MITCH BENN: We're winning... by hundreds to one

PUBLISHED: 11:00 08 February 2019

Anti-Brexit placards stand outside the Houses of Parliament as Brexit negotiations continue. Picture: PA/EMPICS Entertainment/Isabel Infantes

Anti-Brexit placards stand outside the Houses of Parliament as Brexit negotiations continue. Picture: PA/EMPICS Entertainment/Isabel Infantes

EMPICS Entertainment

With so many reasons to abandon Brexit, writes MITCH BENN, Remain is winning the battle by a significant margin.

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There are literally hundreds of compelling reasons to abandon Brexit, and precisely one reason to go ahead with it.

Every week that passes provides us with another couple of dozen entries for the ‘really very good reasons not to do Brexit’ list.

Just in the last few days we’ve had Nissan’s cancellation of its proposed construction of its X-Trail SUV in Sunderland; we’ve had Leave.EU and an insurance company owned by its founder Arron Banks fined £120,000 over data law breaches; we’ve seen the apparent leaking of plans by the government to evacuate the royal family from London in the event of post-Brexit unrest and also ideas to safely store the vast piles of putrefying waste we’ll suddenly no longer be allowed to export; we’ve witnessed the unedifying spectacle of the House of Commons voting simultaneously not to allow a no-deal Brexit yet not to implement any measure such as might actually prevent a no-deal Brexit, leaving the prime minister to promise to return to Brussels in search of “alternative arrangements” (ie. even shinier unicorns); we’ve had the news that the government has given its supposedly nonexistent Magic Money Tree a good shake to offer bribes – sorry, ‘incentives’ – to the constituencies of recalcitrant MPs in order to persuade them to vote for the prime minister’s equally nonexistent ‘deal’ (since any alteration to the deal that failed a few weeks ago will be rejected by the EU) and also to squirrel away £800,000 in a legal fund in preparation for EuroTunnel’s inevitable lawsuit when Brexit trashes its business.

That’s just some of what’s happened in the few days since my last column. The Why We Shouldn’t Do Brexit greatest hits list was already a few hundred entries long and by the time you read this, it will undoubtedly have grown even longer.

Who can forget such classics as ‘It’ll probably re-ignite the Northern Irish troubles and make Scotland’s secession from the Union inevitable’? Or ‘We’ll lose at least £40 billion a year from the economy, or £80 billion if there’s no deal’? Or ‘Far from regaining control of our borders, being excluded from European intelligence arrangements will make it much harder to spot incoming terrorists?’ Or ‘International banks and other businesses are already deserting the UK in droves?’

I could go on, but space is limited and besides, you’ve heard all this before. And so, of course, have the Brexiters. And what is their answer? Do they refute the data? Do they fault the reasoning behind these conclusions? Do the have any sort of response? No. They jam their fingers in their ears and shout “PROJECT FEAR” until we give up trying to talk to them.

A case in point was the response to a Guardian article on the aforementioned looming waste crisis by Arron Banks’s favourite journalist Isabel Oakeshott. She tweeted: “Top of these mythical piles of waste will be copies of the Guardian.”

That was it. No attempt to challenge or even address the facts as presented, just sneering dismissal of the government’s own figures and a pointless ad hominem snipe at the messenger. That’s all they’ve got. That’s literally all they’ve got left.

Apart, of course, from that one reason to press ahead with Brexit: “It’s the will of the people.”

Now, I guess one could make a case that the democratic principle requires that this single factor – the result of the 2016 referendum – take precedence over all other considerations, however cataclysmically pressing those considerations might be. And that appears to be the case that Brexiters are making, although as ever with the Brexiters, it’s being made in the most childish of terms... We won, you lost, get over it.

Ah, if only. If only we Remainers were motivated purely by bitterness and envy at having “lost” in 2016. We might “get over it” if that were the problem. You can overcome bitterness, suck up wounded pride. It’s much harder to “get over” the wilful destruction of our society and economy, and that is what’s motivating our movement.

And since “it’s the will of the people” is now the only justification for Brexit – isn’t it worth finding out if it is the will of the people?

Leaving aside the funding shenanigans before the vote; leaving aside the observation that even notwithstanding the deluge of dire facts about the reality of Brexit, the sheer passage of time has almost certainly swung popular opinion in favour of Remain; leaving aside the fact that all polling data indicates this to be true – if there is only one reason to go ahead with what everyone now concurs will be a disastrous course of action, doesn’t it make sense to see if that reason still applies?

Time is short but history is on our side. Keep resisting.

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