(This is Part I – Part II will be published on Sunday)
The anti-democratic behaviour of the remainers over the EU referendum vote is not a surprise but the brazenness and crudity of their attempts is still shocking and deeply worrying because a majority of those with power and public influence in the UK -politicians, academics, mediafolk or the hodge-podge of those working for think tanks and charities – are remainers at heart. That applies to the people at the very head of the government for none of the holders of the four great offices of state is a sincere Brexiteer. We have a PM (Theresa May) , Chancellor (Philip Hammond) and Home Secretary(Amber Rudd) who are by temperament, conviction and public statement Europhiles and a foreign Secretary (Boris Johnson) who is a slippery careerist liable to change his position back to remainer anytime he thinks it will benefit him. In addition, Theresa May is the worst sort of remainer, namely, a cowardly one, whose taste for duplicity was shown during the Referendum campaign when she wanted to have her political cake and eat it by saying she was for remaining in the EU whilst doing precious little campaigning for a remain vote.
It is true that May has appointed two ministers( David Davies and Liam Fox )who are solid supporters of Brexit to oversee the day-to-day progress of Brexit, but they could well turn out to be window dressing to enable May to allay the suspicions of those who want Brexit that she is working towards arranging a deal with the EU for the UK to remain stitched into the fabric of the EU. Once Article 50 is triggered May could decide to dump them or adopt such an obstructive stance to prompt them to resign. Once Article 50 goes live that gives her two years breathing space to subvert the aims of Brexit and provides ample opportunity to claim that concessions on things such as free movement or paying a fee for access to the single market will have to be made. We already have hints of this in the priming of the media with stories about how all existing EU immigrants to the UK – all 3.6 million of them – will be allowed to stay.
UKip’s immediate purpose
The potential grip the remainers have on the Brexit process means that is essential for May and Co. to be kept under the tightest scrutiny until the UK is out of the EU. That is Ukip’s immediate purpose. To this end everything possible should be done to try to persuade Nigel Farage to stay on until Brexit is secured.
The Government must be pressed whenever it fails to commit itself to these lines in the sand: no free movement or any other restriction by the EU on the UK’s ability to control her borders; an end to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice over the UK; no payment by the UK of money to the EU for any reason and an end to the European Arrest Warrant. In addition, whenever, politicians, especially those on the government side, try to water down the idea of Brexit through vague and ambiguous wording, this should be made a matter of public comment and record. Those who seek to subvert the will of the British people should be forced to live in a mental world in which they know that any attempt to deliver less than the Brexit promised by the referendum question will be exposed for what it is, profoundly anti-democratic behaviour which not so long ago would have been called treason.
Lines in the sand
The idea that lines in the sand make for a weak bargaining position does not stand up. Giving away your hand before negotiating is only weakness if one side of a negotiation gives up important ground before negotiations begin. . David Cameron did that with his “negotiation” with the EU before the referendum. Cameron not only failed to have any lines in the sand he signalled his weakness by not asking for a radical deal on free movement. The lines in the sand listed above are signs of strength which say this is what we cannot concede. Such a stance would either drive the rest of the EU to decide that the best thing would be to get the UK out of the EU as quickly as possible by rapidly agreeing to a reasonable deal or prompt the rest of the EU hierarchy to show their true colours of being utterly hostile to the UK . This should force the UK government to see the only way forward is to simply leave and trade under WTO rules as John Redwood amongst others has advocated.
Within the general scrutiny there is the task of rigorously rebutting the particular claims of the remainers as to why the referendum should not be accepted. This can be readily done by sticking to the facts and following the logic of what a referendum implies for Parliament. Let me demonstrate.
The lie at the heart of the remainer’s argument
Contrary to what the remainers are now claiming voters knew precisely what they were voting for. The clue is in the ballot paper question (which was put forward by the Electoral Commission):
“Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”
The ballot question did not ask should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or seek whether she should seek another status such as that of Norway or Switzerland. It does not say that there should be another referendum on whatever terms are agreed. There is no equivocation whatsoever; the choice was out or in. If the UK had left the EU the day after the vote and traded under WTO rules or even simply declared UDI either behaviour would have been in accord with the referendum question.
In addition, the European Union Referendum Act makes no provision for a second referendum on the terms of withdrawal. There is good reason for this, the question on the ballot paper was crystal clear: leave means leave.