On 23 June 2016, a small majority of the UK Voted to leave the EU. I voted Remain and I was “disappointed, angry, shell shocked and [feeling] a whole host of other similar emotions that boil down to the same thing”. But that was on 24 June as the result emerged.
It is now four months later, and I have accepted that the UK voted for Brexit. I don’t like and I don’t want it, but I accept it as the democratic will of the people. So I am fairly amazed that a YouGov poll shows that I am in a minority of Remain voters, with 80% still in one of the four other “stages of grief” – particularly with 32% still in denial.
We all need to accept that Brexit will happen. It is what the UK voted for. Not overwhelimingly, but it did. And it is time to stop wasting energy trying to prevent it, biut simply making a “success of Brexit” (to steal the govnermnet’s line) and on getting the best result possible; some sort of reasonable “soft” Brexit that enables us to retain as many of the benefits as possible with as few of the downsides we can avoid.
On the freedom of movement, for example, I think we need immigration; the only change we should make is to remove any right for benefits to be received until the immigrant has worked and paid into the UK for five years (anyone who thinks we should prevent immigration isn’t really thinking it through). The UK’s mantra should be simple: we’re open for workers.
I don’t think it matters whether Article is 50 is triggered by the government or by a parliamentary vote. MPs in this case are delegates, not representatives – the referendum gave them their instruction, and MPs should vote how their constituencies did whether or not they agree with their decision. This is one of the very few instances where this is the case, as we have a representative democratic system. And if the Lords refuse to accept it, well that will just mean Lords reform will come back up the agenda!
The message is simple: Brexit will happen. The only argument is over what Brexit really means.