It’s OK to change our minds. We all do. 

Many voted to leave the European Union on 23 June 2016 because they felt assured by the promises of Vote Leave.

We would be starting a process, a happy journey to a better future. But, crucially, a journey where we would be in control, whose pace and direction we would determine for ourselves. And whose destination we could choose, Michael Gove, 19 April 2016

The United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union is turning out to be less happy and as controlled a Michael Gove assured voters it would be in April 2016. The NHS will not get £350 million a week when we leave the European Union. Turkey has not joined the European Union as Vote Leave claimed it would. 75 million Turks are not threatening to flood the EU let alone the United Kingdom. Our economy is not growing it is shrinking. The EU economy is not shrinking it is growing.  So many promises.  Let us examine some of them and see if they stand up to scrutiny.

  1.  ….the EU can go whistle

In June 2017 Boris Johnson confidently promised the EU could go whistle if they thought the UK was going to pay extortionate amounts of money to leave.

Prominent Vote Leave commentators promised readers that Britain holds all the aces and that Barnier is a busted flush.

Trevor Kavanah for The Sun, “Theresa May has emerged as Europe’s most formidable political leader and not the once-mighty Angela Merkel”

The reality…

Theresa May’s government has been forced to capitulate on pretty much every EU red-line.  Leaving is going to cost the UK £ 40 – 60 billion. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has promised to put a further £ 4 billion aside to prepare our country for Brexit. The government has agreed to pay the DUP £ 1 billion to get the majority needed in Parliament to leave the EU. None of that money is going towards maintaining our public services and with economic growth down there will be very little left over for our public services in the future. Guaranteeing EU citizens’ rights will mean that UK citizens living in the UK will enjoy lesser rights than EU citizens living in the United Kingdom and that UK citizens living and working in the EU will have more rights than their fellow citizens at home. The question of the Irish border remains an open, unresolved sore threatening to destroy a hard won peace.

2. …. “we are going to make a success of Brexit.”

Our Prime Minister promised to make a success of Brexit (forward to 1.10 to hear Theresa May assure voters “Brexit means Brexit and we are going to make a success of it”)


The reality…

Theresa May has accepted that a two year transition period is necessary for British businesses.

Under the transition arrangement the UK will have to accept the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice but there will be no British judge in the European Court of Justice. The United Kingdom will have to accept all of the rules and regulations decided in Brussels but will have no say in how these are shaped. The UK will continue to have to accept the free movement of people during this transition period but have no say on any changes to this fundamental freedom.

By all measures this is not a successful deal for the United Kingdom. This is unlikely to change once we have a new agreement.

3….they need us more than we need them, we will agree a bespoke trade agreement

“We are going to get a deal which is of huge value and possibly of greater value … We are going to get the best possible deal for trade in goods and services,” Boris Johnson 12 October 2016 speaking to the Foreign Affairs Committee in the House of Commons

“And we would continue to trade with the EU, as the rest of the world does today, almost certainly assisted by a bilateral free trade agreement, which they need far more than we do, ” Lord Lawson, The Telegraph March 201

“The last thing most EU leaders wanted, once the shock had worn off, was a protracted argument with the United Kingdom which, on the day it left, became their single biggest market. Terms were agreed easily enough. Britain withdrew from the EU’s political structures and institutions, but kept its tariff-free arrangements in place. The rights of EU nationals living in the UK were confirmed, and various reciprocal deals on healthcare and the like remained,” Daniel Hannan, What Britain Looks like after Brexit, 20 June 2016

The reality…

Contrary to the assurances of those supporting our departure from the European Union the United Kingdom will not be granted a bespoke, tailor-made, tight fitting trade agreement.  Having conceded pretty much everything to Brussels over the transition agreement we have to assume Barnier is not calling the United Kingdom’s bluff when he says:

“They (Theresa May’s government) have to realise there won’t be any cherry picking. We won’t mix up the various scenarios to create a specific one and accommodate their wishes, mixing, for instance, the advantages of the Norwegian model, member of the single market, with the simple requirements of the Canadian one. No way. They have to face the consequences of their own decision.” Michel Barnier, Prospect Magazine, 17 December 2017

Any agreement will be inferior to what we currently enjoy as fully paid-up members of the European Union. If we leave the European Union our status with our European trading partners will be as a “third country”. The same status as Vietnam, Angola and the United States. It will take us years and years to negotiate everything with the WTO from tariff rates to health and safety regulations. This is not project fear. This is not scare-mongering. This is not about being a traitor to British interests. This is our future after we leave the European Union.

In June 2016 we were the fifth largest economy in the world. In December 2017 we have been down-graded to the sixth and it is set to go lower. Inflation is getting worse, our economy is not growing, we are not at the head of the queue for a trade agreement with the United States or anywhere else for that matter. It is not true that the EU is about to collapse under the weight of its own folly. The EU economy is growing and getting stronger whilst our own economy is weakening. In France, Germany and the Netherlands voters continue to believe in the EU.

The Greeks, who voted in a referendum in 2015 to stay in the euro-zone, have seen economic growth higher in 2017 than in the United Kingdom which voted to leave the EU in 2016.

Many undecided voters felt assured that if they voted to leave the European Union the government would be able to take back control and form a good trading relationship with the EU. So far none of those who have promised a successful departure have been able to deliver on any of the most basic of their promises. Anyone who voted to leave the European Union on 23 June 2016 based on these and many other assurances but who is beginning to have doubts about these promises can still change their minds. This is a fundamental principle in a functioning democracy. The right to hold our governments to account for failure to deliver. We have all made wrong decisions based on wrong and incomplete data. This is fine. The important thing is to rectify the decision before the consequences get worse. Sitting on the challenge can make the damage irreparable. If we recognise the fault early enough some of the damage can be reversed.

If you voted leave in good faith but now believe that Vote Leave have reneged  on their promises and if you have come to the conclusion that leaving the European Union is not as easy or as beneficial as promised I would strongly urge you to sign a petition keeping the option of remaining in the EU on the table. Alternatively, get in contact with your member of parliament explaining why you have changed your mind. Your opinion and your views are important to them and could help the United Kingdom mend any mistakes before irreparable and lasting damage is done.




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