In the early hours of Friday the 24th June 2016, I and many other Remainers looked in horror as David Dimbleby confirmed our worst fears; Britain had voted to leave the European Union. Despite being heavily against the idea of Brexit from the outset, the referendum has by no means changed my opinion on the matter. However, I realise that we are in the large minority and so accept that Britain has to leave the EU. Nevertheless, this process has just begun, and the voices of 48% of the British people cannot be ignored.
First of all, there are 16 million people who didn't want Brexit to happen in the first place and so voted remain. If the government and right-wing press continue to suppress the voices of these people, it would simply equate to ignoring the democratic right of the electorate. Over the past few weeks, the Daily Mail and other pro-Brexit newspapers have labelled everyone who voted Remain as 'Remoaners' and 'Liberal elitists'. This kind of language is divisive and wrong. It further segregates our country and will result in an everlasting divide between Remain and Leave voters. It is the responsibility of the government to include everyone in Article 50 negations, and it is the responsibility of the press to stop trying to silence 48% of the British people.
Since Theresa May moved into number 10, she and her government have been intentionally vague about what Brexit actually looks like. The infamous 'Brexit means Brexit' (or 'Breakfast' according to Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies) line has not developed any further and we are non-the-wiser than we were three months ago. Over the course of the referendum campaign, Vote Leave made pie-in-the-sky claims, such as the notorious '£350m a week for the NHS', which ultimately won them the vote. The Prime Minister has not revealed anything about what kind of deal we might be getting, and with so many options available, the British people are being left in the dark.
This is exactly why Parliament should scrutinise and approve any Brexit settlement before it is implemented. MPs have a duty to represent their constituents, and with everyone wanting something different from Britain's departure, the views of the people must be listened to and echoed by their elected representatives in Parliament. The people voted Leave, but how we leave should not be left to Theresa May, Boris Johnson, David Davies, and Liam Fox.
The truth is, Brexit will be a case of either being able to control immigration and be free from European Legislation, or continuing to obey EU laws in order to save jobs and keep the economy moving forward. In a recent YouGov survey, 62% of people said they would not want to cut migration if it meant sacrificing any part of their income. All the head economists in the world agree that a Hard Brexit would result in a cut in income, especially for those on minimum wage, and so it seems unlikely that a deal resulting in a fall in net migration would not have the consequence of falling incomes. Brexiteers who insist that we must listen to the public who voted Leave must apply the same logic and listen to the majority of people who favour a Brexit deal which results in a close bond with the European Union.
Let us not forget the main argument Vote Leave used to win the referendum: Parliament should take back control over British affairs. Using Vote Leave's own argument, surely Parliament should have the power to vote on any deal? After all, the unelected Prime Minister does not have complete power over the country. As the vote showed us, the people want Parliament to be sovereign.
The decision that the public made on the 23rd June must be respected, despite I and many others believing that it was the wrong outcome. However, the vote was not a blank check for the government to play politics with people's jobs, wages, and livelihoods. While Theresa May says we will not be getting a 'running commentary', Parliament must be kept in the loop and hold the government to account over the course of Article 50 negotiations. Ultimately, no deal should be signed until Parliament has given consent for it to be implemented. 48% of people voted remain, and their voices cannot be silenced. The public voted to take back control, and take back control Parliament must do.
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