Now is not yet time for pro-Europeans to make a move, but that time is coming.
I will not go over Ben Bradshaw’s excellent summary of what happened after the referendum, but on the following Monday I bumped into one of my fellow councillors, on a council that must remain anonymous to protect the innocent.
Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, he was keen to tell me he had spent the weekend celebrating at a Brexit event apparently hosted by Boris Johnson. ‘We’re going for a Norway option,’ he revealed.
I hoped then we could grasp a small victory from defeat; joining EFTA/EEA was always the obvious ‘British Compromise’. It was not to be; however the truth is that there was a potential majority in parliament to join the EEA had a cohesive opposition to Brexit coalesced early on.
Today we can do no more than watch the pantomime play out. Whether it is no-deal or a feigned FTA, Remainers must now wait, watch and prepare. At the right time there will be a new opportunity to represent EFTA/EEA; it ‘respects the referendum result’ whilst retaining close ties with Europe, and returns to UK citizens the four freedoms of movement of goods, services, labour and capital.
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Ben Bradshaw omits one key item leading to the loss of the referendum: the perfidious behaviour of Boris Johnson.
If David Cameron had had the support of a united cabinet he would have won the referendum, particularly with Johnson on his side. If Cameron had won the referendum then Boris becoming prime minister would be postponed forever.
Once Cameron had resigned the door was open for a strong Boris Johnson to win through. The problem is having senior politicians who don’t take the whole subject of Europe seriously.
The Tories used the slogan ‘Labour’s Double Whammy’ in the 1992 general election to portray Labour as the party of high taxation and scare people into voting Conservative.
It was so successful that future governments shied away from raising taxes for fear of being punished in the polls. The result, among other things, was inadequate investment in the NHS that Labour corrected during its second and third terms in office but which the Tories then made worse. This, the crisis in social care and the government’s incompetence has contributed to England having the highest Covid-19 death rate in Europe.
Let’s hope that the predicted winter’s spike in Covid-19 doesn’t coincide with a failure to secure a good trade deal with the EU with, as promised, ‘no downside’. Otherwise, we really will experience a ‘Double Whammy’.
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