By Jake Weatherill
So I read Sean’s argument about embracing Brexit, and it’s inevitable chaos while Remainers like myself evolve the cause from Remain to Rejoin.
Personally? I enjoyed the read, I welcome new ideas, after all a society that is closed minded is a society which will regress further and further backwards. Don’t believe me? Look at the US under Trump. Look at Brexit Britain (not that we have actually have Brexited yet).
Closed mindedness and wilful ignorance are a part of the reason both things won (I feel it’s overly generous to refer to Trump as human). They were whipped up by populist rhetoric which preys on fear.
However despite my enjoyment of his article I disagree with Sean (although I can’t say I am entirely unsympathetic to what has lead him to his conclusion).
Partly this is because of my temperament. If you believe something is wrong then you must fight against it. If you don’t, who else is going to? And let’s be clear, you can read it how you want, but Sean isn’t suggesting quitting, merely changing the game.
He is absolutely right. We do need to change the game, just not to Rejoin. Remain not only needs to get smarter, but more pragmatic.
The priority now needs to shift. Quite simply we have to focus on defeating a No Deal Brexit specifically before we can even consider confronting Brexit in its entirety.
The terrain is shifting under our feet as this Tory Leadership allows our political limbo to keep rolling on with even less certainty than we had before. Now what I am going to suggest may get a mixed response but quite frankly if we are as inflexible as our opposition how can we hope to win?
My first point is we need to reach out to moderate leavers. They are the proponents of a either a Soft Brexit or at least a deal. There’s more than enough of them who will be alarmed at how No Deal has become the most acceptable position for the majority of our potential PM’s.
The best hope we have of stopping No Deal is numbers, and these people are likely to be just as pragmatic in the face of economic suicide.
They are also the Leavers I still think can be won over. Especially as we are going to be entering the stage of Survival of the NHS Vs the reality of Brexit. To do this Remain needs to be than simply ‘the status quo’.
We must now become Remain and Reform. We need to use Macron’s proposed reforms as a counterweight to just staying in the EU. It must be utilised in such a way as we can be a spearhead for the evolution of the EU, and the opportunities that will grant.
Most moderate Leavers I talk to are more like myself i.e. genuine Eurosceptics and not wholely inspired by our current agenda. We identify that the EU is in need of reforming, but we merely differ at whether we believe it to be a good thing in its current iteration.
We must also not back Labour in any capacity until such time as their position isunequivocal. The current half-arsed pandering to both sides of the debate has got themselves (and by proxy Remain as an entity) to their current point. Their political clout is needed to help truly tip the balance in our favour. If this means a coup against Corbyn then so be it. There are others in the party who can pursue his progressive agenda while turning Labour into the parliamentary bastion of Remain.
Most importantly we need to use Brexit as a catalyst for the political reform that this country is in dire need of. I think it’s fair to say a lot of people that were swayed to support Leave were done so by of the misplacement of domestic issues caused by our system and political classes onto the EU.
People now feel more engaged in politics than ever, and if Brexit was a vote against our current status quo then again we must become something better than that. To echo my previous comments Remain as it is unfortunately cannot represent more than that due to the misinformation peddled in the run up to the Referendum.
Most Leavers look around and feel dissociated from the current goings on in Westminster. They feel left behind. Is it any wonder that the areas that would benefit most from economic/political reform voted the way they did when they were told it was Europe, rather than our own executive, that was responsible for the massive socioeconomic disparity we have seen for decades? They were looking for someone to blame, so snake oil merchants such as Nigel Farage gave them that.
It doesn’t matter if that was the right or wrong place to apportion the blame. When you’re desperate and told something often enough by someone because they are louder and focusing on ‘the opportunity leaving will provide’ rather than being muddied down in ‘Project Fear’ (as Remain ended up being) of course your going to go for the one that on the surface of it looks beneficial.
I may live in the little London Bubble, but I am under no illusion as to how other parts of the country have suffered after years of neglect. Hell, I work in public services, I understand the resentment they feel at being left behind. I can see it.
For some on our side I fear there is a view that every Leaver is the enemy, which is quite frankly ludicrous. The majority of these are people that have been duped. Defrauded if you will. Last time I checked in any other situation if someone vulnerable has been the victim of fraud you show compassion and understanding, not firing off derogatory comments that make you no better than the other side.
If those people keep fighting Brexit that way they are more likely to push people into it’s arms rather than pull them to our side. I am not opposed to the vitriol per se, more concerned we are aiming it in the wrong direction. As Nietzsche said, ‘Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster’. If we sound like the worst of them, how can we hope to beat them?
What we really need to be is not Remain and Reform, it’s a start but not the answer. No, we know what we need beyond the battle against Brexit. Proportional Representation, an elected upper house in Parliament, a codified Constitution, and people to be put on trial over the culture of neglect and the lives that have been lost by a policy of austerity. We must evolve ourselves into what comes next.
We have to become the children of the revolution.