Brexit was a vote for a free Britain

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Brexit was a vote for a free Britain

The true goal of Brexit is a free Britain, in control of its own destiny, writes John Redwood

The endless and repetitious debate about the consequences of Brexit put out before and after the vote by Remain campaigners is depressingly narrow as well as wrong. They concentrate all the time on alleged short term economic losses. They have been comprehensively wrong with their gloomy short term forecasts for the aftermath of the vote, and are busy revising the timelines for the same old false forecasts. They are unwilling to engage in the much bigger issue of how we can now restore our democracy and reinstitute our freedoms.

Fortunately we do not have to choose between economic loss and freedoms gained, as Brexit can secure economic gain with the right domestic policies. We need to remember just how important our vote and voice used to be, and h0w they can again count for more when we have  cast off EU lawmaking.

The history of England and the United Kingdom that came together in 1485, 1603, 1707 and 1800 is the history of the long march of every man and every woman to gain voice and vote. As we work to restore the sovereignty of the people and to give powers back to the UK Parliament  and to devolved administrations and Councils we would be wise to remember the struggles to get us our democratic system.

Freedom from the tyranny of a monarch who ignored Parliament was the cause of the Parliamentarians in the civil war. The 1660 settlement entrenched rights and powers for the limited franchise of voters and their MPs to control a wayward King. The 1688 settlement when a new King and Queen were invited to assume the throne added  to these limits on arbitrary power further. The early nineteenth century saw popular pressure to widen the franchise to all men, leading through the Reform Act to later completion of the task. In the early twentieth century the cause of female suffrage took to the political stage and finished the revolution.

These gains were hard fought and should be valued. The campaigners were right to dedicate their lives to ensuring all adults had voice and vote, that governments had to heed public opinion and needed the approval of elected representatives who could demand redress of grievance and improved conduct of public policy.

Membership of the European Union reversed part of this process. The country was signed up to a system which meant laws could  be created and taxation raised and spent without the UK public and their directly elected representatives having the final say or even an effective voice. The proponents claimed that the European Parliament met some of the democratic deficit, but in truth a single country block of MEPs was never strong enough to assert the UK public will when this was at  variance with the EU wishes. Nor does the European Parliament have sole or even at times any sway on things that matter.  They claimed that Ministers and the  Prime  Minister represented us at the Councils of the EU,but they were often outvoted or persuaded not to oppose something the UK public did not want.

The UK Parliament became a bystander, watching large volumes of law passing through which Parliament could neither amend nor reject. The voting public became powerless to change any of that law. If they voted out of office one party who had allowed the EU  laws and taxes to pass, they voted into office another party that would do the same and uphold the EU laws and taxes.

When we leave the EU our vote to choose an MP and a governing party will once again have more power and authority. Government will no longer be able to say we have to tax green products and domestic fuel because the EU demands, or have to organise our fishery in a way which is damaging both local fishermen and fish. We will take back control. Either the elected government then changes things as we please, or it will be replaced by another government that will.

UK governments will not always  be wise or get things right. What Brexit brings us is the ability to press them to change, or to change them if they refuse. The thing I most want to change as we leave the EU is to nurture this precious flower of freedom.

4.66 avg. rating (93% score) - 29 votes
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  • John Redwood MP
    John Redwood MP
    John Redwood is the Member of Parliament for Wokingham in Berkshire. He was formerly Secretary of State for Wales in Prime Minister John Major's Cabinet. He is currently Co-Chairman of the Conservative Party's Policy Review Group on Economic Competitiveness.
    • Falken Breakfast

      Firstly John Redwood should be thanked for contributing to this site which has an unfortunate tendency to descend into name calling and mud slinging (Newsome’s Blair ad hominem assault). CementCentral anyone?

      Mr Redwood’s historical justification for depriving the UK voter of any future democratic say in Europe’s future is far from convincing – is there anything intrinsically wrong with European countries agreeing on a shared future, UK voters included?….”but in truth a single country block of MEPs was never strong enough to assert the UK public will when this was at variance with the EU wishes.” This could as easily be levelled at any voters of UK regions who already find effective Westminster representation is denied them. A Nation State of this size has already proved ineffective in the face of monetary crises and capital flows and the growing needs for transnational cooperations on defence and environmental issues etc.

