STOP BREXIT – There is still everything to fight for

Pulse of Europe procession through Bath. Photo © Mick Yates

We are often asked why we are still campaigning to stop Brexit now that Article 50 has been signed, and why we can’t accept that a democratic decision was made on the 23rd June 2016 and just come to terms with it.

Let’s deal with the democracy question first.

A decision was made on the 23rd June by 51% of those who voted to leave Europe. The vote was in fact split equally between one-third of the electorate who failed to vote, one-third who voted to leave and one-third who voted to remain. The Referendum was never more than an advisory straw poll, and the Government’s Referendum Bill of 2015 states very clearly that “It (the Referendum) does not contain any requirement for the UK government to implement the results of the Referendum.” It is hardly democratic therefore to impose its outcome on the majority who failed to vote for Brexit.

Moreover, the people were duped to achieve this Brexit outcome. They were duped before the Referendum with false promises and threats that were misleading at best and outright deceit at worst. Who remembers the promise of millions more for the NHS and the nonsensical threat that Turkey would join the EU and that Turks would come here in their millions to steal our jobs? All these lies were reported as fact by most of the media. If this is democracy in action, I don’t recognise it. And they were duped after the Referendum by being told that the Referendum must be implemented because ‘the people have spoken’. Well, one-third of the electorate have spoken (or just over 20% of the population) but only in an advisory capacity

And isn’t one of the main differences between a democracy and an autocracy that people can challenge bad decisions or indeed any decisions taken by their elected leaders? UKIP and its antecedents never accepted the outcome of the 1975 Referendum to remain in the EU and have been challenging and intimidating governments ever since in their fight to leave Europe. No one questioned their right to do that, and no one should question our right to campaign against this destructive decision taken by this Brexit government.

And isn’t it too late to campaign to stay in Europe? Haven’t we practically left already? The answer is NO on both those counts.

We are in fact still full members of the EU. And Article 50 can be legally rescinded at any time if we change our minds, though the EU needs to agree to do this.

Because no one has ever left the EU before, we don’t know if the process will be completed by April 2019, if it will extend for years, how it will happen or indeed if it will ever happen. There is nothing as unpredictable as ‘events’ as Cameron found out on the day after the Referendum, and we are now seeing with Trump. No one has any idea how events over the next 12 -24 months will play out. External events may cause us all to put the brakes on this, the longest suicide note in our history. And internal consequences of the drift to Brexit are already only too clear to see and will almost certainly give all leavers a reality check and generate a growing drift of leave supporters to the remain ‘camp’.

And this is why MPs and ‘the people’ may reassess their wish to leave the EU: Brexit risks destroying everything that has made Britain great. After Article 50 we may get our country back but not in the way anyone voted for. No-one voted for a future as Little England, without Scotland, Northern Ireland or Gibraltar. And many companies are already opening offices, factories and distribution centres in other EU countries. The NHS is losing EU workers, presenting us with a huge shortage of doctors and nurses, and many other industries face the same problem. As the pound collapses, inflation soars. Meanwhile our PM scurries around the world desperately seeking deals to replace the free trade we already have with Europe.

Every day it becomes clearer that we have been misled: that the best possible deal for us is to remain inside the European Union.

Brexit is far from being a done deal. And the EU has said that Article 50 can be revoked. There is still everything to fight for. Two unpredictable years lie ahead. There is still a huge need for Bath for Europe and you and all of us to play our part to prevent this self-inflicted suicide and minimise any self-inflicted damage.

Together we really can take our country back from the madness that has overcome it.

Tony Ambrose