What an interesting interview Geoffrey Cox gave the other day, similar to a recent one from Michael Fabricant. Effectively, he said, we just need to leave. The terms don’t matter. It’s what people voted for, so let’s just honour the referendum and leave. Indeed.
We need to “honour the referendum” and “leave”, because polls showed that the primary motivation for people voting in 2016 to leave, and the motivation all of our Brexiteer friends will cite, is to regain sovereignty, whereas the Withdrawal Agreement keeps us tied to EU rules without a vote. We need to “deliver Brexit” and “leave”, even though the ardent Brexiteers say that the Withdrawal Agreement does not deliver Brexit.
Some Brexiteers say that it does deliver Brexit. So they are divided. So nobody can prove that the Withdrawal Agreement commands majority support in the country. But we need to leave because a majority voted for it.
We need to “leave”, even though one of the major advantages of leaving is that we can sign free trade deals where the EU has failed to so, and the Withdrawal Agreement keeps us in a customs union where we can’t do that.
So therefore we need a No Deal Brexit, to deliver what people voted for, even though the Leave campaign promised us that a deal would be the easiest in history and nobody ever put “No Deal Brexit” on a ballot paper.
Some Brexiteers say that No Deal does deliver the referendum, others say that it does not. So they are divided. So nobody can prove that No Deal commands majority support in the country. But we need to leave with No Deal because a majority voted for it.
We need to “leave” to “honour the referendum”, even though nobody can quite identify a type of Brexit that has majority support. People voted for sovereignty, but the deal doesn’t deliver that. They voted for the “Global Britain” message beloved of Brexiteer Tory activists and MPs even though they don’t actually believe in it when push comes to shove , except they didn’t because Clever Dominic Cummings himself will tell you that according to his clever data science that message was a complete vote loser.
So to “honour the referendum” we need to leave for the things that Clever Dominic’s numbers tell you were vote-winners. We need to leave because we need to save £350m a week, even though we never spent £350m a week on the EU. We need to leave because we need to stop millions of Turks coming to the UK, even though Turkey was never joining the EU.
Vote Leave’s hyper-targeted (they were soooo clever) videos that you never saw also coloured Syria and Iraq similar colours to Turkey. So we need to leave so that millions of Iraqis and Syrians won’t come to the UK. Except that…sorry that one’s too stupid I won’t even bother to refute it.
We need to leave because, well, you know, when a *government*, as opposed to a Leave campaign, lies and breaks its promises you don’t just throw the result of the vote out. Indeed you don’t. Every x years they face the electorate to be judged on the extent to which they kept their promises relative to the alternative.
We need to leave. We need to get out of this charade of pretending that there is any evidence that any of the contradictory and mutually exclusive versions of Brexit – both at the practical “deal / no deal / which deal” level and the philosophical level of the “Greater Worlder” version beloved of Brexiteer Tory activists and MPs versus the “Little Englander” version sold behind their backs by Clever Dominic - would have won, or would win, against Remain.
We need to gather reliable data on that the only way it is possible to accurately do so.
Martin Smith is a CGE member and a strategy consultant for Fortune 500 companies. He was previously a lobbyist in Westminster and Brussels for UK small business organisations, as well as a researcher for a think tank and an MP. He is a former Vice Chairman of EDS, the European centre-right group to which the Young Conservative Group for Europe belongs.