Brexit: Time to move on …and to build a future of hope for young people

Posted on: 28th December 2020

Whether you like it or loath it, Brexit’s happening. While the rump of right-wing Brexiteers who lied and led us to this are living their dream about half of the country’s in mourning.

But it’s time to move on. What’s done is done. It would be understandable for 2016 Referendum  “losers” to adopt an “I told you so” attitude to the whole process. And there’s plenty to point to. But there’s no profit in that.

We can breath a sigh of relief. We’ve avoided the disastrous “No Deal” so ardently desired by so many in a Tory Party which has lurched even further to the right. So the majority of rational people can be thankful for that.

Why I opposed Brexit

My opposition to Brexit wasn’t because I had an argument with those who chose for their own reasons to vote for it. It was with the Farages, Duncan-Smiths, Johnsons, Goves, Redwoods etc who wheeled out their dog-whistle posters, infamously dishonest red campaign buses and led the campaign for it. I just didn’t want to live in the backward-looking, inward-looking, deceitful, narrow-minded world which the leaders of the Brexit campaign craved.

Yes I felt that on balance the economic case for remaining was stronger than the extravagant and deceitful claims of Brexit leaders. But I was also concerned that some Remainers alienated potential supporters by adopting the attitude of an aloof metropolitan elite. 

Moving on

Now we must find a way forward for our country in spite of the massive ball & chain we’ve saddled ourselves with; in spite of the self-inflicted international isolation and in spite of having made ourselves a worldwide laughingstock.

Hopefully ardent Brexiteers will be able to demonstrate in which practical ways we’ve “taken back control”, gained “sovereignty” and be able to show us genuine and practical  benefits. 

“Moving on” doesn’t mean that Brexiteers can or should escape being held to account. Nor from being reminded of the numerous false promises and empty slogans as inescapable reality confronts them. Their dishonesty and false promises should be exposed.

Fishermen “betrayed”

The one industry I and many other remainers conceded ought to have seen measurable benefit was fishing. After all, we could have used the opportunity of Brexit to put right the appallingly poor deal negotiated by the then Conservative Government in 1972 when they saw our fishermen as “expendable”.

But I did warn (eg in August last year) that “any benefits of Brexit will not amount to the complete “take back control” asserted by ardent Brexit right-wingers. Foreign boats will still fish in British waters. The quota system will still dictate a limitation to catches. But the operation of the market, especially the crucial export market, is likely to be even less predictable….I still fear the industry is being offered a cruel hoax of extravagant Brexit promises which cannot be delivered.”  (23rd Aug 2019). 

I regret I’ve been proven right. Fishing leaders feel “betrayed”. Their anger and disappointment is justified. 

Build hope for future generations

I fear there’s worse to come. The desperate spin of PM Johnson and Brexit enthusiast Ministers who have been despatched to rush around media studios putting a gloss on the UK’s weakened status will face reality in the weeks and months ahead. But we must now look beyond their folly, find good people to plan a better future for young people and future generations who deserve better than this. 

Like others who have campaigned as much as i have on this i’d jump at any chance of early rejoining the EU. But it would be misleading to suggest that has much chance of happening soon. And, just like the counterproductive policy of my Party to “Revoke” Article 50, an ardent campaign to Rejoin would only harden the support for the surreal fake basis of Brexit and drive more of the marginalised into the hands of the hardened Right in this country. Campaigners for rational international cooperation and progressive politics must understand the importance of getting the tone and language right. What sounds great at intellectual dinner parties in the West End or to the metropolitan elite doesn’t always translate to the doorsteps of the just-about-managing families in the north or west Cornwall, those who used to support policies which were to their benefit but are now prey to the slogans of the right.