      Europe wasn’t ever perfect but cooperation has to be more sensible than a return to overt hostility in the wooden ships of Mr Redwood’s allusions. Fixit would have been very much more sensible than Brexit. The legal costs alone are bound to be massive in rewriting 40 years of EU law, for if we don’t rewrite it all, why are we bothering? Add to that the uncertainties, irrespective of any longer term beneficial possibilities, and the exit costs are already huge before we have achieved anything, all for the nebulous ‘getting back control’. Control of what exactly? We may indeed have more say, more say in our own demise. An ex-Continental UK sitting in a wet puddle off the European coast will look very like incontinence, like a sad loss of control.

    • bs

      Brexit was a vote for a free Britain with every packet of Weetabix more like.

      The recitation of history is stirring stuff, but the world has changed from those heady days of the 19th and early 20th Century. I fear that Brexiteers inside and outside Parliament are shortly to find out that the need for us to be able to trade globally in goods and services means that we’ll have considerably less freedom for maneouvre, achievable only at a higher price, than they are currently selling to the public. I have never much liked the EU, but I have not yet heard any realistic suggestions about a better future for the UK than our current arrangements. If there is one then I’ll be delighted to be proven wrong and I’ll happily say so, but I’m not holding my breath; nor am I expecting a similar preparedness to admit a mistake from Brexiteers.

    • Adam Smith

      We never joined the EU in the first place, John. No consent has ever been sought or given for Britain to become part of another state. Instead the politicians, with some noble exceptions yourself included) simply lied about the sovereignty issue for years on end while they attempted to implement the necessary constitutional change by stealth. They’re still at it.

      • fred finger

        We joined the EEC, then Major agreed to this changing to the EU.

    • Sgt_Bilko

      Sadly, I am becoming increasingly pessimistic that the political class will allow Brexit to happen in any meaningful way and may well reverse it entirely. There are clearly traitors in our Parliament, who have no intention of respecting the referendum, no matter what they say.

      We don’t live in a democracy, we live in the EU and the Conservatives are utterly useless at selling the upsides of Brexit.

      • Ravenscar

        In a nut shell.

    • Felt

      Well said Mr Redwood. However, the problem is you are a member of a party which is predominately utterly determined to ignore the referendum result, and keep us financing and tethered to the EU, in every way but name.

      Leave was the referendum result. Leave now without a deal and we will have our future in our own hands. Stay tied as seems inevitable, with the worst PM – ever, Chancellor and Home Secretary doing everything in their collective powers to thwart the will of the people.

      Minusthee below gives the correct, right and only honest option.

    • MrVeryAngry

      Spot on. Brexit was always about freedom and political and bureaucratic accountability.

    • Dougie

      Precious as British democracy is, suffrage may have gone too far. “No representation without taxation” should be our new watchword. Why should those with no skin in the game get to vote? Why wouldn’t people who pay no tax, or who get back more from benefits than they pay in, vote for more free stuff? Votes for 16 & 17 year-olds will just make this problem worse. The people who pay for the country’s public services are being slowly and quietly disenfranchised.

      • NeilMc1

        It’s not an accident or mistake though!

    • Masakatsu Agatsu

      Well said, my reason for voting Leave in a nutshell, the longer we have been in the EU, the lower the general quality of our MPs has become. Once we are out we can hold their feet to the fire again and get rid of the dross.

      • bs

        Yeah, let’s have more political giants like Leadsom, Baker, Grayling, Patel, Fernandes, Fox, and Bone, Jenkins…..

    • Minusthree

      No deal. No cash. Out now.

    • Androsupial

      “We will take back control.”

      If only.

      This article, well intentioned as it is, restates a position that is becoming increasingly fantastic – because the Prime Minister and her cabal seem determined to surrender to the EU on all the key issues, and thus to keep the UK ‘in’ rather than ‘out’.

    • Roger Hudson

      Remainers only concentrate on the short term economics because they know the political big picture was always against UK being in a ‘superstate’. This was apparent as long ago as 1950 when Ernie Bevin was foreign secretary and saw where the European Coal and Steel union would go, Again when McMillan was PM his Europe minister Heath always steered questions away from sovereignty issues. When Heath was PM he always sold the EEC as a fix for British low productivity, an illusion.

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