I know what you’re thinking – there are a lot of things missing from the Brexit debate. Some realistic form of what post-Brexit Britain might look like, some of you might say. What I’m going to talk about here is what Remainers are getting wrong – and why that makes Brexit almost certain to happen, whatever you might think. In fact, the only thing that would stop Brexit now would be it simply being impossible to actually pull off given the personnel involved (this is theoretically possible), not anything the anti-Brexit crowd are doing.
Remainers keep coming back to Labour and Corbyn’s position on Brexit. This is because it feels like most Remainers still beating the drum these days are centre-left. I’ve explained this many times, but here it goes again: Corbyn and McDonnell’s position on Brexit makes perfect sense given their politics. It isn’t a stance taken to appease a certain old school portion of the Labour vote, it is how they actually feel about the UK’s membership of the EU. Many Labour figures go on about how you can run a perfectly left-wing country while being in the EU – look at Sweden and Denmark, for example. But that’s the point: Corbyn and McDonnell don’t want to be Sweden, however much you keep projecting that onto them. They want to be Venezuela and you can’t do that from within the EU. You can’t “requisition” people’s property from within the EU. You can’t chuck mounds of public money at corrupt crony capitalists from within the EU.
What Remainers are missing is a solid, centre-right argument for avoiding Brexit. This is the only thing that might have a chance of working. And here’s the thing: it isn’t hard. In fact, it’s much easier than constructing a reason for why remaining in a capitalist club like the EU is a good idea from a left-wing perspective. Leaving the EU will cause disruption and is in fact a major revolution in how the country is run – not something that could be described as conservative in any way. It will almost certainly hit the economy, at least in the short term, all for a theoretical long term gain that is starry eyed at best – a centre-right argument against this constructs itself. It will almost certainly result in less free trade, at least to begin with – again, the centre-right argument for why this is a bad idea doesn’t even need to be formed. It is just there.
But most people on the centre-right have settled into Brexit being something that just has to now happen. The fact that all of the anti-Brexit noise is coming from the centre-left just confirms them in this thinking. The only group that had a shot at counteracting this was the Liberal Democrats, and they decided instead to crawl into a left-wing, pre-2005 safe space where it was assured that everyone was going to completely ignore them – and so it has come to pass.
Remainers need to accept that they need to appeal to the centre-right – or else just accept that Brexit is going to happen and move on with their lives.