We Are At A 'Hinge Moment' In Our Brexit Story

It is very strange to have a cabinet and a government pursuing a course of action for the country that they know will be harmful to all of its citizens

14/03/2018 10:46 GMT | Updated 14/03/2018 10:46 GMT
Simon Dawson / Reuters

Today, the general perception around Brexit is that a re-run of the referendum would not necessary induce a vastly different result. This was best illustrated by none other than Nigel Farage, who said he was persuaded that a second referendum would only bolster the Brexit mandate and would therefore ‘kill off’ perceived attempts by Remainers to keep Britain in the European Union. It is my belief, however, that simply because some of the older voters who voted for Brexit would not be around to vote again, and because new voters would just be coming of age, there would surely be at least some movement towards an increased vote for ‘Remain’. And with the original referendum being decided by the slimmest of margins, that might just reverse the decision.

However a second referendum does not seem to be on the horizon. But if the commentary of politicians and former politicians is anything to go by, we do seem to be at a hinge movement in the Brexit story, and what we are seeing are factions emerging in both the ‘Leave’ and ‘Remain’ camps, all of whom have their own take on where the country is headed. It seems, for example, as if there are two kinds of Brexiteers, and even two kinds of Remainers. The Brexiteer who is perhaps most dangerous is the one that now accepts many of the statistics produced by the Government and by international research bodies, which consistently find that the British economy will be severely impacted once we leave the EU, the Customs Union and the Single Market, and that there would likely be horrendous logistical issues in regard of Northern Ireland, and yet still believes the Brexit project is worthwhile. After all, we are In-ger-land––we endure hardship with the stiff upper lip. Then there is the rather more blinkered Brexiteer, who cannot accept any of the facts that emerge, as incontrovertible as they may be, and still sees any attempt to influence the argument with cold hard figures and statistics as exemplifying what the Daily Mail calls ‘Project Fear’. Well, sometimes fear is real.

And Remainers come in two different types, too. There is an increasingly large number of Remainers who are bored of the whole subject and have resigned themselves to the fact that Brexit will happen, that it won’t be good, but that there isn’t anything anyone can do about it. And then there is the larger group, who care intensely about the country, who are upset about the direction we are headed in, and who generally believe that we should take whatever steps are necessary to prevent catastrophe. This was, in essence, the takeaway message from the speeches given by two former Prime Ministers, John Major and Tony Blair.

In reality, the fact is that around 75% of our Members of Parliament subscribe to this view. Not only that: it is becoming increasingly clear that hte Prime Minister seems to be more and more of the view that we are facing a very difficult situation. When asked last week if Brexit would be worth it in the end, she was unable to answer in the affirmative. I’m also sure that the Government realise that when the catastrophic situation comes about it will be they, the Conservative Party, who will have created the economic and logistical mess and that they will bear the blame. Not just by those who have always felt it was the wrong decision, but also by those who were adamant we leave the EU in the first place. The result for them might be years out of power in the wilderness. At some point, we have to feel sorry for Theresa May, but then salvation is in her hands. She has to find a way to the resolution necessary to deal with this complex situation as a true statesperson, rather than a short-term politician, should.

It is very strange to have a cabinet and a government pursuing a course of action for the country that they know will be harmful to all of its citizens, and particularly harmful to those that were most responsible for the decision: the bulk of the working-class voters in areas like the North East of England and the West Midlands. These will be the ones most disadvantaged by the Brexit decision.