It is often said that Leave voters knew what they were voting for. Well, we thought we did – but for a lot of us, it’s not what we seem to be getting.
“Brexit means Brexit” is a phrase that’s become a bit of a joke. There are a thousand different ways to interpret – or misinterpret – a Leave vote.
What has become crystal clear, on the other hand, is that “remain means remain”. And the more I think about it, the more I realise that it is better than any of the Brexit alternatives currently on the table.
Remaining inside the European Union means maintaining the economic growth, cultural variety and ease of travel we’ve enjoyed for so long.
It means a veto on anything we don’t like such as the euro, the accession of Turkey or the creation of an EU army.
It means being inside the largest trading block in the world, where we’re able to sculpt its future with our friends and neighbours for the benefit of all.
As for Brexit, it seems to mean something different to everyone. One thing’s for sure though: the Brexit I voted for sailed a long time ago.
For me, Brexit absolutely did not mean leaving the customs union and single market. I still believe we should make every effort to stay as members of these entities or align as closely as possible to them.
But that’s evidently not the vision of Brexit we’re pursuing. In fact, the Government seems set on coming out of everything associated with the EU, meaning we’ll have to start from scratch.
This has serious ramifications, including a hard border in Ireland, which we just can’t have. How do you have a border and not have a border? It’s impossible.
It will mean the UK is a less attractive location for businesses, due to the additional restrictions on the movement of goods, services and people.
It will also mean that our trade deal with the EU itself, our largest trading partner, will unquestionably be worse.
All this may be exactly what some Leave voters were dreaming of. But there’s no doubt that I’m not the only one who had a completely different vision for Brexit.
What’s more, we can surely all agree that we know much more now than we did in June 2016.
Such as the contribution of the European Arrest Warrant on deporting criminals, which we appear to be likely to lose; or the reduction in EU immigration to the UK since the vote, which means we don’t have the workers we need to keep vital parts of the economy moving.
Brexit has morphed into a gigantic act of economic and geopolitical self-harm.
David Davis wisely said these words in a speech in 2012: “If a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy.”
Well David, I wish to change my mind, so why won’t you give me the opportunity to do so?
If another referendum was held, regardless of the result, it would show democracy at its finest. I doubt anyone would (publicly) argue that there’s such a thing as too much democracy.
Our system, the best democracy in the world, encompasses the ability to react to change by changing our minds. It’s patriotic, it’s free, it’s agile, it’s independent and it’s revered across the globe.
Not allowing a second chance to confirm or overturn a previous, less well informed advisory referendum, goes against all of this.
We will be economically worse off under any scenario in which we leave the EU, or so say the Brexit impact reports produced by the Government itself. And the harder the Brexit, the worse the damage will be.
This alone should be enough to convince us that we need to look again at the entire question of whether we should depart the European Union.
Instead we get denial. “The country’s had enough of experts,” said Michael Gove. Apparently that’s true even when the experts are the Government’s own.
This madness can be stopped, even now, despite it seeming that we are too far down the rabbit hole.
I’ve changed my mind; many others have too. So let’s keep fighting for what we believe in and take back control.