – whose support would be key to preventing us crashing out.
The reason for a policy of not just no-deal but no dialogue either is now crystal clear: his whole strategy is an October 31st exit – do or die and to hell with the consequences. And then blame the Europeans for imposing the date as a deadline.
And the rendezvous he really wants is not with Europe’s leaders but with the electorate. When he should have been meeting his European counterparts – and planning to stop no-deal – he has instead spent much of the summer touring the country meeting British voters – and planning a snap election.
His plan is to whip up anti-European and anti-parliament sentiment and to blame the Europeans’ intransigence for a no-deal exit – even when these same Europeans are ready to talk.
Imagine if, when facing an economic depression in 2008/9 with – as today – thousands of jobs, businesses and livelihoods at risk, I had refused to talk to European leaders.
I would certainly have been accused of a failure of statesmanship and of selling Britain down the river but that is exactly what Boris Johnson is now doing.
My instinct is that European leaders would be happy to withdraw the October 31st deadline.
With time running out, there is now no hiding place. MPs must speak out against the no-deal calamity: yes, they are representatives who have to listen to their constituents views on Brexit but they are not delegates.
They have to use all their experience and judgement to weigh up the risk to lives and livelihoods in every corner of the country if no-deal goes awry.
And if they cannot agree on anything else, perhaps they could agree to take over the Commons business and pass a law saying that without an independent investigation into no-deal – to be reported and debated by the Commons – the October 31 exit cannot go ahead.
By this Parliamentary vote we could stop the deadline in its tracks.
This is now about avoiding a national economic disaster by taking responsibility: the PM to be honest about the risks to our livelihoods; the opposition leaders using all parliamentary tactics to prevent no-deal; MPs consulting their consciences over risks to the most vulnerable people and we, the public, petitioning and pressing our leaders and holding them to account in the hope they see sense.