Brexit – does anyone who has a cunning plan please stand up!

So I’m aware I haven’t written a blog post in ages. I’m also aware I promised a blog on Brexit. So, with the current turmoil that’s going on, here’s the blog I promised.

This is probably the hardest post I’ve had to write in ages, as I know how sensitive this topic is and I have friends on both sides of the debate. In this post I’m going to try and cast no assertions and please don’t be offended by anything in this blog. All of this is just my opinion.

Quick caveat before we get started – with everything that’s going on some of the “where are we” is probably going to be out of date by the time I click Publish!! Also, due to time constraints I don’t have the time to add the usual links and references. Not to worry though, this is just meant to be my interpretation of what’s going on, as opposed to a critical analysis of the facts – I’ll save that for someone far more knowledgeable than me.

Strap in kids, here we go!


First things first – how did you vote?

I voted Remain. I don’t mind admitting that. This blog isn’t going to analyse that choice as for the purposes of where we are now it doesn’t really matter, but I don’t regret that choice.

Not important? It’s fundamental to the current debate!

Not in my eyes. A decision was taken at the time with the facts available at that time. And people voted. Whether people voted based on beliefs, facts, opinions, fear, is besides the point. People voted, a decision was made.

I do think the campaigns were not run the best. Personally I think the Government should have created a policy book clearly outlying the arguments on both sides, so that all the known facts were in one place.

I also believe (and this is my belief) that the newspapers have done a terrible job at reporting the facts – on both sides of the argument – that has led to expert opinion being increasingly rejected by many in society. This is reflective of a wider problem in society and one we do need to address at some point in the not-to-distant future.

But the fact remains, we had a referendum. Where one side was peddling untruths, the other side didn’t do the best job of calling them out and explaining why it was untrue.

The vote was had.

So are you of the belief we should respect the referendum?

Yes, that’s how referendums work.

It’s sad, because naturally I wanted to remain. But once we’ve all had a day or so to get the emotion out of the system it’s time to knuckle down and make the best of where we are.

I really hoped the Government would form a cross-party panel to help lead Brexit. I really hoped people on both sides of the debate would come together and work together on the best proposal for the country, irrespective of personal beliefs.

Sadly this didn’t happen – again not for me to apportion blame or decry why this didn’t happen. But hey ho, I was of the opinion that Theresa May would negotiate a deal, it would be voted through, life would move on and we as a country would find a new equilibrium.

It’s the fact that as if today, we haven’t, that’s mainly promoted me to write this post.

My hope on the above also is why I found myself arguing against a second referendum. If something fundamental had come to light which made the first referendum invalid – manipulation of votes etc., then I would support a new referendum. But Remain lost, and I personally believe should have lost with lost dignity.

Make no mistake, I’d still like Remain. But a decision was taken. It must be respected.

But what about the People’s Vote / Petition to revoke Article 50?

Too little too late by Remain. This passion should have been in the original referendum.

It’s too late. I’m so sad and devastated to say that, but it is. I can’t see a legitimate reason to overturn the original vote. Not unless we condemn our country to tear itself apart for years to come and undermine faith in the democratic system. And yes, I believe it would be that serious.

So what’s changed now?

The attempt to pass the deal through the UK Government has been nothing short of shambolic.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, leading Brexiteer and of the European Research Group, say today in a podcast that Brexit is a process, rather than a singular event. A noble opinion, but one that everyone should have shared at the beginning of the process (link).

Theresa May suffered defeat after defeat in the House of Commons, including the biggest loss ever recorded by a Government. The fact is, she has not been able to command a majority through her vision of Brexit. This represent a fundamental failure of leadership – either because she didn’t establish a vision and carry everyone through the process, or to command her troops to obey. It’s a failure and her failure alone.

Yes, there’s many competing visions of what Brexit should look like. Hard Brexit, Soft Brexit, No Deal, Revoke, Norway, Canada Plus, Japan. All with their merits and their flaws. And only tomorrow will the House of Commons get together and indicate what Brexit they might prefer.

2 days before we were due to leave.

In my opinion, this should have been done the day after Brexit was confirmed and before Article 50 was filed (and therefore the Brexit clock started), so the negotiations could proceed on the correct basis.

So where does that leave you now?

Brexit is only Part I of the process. We still need to negotiate the future relationship with the EU.

Rees-Mogg was right (sigh, that’s hard to admit) today, when he says Brexit is a process.

We need to proceed swiftly with a deal to leave the EU, so businesses can have stability, and then look to improve the deal later on if there’s enough consensus to do so. Then the future deal can establish a true lasting principle of what the UK / EU relationship should be in the future. I hope to goodness it’s a good, solid agreement built on furthering a good relationship with our neighbours.

The indicative votes tomorrow will help establish what’s the least-worst option the House of Commons would accept. I suspect everyone will in the end support May’s deal, as it’s already written and can be implemented quickly. She may have won, but in the worst way possible. At the cost of a lot of goodwill in both the UK and the EU.

I suspect this will be the end of May. I suspect a General Election will be needed to establish what our future relationship with Europe needs to look like. I’m not even sure most people realise a whole second debate needs to happen. But happen it does, and we as a country need a mechanism, via an election or similar, to ensure our politicians design and deliver a suitable long lasting relationship with our European neighbours for the future.

A final thought

I’ve not mentioned the No Deal arguments, Bercow’s intervention on stopping Meaningful Vote 3, or the option to remain now. I feel these are red herrings to the immediacy of stabilising the economy and our current immediate needs to ensure consistency and continuity of trade, medicines, law, and others. But more than happy to append into a future blog post if there’s a demand.

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