Time to get over Brexit and move on to the next debates

by Samuel Dale

Stop it. Just stop it.

I voted to remain in the EU. I wanted us to stay in as much as anyone and still believe it is a major mistake that the UK will come to regret.

But I was on the losing side. Remain lost in a clean, fair fight where robust and dodgy arguments and statistics were deployed on both sides.

The vote was close but clear. The Leave campaign won by more than half a million votes and that means Brexit must happen.

These seem like the most basic, simplistic points imaginable but some in Labour and the wider Left are still refusing to accept the result.

Tony Blair has suggested a second referendum on the final deal. Alastair Campbell has repeatedly called for Brexit to be stopped. Labour-supporting lawyer Joylon Maugham says the legal process for reversing Article 50 is sound.

And then there is Professor AC Grayling, who appears to have lost his mind. Even Professor Richard Dawkins, the high priest of rationality, says Brits have not spoken on Brexit (when they quite clearly have).

These are all people I respect but here is the truth: You can deploy whatever clever, legalistic shenanigans you like but there is zero chance that Britain will remain in the EU. Absolutely, stone cold zero.

The government is committed to it. The opposition is committed to it. Parliament has overwhelming voted for it. And – most importantly – the public has had a clear vote on it.

We are leaving in 2019 in one form or another so stop indulging a silly fantasy.

Why one earth would remainers waste their breath on a pointless campaign to reverse Brexit when it is politically impossible and utterly anti-democratic?

It comes to something when Jeremy Corbyn is more rational and in tune with public sentiment and reality by accepting the result.

There are real problems mounting from Brexit including a myriad of constitutional issues from Northern Ireland to Scotland to Gibraltar.

There is the shocking collapse in Sterling and the prospect of rising inflation and cost of living feeding through over the next few years.

There is the plethora of technical and regulatory negotiations over dozens of industries, which will have a huge impact on British life over the next decade from food standards to patent law.

And there is the role of tariffs and trade policy and how it will affect our own exporters and industries.

Instead of wasting time talking about reversing Brexit, we need to ensure that the headbanging Brexiteers don’t launch a sly, massive de-regulation of the British economy.

What will happen to bank capital requirements when we are no longer tied to CRD IV? What will happen to hedge fund regulation when we leave AIFMD? Will food standards be reduced?

Every second that the Left is focused on a pointless quest to reverse a democratic vote, we are ignoring the next battle to stop Britain becoming an offshore tax haven with crippled public services.

We must get ahead of tomorrow’s big debates instead of fighting yesterday’s battles. It means hard-thinking and policy choices but public discourse on the Left has to make the shift.

There is no worse cliché in politics today that the “Remoaner”. Everyone is allowed to moan – most of politics is literally moaning about things you don’t like. Brexiteers have been moaning for 25 years and they still moan about everything. But there comes a time when it is counter-productive and distracting.

We are in danger of missing important, era defining changes to the shape and structure of the British economy if we become a stuck in June 2016.

As a minority, albeit a large one, we have to build alliances with liberal leavers to ensure the government doesn’t take Brexit as a one-way ticket to a libertarian paradise.

With Labour in the doldrums, it is more important than ever to shift a national debate towards the consequences of Brexit and not changing the result.Public voices like Blair are key opinion-formers with a vaccum on the Left.

If we don’t move on then those who want to slash the state down to size will once more dominate conversation. We have to deal with the world as it is and not how we would like it to be.

You would think that Tony Blair – of all people – would be able to understand that.

Sam Dale is a financial and political journalist

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12 Responses to “Time to get over Brexit and move on to the next debates”

  1. Sean O'Neill says:

    I entirely disagree with you. A 3.9% majority is not a clear result for such a momentous and probably irreversible change. How can you accept that such a slim majority must be followed by a gallop to the exit? The foreign and trade policy of this country for the indefinite future cannot be based on the result of a single vote on a single day. The Labour Party has been utterly supine in its capitulation to a right-wing coup d’etat. The whole driving force behind the ardent Brexiters was a determination to create a low-tax slimmed-down deregulated state with reduced social and environmental protection. To say that we should resist their agenda while accepting the coup that forced us out of the EU is to my mind delusional. Democracy is not an event, it is a process. It is not “anti-democratic” to try to persuade our fellow citizens to change their minds and I people like me will continue to do so.

