Amongst the villains of Brexit, the #RemainerNow stand out as heroes.


On the #RemainerNow community who have the courage to come forward and change their minds, and should receive our full support and praise.



Amongst the chaos of last week, there were two events which stood out for me as changing the terms of the Brexit debate. The first was Theresa May’s statement outside Downing Street in which she acknowledged that one choice open to us if we rejected her deal, was “no Brexit at all”.

YouTube / BBC News

The second was a clip from James O’Brien’s LBC show in which Bill rings up in tears because of his regret at his vote for Leave in the Referendum. This has been very widely shared on social media, and it seems to have struck a real chord with people.



LBC / James O’Brien

Bill is one of what has been dubbed the #RemainerNow community – people who voted for Brexit but would now vote Remain. There is an excellent Twitter account – @RemainerNow – sharing their stories (and I want to thank Mark Pack for recommending this a while ago).

For their courage in coming forward to admit they changed their mind, the #RemainerNow can face abuse from a (thankfully small) minority of Remain voters who blame them for their original decision. However, for me, they are the real heroes of the Brexit debate.

It’s extraordinarily difficult for humans to admit that they got something wrong and changed their mind. I have found myself going through with things just because it is easier to do that than admit I got it wrong in the first place. Taking an example, sometimes given by Vince Cable, it may be OK to change your mind on a house purchase based on an unfavourable survey, but it still feels wrong to do so.

There is plenty of evidence that we change our memories to avoid admitting that we have changed our mind. Polls at the time of the Iraq invasion showed that the majority were in favour, but polling now indicates that a significant majority now recall that they were against it. It is harder to do that with Brexit since people actually cast a vote (and often posted about it on social media). So those who have the courage to come forward and change their minds should receive our full support and praise.

The #RemainerNow come from all backgrounds and walks of life and include abstainers who felt they did not know enough to cast a vote at the referendum. One thing they all have in common is a willingness to change their views in the light of additional information.

Moreover, that information is necessary for all us. I considered myself reasonably well-informed on the EU when I cast my vote but the last two years have made me realise that I was, in fact, profoundly ignorant of the Irish border issues and the differences between the single market and the customs union.

In the two years since the referendum, many people have got themselves much better informed about the EU and the real trade-offs involved in leaving. It is undoubtedly right for us to take advantage of that knowledge by having a vote on the deal.🔷



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(This piece was originally published on Liberal Democrat Voice.)


(Cover: Twitter / @RemainerNow.)


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A former vice-chair of Richmond and Twickenham Liberal Democrats. A former expat who saw Brexit unfold from the other side of the world and now lives in Sevenoaks, Kent.
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