Well, here we are, almost 3 years on since we voted to leave the EU and not only have we not left, we have actually taken part in electing even more MEPs to Brussels! How on earth has it come to this?
In my article on the Brexit fudge last July, I covered the situation following the Chequers gathering and suggested the PM would struggle to get the agreement through parliament and would end up resigning. It took a little longer than I thought - three failed attempts to get the bill through the Commons, but inevitably Mrs May conceded defeat and will step aside on 7th June.
We have seen a number of indicative votes on a range of options discussed by MPs - customs union, no deal, revoke Article 50, second referendum - but nothing has a clear majority. The reality is that we have a remain parliament which does not really want us to leave the EU in any meaningful way and which has therefore been at odds with the country which voted 'leave'. There are many millions of people who are naturally frustrated and angry that the referendum result has not been delivered. There are also many on the remain side who continue to call for Brexit to be cancelled or at least for the chance to have a second referendum.
It is therefore no surprise that, with parliament in deadlock and unable or unwilling to deliver Brexit on 29th March coupled with the requirement for us to take part in more EU elections, we have the re-emergence of Nigel Farage and his new Brexit Party.
The EU Elections
So, we had another vote last Thursday and it's fairly clear that people are rejecting the half-in/half-out compromise of the past couple of years dished up by the main two parties. The ruling Tories slumped to 5th place behind the Greens and lost 15 of their 19 MEPs and managed just 9% of the national vote - their worst ever election result in almost 200 years. Labour did slightly better losing 10 of their 20 MEPs mainly to a resurgent Lib Dems who gained 15 MEPs.
|2014 EU Elections|
The new Brexit Party were the outright winners however both 'remain' parties, Lib Dems and Greens also did well and therefore I suggest the battle lines are now clearer leading to the new deadline:
a) 'leave' come what may by 31st October, or
b) go back to the people to reverse the referendum and 'remain'
The results were:
1. Brexit Party 32% (29 MEPs)
2. Lib Dems 20% (16 MEPs +15)
3. Labour 14% (10 MEPs -10)
4. Greens 12% ( 7 MEPs +4)
5. Tories 9% ( 4 MEPs -15)
6. SNP 4% ( 3 MEPs +1)
For someone who voted to leave back in 2016, my decision has not changed. The politicians gave us the referendum. It was billed as a 'once in a generation decision'. The question on the ballot was 'leave' or 'remain' and parliament promised to implement the outcome. We chose to leave with a majority of 1.3 million people. The problem has not been with the people who voted but with the remain politicians and civil servants entrusted with delivery of the decision.
If the result had gone the other way, I would not be jumping up and down demanding we withdraw a bit more from the EU to satisfy the 48% who voted to leave. No, I would have accepted the decision to remain - that's how democracy works...the losers have to accept the decision and move on. In the final analysis, democracy isn't really democracy if our politicians decide to just ignore the results they don't agree with.
We voted to leave and the wishes of the majority must be respected and those who voted remain should now accept the decision. Regardless of how the new PM and cabinet proceed, the simple fact endures that we cannot move forward as a country until the 2016 vote has been respected and we have left the EU. Therefore, the referendum outcome must now be delivered - deal or no deal.
Call me old fashioned but for me, it's all about integrity and democracy. I honestly do not believe a second referendum would resolve this issue. People would quite rightly ask "What did you not understand about the instruction we gave last time?" It would prolong the agony and would create more uncertainty and divisions.
We now need decisive action from the politicians to respect the result of the 2016 referendum...I'm not holding my breath.
Feel free to have a say on Brexit in the comments below. What do you make of the past three years? Has your position changed or does it remain the same? How do you see it being resolved?