Andy Martin asks Brexiters to look again at the reasons they want Britain to leave the EU and to consider issues they may not have considered before that could destroy the UK.
First published in August 2019.
Before I begin, I’d like to state that I was one of you myself. That like you, I voted to leave the European Union in 2016.
I believed at the time that voting to leave was almost certainly the correct path for our country to take. That freeing ourselves from the shackles of the overbearing and incredibly bureaucratic rule of Brussels was an absolute must. That once Britain was once again in charge of its own destiny, we would be able to make great strides out into the big wide world, forge new and exciting trade deals, make our own laws and put more money into our public services and the NHS.
I held this point of view for some two years after the vote. Arguing the case for Brexit with Remainers on Twitter on an almost daily basis. I used all the standard arguments. That we were dictated to, that we wanted to be open and free to trade with the whole world instead of just Europe, that we could save the £39 billion we were going to “hand over”to the EU and spend it here instead. They all seemed like very valid points to argue.
There were, of course, plenty of things I didn’t consider when voting that day. The biggest of these things is probably the border issue in Ireland. It didn’t even cross my mind. Not once. I have since learned, of course, that most people didn’t think about this issue either, and so I certainly wasn’t on my own on this.
Initially, I tried to argue the point that neither side wanted a hard border in Ireland and that, therefore, there wouldn’t be one. I didn’t really do any actual research into the problems having no border would cause with regards to the movement of goods and people. I just argued, “Nobody wants a border, so it is just not happening.”
Of course, this is far easier said than done. Forget trade for now, and let's consider people. After Brexit, free movement will have ended, so how do you control the flow of EU citizens to and from the UK? They will be able to just freely walk straight into the country unchallenged still. This, of course, cannot happen as immigration will need to be controlled as per the government’s new points-based system.
Now, this problem on its own is surely enough to make anyone take a step back and have a think about the situation. It is an issue that no one has yet provided an answer to. Even former prime minister Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement, which had an unpopular backstop insurance policy to prevent a hard border in the event of a failure of a trade deal being reached, didn’t really consider that when we would agree on trade terms the flow of people would still need to be policed.
I may have been happy back in 2016 for the UK to leave the EU, but one thing I certainly didn’t vote for was the break up of our United Kingdom — and Brexit will hugely increase the risk of this. As I said, with no available solution to the Ireland border issue there is a genuine risk of Northern Ireland being cut off from the rest of the UK.
Scotland, of course, voted to remain. Now, I know what you are going to say… That the referendum vote was for the UK as a whole and wasn’t broken down into region by region. But if that is the case, then the outcome of Brexit has to be the same for all four countries. However, pulling Scotland out of the EU against its will is likely to — whether you like it or not — increase the Scots’ case for a further vote for their independence.
The situation in 2019 is very different from the situation in 2016. Leavevoters voted Leave for a wide variety of reasons, some valid and others not so much; but of this, I am fairly certain: there are a significant number of you who voted to leave because you genuinely believed leaving would be in the best interests of the United Kingdom.
But let me ask you this...
Will leaving the EU be in the best interests of the United Kingdom if it means that there is a huge possibility that there won’t be a United Kindom left because we didn’t consider the consequences of Brexit?
I am just asking you all to take a step back, ignore the bluster of politicians like Johnson and Farage, and consider the points of view of actual experts instead. People who are warning us of the damage Brexit will do to people’s jobs, the possibilities of food and medicine shortages. Do not dismiss these warnings as “Project Fear”.
Experts don’t give us these warnings because they “love the EU”. They give us these warnings because they know what they are talking about. They have extensive experience in the fields in which they work. They genuinely want what is best for the country and all of us.
I am just asking you to look again at why you want to leave. Consider issues you may not have considered before. Ask yourself whether the issues that made you vote Leave are actually down to Westminster and not the EU. Ask yourself whether laws that protect your rights at work and laws that safeguard the standard of the food you eat are worth risking. Ask yourself whether rules that enable you and your children or grandchildren to move freely and find work and retire to any one of 28 countries is really a bad thing.
Ask whether it really is worth the risk to break up the country you were trying to improve the future of.🔷
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