Philip Hammond is worried the people will be poorer after Brexit, but that is exactly what they voted for

The mandate was emphatic. More people voted Leave than have ever voted for anything else in the history of our nation. Their wishes must be respected

Click to follow
The Independent Online

So Philip Hammond wants to “delay Brexit”. He is a brave man indeed. Perhaps he has not read Janet Daley in the Sunday Telegraph, explaining how “Remainers and Eurocrats will never bully the British people into giving up on Brexit”?

The Chancellor, therefore, can expect the full force of the various anti-bullying measures that the Leavers have thus far come up with. He should, according to the Daily Express, be “clapped in the Tower of London for 28 days”. No, that’s not enough. He should, according to a Guildford Conservative councillor, Christian Holliday, who launched a petition to this effect on Sunday night, be charged with treason under the Treason Felony Act of 1948, which must “be amended to make supporting UK membership of the EU a crime”. 

Luckily for Hammond, the crime of treason has recently had its sentence downgraded from capital punishment to merely life imprisonment. (In the latest triumph for nominative determinism, Holliday has already been suspended from the party until November.)

Clearly, there is deep division in the Cabinet over this issue. Brexit means Brexit and we’re going to make a success of it – that much we know.

Hammond: There will be no emergency budget

It would appear to have occurred to Hammond that making a success of it may not, in fact, be possible. But the Chancellor needs to liberate himself from a serious misunderstanding that is severely holding him back. As he said in his conference speech, and has repeated since, “It is clear to me that the British people did not vote on June 23 to become poorer.” Such things may be clear to a Chancellor, who has more of a vested interest than most in attempting to ensure that a nation gets richer, not poorer. But they are not in fact clear at all. This vote, we have been told many times since, was the “normal” people, the “real” people, the “ordinary” people, standing up to the Establishment, demanding their voice be heard.

The mandate was emphatic. More people voted Leave than have ever voted for anything else in the history of our nation, as we are constantly told by the likes of Jenkin, Redwood, Fox and Davis. Many of these people absolutely did vote to be poorer, and their wishes must be respected.

So we must hear those voices. We must listen. Unconventional though this is, in a supposedly learned publication, I quote to you the previously unheard voice of a man I have never met, but who, via the wonders of shared Facebook statuses, posted the following under a typically pre-Remoaning post of mine two days before the referendum: “DEMOCRACY AS ALWAYS BEEN THE FOUNDATIONS OF OUR POSTERITY!!! Never [has] it been money. Remain vote is a greed vote that's the facts.”

I asked him what he meant by the “foundations of our posterity.” I received the following: “Our future generations. Those who come after us. This vote is for the future structure of our great country not for someone to fill their pockets as much as they can today. Your [sic] not a parent are you. As long as I'm alright Jack approach I see. If that's your view then good luck bud. Hope money makes you happy.”

These were sentiments repeated all over the various dark corners of social media in the days before the referendum, when almost everyone had come to accept that the economic argument was lost.

The idea that Britain didn’t vote to be poorer is extravagantly wishful thinking. Philip Hammond needs to get on with the job. The people have spoken. They want to be poorer. Brexit means Brexit, so make a success of it.