Those of us who opposed Brexit in the first place were often accused by the likes of Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Jacob Rees-Mogg of belonging to Project Fear and talking Britain down. Now it seems we weren’t fearful enough of how far these four horsemen of the Brexit apocalypse were prepared to go.
But the news is now out. It’s been revealed that these men of the right are marching to a tune being called by Steve Bannon, architect of Donald Trump’s 2016 election win and self-appointed coordinator of a project to bolster anti-European Union votes across the continent. David Lammy was right to brand them “a national disgrace” for meeting the former chairman of the right-wing Breitbart’s fake news outfit, where he developed the infrastructure for a new fascism.
Far from making Britain independent, these reactionary Brexiteers want to place our country at the heart of a new, international, far-right coalition. Their Ukip/Tory vision of Brexit was indeed sold as an opportunity to make Britain great again. Now we see their true dystopian vision of our post-Brexit future emerging, it is vital for everyone in Britain that a safety clause is added to the Brexit contract. Returning the Brexit deal to the British people to decide on does that.
I belonged to the 48 per cent. There is the 52 per cent. And there is the third rarely mentioned camp – those who did not vote in the referendum at all. All three groups are now more aware than ever that misinformation was rife during the 2016 campaign.
Who can forget the fake news about weapons of mass destruction which saw parliament vote for war with Iraq? The truly honourable Robin Cook cited the British people as the reason he was resigning to vote against the Labour government’s misinformed case for that disastrous war. Labour’s much-missed foreign secretary’s words provide a precedent to politicians seeking a real solution to what is now Britain’s biggest foreign policy crisis since Iraq.
Cook rightly said: “The longer that I have served in this place, the greater the respect I have for the good sense and collective wisdom of the British people.” He understood he was a servant of the people when polls in early 2003 showed the majority were against the invasion. With current polls revealing movement from the referendum’s 52 per cent and non-voting camps, majority British public opinion is against Brexit.
I hope Cook becomes a lodestar to Westminster politicians seeking to chart a course away from Tory Brexit. It is with Robin in mind that the TSSA gives our full endorsement to The Independent’s campaign for a Final Say on any Brexit deal.
I strongly believe the prevailing mood of the British people on the EU is sound. They do not believe it’s a paradise, but are now persuaded that the current Tory alternative – a Brexit departure on 29 March 2019 – represents a clear and present danger to Britain. Theresa May, most of her cabinet and the overwhelming majority of those sitting in both houses of parliament are of the same persuasion. Yet our PM’s Bannon-loving Brexiteer jailers bar her from imposing her will; Brexit armageddon looms large because of May’s political imprisonment.
Should Britain leave the EU club next March, the only party in town will be thrown by Bannon’s Brexiteers, who will be popping champagne corks to celebrate the recalibration of Britain as a deregulated tax haven on European shores. Brexit will herald a sharp turn right in our body politic which will betray working people to whom the Brexiteer Horsemen have lied to deceive. As our economy suffers a deep Brexit shock, austerity policies deeper than anything we have yet seen will follow. They must be resisted as it’s us who will foot the bill. No doubt, Liam Fox will at some point return euphoric from securing a trade deal of sorts with Trump but it will open up our cherished NHS for US-style root and branch privatisation.
Britain after Brexit will become a more racist, more divided nation and the EU will then seem a paradise lost. With the stakes so high, appeasement is not an option. Supporting a Final Say grows the resistance to this Tory war with Europe. In the face of this national calamity, following Cook’s advice to revert to the good sense and collective wisdom of the British people will also ward off the menace of the new fascism now stalking Europe.
Manuel Cortes is general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA)
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