Politics has been rich in irony since June 23. When Jeremy Corbyn was nominated for the leadership of the Labour party last summer some of his nominees just wanted to ‘liven up’ the contest and open up a debate about the future of the party. And then he went and won!
Today they’re trying to get rid of him because they believe that he didn’t do enough to get Labour’s working class out to endorse Remain. But why did they ever think he would do that? He has never been committed to the EU.
On the other side of the fence the Leave camp, who weren’t expected to win (which is probably why Boris Johnson joined them), have fallen apart and it now looks as if Theresa May, a key figure in the Remain camp – who helped to make a dog’s dinner of the Conservatives’ 2010 manifesto plan to reduce immigration levels from 300,000 to just tens of thousands (a fundamentally stupid plan, by the way) – will replace David Cameron as Prime Minister.
She doesn’t seem to think that a general election would be necessary: which means that we could have the absurd situation in which a supporter of Remain (and please, don’t give me the drivel that she was always more Eurosceptic than 100 per cent Europhile) would be negotiating an exit strategy in which she doesn’t actually believe.
And because she doesn’t want an early election she would have no specific mandate, no manifesto blueprint for that exit and no endorsement from the overwhelming majority of Conservative supporters who want reassurance that the referendum result will be honoured rather than slowed down and watered down.
Meanwhile, millions of people are signing petitions demanding a second referendum, while tens of thousands are marching through London arguing for the referendum result to be ignored. Hmm. I wonder how many of those petition signatories actually bothered to vote because, from what I gather, there was no need for them to prove that they had cast a vote on June 23. “Oh dear,” they bleat, “we were lied to by Leave. We need another vote.” Look, both sides lied. Both sides scattered statistics around like confetti. And if we start rejecting results because parties lied in their manifestos and pledges then we’d never have a government again.
I’m also sick of being told that ‘the oldies’ – that’s people like me they mean – have ruined the future for the “millions of young, progressive people who see their future in the EU”. Yet the majority of those youngsters aged between 18-24 didn’t bother voting. Forty-two per cent of the 25-34 age group didn’t vote. About 30 per cent of the 35-44 age group didn’t vote. That was their choice.
Regular readers will know that I have no hang-ups about people not voting. But I do have a hang-up with people who didn’t vote now demanding a re-run; and I have a hang-up with Remain champions complaining about the ‘fact’ that too many people voted Leave for the wrong reasons.
Millions of people – and you’ll all know that I was one of them – voted Leave after long thought and analysis. I have no problem with immigration, because I’ve always believed that, generally speaking, immigration and multiculturalism are good things. I wasn’t swayed by the economic predictions and promises by either side because, like millions of people from both camps, I took them with a bucketful of salt.
I voted Leave because I don’t want to belong to an EU with its own flag, anthem, parliament, commission, ‘president,’ currency, foreign policy, nascent army and ongoing drive for closer integration, including fiscal/budget/tax harmony. If there is a second referendum (and I don’t discount the possibility, to be honest) I will again vote Leave.
It really angers me that my vote and analysis are being dismissed as wrong, stupid, racist, ‘little Englander’ or senile.
So instead of the torrent of abuse poured on Leave voters, maybe key figures in Remain should ask why over 17 million people – the largest number in UK electoral history – backed the clear risks associated with Leave rather than the supposed positives of Remain?
Remain lost for quite a few reasons. They never made a clinching argument in favour of continuing membership and I suspect that millions may have voted Remain out of fear rather than love. Cameron lost the immigration argument from Day 1 of the campaign because, as the Economist noted, “he was unable to say how he could meet his twice-promised target of reducing the net annual number of immigrants to the tens of thousands so long as Britain was bound by the EU principle of the free movement of people”. He put the issue centre stage then allowed it to be hijacked by fringes on both sides.
Remain refuses to consider the possibility that bombarding people with statistics and scare stuff was the worst thing they could have done against a background of ongoing austerity crises across the EU: particularly when the “we’re better together” argument is being rejected by millions of voters in France, Italy, Austria, Greece, Portugal et al. It sounded arrogant. And during the campaign that arrogance drifted into complacency, which explains why millions of potential Remain voters, particularly the young, stayed at home on June 23.
Remain lost. Leave won. That’s the inescapable political and electoral reality of where we stand today. My fear, now, is that the ‘establishment’ will try and overturn that reality. That would be both very stupid and very dangerous.