Anti-Brexit forces are shaping the narrative, creating a climate of negativity and threatening to devalue our democracy
Tony Blair is returning to Britain to become an “agent of influence in British politics”, he has gathering behind him many influential political allies and money men determined to ensure that the democratic will expressed by the electorate in the EU referendum is defied. “Brexit can be stopped”, Blair observed; and that is exactly what he is determined to do. The Remain campaign has resurrected; so we must reboot the Leave movement.
In the wake of the referendum result, it was expected that the remainers would gradually move through the stages of grief. People move through these stages at a different pace, and many have moved to acceptance. However, it seems a significant proportion is now determined to remain in the denial stage.
Remainer politicians are moving from a position in which they accepted the result and set out the arguments for how we leave, to exploring how they can problematise and delay the process and eventually stop Brexit from happening at all. They will fight Brexit in parliament and in the courts, and if they cannot stop it completely they want to shape the outcome to ensure we remain on a tight leash. It has already begun with their insistence that we should stay in the Customs Union and allow the Commission to continue controlling our trade policy.
I commend those remain voters who have accepted that Britain must now leave the EU and have turned their attention to contributing to the great debate about how to manage our exit and what our future should be like. A reinvigorated debate about our national destiny, about how we are governed and what type of economy we want is extremely healthy for British democracy. Violating the biggest democratic exercise in our history that took place to settle a debate that has been going on for forty years would be disastrous for our democracy and our society.
These are dangerous games threatening to plunge British politics into new, untold depths of toxicity. If Brexit is stopped then our democracy is steeply devalued. We wouldn’t see riots in the street, but rather a huge section of the British population would have quietly acknowledged that they have been defied, that there vote doesn’t matter and their opinion can and will be ignored according. That sense of disillusionment and resentment would stew in apathy and bitterness, creating an unhealthy political climate. Eventually it would boil over and the disenchanted would become ripe for rousing by opportunistic demagogues.
The proper response to people feeling left behind and ignored is not to ignore their vote. It is politically dangerous to respond to a vote to leave the EU, founded upon an instinctive sense of euroscepticism deeply ingrained in our culture, by effectively saying that the people have no choice; we will remain in the EU come what may. Forget UKIP, for all the accusations of extremism thrown their way; we could see the rise of something far worse. And if the Conservative Party doesn’t see Brexit thought, they will surely implode.
Brexiteers need to reorganise and refocus; we can’t leave a vacuum because it will be filled by the anti-Brexit brigade and their miserabilist, cynical narrative about a defeated sinking Britain. They delight in bad news and will leap on every forecast and every negative indicator as vindication.
The Government is currently part of the problem. By failing to make a positive economic case, implement bold policies and speak in terms of opportunity, openness and building for a bright future; they are allowing a uncertainty and unnecessary pessimism to fester. The Autumn Statement was a missed opportunity to grasp the mettle.
To transform the mood of the nation and protect British democracy, the Leave movement has to re-mobilise, on a grassroots level and on social media, and deliver a message of optimism and forward thinking. We need to make arguments with substance and speak with conviction. There is a long way to go.
Ben is the Conservatives for Liberty Director of Online Communications. Follow him on Twitter: @TheScepticIsle
The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty