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Brexiters should come clean: they never had a plan

October 16, 2018

Writing about Brexit has become tough. The whirlwind of panic gripping both sides of the negotiations means what you write might be right today, wrong tomorrow and right again the day after. Many write with a specious certainty about the negotiations, frequently with little real evidence to hand.

I have hesitated to add to the mountain of highly speculative comment, although I have written a few pieces on how it might affect the financial services sector which have been full of ifs, buts and maybes. Few are close enough to the heart of the negotiations to be able to write with much authority on the current state of the talks, the likelihood of a deal or no deal Brexit, a second referendum or the future survival prospects of Theresa May’s government.

So, why this blog?

I was struck this morning, when listening to the latest instalment of despair and delusion from the Brexit frontline, by a sudden recollection of the image of Michael Gove and Boris Johnson the morning after the referendum in June 2016.

You may recall they waited many hours that morning before eventually appearing together to face the media. When they did, their grim, almost gloomy demeanour was sharply at odds with the triumphalism surrounding Nigel Farage down the road. It was, it seemed, a case of beware of what you wish for. The cynical calculation of Johnson in particular that supporting the Leave campaign would enhance his chances of becoming Conservative leader was meant to end in heroic failure. He did not expect to win.

This goes right to the heart of the dishonesty of the Brexiters. They never had a plan.

What the picture betrays is that both of them had not put any serious thought to what winning the referendum would mean. They had no plan for Brexit on that June morning and they have no plan for Brexit now. What they have offered since is a series of fragmented, incoherent and intellectually threadbare responses to whatever crises the negotiations have thrown up.

That is what makes so many people who voted to remain angry. Having urged the UK down a path that required real vision, creative thought and incredible diplomacy to deliver the UK’s withdrawal from a series of complex international treaties and obligations, they had nothing to offer. Their only moment of honesty was the one their faces betrayed at that post-referendum press conference.

From → Politics

One Comment
  1. Ashton west permalink

    A very articulate and, sadly, seemingly accurate portrait of two people who placed personal gain as a priority beyond the wellbeing of our country and threatens the future for our children.


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