I used to be a Leave-voting Tory – this leadership race is yet more proof we need a Final Say

Now, instead of getting an easy deal as was promised, we’re hurtling towards leaving the EU without a deal at all. In other words, driving the car straight into the wall just for the sake of it

Leon French
Saturday 22 June 2019 10:37
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EU leaders 'unanimous' there will be no renegotiation of Brexit deal, says Jean-Claude Juncker

The last time I wrote about my political views was in 2017 after the General Election, whilst I was still a Tory who believed in leaving the EU. Oh, how times have changed!

And times really have changed, not just for me, but for Brexit itself. The promises that were made in 2016 have turned out to be guff. Now, instead of getting an easy deal as was promised, we’re hurtling towards leaving the EU without a deal at all. In other words, driving the car straight into the wall just for the sake of it.

The remaining candidates in the Tory leadership election, one of whom will become our next prime minister, are all now talking up the possibility of a disastrous no deal Brexit. Boris Johnson, the clear frontrunner, has attracted the support of the most hardcore Brexiter MPs in parliament by apparently promising them he will take us out of the EU on October 31st, deal or no deal. This is an outrageous affront to democracy considering only 160,000 Conservative members, 0.25 per cent of the population, even get a vote on deciding who the next prime minister will be.

There is no democratic mandate for a destructive no deal Brexit. It’s not what I voted for. It would destroy my area of Doncaster. This is why I’m so happy to have been invited to the People’s Vote rally in Leeds on Saturday to share my views as to why I have changed my mind on leaving the EU. It’s pretty simple for me, really: the Brexit we were sold is not what we are going to get.

They talked about “taking back control”, and yet not one of the current Tory leadership contenders can tell us how we gain on the world stage. They also seem to have no interest in passing powers down to the people. Their idea of “taking back control” seems to be keeping it within Westminster and Whitehall. Places like where I live have been ignored. I’d hoped that Brexit would mean we could start a conversation about how people across the country can really take back control, how people can have a real say in how their lives are run, not from the ivory towers of Westminster, but from their own local area.

I can still understand why people from regions like mine believe leaving the EU will be for the best. Westminster seems a long way away from Doncaster. It seems remote and out of touch. Imagine how Brussels seems? But cutting our noses off to spite our faces won’t level the playing field for places like Yorkshire. It won’t heal the North/South divide. Doncaster has received a lot of money from the Regional Development Fund for various projects. The Leavers say “it’s our own money anyway, we can decide what we want to do with it!” I can tell you this now, Westminster will not plug that funding gap. We will be massively worse off.

This rally will show people that there is anger in the North of England as to how Brexit will affect us. Hopefully now the London and the South East media will realise we’re not all angry Leave voters, frothing at the mouth over immigration and bendy bananas. We want the best for our community and it’s clear that the best for Yorkshire is remaining in the EU.

Leon French voted Leave in 2016 but now supports a People’s Vote. He is a supporter of the group Remainer Now

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