Now is the time for honesty

Last week I left the European Parliament for the last time as an MEP for the North West. It has been an amazing 15 years.

The race to become Prime Minister dominates the British political scene, but not a word of the powerful top EU jobs being fought over and dominating political discourse throughout Europe. Such is the disconnect.

What exactly will happen next is unknown, but one thing is certain - the next few months leading up to the end of October are sure to be turbulent ones when it comes to Brexit.

Both Prime Ministerial candidates are committed to leaving the European Union with a deal, but have also promised a no-deal exit, if no agreement can be reached between the UK and the EU.

How they will do any of this is still not clear, particularly given that our European partners have indicated on more than one occasion that the only deal available is the one currently on offer and that the parliamentary arithmetic, as things stand, will not allow for a no-deal Brexit.

Whoever ends up winning the contest needs to be honest with the country and tell the people that the things they are promising - the so-called unicorn chasing - may not actually be possible.

Apart from the continued uncertainty destabilising our economy and decreasing business confidence, a no-deal Brexit would seriously damage our nation for years to come.

Earlier this year the OECD warned that a no-deal Brexit would plunge the UK economy into recession and that even if a deal is reached, annual growth could edge below one per cent for the first time since the financial crisis.

These predictions simply cannot be ignored and it is high time that we restored some honesty into our politics. As politicians, we all have a responsibility to tell the truth and not to overlook the facts that are sometimes staring us right in the face.

Former leadership contender, Rory Stewart, captured this mood, with his emphasis on principles based politics, which is so lacking nowadays. Although he did not make the cut this time round, hopefully his approach can set an example of how politics should be practiced, in an honest and principled way.

For now though, we will continue to see the Brexit saga play out and I suspect that during this period of polarisation, honest and principles based politics will not be at the forefront of our discourse.

For my part, my knowledge of how the EU actually works remains at the service of the UK, a much needed commodity these days.