Making social science accessible

09 Nov 2018

Politics and Society

UK-EU Relations

Chequers; EFTA; EEA; EFA; Norway; Canada ++++; The Northern Irish Border; Free movement of people; the European Court of Justice; EU; EEC; EC; The European Council; The Council of the European Union (which is different); The Council of Europe (hah – caught you there: the Council of Europe is nothing whatever to do with the EU); The European Court of Justice; The Court of Auditors; The Committee of the Regions; Council of Ministers; the European Parliament – which meets in both Brussels and Strasbourg; Common defence and Security Policy: European External Action Service; The Council of Ministers; and on and on and on…. Don’t you just love it all? The diagrams will explain it all to you. Phew!

Did you know that the EU actually has five presidents – Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker; President of the Euro Summit, Donald Tusk; President of the Eurogroup, Jeroen Dijsselbloem; President of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi; and President of the European Parliament, Martin Schultz. I hope they all know what their jobs and responsibilities are. One thing’s for sure: no-one out here in the real world has much of a clue.

The fact is, that leaving aside a gang of academics who make a (perfectly honourable) living out of deciphering it all, and a group of eurocrats who make a less honest penny out of making it all so Byzantinely complex that no-one will ever come to realise what a chimera it is; leaving aside a tiny clique of politicians, journalists and think-tanks who find all this stuff more fascinating than any other aspect of politics or life; leaving aside the anoraks, no-one has the faintest idea what it’s all about.

Well I think it’s pretty simple. In a perfectly fair Referendum, whose veracity was questioned by neither side, the people voted to leave. They voted to leave in larger numbers than have voted for any other political party or cause at least in modern times. They were clear what they wanted. They wanted OUT. And any true respecter of democracy must now deliver just that.

A second referendum would be a constitutional excrescence, and risk bringing the whole principle of democracy crashing to the ground. A failure by the governing party to deliver what the people asked for (remember the Lib Dems and University tuition fees) would garner the greatest public outrage in a generation. Any kind of half-baked In/Out/Shake-it-all-about result designed to appease the liberal Remain-loving elite of north London and Brussels would be an outrage.

Actually what most normal people want is neatly summed up in the old name “The Common Market.” We want to be able to buy and sell things freely with the other 27 countries in the Continent of Europe. And that is all we want.

We want a ‘Full English Brexit’ (or more properly a Full UK Brexit, which is just less catchy); and we are bored to the back teeth with all the talk about it. There’s always some old groaner hanging around the Rugby Club bar keen to bang on about the club’s constitution and what would happen to the Committees if they amalgamated with the next door club. It doesn’t win them any more goals, but there are always a few who love that kind of thing. But it adds not a jot nor a tittle to the sum total of human happiness.

We want to get on with it. But we want something else too – which has been barely mentioned by any of the politicians, commentators, academics who have been so voluble over the last couple of years. We want to know what Great Britain and Northern Ireland will look like in the post-Brexit future.

We want to know what business and the economy will be like; we want to know what our public services will gain from Brexit; what our foreign policy and defence will be like. If Brexit is so great, we must lay out more of a vison as to what the people will gain from it. It is my view that gain they will – and plentifully.

So as well as cracking on with the job, we also need to paint a picture of what the EU-free future will mean for the people. None of the parties did so at the recent spate of party conferences. What a missed opportunity.

The party who can delineate a long-term EU-free future for the UK will be the party who ignites the passion and interest of the populace – Brexiteer and Remainer alike. And that will be the party which will deserve to govern the country for a generation and more.

By James Gray, Conservative Member of Parliament for North Wiltshire. His new book, Full English Brexit is available now. 


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