Chris from Loughborough argues that in order to avoid the most devastating form of Brexit, Remainers may have to start to accept the least worst form of Brexit.
Among the remaining ten Conservative Party leadership candidates, one thing becomes clear: we are going to have a Prime Minister who, if successful, will take us out of the European Union. While we, rightly so, should continue to speak out against the well-documented facts about why any kind of Brexit is bad for Britain, we may also have to start preparing ourselves to move towards a compromise and, ultimately, that compromise may see us leave the European Union.
I do, however, have to preface this centrist nonsense with my new favourite saying: I am absolutely still Remain before Leave. But I am Deal before No-Deal. In other words, if we are ever successful in our aim to get a People’s Vote, I will absolutely give my vote, once again, to Remain. But with the option of a People’s Vote continuing to elude us, we have to all agree that the worst outcome of this entire process would, be to leave the EU without a deal.
Of course, a People’s Vote isn’t necessarily the answer to all of our problems. I wish it were. The concept of a further referendum, while appealing, comes with its own risks.
The first of these risks is obvious, if not unlikely, that we could lose again. We tell ourselves daily, and even have clear evidence, that the country wants to remain, but those on the other side of the debate would argue that recent elections would indicate the opposite.
The second of these risks is subtle but perhaps more likely. That is the risk of calls for a third referendum. Regardless of which side wins, the other side would almost certainly try to delegitimise the result. A lower turnout, and a lower win margin and the risk of calls for a “best of three” is almost inescapable. We were promised it would not be a “Neverendum”.
The third of these risks is probably the most concerning: that it could take us closer to a “No-Deal”. There’s an argument for some sort of proportional representation type of vote or a multi-question referendum that deals with both issues simultaneously, pitting Leave vs Remain and then pitting Deal vs No-Deal. In other words, the very instrument that we strongly believe could thwart Brexit may, in fact, perpetuate the worst form of Brexit possible.
These risks do not even take into account the clear and present danger that such a vote could divide the country even further at such a time when it needs to be even more united.
The divisions are already there, and the divisions are becoming more apparent. You only need to spend a few minutes going through the comments of any prominent campaigner’s tweets (on either side) to see how strong those divisions are.
While arguably there is still more support for Remain than Leave, it seems to be that the desire to “No-Deal” is growing. The extreme of cancelling everything and remaining is making the extreme of leaving, regardless of the cost to the country, a more preferred option amongst Leavers. Simply, the harder we push, the harder they push back.
It, therefore, becomes clear that in order to save ourselves from the most devastating form of Brexit possible, we may need to start embracing the least worst form of Brexit as an option.
9 out of 10 Conservative Leadership candidates are going to fail to find a compromise. Amongst the unicorns of “managed no-deal” and “re-negotiating”, there is one candidate who is promising a different plan. It is neither one of extremes nor unicorns but instead aims to bring people from both sides of the debate into a more central-ground. And while it isn’t exactly the People’s Vote that so many want, it does give the people a voice via a Brexit Assembly.
I am, of course, talking about Rory Stewart. While his aim is to ultimately deliver the one thing we do not want, his aim is to do it in such a way that will be the least damaging to us all. And regardless of what you think the success of a Citizen’s Brexit Assembly would be, the plan has to be commended, at a minimum, for its difference to all of the others; for its aim to find a compromise where one is sorely missing. The other nine candidates are running on a campaign that will see them fail in the same way Theresa May did.
But it is true that there is one risk which may be even greater than no-dealitself. And that is the rise of UKIP version 2.0 – the limited company which we more frequently refer to as The Brexit Party. While the Peterborough by-election was encouraging, we should not be complacent.
I recognise that there is a strong desire to see the back of a Conservative government, but their failure will not necessarily be our gain. We are faced with a Labour government who also seems to be committed to their own fudge of Brexit or, more likely, a hung parliament. The ironic thing is, given the right conditions, a general election could still see Conservatives in Government albeit backed up by The Brexit Party hell-bent on driving us to destruction. We have to be careful what we wish for.
Moving towards a compromise removes a lot of the risks that we face and will allow us to get on with healing our country. Brexit is a single issue, and once it is resolved we have to focus on the injustices that may have caused the surge of Brexit in the first place, we have to take steps to protect and invest in our NHS, protect our industries that will be impacted by Brexit, build homes, invest in adult social care and, crucially, protect our planet from certain destruction by leading the way on climate change.
Crucially, the primary fight which divides us more than anything will be over. It is a fight, and it is a fight that we must end at all costs. Neither side is winning, and in the end, the losers will be all of us.🔷
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