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‘Dear Donald, we’ve changed our mind…’

by Hugo Dixon | 10.11.2017

John Kerr, the peer who drafted Article 50, says we don’t have to leave the EU if we don’t want to. We imagine the letter a future prime minister writes to Donald Tusk, the EU Council president, explaining that we’ll stay after all.

Dear Donald

My predecessor informed you of our “intention” to quit the EU in March 2017. I want to tell you that we have changed our mind and no longer intend to leave, and so we are withdrawing our notification under Article 50 of the treaty.

John Kerr, who wrote Article 50, has pointed out that we have the right to change our minds. You yourself said in October 2017 we have three options: “A good deal, no deal or no Brexit”.

We held a referendum yesterday in which the people made clear they wish to stay in the EU. This is because new facts have emerged.

First, the deal Theresa May was able to agree was not a “good deal”. It was nothing like what Boris Johnson and other Leave campaigners promised in the previous 2016 referendum. Rather than £350 million a week coming our way, we would have paid you £50 billion to settle our past bills. We were not able to have our cake and eat it, either. The deal would have meant less access to our most important market and we would have had to follow many of your rules without having a vote on them. Exactly the opposite of “taking back control”.

Second, our economy is already suffering. The Brexit-induced plunge in the pound has pushed up prices; investment has ground to a halt; and we have moved from being the fastest to the slowest growing economy in the Group of Seven large industrialised nations. And we have not even left. The British people do not want to be stuck in the slow lane as far as the eye can see.

Third, the Brexiters’ “global Britain” mantra has been revealed as guff. The idea that we would become swashbuckling buccaneers like Sir Francis Drake is nonsense. Without the clout of the EU behind us, we saw that other big trading blocs would bully us. We would be powerless to stop China dumping its steel, America forcing chlorine-washed chicken down our throats and Apple refusing to pay a fair amount of tax.

Fourth, the world’s getting more dangerous. We had not expected Donald Trump to become US president and try to tear up the Paris climate agreement and the Iran nuclear deal  – or say Nato was obsolete. We had not expected terrorist attacks on British soil. We now know we are better able to face these dangers by working with Europe rather than turning our backs on it.

Finally, we realise that the big migration challenge for the next generation is not free movement of people within Europe but the tens of millions of people on the move in Africa and Asia. They cannot get to America or Japan. Many want to come here. We need a joined-up policy – involving trade, aid, diplomacy and selective military action – to stabilise this region. We know we are much more likely to be successful if we work with the rest of Europe than pull up the drawbridge.

This is a genuine change of heart. It is true that we’re not in the eurozone or the border-free Schengen Area – and have no intention to join them. But we want to be fully involved in everything else. We want to help our European friends make the economy more dynamic by completing the single market. We want to manage globalisation so the benefits of technology and trade are shared fairly among all our people rather than increasing inequality. And we want to make Europe stronger and safer in this turbulent world.

There is lots of work to do. Let’s get cracking.

Best wishes

A. N. Other PM

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Edited by Luke Lythgoe

10 Responses to “‘Dear Donald, we’ve changed our mind…’”

  • Yes. I’ve changed my mind. I voted to remain but regret that intensely after all the gibes and down right ill will thrown at the country from Europe. I am fully behind the vote to leave. I will not be cowed by scare-mongering and insults thrown from Europe at both my country and fellow countrymen. Let them beware how far they go!

  • The PM says she won’t tolerate any attempt to block Brexit from which ever quarter. In other words, the Government has to be handed a blank cheque.

    MPs are not elected to be voting fodder. They have a duty to establish what terms an EU deal would have, and if in their judgement, the deal failed to deliver on a range of criteria, they would have every right to block the Bill. If a deal were to clearly leave the country worse off, then Parliament must demand the terms be re-negotiated or Brexit rejected entirely. There is nothing underhand or undemocratic about this. Many, if not most of the relevant facts relevant to the UK’s departure, were not known prior to the Referendum, whilst other facts were deliberately distorted.
    If any MP fails to accept that he/she has a personal responsibility to take the right decison on this vitally important question, they must really ask themselves what is their purpose in being an elected MP.

  • ‘This is a genuine change of heart. It is true that we’re not in the eurozone or the border-free Schengen Area – and have no intention to join them.’

    …. and consequently, we accept that you will make all the decisions from now on without reference to us and that we will remain on the periphery as before , we understand that we will be expected to subsidise whatever you decide and that we will no longer receive any refund of our contributions.

  • When the pound plummets , when the lie about £350 million a week fails to materialise, when food eg butter goes from 89 p a pack to 1.40+ those are facts not scare tactics! When someone keeps repeating the mantra it will all be fine in such a situation you worry about them. But to claim that the facts make Remainers using scare tactics is just unhinged!

