Alan from Exeter expected a withdrawal agreement like EFTA/EEA when he voted Leave, not ‘no deal’. He has since realised the decision was flawed and now supports the revocation of Article 50 subject to a public vote.
I think it’s important to state that there are few amongst us who can claim that politics is their area of expertise which perhaps calls into question why such a momentous decision was placed in the hands of the electorate in the first place. I am little more than a retail customer assistant trying his best to make good decisions, and when the decision was placed before me, I chose to leave.
It has since become startlingly clear that this decision was flawed.
I do not naturally align with the likes of Boris Johnson or Nigel Farage. Amongst many other reasons, I find their assertions of fighting back against the establishment laughable given their relative wealth and backgrounds. However, in 2016 I found myself agreeing with the principle that parliament should be sovereign and, at the time, this argument superseded all others. I believe in independence, democracy, and self-determination and, if a community chooses to govern itself, it should be allowed to do so. I have since learned that this is an incredibly simplistic way of looking at our role within the European Union.
Unlike Mr Farage, I accepted that there were many excellent reasons for voting to remain and I did not judge anyone for doing so. As a peace project, the European Union has been nothing other than a complete success, and it is steadfast in protecting the rights of its citizens. I saw it as a difficult choice, and in hindsight, I fixated too much on my principles and not enough on pragmatism. I should have voted to remain so that we could reform what we did not like.
I have always maintained that my vote was not a two-fingers up to Europe, it was not about ending freedom of movement or “sending foreigners back home”, and it wasn’t about leaving the single market either. It was what I considered to be a respectful “no thank you” to further political and judicial integration within the European Union. It was a way of expressing that I was mistrustful of the type of democracy the EU operates and that, in principle, the UK should have the final say on anything relating to our interests. I looked at the arrangements enjoyed by Norway and Switzerland and, despite not having a comprehensive understanding of what those arrangements were, I decided that, on balance, it would be something more suited to the UK than membership.
I have voted both Green and Labour, but in this instance, I felt that I aligned more with the government and the Conservatives. As the party that claims to champion entrepreneurial spirit and business as well as its boasts about maintaining growth in a strong economy, I put my trust in them as the people best placed to negotiate a withdrawal agreement along those lines. I was expecting our negotiations to be hard but fair and conducted with a spirit of mutual respect, compromise and co-operation so that we could still enjoy a prosperous relationship with our European friends, neighbours and allies, whilst regaining areas of control I believed we had lost to Brussels. This was something even the most ardent Brexiter assured us was possible.
But that did not happen, and instead, we have been led into a political quagmire of biblical proportions.
It is important for me to say this: Brexit in its current form has failed, and I am not so entrenched or tribal in my views that I refuse to acknowledge and apologise for my role in this. We are each responsible for the choices that we make in life, and I should have been more thorough in my research before voting.
Having said that, like many people up and down the country, I have also been left angry and frustrated by a government more concerned with their own party’s survival and their own prosperity than that of the country they were elected to lead. I am disgusted and appalled at those people who bailed on Brexit the minute the result was announced and who have since spent three years heckling from the sidelines offering nothing but NOs. We have a Prime Minister who obliterated her own majority in an election she should not have called, who is enthralled to the whims of the DUP and the ERG and who has absolutely no willingness or intention to listen or compromise.
Not to mention the illegal campaign activities of Vote Leave.
I categorically did not vote for ‘no deal’, and I believe it would be catastrophic if it occurred.
My current position is this: if you are going to do something, you do it right or you do not do it at all. As such, I support the revocation of Article 50 subject to a public vote.
At this point, I consider myself neither a Leaver or a Remainer because such labels and divisions are doing us potentially irreparable damage. I am a citizen of the United Kingdom, and I have the right to change my mind.🔷
By Alan Hancock.
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(This is an original piece, first published by the author in PoliticsMeansPolitics.com. | The author writes in a personal capacity.)