  2. madasafish says:

    Nice to see reality intervening briefly into Labour politics. It will not last.. it never does. The lure of tax and spend is too strong..

    The facts are simple: many of the high margin industries in finance are long gone. They will not return. Post a crash like 2008 , the 1929 Crash has a good lesson. It takes nearly 30 years for the good times to return. So any thoughts of a growing welfare state are for the birds – and the politically naive# who believe you can tax the rich (or the better off)until the pips squeak and the rich are so stupid they will stay in the UK to be taxed..

    People who are struggling to survive when working are unlikely to favour any Party whose policies effectively tax the working to make the non working better off. It is simple human nature.

    So any idea of the state growing in size is unlikely to happen.And whilst the Labour Party is run by a cabal who appear to think the opposite of the above, Labour are stuffed electorally. Policies which contradict human nature do not work when times are hard.

    # 2politcally naive” is a nice polite term for people who believe Jeremy Corbyn will ever win a General Election or has any popular appeal. The real term is one used to describe people who think public polling gives results 100% at variance with the reality of electoral results. .. “stupid”.

  3. Tafia says:

    Sean, How can you accept that such a slim majority must be followed by a gallop to the exit? The foreign and trade policy of this country for the indefinite future cannot be based on the result of a single vote on a single day.

    It wasn/t though was it. It was a manifesto committment in the 2015 General Election and the counry voted them in with a majority. It then required an Act of Parliament that had to go through full Parliamentary process and which Labour voted in favour of. There was a lot more to it than a /single vote on a single day’.

    There isn’t going to be another referendum.

    Of course, you could always demand a General Election over the issue – what do you think would hapen in a snap election if the tories fought it one one single issue full-on hard Brexit with no negotiations. You know the answer – they’d win by a landslide.

    Now stop cying like a little girl.

  4. Vern says:

    About time too. The Labour party and all other political parties should be coming together to ensure Britain is in the very best shape it can be throughout the negotiations and thereafter.
    We are great, and even greater together.

    For the record, I firmly believe that had Corbyn stuck to his original comments on the EEC from the 1970’s more Labour supporters would have backed leave increasing the majority.


  5. John P Reid says:

    Serious Queation, i know Manchester(haven’t been there for a while) Northern Ireland and Scotland well,don’t know liverpool ans live in London
    Fobthose who don’t know the trains are called zone1-6 6 Being the outer
    Although Demographically zone 4 ,25 years ago seeing the big out flux of 2nd generation immigration,Asian Turkish ,Carribean families ,with careers, be it own businesses,or skills, South of the River ,Croydon, Elthan(Where Stephen Lawrence was killed) for various reasons becoming Ghettoized, east and West London closer to Reading and Essex, being more affluent and North London ,seeing a new demographic change with Eastern Europeans/Turkish replacing Carribean

    Now the Inner London ,voted remain, not neccasarily b cause middle class liberals,tell minorities who’ve been involved in politics that voting leave was racist, and many 2nd Generation bangladesh\Carribeans in outer London voted Leave as they feel, that they’ll be More commonwealth immigration,from people with skills, a job to go to and a place ,who’ll come here

    But from the day 2weeks before th referendum whn leave went ahead in the polls, remain, came out with voting leave is racist, to a week later the BNP back leave “you’re the same as them’ to brexiters Killed jo Cox, and the year since we’ve seen remainers saying brexiters were too thick to vote, Brexiters are Nazis, racist and fascists,

    I can see London becoming, a divided area of inner London, Remainers thinking, the outer lining Brexiters are thick,and the outer London Brexiters thinking, the inner London remainers are snobs, Northern Ireland voted remain for deifferent reasins,not just on Nationalist lines of acatholics wanting a open border, or middle class wanting cheap EU immigration, Scotland, again wanting, financial benefits even though 40% voted leave
    Manchester amosside voted leave, even though there’s a few middle class liberals in the area, that pushed the remain vote higher

    Did Liverpool vote remain, because of the docks and immigration being good,or is Liverpool, full of liberal elites,who felt Brexit was racist, if so labour could become a Liverpool, Inner London ,Manchester area, and it wouldn’t matter who was labour leader
    Worse still,it would take a generation to get outer London and the rest of the aborth bwck,if middle class liberals in Inner London think, because they’ve preached to 1st Gerneration minorities in inner London that brexit is racist, then, the rest would say,when you regard us as thick, you’ve lost our vote for decades.

