As we reported last week, at grassroots level, most people, whatever position they took in the referendum debate, have been sufficiently grown-up to accept the result and get on with life. A You Gov poll published on Friday provides some hard statistics to back this up:- 69% of people believe the result of the EU referendum should be respected, with only 22% thinking it should be overturned. Similarly, only 34% of people thought a second EU referendum would be acceptable while 56% said it would not.
There remain, regrettably, a few outposts of childishness – sulky remainers who still cannot bring themselves to accept the result. Lloyd Evans, writing in the Spectator, came across some of them at the Edinburgh Fringe. Apparently support for remain among the arts world stood at 96%. Only one comedian cracked a pro-Brexit joke. Other comedians did their best to lighten their spirits with a bit of humour, such as Andy Zaltzman, who claimed that ‘Jeremy Corbyn campaigned for Remain with all the ferocity of a cornered blancmange’ but then went on to talk about who was to “blame” for the result.
As the article points out, one reason for the anger of these arty-types is that they have been heavily reliant on the EU for their funding. “Quitting the union means withdrawing from a little-known body, Creative Europe, which has astronomical sums to splurge around. Between 2014 and 2020 it intends to disburse a total of €1.46 billion to successful applicants“.
One has to ask, what has got into these people, moaning about not being able to go over to a foreign country with a begging bowl to demand the crumbs that fall from their table. Surely citizens of our great nation should have a bit more self-respect?
And it’s not just a few throughly spoilt arty types. The left of centre blogger Jon Worth who calls himself “an EU policy specialist by background” refuses to “Embrace it, make a success of it and shut up and move on.” Instead he writes, “If the Conservatives got into power and starting privatising something I didn’t like, what would I do? I’d come up with every possible way to stop it happening – using parliamentary means, legal means, protest means, trying to get press coverage. Until the law is passed, the thing actually happens, you do not give up. I see no reason why it should not be the same with the EU referendum.” he further states that he does not believe that Brexit will happen.
“Keep making your case and don’t apologise” he adds. “Find legal routes, use political parties and parliamentary means to oppose Brexit.” in other words, don’t accept the democratic will of the people – an historical result achieved against overwhelming odds. What a contrast to the attitude of the losing side after the 1975 referendum, which was simply “The people have spoken” .
Dear Reader, I expect by now your blood must be boiling, but before I sign off, let me introduce one more whinger for the collection: the Russian-born economist Anatole Kaletsky. Writing in the Guardian, he claims that “over time, with help from Brussels, public opinion will shift”. His reasoning is simple – the referendum vote cannot hold back the tide of globalisation. There are major flaws in his arguments, however. Increasing grobal trade is not causing other nations in other continents to construct federal superstates and pool their sovereignty. ASEAN, NAFTA and, yes, EFTA are trading blocs, nothing more.
The idea that the UK can secure “additional reforms” and then we’ll all be happy with EU membership is absolute rot. Kaletsky’s proposal is essentially for the EU to play hardball – offering no special deal. This will force the UK back to the negotiating table and, in exchange for a few minor concessions, the electorate would somehow see that EU membership is a good thing.
This argument falls down primarily because the referendum was won by the Leavers in spite of considerable confusion about the bext exit strategy. The only reform acceptable to most leavers would involve the complete dismantling of the EU institutions, the end of its political ambitions and its shrinkage to a mere free trade organisation. Some hope!
In addition, Kaletsky indulges in consderable speculation regarding which exit routes the Government has chosen. We know that much time is being spent behind the scenes evaluating the various options. Mrs May, to her credit, seems to be keen to ensure that a thorough plan is devised before Article 50 is invoked.
In summary, for all the pitiful whinging of these incorrigible remainers, we are confident that the UK WILL exit the EU and that process will begin with Article 50 being invoked during 2017. Last Friday, Bloomberg suggested that Mrs May was going to set things moving by April at the latest. The waiting is frustrating, but there is nothing we can about it, except remain vigilant. Remainers cannot and will not be allowed to snatch defeat from the jaws of our great victory.