Meet David from Somerset. He voted Leave in 2016, but not for No-Deal. Unless an EFTA/Norway deal is on offer, he is a reluctant Remainer Now who would rather vote Remain in a new referendum.

First published in August 2019.

I have been a Leaver since about 2007. I still am. I want to leave the political union of Europe in a well-managed way; but I don’t want a no-deal Brexit at any cost.

I voted Leave in the belief of the range of promises and assertions that the Norway (EFTA) model, once promoted by Thatcher, Gove, Johnson and Farage, could be achieved. We were told we would hold all the cards, there would be no downsides and that a free trade deal would be easy.

The last 3 years have shown us that this is not the case, and today we start the slide into a recession of our own making.

For years, I passionately followed Nigel Farage, believing every single word. I thought he had a deep understanding of how the Single Market was rigged against our interest and how we could extract a better deal, a better way forward. But he (and his Twitter army) never explain how any single market regulation can be done away with, and how businesses can exploit the opportunities, yet claim he could talk for hours about it.

I suspect he actually doesn’t know anything. Yet everyone will now have to bear the consequences.

“I’m not interested in defending the position of those who already have privilege. I explained to my cabinet colleagues that we should not be on the side of the undeserving rich. We have in the EU a market rigged in favour of the rich and stacked against the poor.”
— Michael Gove (The Guardian, 3 June 2016.)

Farage claims to want to have a free trade deal with Europe, but that means having to follow Single Market regulations. However, he won’t explain how much divergence he wants and in what direction. China? USA? Where?

Farage also hates being caught out by reality like when a vet informed him on air that we would have to make numerous checks at the border and that we simply don’t have enough vets available to do the job, therefore meaning unavoidable delays at the ports.

Nigel Farage caught by reality. / LBC

I have sadly realised that he is actually solely driven by a personal hatred of the system, with little interest as to how the Single Market benefits the country. He relies on simpleisms to get his message across and it works.

The predicted recession immediately after the 2016 vote to leave didn’t happen because the Remain side didn’t understand the British psyche – “If things are turning to shit we might as well enjoy ourselves before it happens.”

Consumers went out and spent.

Under a no-deal Brexit, we would lose all Single Market access and the bilateral deals with non-EU countries. The fall out is not “Project Fear.” Why else would Johnson talk so much about ‘preparing properly for no-deal’?

“On the eve of Brexit, “Global Britain” still looks pretty much like a fiction. The U.K. has failed to roll over more than a handful of the trade deals it had as a member of the EU, and if it crashes out without an agreement on Oct. 31, it will lose preferential access to its biggest trading partner. This outcome may be too late to avoid.”
— Lionel Laurent (Britain Prepares Itself for Some Donald Trump “Vassalage”Bloomberg, 7 August 2019.)

You can put your life jacket on, but it is no use if a huge wave crashes over you.

The turning point for me was when the then Brexit Secretary David Davis admitted that he’d under estimated the Irish border issue. Basically what that meant was that he had no idea about how the complex web of regulations and customs works, and why this allows for frictionless trade. He had no idea how he could diverge from those rules without affecting the border.

I thought, “Where else are the Brexiters missing the point?” So, I began to read more and more, and I realised my mistake.

I was angry when Theresa May called the 2017 General Election. I thought people would use it as a de-facto second referendum. I was right, it cut her majority to virtually nothing, taking away what could have been a credible threat of no-deal – to get the deal we wanted – with it.

I then realised the game was up. My dream Brexit of cake eating was over. To my horror, instead of securing a pragmatic Brexit, the Conservatives (propulsed by the ERG) went all out for no-deal.

I still want to leave, but only with an EFTA where we stay in the Single Market but are free from the Customs Union to be able to do our own trade deals. The “no pay and no say” is a myth, Farage is on record as saying so. Stay in the economic union but not the political union. But this is dead.

I am furious with the Ultra-Brexiters who now claim I voted for no-deal. I didn’t. That’s a real betrayal of my vote.

But I’m equally furious with Remainers for not properly understanding and explaining the benefits of the EU membership to us before the referendum. Why couldn’t they explain some of the technical detail (that I have since learnt about) in a better way to combat Nigel Farage and Vote Leave? Nick Clegg’s TV attempt, back in 2014, was dreadful.

They kept it very simple and avoided the ‘immigration’ word and how we would have no control. If politicians really understood it they would have explained the Irish border issue too, which certainly didn’t get mentioned much at the time. In a TV debate, David Cameron kept on banging home the ‘economic drum’ but didn’t once explain how and why divergence from the Single Market would cause such issues to the Irish border or to the Good Friday Agreement.

Therefore, it is through gritted teeth that I say I would now vote Remain in the event of a second referendum. The economic cost simply isn’t going to be worth the price of true independence in my view.

I have been alarmed not only by the no-dealers but also by the European Union’s drive for federalism. Hardly an attempt to woo us back.

However, I would vote Leave again IF there was a credible plan. But with Marcus Fysh, Mark Francois, Dominic Raab and Chris Grayling around that is not possible.

I accept and respect that there are people who will think the price is worth paying, but not all 17.4 million Leavers would agree.

Hence why I believe we need a second vote.🔷

By David.

(Note of the editor. – Who said what? David Davis said Britain would “hold all the cards”, John Redwood wrote that “getting out of the EU can be quick and easy” and Liam Fox claimed that a free trade deal would be the “easiest in human history”.)

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[This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article on 9 August 2019, with the author’s consent, with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected. | The author of the tweets writes in a personal capacity.]

(Cover: Dreamstime/Ian Allenden.)