As a Remainer talking to Brexit voters about their views, I realised we all want the same thing: a say in the final deal

One Leave voter, when faced with the realisation that Brexit means giving up our vote and just copying the laws of the EU, as Theresa May recently admitted, called it ‘disgusting’

Femi Oluwole
Sunday 10 June 2018 13:32 BST
OFOC's Femi Oluwole challenges Nigel Farage over Brexit: Migrants make up 5% of UK population, but account for 10% of doctors

How do you think the Brexit negotiations are going? Are you getting what you voted for? What do you think should happen now? These are the questions we’ve been asking people in the street since February. I’m part of a youth-led campaign to shine a light on the fact that what the government is doing with your vote is not in your interests, or that of your kids.

We’re mobilising young people of all backgrounds to make their voices heard so that we can take back control of our futures.

Unlike many Remainers, who just act like they all studied EU law themselves, I actually did. It was the failure of the Remain campaign to say anything that Eurosceptics would hear that made me realise I had a responsibility to get involved in January 2016.

Can you imagine having studied EU law and watching the then-prime minister, David Cameron, make all his threats about the dangers of leaving the single market, but never once explaining what the single market actually is? Can you imagine watching him fail to provide the obvious answer to the claims made about EU immigration, namely that it was Cameron’s own government that chose not to enforce the EU’s restrictions on immigration?

So I started making videos explaining what politicians and the news were failing to. I even wrote “EU questions? Just ask!” on a T-shirt, and stood in the centre of Birmingham for a couple of days. But the Brexit vote still happened.

Nigel Farage was a great help to me after that. Calling his show on LBC allowed me to expose the lies he told during the campaign. I got him to directly contradict his claims about EU immigration, and in February I debated him live in the studio. Now, if the man behind Brexit can be made to admit the falsehoods of the referendum campaign by a millennial, maybe we can do more. That’s why several of us have left our jobs and university degrees to secure a better future.

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney: Brexit has already hit UK GDP by up to £40bn

The only way Brexit will stop is if people reject the deal presented to parliament in October. That requires a national conversation. Having had most of my Brexit discussions online, it is such a relief to talk to real Brexit voters in the street. Unlike many people online, these are reasonable people whose guiding star is what’s best for the country. So if they learn new information, their opinions change.

From what we’ve gathered, people wanted three main things: control over our laws, a better NHS and to be financially better off. What surprises them is that we respect and share those wishes.

It was never explained that it’s in our interest to have similar laws to our closest and cheapest trading partners, as it reduces costly barriers. So when I have pointed this out to people who wanted the UK to make its own laws, they have been extremely rational and accepted that.

One Brexit voter, when faced with the realisation that Brexit simply means giving up our vote and just copying the laws of the EU, as Theresa May recently admitted, called it “disgusting”.

We’ve also met a couple of Brexit voters who never actually wanted us to leave. They just wanted to express their dissatisfaction. I’m pleased to say that I’ve only met two people who were of the “chuck ‘em all out” variety. Your average Brexit voter just wanted things to get better.
And they’re almost as angry as we are when they look at what the government is doing with their Brexit vote. So if neither Brexit voters nor Remain voters are getting what they voted for, calling this the “will of the people” is a stretch.

All we’re asking is that those who voted to “take back control” keep that control, and demand with us that the people be the ones who decide whether the government’s Brexit deal is good enough. The people should decide whether the government should be spending its resources scrambling to plug the gaps Brexit creates (trade negotiations, copying EU laws, doctors, supply chains and so on), or whether it should be fixing the problems we already face here at home.

Femi Oluwole is the co-founder of Our Future Our Choice, a pressure group currently crowdfunding on GoFundMe to stop Brexit democratically

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