At early April 2019 - a look to the possible future for Brexit, as Theresa May applies to the EU for yet another extension to Article 50
These are dark days for Leavers – on the morning of 10 April 2019, the Telegraph headlines included: "Tusk recommending the EU insist on year-long Brexit" and "Philip Hammond suggests MPs could revoke Article 50 to prevent no deal sinking the value of pound".
It seems that Brexit is not going to happen any time soon. However, there is real potential for delivering a true Brexit over the next one or two electoral cycles and perhaps sooner.
Euroscepticism has rumbled on for forty or fifty years and it is not going away, because the 2016 referendum has enabled the subject to gain "critical mass" with the electorate. Party allegiances aside, the current Brexit betrayal has supercharged the topic and radicalised otherwise polite and thoughtful Leave voters.
The Brexit prospectus is to truly leave the EU and take back democratic control of our money, laws, borders and trade. This provides the existential political challenge of our times. Leave voters plus other democrats have crystal clarity over these objectives, even if at present they are shocked and dismayed by this rotten Parliament.
Post-2016, Leave was slow to wake up in the face of the Remain refusal to honour the Referendum result, but Leave continues to mount a real challenge to the Establishment. We should now press-on with achieving Brexit and the necessary realignment of British politics.
The concept of Brexit provides its own powerful political prospectus for cross-party action. In these dark days, there is comfort to be drawn from the following:
The excellence of Leave is the clarity of its arguments, which have been put in sharp relief by: a) the failure of the Remain Conservative Government to respect the Referendum result, and b) the bad faith shown by the EU in negotiation, in contravention of Article 50 provisions.
Huge respect is accorded to those stalwarts in Parliament who have kept the Leave flame burning and refused to support the Government's Brexit-in-name-only. However, it is a Remain Parliament and Brexit may not be achieved until that is changed.
The focus of the Leave campaign must now be on continued cross-party and supra-party action with the objective of returning a Leave Parliament and Leave PM etc. The second may be achieved rather sooner than the first. Leave must regroup and hope that some time elapses before a general election occurs.
Many Leave voters are now very disillusioned and minded to stay-at-home come election time. That can surely be overcome by a grassroots campaign that works to Leave's strengths. The key to success is that on a constituency basis, the country most definitely voted Leave and it can do so again. The war can be won if Leave MP candidates (of whatever political persuasion) stand on an overt Leave ticket. But they have to be genuine Leave candidates, not Remain stooges as occurred in some cases at the 2017 election.
An additional factor is that the two-party system has really outlived its usefulness, because the electorate now define themselves by views across a wide range of social, political, cultural and environmental issues. As with UKIP, voters for smaller parties are disenfranchised by the first-past-the-post system. Voter share must be reflected in MPs at Westminster. I have only recently come to the view that some form of proportional representation (PR) is therefore necessary.
PR has the potential to be a political glue to help stitch the Leave elements together, as it is a reasonable objective that should encourage better voter turnout. In this way, all Leave voters and their votes will be made to count in our Parliamentary democracy. This will assist with re-enfranchising those who are now disillusioned (again!) with this rotten Parliament and the bulk of its MPs.
Combining PR with the Leave tenets makes for a political agenda of powerful and persuasive simplicity. But how is that to be achieved in these turbulent times? The various Leave campaigns must co-ordinate, so that a bona-fide Leave candidate is on every ballot paper, whether it be local, national or EU elections.
Leave should be grown as a grassroots movement, aiming for a representative on every street in the country. This would enable, for example, personable canvassing at every postcode address during elections etc. The Standup4Brexit “rogues-gallery” approach could be extended to present a whose-who directory of all Leave MP candidates across the UK at the next election.
We must be polite but unapologetic, because the current legislative shambles is not the fault of Leave and Leavers. The honest Leave messaging across the social and mainstream media has been a great success. Continuing this via tweets, videos, podcasts, TV interviews, web blogs, emails, rallies etc, the Leave brand can be built in to something of lasting value, not just receding from the 2016 Referendum as a high water mark.
The Leave movement has shown itself to be an over-arching political entity. In order to achieve Brexit and a realignment of British politics it must continue, with the objective of returning a Leave Parliament in due course. The power of the Leave tenets are that they seek to re-define Britain, rediscover proper self-government, allow us to have a functioning Parliament and hence take our independent place in the world.
10 April 2019
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