In the UK we call the period that has just passed “silly season”. It is the time when things wind down a little in the political and corporate world and therefore, short of material, the press and broadcast media produce lots of ephemeral stories. The desperation for stories can create the appearance of an Alice in Wonderland world, where there are crazy reports.
This silly season has had an especially rich seam of nonsense given the continuing saga of Brexit - the matter of Britain leaving the European Union (EU) in conformance with the instruction of the electorate flowing from the national referendum in 2016. The people of Britain have been bombarded by silliness generated by an unholy combination of performers.
Firstly, there is the European Commission who have been consistent in insisting their theological adherence to the “four freedoms” and European rulebook must be respected, an insistence that has become bullying behaviour. Anybody who knows Britain and its history will also know that we are a polite and patient nation whose tail can be twisted, but only so far, and we abhor bullies. The irony of the EU position is that they are creating massive self-harm. While Britain will prosper with or without a deal, us leaving with no deal will inflict a massive economic blow to the EU, who not only have a huge trade surplus with the UK but also desperately need to access the money markets of the city of London for both national and corporate finance. For the EU and its already shaky Eurozone, the clock is ticking and time is running out.
We have also seen this summer the very silly stories generated by those people who refused to accept the democratic result of the referendum. A well-funded campaign backed famously by the likes of the investor George Soros, has-been Tony Blair, and other figures personally invested in the EU project, has produced apocalyptic predictions of the consequences of Brexit - especially a Brexit in which there is no exit agreement. Apparently Britain will starve through a lack of foie gras from the continent and there will be rotting vegetables at the frontier because clearly the government won’t let food in after Brexit. There will be a plague of boils as the NHS will be short of drugs (in fact the UK is a net exporter of drugs) and airliners will fall out of the sky - despite the UK controlling the western approaches and the Atlantic, including the defence of Irish airspace. These pieces of nonsense have been supported by the usual suspects of the status quo-loving establishment, such as the CBI.
Then there is the government itself, promoting equally visible stories in support of their favoured plan for leaving the EU, announced at a meeting at the PM’s second residence, Chequers, and therefore known as “Chequers”.
The problem with the Chequers deal, the silliest of all the silly season stories, is that it creates for the UK the worst possible outcome - leaving the UK as a vassal state of the EU, taking the rules but with no say in their creation. Allowing a continued mass migration from the continent, deferring to the European Court and able only to strike trade deals based on tariff removal rather than the easing of non-tariff barriers. Thin gruel indeed, and a complete betrayal of the ruling Conservative Party manifesto and a fraud on the electorate.
It is for this reason that I, along with my compatriot in Leave Means Leave, Richard Tice, have rebooted the Leave Means Leave campaign to take to the people of Britain a renewed determination to see delivered the massive economic opportunities and liberty that Brexit promises.
Joined by the instigator of the referendum, Nigel Farage, we are determined to make it clear that if MPs do not comply with the will of the British people as articulated in the largest plebiscite in history, they will be removed from office.
It may be that British citizens are subjects of the crown and that we are determined that our Parliament should be sovereign, but in a modern democracy it is the people, the electorate, who call the shots. Governments should be held to account for their electoral promises and our government and for the matter the official opposition, promised we would leave the EU, however much the establishment might not like it, however much the establishment may disrespect democracy.
Only then will we see a post-Brexit Britain boom, carried along by the freeing up of the 87% of the economy not related to exports to the EU, by the repatriation of our fisheries and our financial contribution to the EU, through the unilateral removal of tariffs and by trade deals around the world.
Then a liberated Britain, with restored confidence and wealth, will find its rightful place on the world stage.
The fifth largest economy, a nuclear and tier one military power, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, leading member of the Commonwealth, at the cutting edge of knowledge with top universities and schools, science, literature, music and film.
Britain is back.
John Longworth is the co-chairman of Leave Means Leave, a pro-Brexit campaign group, and former director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce