There’s no turning back, explains Jack Tagholm-Child. Were the UK to do an about turn on its EU departure, far from a return to the status quo, it would see the UK subject to significantly less favourable terms that we previously enjoyed.
A back tracking on Brexit would not be a return to the status quo; it would entail a considerable worsening of our terms of membership.
As the EU (Withdrawal) Bill goes through Parliament, and the pro-Remain lobby attempts to block its passage – though rather unsuccessfully to date – it’s worth pointing out what would really happen if the Remain camp got its way.
Now the Article 50 process has been triggered there is no going back – at least not on the same terms. The UK’s uncomfortable relationship with the European Union has afforded us many benefits in comparison to other Member states. No Euro, many tailored opt-outs and, of course, a significant rebate on our contributions to the Union.
If the UK was allowed to revert on its triggering of article 50, our re-admission would be on entirely different terms than the relatively privileged access we have become used to during our time as an EU member. A back tracking on Brexit would not be a return to the status quo; it would entail a considerable worsening of our terms of membership.
The EU Referendum was won on a choice between a continuation of membership on existing terms and leaving the European Union altogether. If the EU Referendum had been a choice between voting to Leave, or voting for what could truly be considered full membership the margin of victory for Leave would have been significantly higher.
There were a great many Remain voters who might be deemed reluctant Remainers. These were voters who saw the flaws of the EU, but thought the best way forward was for the UK to remain a member and attempt reform from the inside. It seems reasonable to suggest these voters would certainly now not be in favour of returning to the EU on worse terms than before.
Britain is certainly divided over Brexit, but not nearly as much as would be the case if the Referendum vote were to be ignored. That truly would tear the country apart. Most of those who voted Remain respect the result of the Referendum. And why wouldn’t they? It was a legal democratic vote. The very fact this point has to be emphasised is illustrative of the perverse nature of the debate, the likes of Blair and co have caused.
Noel Gallagher last week perhaps summed up the current mood of the British people best. Gallagher, who although didn’t vote himself expressed his view the UK shouldn’t have left the EU, told Remainers to “F**king get over it.” He went on to further say: “It was put to the people to vote. The people voted. That’s democracy.” Touché.
But more than this. What appears to grate the Remoaners so much is the perceived loss of British co-operation with Europe. What you might call British Europeanness. This is an error. It seems likely, once Britain has actually exited the EU, and all the furore around Brexit has calmed, Britain will be far more active in Europe.
Our role in Europe will be one the UK is far more existentially comfortable with. Instead of being the rebellious and awkward member of a family we are not entirely sure we like very much. Britain can rather be a close friend, participating in ventures of mutual interest and declining to partake in others.
These are things those seeking to undermine Brexit, if they are truly being intellectually honest, need to take into account. If one’s goal is a Britain which is prosperous, politically less divided, and playing the most active role the British nation is ever likely to play in Europe, then supporting Brexit in good faith is vital.
This may sound sanctimonious coming from a Leave voter. However, no matter
how much of a political mistake one thinks the Brexit vote was, if one really has the best interests of the UK at heart putting aside ideological differences is crucial. To Get Britain Out of the EU on the best possible terms a particular portion of Remain voters, who are actively seeking to stop the UK leaving the EU, need to get behind Brexit. Otherwise, we face a botched Brexit which satisfies absolutely no one.