A minority of my many correspondents continue to demand a second referendum.
I would only countenance that as a last resort to prevent our ‘REMAIN’ Parliament from preventing us leaving the EU altogether.
The motive of my correspondents however, is different: they want a new referendum purely to overturn the decision reached in the last one.
First, they say people didn’t know what they were voting for. I have heard the same argument in Parliament from MP’s representing seats with Leave majorities that dwarfed ours here in the New Forest. They say their constituents voted LEAVE because they are poor, their towns lack investment, they’ve been ‘left behind’.
I think they just wanted their country back.
They say people never realised how dreadful it was going to be. Well, I reject that premise: I think it’s going to be fine, but even if you don’t agree, REMAIN painted the bleakest, hardest BREXIT imaginable, so nobody could claim that we weren’t warned of all possibilities.
They claim we were misled, specifically they refer to the money that LEAVE said could be redeployed from the EU to the NHS. Well, we haven’t even left yet and the Government has already redeemed that promise in its 10 year NHS plan.
I do however, have some sympathy with the argument that we were misled: I recall being told that economic Armageddon would dawn on 24 June 2016 if we voted leave on 23 June. We were threatened with an immediate emergency budget to raise taxes. Nothing of the sort happened. On the contrary, employment continued to grow to an all-time record and foreign investment in UK outstripped that in all the other EU countries combined. Now the forecasters are saying UK growth next year will be the highest in the EU… and all despite Brexit.
We have certainly been misled, but we’ve been misled for years:
We were told, before we joined, that there’d be “no essential loss of National Sovereignty”
We were told that Maastricht was the ‘high tide’ of EU Integration
We were told that we faced disaster if we didn’t join the exchange rate mechanism, then we were told it’d be a catastrophe if we left it
Were told we’d suffer grievous economic harm if we didn’t join the Euro
We were promised a referendum on the EU Constitutional Treaty
We were told that the Treaty of Lisbon was a mere ‘tidying-up’
Yes, from the very start we’ve been misled, as our political class have assured us that the treaties they signed on our behalf didn’t really mean what they said
The greatest lie however, would be if it turned out that we were lied to about the 2016 referendum, when we were assured that this was to be the people’s one chance to settle the question for a generation.
The one thing that REMAIN and LEAVE agreed on was the importance of that vote in determining the outcome.
I think people knew exactly what they were voting for in June 2016.
What they didn’t know, was what they were actually voting for in the 2017 election, they can be forgiven because 80% of them voted for parties pledged to deliver the 2016 referendum result, and specifically pledging to leave the EU customs union and single market.
Yet now they discover that Parliament is against the people, that it is seeking to usurp power and stop us leaving.
Certainly, very few of us thought we were voting for that.