29 March 2017 will go down in history as the day the UK notified its intention to leave the European Union (EU).
History may also record that a few decades later England, after years of economic stagnation and political isolation, re-joined an independent Scotland, Wales and a united Ireland in the Eurozone.
Although Brexiters want to give the impression Brexit is a done deal, it isn’t. They argue the British people have decided. However, there is no finality in any democracy. The British people also made a decision in the 1975 referendum, and then by a far larger majority, to remain. With the narrow majority last June, there is no ‘settled will’ of the British people as to how we wish to associate with our European neighbours and our largest export market. Given the losers of the 1975 referendum did not stop trying to reverse that decision, why should Remainers be asked to stand down now? Remainers will respect the result of the 2016 referendum every bit as much as the losers of the 1975 referendum.
The United Kingdom changes, the world changes, and time will expose the devil in the Brexit detail. The British public will tire of the legislative and regulatory chaos of implementing Brexit’s flawed provisions. As Boris Johnson argued in the Daily Telegraph last year (7/2/16) “leaving would mean embroiling the Government for several years in a fiddly process of negotiating new arrangements (thus) diverting energy from the real problems of this country.” The people will eventually see Brexit clearly for what it is: barmy. After leaving the EU, there is only an overly centralised Westminster to blame.
The current hegemony of the Europhobe elite and unelected right-wing tabloid media will be discredited by economic stagnation, constitutional turmoil and our weak bargaining position in the EU negotiations. The Brexiters falsely claimed that the UK was always outvoted in the European Council. The Government will soon find out what it really means to be outnumbered 27 to 1. The Prime Minister speaking at Lancaster House knew Brexit is half-baked and is not best for Britain. The Government’s poorly drafted White Paper isn’t a plan, but a wish list of desired outcomes. The Prime Minister says she wants the best possible deal for the UK. Any deal the Government does or doesn’t secure will not be good enough.
It is true the “sky has not fallen in” on the economy. Yet. The past is no guide to future performance. The past 8 months is a short time frame, and shows we are still benefiting from being in the EU Single Market. Outside the Single Market, supply chains for our large and small businesses alike will be disrupted. Much investment in the UK is on hold, and some financial firms are already relocating some operations out of the UK. It is astonishing that any country would want to turn its back on its major export market. If the UK were a business, and not a government run by ideological Europhobes, we wouldn’t be turning our backs on half our customers.
So it seems we are going to trash our economy on the altar of reducing immigration. Leaving the EU will not stop the half of migrants who come from outside the EU. Brexit Britain’s economy and ageing population will still need immigration. EU professionals and others are particularly needed to work in services, the NHS, construction and in our countryside. We need foreign students who create employment up and down the country. Some Brexiters admit leaving the EU will not reduce overall immigration substantially, so what’s the point of making the UK poorer and disunited for the sake of some 15% fewer entrants a year?
To corrupt Burke, “All that is necessary for the triumph of Brexit, is that good people do nothing”. We should not stand idly by as the rights of European and British citizens, Parliament and others are taken away. Our rights are next as we stand to lose our right to study, work and live in the other 27 EU member states. To reverse the calamity of Brexit, the British people must arise!
Last weekend on a sunny day in London, over 100,000 of us proudly marched to oppose Brexit. We shall keep marching to keep the pressure up. We should also continue to post on Facebook, Twitter and other social media; write to the local and national media and our MPs; join and be active in pro-European groups such as the European Movement and its London branch, London4Europe; join pro-European parties; campaign and canvass on the streets; write articles and blogs; stop buying tabloid trash and goods and services produced by outspoken Leavers; and constantly raise and debate the pain of Brexit with friends, family, colleagues and the public.
We also have a duty to preserve our rights; not least to help preserve the peace and prosperity which has served us so well in the past 60 years. It is the young in particular who understand that, unfortunately better than many of our out of date politicians.
Nick Hopkinson @NickHopkinsonEU, Chair of London4Europe