How to stop a juggernaut: sideline it!

Get over it! Brexit means Brexit. Done and dusted! You’ve probably had this type of response from the less well informed. Many in Parliament mouth similar sentiments. Yet most MPs know Brexit could be catastrophic and they want a deal that’s as close to membership as possible. That could mean ‘parking’ the application to leave while receiving the same kind of EU benefits currently enjoyed by Norway. At some point the Brexit process could be halted. From that ‘limbo’, as columnist Polly Toynbee calls it, re-admission could eventually follow.

Yet the Cabinet and some Labour MPs seem to fear the backlash that the Murdoch and Mail press, as well as the hooligan fringe in the far right, UKIP and the Tory grandstanders, could stir up. This is where we come in. Party leaders respond to backbench MPs and these respond to their constituents’ views, if they think ignoring them would mean losing their seats. If ‘Remainers’ and even ‘soft Brexiters’ pressure their MPs, these are more likely to follow the rational course than the irrevocable Brexit of the political fringe.

There are some practical things we can all do. Here are two direct ones. Tell your MP a halt to the Brexit process is necessary and desirable: write, email, telephone, or tell her or him in person. Also tell your friends, relatives, neighbours and workmates why and how Brexit can be halted and ask them to tell their MP. More indirect methods mean spreading the word through tweets, Facebook and letters to newspapers. The core message is this: because Brexit is not inevitable, nor likely to occur without losses to jobs, incomes, education and national security, the process needs to be halted to take stock of all the options. Bath has a pro-remain MP but we all know or visit people in other constituencies. Let’s also spread the word to Labour and Conservative held seats.

The campaign is not lost. Let’s adopt the kind of ‘Dunkirk spirit’ the Brexit politicos think is their monopoly. They have won one round; there is much more to come. Take hope from the Chartists, women’s suffrage or gay rights campaigners. Defeated, rebuffed, fobbed off – they continued campaigning because they knew their cause was right and eventually they prevailed. This is authentic patriotism. Most British people did not vote to leave all EU institutions. You and we can be their voice.

Bryn Jones