MICHAEL HESTER says that blaming Remainers has become the norm for Brexiteers because they do not have a plan for Brexit. Now, after nearly three years, it is finally time we are heard.
A vote to leave the EU was a vote for an undefined outcome. You can tell me what you *wanted* when you made that vote, but that is not the same as what you voted for. This is the fatal flaw of Brexit: its lack of definition.
Theresa May can parrot ‘Brexit means Brexit’ for as long as she likes, but the truth persists that Brexit actually means to this day ‘not remaining in the EU’. The vote to leave the EU was about as useful as the nation voting for its favourite number and presenting them with the choice of ‘seven, or not seven’ – the outcome of that vote tells us ‘it’s not the number seven’, but doesn’t bring us significantly closer to knowing what the actual preferred number might be.
For years now, those who wanted to remain in the EU have been scapegoated by those who wish to leave as being disruptive to the process, and of sabotaging the vision of a ‘true independent Britain’. In November, Nigel Farage described May’s deal as a ‘Remainer’s Brexit’, last month Liam Fox said that Remain MPs were attempting to hijack and steal Brexit.
These empty accusations are nothing more than deflections from Leavers who refuse to own up to the fact that they have never had majority support for any specific form of Brexit. The problem has not been Remainers sabotaging the process. The real hijackers are people like Boris Johnson who, claiming to speak for all leavers, says that no-deal is closest to UK voters’ idea of Brexit.
Leave campaigners were divided long before the 2016 referendum between different visions of Brexit. Perversely, this division became their strength. Brexit became all things to all people: one person would claim we would have to leave the Single Market to escape EU dominion, another would assure businesses that Brexit was possible while still remaining in the single market.
While some stoked fears over immigration, others would assure us that Brexit would allow us to accept more immigrants seeking to enter from outside the EU who were being unfairly excluded. They got away with this because all these contradictory goals fall under the umbrella of ‘not remaining in the EU’, in the same way that you can unite those who like the number three and those who prefer nine to campaign for ‘not the number seven’.
It comes as no surprise to anyone who was listening to their clashing opinions that Brexiters have failed to unite around any realistic option that the EU finds acceptable. It seems like that for every voter that angrily shouts to MPs ‘Get on with it, leave means leave!’ there are two more that protest ‘This isn’t what I wanted when I voted for Brexit, get me a different deal!’.
This internal conflict becomes infuriating when they blame Remainers for their lack of progress. The problem is that the question presented to the people wasn’t a useful or fair one. ‘Not seven’ doesn’t give any other number a clear mandate despite what May might want us to believe.
It’s been years since the referendum and parliament still doesn’t really know what the people wanted when they voted for Brexit. The only way to truly represent the will of the people is through a People’s Vote, this time with the right question.
The options are now clear, and the people deserve to be fairly represented. Remainers must be heard – and divided Brexiteers have to be fairly represented and not presumptuously spoken for by feuding politicians. It’s in the best interests of our democracy for us to hold a People’s Vote.
• Michael Hester is 26, has worked around the EU as a seasonal worker since 2014, and campaigns with Our Future Our Choice.