  6. Tafia says:

    john, Greater Manchester was similar – inner Manchester voting Remain and outer Manchester and the satellites voting Leave. I believe roughly sinilar happened in most major cities – Birmingham, Cardiff, Liverpool etc etc – pollster referred to it afterwards as the ‘donut phenonema’. I’ve since seen somnething somewhere that London aside, it was fairly typical of university towns as well and possibly in their case caused by the drive to get students to register and vote..

    Basically, in the major conhurbations suburbia voted Leave.

  7. The issue will not go away any more than the previous referendum solved the relationship with Europe. Reality is that Brexit is a disaster and as the young in particular realize their future has been compromised the anger will start to fester. Not to mention Scotland and Northern Ireland, neither of whom voted for Brexit in June last year.

    As the UK starts to break up and the economic social and defence implications (NATO has not yet spoken about the implications if Scotland breaks away from the UK and there are two armies north and south the border) the debate will not only continue but intensify,

    Then there is Gibraltar. Its clear the Brexiteers never thought about spain and their claims on the Rock. Howard and others called for military action to stop them, wholly inappropriate but I have the Sun poster on my kitchen wall.

    No referendum result is ever final as the Scots have shown. I appreciate many in the Labour Party and elsewhere want a resolution that will not involve major problems and an easy divorce. Its not going to happen, and the divisive nature of the debate means that the debate will not only continue, its going to be difficult to manage. But manage it must be. No nation has the right to put the future of its young at risk.

    The most basic reason for the Labour conference policy (General election or referendum on the negotiations) is to give the young who were not old enough to vote in 2016 the right to take part in the decision. Not that the issues are merely for the young to reconsider. If one signs a finance agreement there is a cooling off period. With the most important issue of this generation, have a chance to vote again is even more important,

    Trevor Fisher,.

  8. Tafia says:

    trevor fisher , what utter BLX from start to finish.

    Scotland. Prime motivator amongst Remain voters there was the desire to remain in the EU because it dilutes London’s power over Scotland – not because they had a desire to remain in the EU per se. Not that it matters. Any desire for IndyRef2 now appears to have peaked and is in decline as is the question of an independent Scotland,

    Northern Ireland – Vote split entirely along sectarian and class lines. Republican/nationalists voting Remain (for the same reason as scotland remainers) along with middle class Prots. Working class prots voting Leave en bloc. Any referendum over the border will not reflect that – the middle class prots may have voted Remain, but they are first and foremost unionists and would rejoin their working class bretheren at the click of a finger.

    You are quite correct, no referendum is final and you are more than free to campaign for a referendum to re-join the EU once we have left.

  9. Mike says:

    One small correction. Leave won by 1.3 million votes, not 500,000 as stated in the article.

  10. Mike says:

    Trevor – this result will be final (as in respected for 20+ years) because many of those who voted to stay were not fans of the EU. Therefore getting a robust majority to join and go through the negotiations, without the opt-outs that even the Lib Dems agree with, will be very difficult.

    Brexit has not been shown thus far to be a disaster – the economy is growing, unemployment continues to go down. Will that change, maybe but it sounds like you want Brexit to be a disaster to prove yourself right.

  11. Anne says:

    As Kier Starmer has said there are different kinds of Brexit and a lot will depend on the kind of Brexit that is achieved. This will dictate the acceptance of the position by the general public and in particular Scotland. Nicola Sturgeon is predicting that the final deal will be poor and strengthen her claim for Scottish independence so that she can rejoin the EU.
    Democracy is about disagreeing – we need people to challenge the Brexit plan – to hold to account. Teresa May wants to keep secret her negotiations- we need to be informed. As I understand it Tony Blair is setting up an institute which will analyse Brexit – this information will be helpful in allowing us to understand and be informed. hopefully making outcomes more favourable. Change is always with us.

  12. John P Reid says:

    Ho Ho Trevor,when the other countries hwve l ft the aeU, a generation from now if there’s another referendum,to start a new EEC, common market only,then I’m sure we can have a vote to Jok n,it

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