As we approach B-day the realities of Brexit are becoming clear. No project fear and yet no sunlit uplands, just the political reality of life, as Mario Cuomo famously described it, ‘in prose’.
Brexit was supposed to bring back sovereignty for the UK from the EU. Of course our budgets, our general elections and our law making per se were always exclusive of the EU. Likewise, we always had the option of leaving. So we were always sovereign. The myth that we were taking back control was however alluring to an electorate seemingly struggling to make sense of an aggressive acceleration in globalisation, and with it immigration, and increasing disparities between the haves and the have-nots.
But it was always going to be risky. And while I don’t mind the risk in itself, as someone who has started and runs a business the idea of risk is not alien to me, I didn’t like the quantum of risk. I also understood the idea that we might be able to trade freely outside the EU. The fact we were already doing that inside the EU was seemingly beside the point. But it wasn’t the idea of risk that put me off Brexit. I risked a great deal when I started my own business. The difference was that I had a plan.
The astonishing lack of planning, in spite of Brexit being a 40 year campaign, is staggering. Historical tradition tells us it took 116 days for the founding fathers to draft the U.S Constitution upon which the Governance of the most powerful nation on earth is built. Brexit still has no agreed plan – after 40 years.
The idea we can stop immigration without paying a price was a lie. Likewise, the idea the UK can win a trade deal with China or the US on the same terms as the EU is also a lie. There were lots of lies – and the law was also broken by the Leave Campaign.
We are where we are – let’s get on with it – is not good enough for our great country. We are not hostage to anything but democracy, provided it is carried out legally. A second vote on the terms of our deal with the EU is not only democratically logical but morally essential.
“Democracy is the worst form of Government, apart from all the rest” – so said Winston Churchill. Even as a pro European and democrat he would have doubtless not missed the many difficulties that come with EU membership. Yet I remain to be convinced that he would have supported the idea that Brexit Britannia should so needlessly cut her nose off to spite her own face.
A second vote asks the UK population ‘are you sure before we take this bold step’. If they say ‘yes’ then it will be the duty of all of us to make our post EU membership future a success. But it is up to the people of the UK – not the European Reform Group – to decide on the facts if this is what they want. So, until the people confirm that they want the Brexit that’s on offer all bets are on – and that’s why I’m supporting a People’s Vote.