Hopes for a second referendum on Brexit are receding, as more and more Tories show their true colours and fall in line behind Boris Johnson and his controversial deal. They have passed through all the stages of grief to arrive at acceptance of a Brexit that they know will make Britain poorer and weaker. One of their leading lights, the former home secretary Amber Rudd, explicitly acknowledged that the deal would “hurt the economy” – but she said “it’s the right thing to do because we had a referendum”.
Pursuing an economically devastating Brexit is a choice, not a necessity. The referendum was a mandate to change the political basis of our relationship with Europe, not to terminate all our economic cooperation altogether, as envisaged in the new withdrawal agreement. The proposal would give Britain the same economic relationship with the EU as distant countries such as Mexico or Canada. That’s why the extremist interpretation of the 2016 referendum that was begun by Theresa May and accelerated by Johnson can and must be resisted. If that cannot be achieved by a second referendum – even the most ardent campaigners now accept they don’t have the numbers – then it is vital that politicians return to the arena of compromise.
The people don’t want it – that’s what not having the numbers means – therefore the people must have it by another means.
Where are the lampposts when you need them?