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Analysis

EU lovebomb shows we can change our mind

by Hugo Dixon | 21.01.2018

Three of Europe’s most powerful politicians have all confirmed in the past week that we can stay in the EU if we wish.

Perhaps the most important intervention came from Emmanuel Macron. The French president told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that the other EU countries would be unhappy if we quit. Asked if Brexit was inevitable, he replied: “I do respect this vote, I do regret this vote, and I would love to welcome you again.”

Earlier in the week, the European Council president Donald Tusk said Europeans’ “hearts are still open” to “our British friends” to remain in the EU. “If the UK government sticks to its decision to leave, Brexit will become a reality, with all its negative consequences in March next year, unless there is a change of heart among our British friends.”

Quoting the Brexit secretary, he told the European Parliament: “Wasn’t it David Davis himself who said ‘if a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy’? We here on the continent haven’t had a change of heart – our hearts are still open to you.”

Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, rammed home the point the following day, telling MEPs: “If the British people, the British parliament, the British government, wish for another way than Brexit, we would be prepared to discuss it. We are not throwing out the British, we want them to stay.”

These messages are loud and clear. They are important because Theresa May has tried to pretend that our departure from the EU is inevitable – that, after she triggered Article 50, the ship had sailed, the train had left the station or some other such metaphor had taken flight. This is despite the fact that John Kerr, the diplomat who helped write Article 50, has argued convincingly that we can revoke the Article 50 notification so long as we do so before Brexit day.

The interventions by Macron, Tusk and Juncker give a lie to anybody who says otherwise. This is important because many voters think there’s no point in even thinking about stopping Brexit if it is inevitable.

Love-bombing the UK is not sufficient to reverse Brexit. Pro-Europeans now need to convince the public that it is a good idea to do so. But it is a step in the right direction.

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Edited by Luke Lythgoe

4 Responses to “EU lovebomb shows we can change our mind”

  • The Brexit referendum and the election of Trump both show the power of populatrism. You cannot counter it by logical argument, such as the excellent articles on this web site.

    What we need is equivalent argument to the “take back control”, “I want my country back” etc. i.e appeal to emotion, not just facts and rational arguments.

  • Sadly I don’t think anyone in Government has any intention other than carrying on with this madness to make the UK a poorer and less influential place. Even worse is the fact that The Labour Party is playing its own political game and putting party interests above the UK’s interests. The Lib Dem’s are the only party openly opposed to Brexit but they are a “busted flush” and few will trust them after helping the Conservatives pursue a damaging austerity policy for so long.
    I expect that “leavers” and “remainers” have now retreated into only listening to arguments that support their position, reading the newspapers and web sites (like infacts) that reinforce their original view. My question is how are the emerging facts about the negative – and positive (there must be a couple) impact of leaving the EU ever going to be debated objectively and heard by the whole country, not just being expounded in cosy niches?

  • According to Nick Clegg in his pamphlet ‘Stop Brexit’ we are required to become politically active. To do more than complain, re-Tweet or march, but to join a political party, put pressure on our MP and get our view known in that party.