Peter Oborne has turned against Brexit, others should follow

by Nick Kent | 08.04.2019

Daily Mail columnist Peter Oborne has recanted his previous support for Brexit in a devastating article. A passionate Brexiter in 2016, Oborne suggests there are many other Leave voters who feel the same way but haven’t wanted to speak out.

His 4,000 word article for Open Democracy is uncompromising: “Brexit has paralysed the system. It has turned Britain into a laughing stock. And it is certain to make us poorer and to lead to lower incomes and lost jobs.”

Not only is it right for Brexiters to change their minds and at the very least support a delay to Brexit, “it’s past time we did. We need to acknowledge, too, that we will never be forgiven if and when Brexit goes wrong”.

In the most powerful section of his piece, Oborne takes apart the economic case for Brexit. “Investment-led growth has collapsed,” he says and lists some of the company decisions that have seen jobs lost since Brexit at Nissan, Sony, Honda and a host of financial businesses. He notes how even British backers of the Leave campaign, like James Dyson and Jim Ratcliffe, have announced they are moving their assets abroad.

He shoots down the claim that the UK would get better trade deals outside the EU and points out that the easy EU trade deal promised in 2016 has never materialised and that few of the 40 trade agreements that Liam Fox vowed to sign by March 2019 have been agreed.

Three things are particularly important about Oborne’s article.

First, that it should be such a wide ranging and frankly devastating critique of the key arguments used by Brexit supporters. Such intellectual underpinning as lay beneath the argument for Brexit has been demolished, brick by brick, in Oborne’s analysis.

Secondly, it matters because Oborne is a leading conservative (and Conservative) thinker and a writer. Love him or hate him, people who read his column in the Daily Mail take him seriously and his opinions often influence their own. Those who listen to him include many rightwing Conservative MPs.

Thirdly, that he should be so critical of Brexit-supporting MPs. It has been obvious for some time that the tactics used by Brexit supporters have been strikingly inept. Having unexpectedly won in 2016, they have pursued the implementation of that result with a mixture of arrogance and incompetence. Despite this, the Tory press has been reluctant to criticise Brexiter MPs.

Of course Oborne is not the first Leave voter from 2016 to have changed his mind. The Remainer Now movement has been giving a voice since 2017 to the thousands who have changed their minds. Not only has staying in the EU been leading the opinion polls since the spring of last year, in recent months that lead has become decisive as a significant number of former Leave voters have switched to Remain. That trend has been particularly striking amongst women voters, with 56% of them now wanting to stay.

It is a brave for any of us to admit that we have got a big decision wrong; to do so publicly takes particular courage. That is one of the many reasons why we should put the decision back to the people so that in the quiet of the polling booth, away from all sound and fury, people are free to change their minds and stop the disaster of Brexit.

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Edited by Luke Lythgoe

11 Responses to “Peter Oborne has turned against Brexit, others should follow”

  • there is nothing “brave” about Peter Oborne. had he truly been up to the ethical standards he holds OTHERS up to, he then should have have resigned from his berth at the Daily Mail and other hard-right media outlets.

    I still can not forgive this man of little principles, and even less to boast about, the way he colluded with Jeremy Paxman to humiliate on air the spokeperson for the EU commission by trying to hold him responsible for the decisions taken by heads of states and finance ministers during the Greek crisis.

    That bunch of idiots, as they kept hurling insults at a spokeperson. they didn’t then had the “courage”, the ethics or the professionalism to actually get the ones responsible to answer his questions. no.
    cheap, populist self-promotion in a characteristically english arrogance is all that he is about.

  • I’m trying to resist an ‘ I told you so ‘ moment and I’m trying also to feel gracious about Peter Oborne’s change of mind but as a UK citizen living in the EU I see nowhere in his article any mention of the apalling way both EU citizens living in Britain and likewise UK citizens n Europe have been treated. We were denied a say in our futures and treated as bargaining chips from the start. Yes the economy is paramount to the health of a nation but so is having a moral mindset and what has been done to 5 million people is immoral.

  • Just listened to Peter Oborne from the Daily Mail on Channel 4 News talking with Melissa Kite of the Spectator, which made an interesting contrast. It isn’t easy to admit you have been wrong, but Mr Oborne has done this in a very humbling way. Melissa Kite, on the other hand could only give superficial replies, insisting that not one of the 17.4 Million Leave voters had changed their minds. Absurd of course, since she was looking at one.

  • I have never trusted Conservatives!
    The BrexShit Frauds by BrexShitBullShitters-R-Us Fiasco have taught me that a few, a VERY FEW…. CAN be trusted to put the interests of the Country BEFORE that of THEIR own ‘career’ and their accursed Party of shysters!
    Peter Oborne is one such trustworthy Conservative!

  • The second Conservative, I trust,…. is Dominic Grieve,…. that consistently honourable man, currently subject to the bullying by his recently jackbooted local comnstituency Tory group!!!!

  • It has taken this character a long time to work out the obvious and overcome what was obviously a deeply held prejudice.

  • He needs to come out more publicly doesn’t he? The mass readership of the Mail and the Sun have probably never heard to OpenDemocracy

  • He was on the BBC Today Programme being interviewed by John Humphries and Channel 4 News yesterday, so its a good start.

  • Re ‘few of the 40 Liam Fox trade contracts have been agreed’. Nor could even be legally entered into, let alone agreed, until after March 29….sorry, May 22….sorry, June the something….