Today marks a year since David Davis and Boris Johnson resigned from their positions as Brexit secretary and foreign secretary, causing chaos in Theresa May’s Cabinet. It turned out it was only the beginning.
A year on, two extensions, a deadlocked Parliament and another prime minister’s resignation later and we’re still no closer to the Brexit that Johnson and Davis so strongly believe we can achieve. In fact, if anything, we’re further away.
The two champions of leaving the European Union resigned on the basis that the Brexit being delivered was not what people voted for. Davis said that delivering on the mandate of the referendum was looking “less and less likely”, whilst Johnson declared that the Brexit “dream was dying”.
If delivering on the promises of the referendum was unlikely then, it is impossible now. And if the Brexit dream was only dying, it is clear that now it is well and truly dead.
The UK faces a no-deal Brexit, pursued by Boris Johnson and David Davis, that could devastate communities, the NHS, and the economy. Something that was not on the ballot paper in 2016, nor discussed by its high profile proponents. There is no mandate for no deal, no one was told in 2016 that they might lose their jobs, that medicines would have to be stockpiled. People were voting for something that we can see does not exist, the utopian Brexit set to improve everyone’s lives is nowhere to be found. Instead Boris Johnson has to reassure us that there will still be drinking water.
Johnson and Davis resigned because the Brexit in front of them was not what they wanted – and it is clear now that the Brexit in front of us is not what the people wanted either. Unlike Johnson and Davis however, we don’t want to resign responsibility, we want to be given it. Nothing has been achieved in the past year, it could even be argued that we have regressed – having to start all over again with a new Prime Minister.
And yet, Johnson and Davis still pursue the fantasy Brexit they resigned over, they still maintain something that wasn’t possible a year ago is somehow possible now – with less time to go in the extension, Parliament even more divided, and the most likely prime minister respected less in Europe.
Boris Johnson said in his resignation letter that the British people voting for Brexit was them “taking back control of their democracy”. Recently, the same Boris Johnson refuse to rule out proroguing parliament, effectively suspending democracy. As a young Conservative who despairs that this man may soon be leading my party, it is clear now that for British people to really take back control of our democracy, we don’t need the new prime minister to enforce Brexit no matter the cost, we need a People’s Vote because of the cost.
Boris Johnson and David Davis resigned supposedly on principle – they know the cost of a no-deal Brexit – where are those principles now that the communities they promised change to in 2016 will only be changed for the worse?
A year on from their resignations, a year of chaos, and a complete lack of progress. It’s time for a People’s Vote.
Dan Seamarks is a Young Conservative member and supporter of For our Future’s Sake