  • Well said, Alex Wilson, I couldn’t put it better myself. If only we had many more MPs with the courage of their conviction to vote down the suicidal idea that we are better off outside the EU, which Britain fought so hard to be an integral part.

  • Nice piece and in a former state of feeling and thinking I would have hoped it would come true. Having seen Britain go seriously senile and officially abusive toward the EU and European things in general I think it is better for Britain (and the Continent by proxy) if Britain is cast off in March 2019 and experiences the hard way whatthe EU did for them. Brits appear to have to learn otherwise obvious things, such as the fact that ships need sufficient lifeboats, the hard way. Well, let it come and if the nation then wants to come back it can negotiate (this time hopefully without an internal Tory battle raging) a new entry. Not sure that no Schengen and no Euro are part of the deal then, incidentally.

  • I wrote this for May in August 2016: I got the year wrong, otherwise still valid.

    SO – HOW WILL THERESA CUT THE GORDIAN KNOT?
    HER SPEECH TO THE NATION.
    Due for around Spring 2017 – or earlier?
    Mr Speaker

    The Referendum in June was a wonderful demonstration of the power of democratic and free expression in this great nation of ours. In Britain we value the freedom to express our opinions, wishes and thoughts, openly and without fear. I will always defend these British values.

    As has now become generally clear to all, the referendum was set up by Parliament, the supreme authority in the nation, in the 2015 Act as a Consultation of the people. There were to be no winners or losers. No voting threshold was set to determine whether there should be any “winner”. Parliament did not commit to any action as a result of the consultation. Any such action on such a major decision for the country would obviously always have to be considered, debated and voted on in Parliament in accordance with our British constitution.

    We promised in our Manifesto of 2015 to respect the outcome of the advisory referendum, and we have respected it by careful consideration of its consequences.

    The result confirmed the broad average of the numerous opinion polls taken before the vote; that the country was divided about 50 – 50 into those who wished to Remain in the EU, and those who expressed a wish to Leave, for whatever reasons they might have.

    The wishes of the 28% who did not vote are unknown, but there is an established principle in English law that the absence of expressed dissent implies acceptance of the status quo.

    This result is very significant and shows that while more than half the electorate are content to remain in the EU, 37% of the electorate have expressly said they are not. We must therefore look deeply into the reasons for this discontent. The reasons could be fear of excessive immigration, of remoteness from the democratic process, of simple nostalgia by the older generation, or other reasons. All these are serious and valid reasons which we will respect.

    Over the last few months this Government has explored the options of leaving the EU. Highly motivated and dedicated Ministers have worked hard, travelled wide, and put in all their best efforts to seek the very best deals for Britain worldwide.

    I have to tell you, as your Prime Minister, that the results of all this work have not been encouraging. Enormous tasks, complexities.. blah blah…

    The positive result of all this hard and dedicated work is that we now have far more hard facts at our disposal than we had in June.

    As a result, I am now passing the question to Parliament. Parliament will very carefully consider and debate the wishes of the 37% of the electorate who voted Leave, the wishes of the 63% who did not vote to Leave, the hard facts that have come out since, and the best interests of the nation as a whole. There will be a free vote. The result of that vote will the final democratic decision of the British people, made through the system of representative democracy which has served us well for over 400 years, has inspired free peoples across the whole world, and kept Britain in the forefront of democracy, fairness and reform throughout Europe and the world.

    Cheers from the House. Dancing in the streets. Some innocent Poles and Asians get beaten up. Johnson says – phew! Farage fumes. We all get back to normal.
    (Of course it’s bol…ks but that’s politics)

  • What David Davis fairly much confirmed today is that Parliament’s vote will be a ‘Take it or Leave it’ ultimatum, and MPs will be ‘bounced’ into accepting what he has negotiated or no deal at all. Not a great choice. Davis knows full well the vote will be too late in the process for any changes to be put back to the EU. The EU politicians will be blamed for that. Pro-Europe MPs must now work together for the good of the country’s future. They must co-operate to get some meaningful amendments passed. My 3 priorities would be;
    1. remove the 29.3.19 date from the Bill. This would make it easier to extend a period of negotiation with the EU.
    2. amendment to shadow Single Market ground rules preventing ‘environmnetal and social dumping’. The EU would oppose any deal which allowed the Uk to act as a’low cost off-shore economy, by undercutting environmental/workplace rules;
    3. Most importantly, apply for membership of Single Market and Customs Union.
    There is no mandate to depart from either of these, and many of the barriers and complications for business and travel would be avoided. This option would require a membership fee, but the Eu would probably be happy to negotiate an acceptable sum given the win/win for all sides.