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Analysis

Pro-Europeans are true patriots and democrats, not Brexiters

by Hugo Dixon | 27.03.2019

It’s now clear that pro-Europeans are the true patriots and the true democrats. By contrast, an increasing number of hard Brexiters are prepared to vote to turn us into, as they have put it, a “slave state” following EU rules and trade deals without a say on them. How could that be right for our proud nation? How is that taking back control?

Jacob Rees-Mogg has already thrown in the towel, saying he’ll back the prime minister’s deal if the DUP does as well. Boris Johnson has hinted he may too. Both say they are worried that, if they don’t back the deal, the country may end up with a new referendum and no Brexit at all.

That shows that they aren’t true democrats. They are running scared of the people. If they had confidence in their case, they would take it to the people. But they know they would lose. They know their hard Brexit is bankrupt – and so they may back a deal that would turn us into voiceless ruletakers instead.

Johnson doesn’t yet appear to have made up his mind. Earlier this week he accused the prime minister of “bottling it”. In his column in today’s Telegraph he accused the government of being “spineless” but didn’t actually say what he’d do. If he now backs the deal, he will be the bottler-in-chief, a spineless invertebrate to outdo all others.

Having failed to get any change to the government’s deal, Johnson and other hard Brexiters are hoping to change the prime minister and replace her with one of her own. There is speculation that she may announce her departure this evening in order to clinch their support. That may serve the narrow political interests of their faction in the Tory party. But it won’t serve the national interest.

The DUP should be worried. Would Johnson or another hard Brexiter be a staunch defender of the union? Or might they flip in an English nationalist direction in order to wriggle out of the notorious “backstop”? The EU has already made clear we could renegotiate the backstop so it covered only Northern Ireland – leaving Great Britain to go its own way.

Scottish Tories should be worried. They have backed the deal through gritted teeth, knowing it may undermine the union between England and Scotland. The prospect of Johnson or another hardliner taking over from May would increase that risk.

Moderate English and Welsh Tories who are currently backing the deal should be worried. Many would prefer even closer relations with the EU than the prime minister has negotiated. But a hardliner would try to take us further away from the EU, causing even more economic damage.

Any Labour MP tempted to back the deal should also be worried. The prime minister has dangled various promises about workers rights and cash for their constituencies in a vain attempt to win them over. These promises are pretty worthless as they stand. If May goes, it’s hard to see how anybody could believe them.

If the hard Brexiters prove paper tigers, pro-European patriots should hold their nerve. The prime minister’s deal is a bad deal. It bears no resemblance to what Johnson et al promised in 2016. It is not nearly as good as our current deal in the EU. The government’s deal – or whatever other option emerges from the parliamentary debates – should be put to the people.

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Edited by Luke Lythgoe

3 Responses to “Pro-Europeans are true patriots and democrats, not Brexiters”

  • JR-M and BJ are both opportunists. They couldn’t give a rats ass about “the will of the people”; they are totally focused on their own political futures and their financial dealings. It comes to something when the senior figures of the EU are cheering Parliament from the sidelines while they defy the PM and show her up for what she is – and arrogant individual overwhelmingly obsessed with her own power and position who consistently makes disastrous decisions and blithely tramples over her own red lines.. She has refused pointblank to consider any other path than hers. Which leads to total disaster.

    REVOKE Article 50 NOW.

  • Couldn’t agree more. Mr. me, me, me Johnson is sitting on the fence judging the best way to leap for career and income growth (his own). What is best for the country and the citizens here never enters into the equation, if he thinks about us at all. We are already the serfs in his very own vassal state. What surprises me is that his lot continue to claim that they have the electorate at heart and even more surprising that many believe them!

    The EU are more concerned about the rights of the UK citizens than those presently charged with our well being and were elected by us to do so. Shocking betrayal of trust.