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The battle is only just beginning

Marching for Brexit, London, 29 March 2018. Photo Workers.

Finally, more than three-and-a-half years since the referendum, Britain is going to leave the EU. In principle, we leave at the end of January. That is the clear result of the general election on 12 December.

All the schemes, the arrogance, the contempt for democracy of the diehard Remain campaigners, have come to nothing, squashed by the vote of the people – as happened in 2016. 

Was the election really all about Brexit? John McDonnell, reluctantly, acknowledged, “people did want to get Brexit done”. But it was actually about something deeper: democracy. When the people voted Leave, they – and millions who voted Remain – expected the decision to be respected.

And the opposite happened. The Liberal Democrats went into the 2019 election calling for a repeal of the Article 50 decision without even a “people’s vote”. Labour offered a choice between staying in the customs union and the single market and dynamic (automatic) alignment with EU laws on the one hand, or simply staying in the EU on the other.

No choice

That was no choice at all, and on 12 December they had their “people’s vote”, their second referendum. Millions turned to the Conservative Party and, in significant but lesser numbers, the Brexit Party. Not because they have love for either party, but because if they were determined to vote again for British independence they had nowhere else to go.

Even so, turnout was down on 2017. And down even more – around 5 per cent or 2 million voters – on the 2016 referendum, probably because many were too disgusted to enter a polling station. 

Leaving on 31 January is, though, just about the only thing that is clear. For then the “transition” will begin, during which the government and the EU will attempt to reach a full leaving agreement. And during which Britain will be subject to all new EU law but have no say in its making.

The election has shown that when the people want to, we can consign political leaders and media darlings to the dustbin of history. We can create governments and destroy them. 

More needed

But in the coming period we are going to have to do much more. It won’t be good enough to see what final deal comes up and then punish or reward one party or the other in five years’ time. To win Brexit, we the people must assert our own sovereignty, our own control.

Despite the election, most MPs still do not truly believe in an independent Britain and would really like some form of BRINO, Brexit in Name Only – and in the case of the SNP divide Britain (see article, page 4). Most Conservative MPs backed Remain in 2016, and despite the 2017 and 2019 elections that majority is still there: a fifth column in waiting.

That’s why parliament must be overwhelmed by the people’s desire to leave in a way that restores independence to Britain. The fight is not over, not by a long chalk. The battle – the real battle – for an independent Britain is only just beginning.