Evening Standard comment: A Brexit showdown that could decide our future; Therapy can stop crime; World Cup crunch time


By the end of tomorrow, we may know the future of Brexit.

We may know it because of what happens in Parliament, where MPs gather for a rare weekend vote on the exit deal the Prime Minister has reached, dramatically, with the European Union. And we may know it from the streets outside, where hundreds of thousands of people will march in support of a new referendum which might lead to no Brexit at all.

This will be a day when all the passion and trauma of the past three years climaxes in 24 hours that could shape our country for a generation.

A divided nation voted on Brexit in the referendum and those divisions have only hardened since then. No single choice now will heal that.

However much we all want resolution and to move on to the issues that the Prime Minister, rightly, says are important things — such as the NHS, the environment and jobs — the divisions will last, as will the difficulties.

The Brexit deal, even if it passes, is not really a final deal but simply an agreement to turn to the next stage of talks on our country’s long-term relationship with Europe.

MPs with many different views may come together to give the Prime Minister a majority tomorrow. But he would be making a mistake if he took that as consent for a hard and disruptive Brexit of the sort extremists in his party have consistently tried to inflict on the nation.

It would be a vote to move on — but on to what, we don’t know. We must debate and we have not yet decided.

Conservatives seeking a majority at the general election, which will come soon, should remember that even many of their supporters at the last election did not back Brexit and do not now want the hardest of Brexits.

Democracy is not the same as forcing one point of view on everyone else and calling it the people’s will.

If MPs need reminding of this, they only need to look at the marchers in the streets. They don’t have a stranglehold on public opinion either.

A lot of people want Brexit out of the way and don’t want to vote again. And anyway, if the deal goes through tomorrow, they almost certainly won’t get the chance.

We will be outside the EU soon after that. But the numbers in the Commons remain close and MPs may vote the deal down tomorrow and decide that a second referendum must be held if it is ever to be approved by them in future.

If that is what Parliament decides, the Government should respect it.

Therapy can stop crime

The decision to use a “family therapy” scheme, modelled on methods used in the US, to turn young people in east London at risk of gang involvement away from violent crime represents a welcome bid to address the root causes of the type of offending that has led to so much bloodshed on the capital’s streets.

Under the scheme, to be implemented in Redbridge, a clinical therapist will spend five months working with vulnerable youngsters and their parents or carers to identify and overcome “negative patterns of behaviour” within the family that might otherwise push them towards gangs.

It is the much-vaunted “public health” approach in action and is much needed at a time when knife crime in London is at record levels. Other councils should either follow this scheme’s lead or pursue alternatives that similarly target the causes of offending.

Success will save lives.

World Cup crunch time

The Rugby World Cup enters a crucial phase tomorrow as England play Australia in the first quarter-final.

As coach Eddie Jones says, it is a do-or-die match made all the more compelling by his decision to drop George Ford, his team’s most impressive player so far.

We hope fans see a thrilling encounter and that England, along with Wales and Ireland — who play France and New Zealand respectively in other quarter-finals — emerge victorious.

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PM scrambles for votes to save his deal as Commons battle goes to wire