I’m not going to advocate remaining in the European Union in this post: I just want to address one specific thing that emerges from the present omnisuperubercatastroshambles+++, and that is the understandable impatience about Brexit that we hear a lot in vox pops: “Why’s it taking so long? We should just leave!”
Here, through the medium of parable, is the reason why, even though we may well leave the EU, we’re not “just leaving”.
Suppose your family lives in a flat that’s rented from a housing association. And you have come to feel (rightly or wrongly) that it’s not a very nice flat, and that the association interferes too much. So you discuss it as a family, and you think about all the lovely houses out there that you could live in, and eventually you decide to leave. So far, so good.
You can just leave. You can walk out the door the day after making the decision, as Colette in Hastings would do. But if you do that, you’re homeless. You’ve got nowhere to sleep tonight. That’s obviously not a very sensible thing to do, so you take a bit of time to decide first where you’re going to when you leave.
So you give the housing association two months’ notice of your intention to move out, and set to work looking for somewhere better to live. Now maybe at this point it all works out fine, and you find a place that you like more at the same price, or cheaper. If so, then great: you move out at the end of the two-month notice period, or even earlier if you and the housing association agree, and move into the new home. Job done.
But suppose you find that it’s harder than you expected? What if you find lots of homes you like, but they’re all unavailable for one reason or another? Maybe they’re already occupied, or they’re free but the rent is much more than you can afford. Or maybe there are subtler problems, such as the home you like being in the catchment area of a very poor school.
Maybe it’s even worse than that: maybe when you look into the options, you find that all you can afford is a bedsitter in a rough neighbourhood. You try to get the best deal you can, of course, but as the end of the two-month period approaches, you have to stop considering different options and pick one specific home — the one you’re going to move to.
You might feel that, given more time, you could have found a better option. But you can’t just keep trying indefinitely: you gave notice to the housing association, and the deadline to leave is coming up fast. You have to pick one of the actually available options and commit to it — otherwise you’ll be out at the end of the two months anyway, with no home at all.
At this point, you would select the best of the available deals, and consider carefully whether it’s better than what you already have — the imperfect housing-association flat. You would consult the family again and try to reach a consensus. As a group, you might end up thinking “This isn’t as good as we’d hoped for, but it’s still an improvement”, and leave. Or you might think “Actually, what we have now is better” and decide to stay. (Happily, you’ve discovered that you have the right to unilaterally revoke the notice that you gave.) In the latter case, you probably would not be too impressed if some of your family members started to go around chanting “Leave Means Leave” and insisting that you’d already had your discussion and reached your conclusion, and it would be undemocratic to ask the family whether it wants to go ahead with the move.
And this is very much the situation that the UK finds itself in now. There are things about the EU that we don’t like, and so the nation decided to leave it and find a home (i.e. trading partners, customs agreements, regulatory regimens) elsewhere. As the end of our two years approaches, we have whittled down the options to one that is probably the best we’re going to get — that is, Theresa May’s deal.
In this situation, we have two reasonable options as a country. Decide to take May’s deal (move to the new home, which may turn out to be better or worse than the present one), or decide that now we know what the options are, we want to stay where we are after all. There is also a third option floating around out there — leaving without a deal — but no-one who’s actually paying attention to the issues wants the UK to be homeless.
To me, this is why there’s a cast-iron case for a #FinalSay referendum (or, as it’s rather gormlessly known, a #PeoplesVote). We now know what we didn’t in 2016: what home we could move into if we leave the EU. It’s May’s deal, or something very very close to it. So it’s time to sit down as a family and say “This is the new flat, here are its pros and cons. Do we want to do this?”
 My position on Brexit — that I voted Remain and would still like us to stay in the EU — is well known to regular readers, and all my reasons for wanting to stay in the EU seem more solid than ever to me. But I think that’s irrelevant to the present post. If I were a Leaver, I would not be wanting the Government to “just leave”, but to know where we’re going first.
 I’m going to hazard a smug liberal elitist guess, and say that Colette from Hastings has not been paying close attention to the isues. This guess is based partly on the fact that she wants a no-deal Brexit despite one of her sons living in the EU.