The independent London newspaper

Let’s face it, Brexit is going badly wrong

08 March, 2019

• TIME was, if you asked people why they’d voted Brexit, they’d say it was to help the NHS, or curb immigration, or open up new opportunities for trade deals, or reduce bureaucracy, or bring back lawmaking to Westminster, or simply to get one over on the elites who’ve led the country astray.

Now they rarely go beyond “It’s been decided. It can’t be reopened.” Hardly surprising that people settle for this standard retort when many, in their private thoughts, must now see the original arguments for Brexit looking so shaky. But we must plough on, they insist. Really?

It’s daily becoming clearer that ploughing on will make the country poorer. With jobs already being lost, and businesses folding, tax revenues can only go down.

Meanwhile, our standing in the world and our leverage in international negotiations, already embarrassingly diminished since the referendum, will be damaged further if we press on.

And with EU citizens less willing to come to work in the NHS and other key industries, we’ll have to make up the loss by drawing people in from further afield, at a higher cost in bureaucracy.

If we want to continue trading on good terms with our biggest trading partner, the EU, we’ll have to abide by its standards and regulations – but without the very real say we’ve had hitherto.

In other words, none of the promised benefits of leaving the EU are anywhere in sight. Instead, the possible break-up of the UK hovers on the horizon.

And we have no idea, and still won’t on Brexit day, what kind of relationship we’re going to have with the EU. Close and cooperative, or adversarial, or what? Remember all those promises that it’d all be in the bag by Brexit day?

It won’t be fully sorted for years, not till long after Mrs May’s time. What we end up with may bear little resemblance to what most people had in mind who voted leave.

The running will likely be made, as it’s being made now, by free-market ultras, many of them protected from calamity by boltholes abroad – a small, rich and largely unaccountable elite if ever there was one.

In our ordinary lives, if we realised a decision we’d made was going badly wrong, we’d allow ourselves to stop and think again. So why not the same with Brexit?

Now we’ve a better idea what’s at stake, shouldn’t the nation have a say on whether we plough on regardless? Time for a People’s Vote.



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