It would be bliss to elect a pro-EU government that would ditch Brexit, says A C Grayling
Theresa May might have had any one of three reasons for calling a General Election.
One is that she was in danger of losing her Commons majority because so many Tory MPs are under investigation for alleged election fraud.
Fraud, and allegations of financial wrongdoing are a theme of the right wing: Tory MPs, UKIP, the Leave.EU campaign have all been the subject of investigations.
Their leading figures have, however, skipped away laughing from their culpability for the fraudulent lies and false promises of the Leave campaign itself.
But if a couple of dozen Tory MPs have been sitting in the Commons on the basis of fraudulent elections, voting on legislation, on the Referendum Bill, and on Article 50, what is the legitimacy of all those Parliamentary decisions?
In a rational world the 2015 election would be re-run on the basis that everything that followed from it is negated: a re-set, a reboot, to put right a situation which has gone mad on the basis of electoral cheating two years ago.
A second reason why May has called an election now is that the daily unfolding absurdity of Brexit and the damage it is doing would, by 2020, have woken up the rest of the country and made the Tories unelectable for several generations. Accordingly, this is the only election she has a chance of winning, not because of the merits of the Conservatives but because of the utter disaster of Labour under Corbyn offering no opposition and indeed siding with her on Brexit.
If this election returns more Tories to Parliament it will be because Labour lost the election, not because the Tories won it. The opposition parties should have denied May this election, and left the current Tory administration to founder in the swamp of the Brexit impossibilities: but alas Corbyn is too politically incompetent, and the Liberal Democrats too keen to increase the number of their seats given that they have nowhere to go but up, for more astute calculation to prevail.
A third reason is that May does not feel she has a mandate for Brexit. On this she is completely right. Only 37% of an unjustly restricted electorate voted for Leave in an ‘advisory only’ referendum. She hopes that she can trick the population of the UK yet again, this time by claiming that a win in a general election is a mandate for Brexit. But on this she has laid herself wide open: for only if more than 50% of voters vote for her party will she be able to claim, without equivocation or fear of disagreement, that she has such a mandate.
Remember this point, argue it, and challenge every Leaver you meet with it: only if the Tories get more than 50% of the total vote in the general election can they claim a mandate for Brexit.
Here is the bad news for Leavers. Even if the Tories indeed get more than 50% of the vote in the general election, the Remain campaign will not stop. It is not only our democratic right, it is a duty to our country to save it from Brexit.
All along the message to Brexiters has been: you are doing great damage to our country and our future, you are plunging us into wasted years, that is why we fight you: logic and evidence are on our side, whereas on your side there is just emotion, too much of it not very pleasant. Logic and evidence will win.
Either we will stop Brexit, or if some form of it happens – it will, if it happens, either be some fudged quasi-Brexit or some lunatic suicidal leap into isolated offshore tax haven status – we will fight to get the UK back into the EU.
I should have written ‘we will fight to get the UK – or what remains of it by then – back into the EU’, because any form of Brexit will cause the break-up of the UK; there is no reason why Scotland and Northern Ireland, or even Wales, should be dragged into the lunacy of Brexit if the Leavers of England do not wake quickly enough. In that event there is even more reason to return to the EU, and the unity in our islands will be restored through our European unity.
The fight against Brexit is necessary to shorten the time that Brexit madness grips our country, thus limiting the damage it is doing and will increasingly do. In maintaining the fight, remember why we are fighting, and do not stop remembering: keep these facts and considerations before your eyes, and challenge Leavers with them at every opportunity.
Remember: the referendum gave no mandate. The May government’s acting as if it did so (until now!) is politically illegitimate and constitutionally improper. Only 37% of a restricted electorate – 27% of the UK population – voted Leave. Investment and business is already leaving the UK, long before any Brexit actually happens.
And above all: the Brexiters who used lies and manipulations to get 37% of the electorate to vote Leave have a very particular reason for stealing the UK out of the EU. It is that they want to make it a low-tax, low-regulation economy where they and they alone can flourish. Such an economy will not have resources for the NHS, a good state education system, a welfare net, or environmental protection. It will strip away consumer and employee rights: Brexiters have stated in public their intention to make a ‘bonfire of regulations’ to make money-making easier. And that is the key. It will make things easy only for money – money and nothing else.
The only people who do not need an NHS because they have private medical insurance, the only people who do not need a state education system because their children go to private schools, the only people who will never need a welfare net because they are too rich to care, the only people who do not need clean city air and clean beaches in the UK because they have country houses and take their holidays abroad, are the rich.
Brexit is a con in the interests of the rich: and it is no surprise that the campaign in favour was funded by some of richest men in the UK, none of them accountable to anyone or anything but their own desire for yet more money. Remember all this. And keep fighting against Brexit.
Vote tactically in the election. Vote to raise the anti-Brexit vote to as high a percentage as possible. Vote for anti-Brexit MPs of any party, but consider supporting the Liberal Democrats as much as possible given that they are the only unequivocal anti-Brexit party. And here is one brilliant idea I heard this week: in Tory safe-seat constituencies, where the blight of party tribalism is unlikely to make electors leave their traditional voting patterns, encourage independent pro-EU Tories to stand, so that voters have a Conservative to support but one who is anti-Brexit.
It would be ideal to unseat the Tory government. It would be bliss to elect a pro-EU government that would ditch Brexit. It would be desirable to puncture the May desire to get enough to try tricking us again by claiming a mandate for Brexit. We should work for the best anti-Brexit outcome. But we should also remember that this election, like the triggering of Article 50, is at bottom an irrelevance to the anti-Brexit fight. It will not stop that fight. It will not stop the long-term future of the UK being in the EU.
This last point is the one that gives all anti-Brexit endeavour its heart: the fact that the long-term future of the UK is in the EU. The fact, note. That is an inevitability of logic. Our fight is aimed at reducing the damaging period until this fact is secure and permanent.