MITCH BENN on how Remainers are now accused of revelling in the adverse impacts of Brexit.
There’s always an element of ‘preaching to the choir’ when it comes to print journalism in this country; pretty much every newspaper on the stands has, to varying degrees, a political standpoint of which its readers are aware and, presumably, endorse.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to the readers of this esteemed journal when I say this: nobody wants Brexit to fail.
Now before I go on, we should perhaps define the term ‘fail’. In many respects Brexit can’t fail, given that it’s already succeeded in its actual objective, which was to shore up the electoral prospects of the Conservative Party. Eighty seat majority, job’s a good ‘un.
It had to go round the houses to get there, of course, and it was touch and go for the second half of 2019 until the opposition parties obligingly gave Boris Johnson an election, but the Tories are safely in government for the foreseeable future. Brexit has already ‘worked’.
If any of you don’t remember, the only reason all of this is happening is that back in 2014, a couple of Tory MPs defected to UKIP and this triggered a panic in the Conservative Party. It had long indulged the rightmost edge of its voter-base in their adorable habit of briefly transferring their allegiances to populist fringe parties for minor elections like the locals or the Euros (sigh), safe in the knowledge that they’d always dutifully return to the fold for general elections because at the end of the day that’s what ‘Conservative’ means.
But now for the first time, there seemed to be a genuine possibility that that part of the Tory vote might follow Reckless and Carswell over to UKIP and not come back in time for the 2015 general election… the danger wasn’t so much of a UKIP government but of a Tory vote being sufficiently split as to grant victory to Chaos With Ed Miliband. And so David Cameron decided to steal UKIP’s thunder by proposing an in/out EU referendum, thus sidelining UKIP and winning back his voters. I genuinely don’t think he thought any further ahead than that.
So here we are, seven years and three prime ministers later, dealing with the consequences of what happens when someone blithely proposes fundamental social and economic upheaval in order to achieve short-term political advantage. One hesitates to say “it’s all a game to these people” but a lot of them certainly treat it like one.
But I mustn’t start dealing in glib generalisations because it’s glib generalisations which prompted me to make my opening remark: nobody wants Brexit to ‘fail’, as in nobody wants it ruining the country.
I’ve seen bewildered Brexiters on Twitter, observing the encroaching doom of Brexit and opining that “this is what Remainers wanted”. The broadcaster Andrew Neil, who really should know better, tweeted the other day that “there are a number of diehard Remainers who would quite like the UK to break up, if only only to vindicate their claims that Britain would pay a terrible price for Brexit”. Does he really think that Remainers are so desperate to be proven right that we’d happily watch the country fall to bits?
We’ve already been proven right, time and time over. Yes, there are pro-Euro Scot Nats who (correctly) perceive Brexit as a catalyst for independence, but the desire for independence from a Brexit-benighted England isn’t about ‘vindication’, it’s the desire to escape the madness.
There’s a difference between predicting bad things and wanting bad things to happen. If a doctor tells you to quit smoking or you’ll get cancer, he isn’t hoping you get cancer, he’s simply flagging up the consequences of your actions.
I’ve mentioned this before; the whole “We won you lost get over it” mantra appears to based on the notion that Remainers were just sore because we’d lost the vote in 2016. We were upset, worried and angry that the vote had gone Leave because of the implications of that result, not just personally annoyed that we’d lost. But this was returned to again and again by the Brexit ultras because, it became more and more apparent, to them the important thing was that they’d won. The consequences of that victory didn’t seem to matter at all.
But here we are living with the consequences, in their early stages at least, and as we all predicted (again), the blame for Brexit’s disintegration is being heaped on us, the Germans, anyone other than those who wanted Brexit and made it happen.
At least the Brexiters’ mantra has changed: It’s no longer “we won, you lost, get over it”… It’s now “we won, and it’s all your fault”.