On June 8, Jeremy Corbyn pulled off one of the greatest upsets in British politics and due to his success the future of Brexit is in doubt. May’s vision of a “hard Brexit” is under attack and the remnants of the Remain camp have now resurfaced with the goal of softening our withdrawal from the EU. However, there is nothing to fear. The cliché phrases of “soft Brexit”, “hard Brexit” and “red, white and blue Brexit” are finally going to be put to bed. Why? David Davis and Michel Barnier have announced that Article 50 negotiations are to begin on June 19 – finally. Of course, the negotiation process will be far from smooth and easy but it will showcase democracy in action.
Unfortunately, there are some who still refuse to accept the referendum result and these same people are (tragically) trying to use May’s electoral failure as an anti-Brexit vote. They couldn’t be more wrong. Alastair Campbell and Chuka Umunna have proclaimed that the result of June 8 is a victory for Remainers. How did they figure that one out? On the issue of Brexit negotiations, Labour’s manifesto reads; “retain the benefits of the Single Market and the Customs Union.” However, John McDonnell confirmed that his party was committed to leaving the single market because remaining would be “not respecting that referendum”. The French President, Emmanuel Macron, has offered Britain a route back into the EU by claiming it is not too late. This is impossible. Democracy has spoken and the government must focus on getting the best deal for Britain as well as healing the divisions that the debate has caused. Furthermore, the parties that supported leaving the single market and customs union received 85% of the vote on June 8, whereas parties that wanted a “soft Brexit” (Lib Dems, SNP, Greens etc.) fell behind. Theresa May, alone, received 44% of the vote which is an overwhelming mandate to take into the Brexit talks. Therefore, despite what Alastair Campbell and co. tell you on Twitter, the general election result was not a Remain resurgence; the only true Brexit is one in which we, as a nation, no longer have any affiliation with the EU.
Theresa May’s cabinet may make it look as if she has thrown in the towel and surrendered to the demands of the Remainers within her party. I disagree. Political pundits must engage in the detail and share the information with the public. To start with, the individuals who fought for a leave vote are arguably the most influential and powerful members of the Conservative party; Boris Johnson, David Davis, Liam Fox etc. Furthermore, the return of Michael Gove to the cabinet as Environment Secretary is also a clear message to the public that Theresa May is fully committed to her Brexit plan. Other key Brexiteers include Priti Patel, Andrea Leadsom and Chris Grayling and this theme continues in the Government’s junior ministerial appointments. For example, notable Conservative MP and Vote Leave campaigner, Dominic Raab has returned to the ministry of Justice where he first served from 2015-2016. In an even bigger move, Steve Baker is now the Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. He is arguably one of the most influential backbenchers in the Tory party and was co-chair of the “Conservatives for Britain” group or, as The Independent described him, “one of the most vocal Eurosceptic Tory MPs”. Overall, despite being outnumbered, the Brexiteer ministers and cabinet members are the most powerful. Moreover the Government has just hired Crawford Falconer, former trade head of New Zealand, as chief trade negotiator. If the Government was planning to keep Britain in the customs union, meaning Europe would still make our trade deals, this appointment would be utterly pointless.
A recent survey conducted by Conservative Home found that 60% of party members want Theresa May to resign. She simply cannot afford to aggravate the party any further; especially not with a U-turn on Brexit. Europe has been a cancer at the heart of the Conservative party for decades and Mrs May cannot risk destroying the party and dividing the country again. According to Robert Peston, the DUP has favoured Theresa May and David Davis’ Brexit plan over Philip Hammond’s and the rest of the Tory Remainers’; it would almost be impossible for Theresa May to back track on this commitment. The pressure she faces from her party is immense and her premiership is hanging by a thread because of it. The power and influence of the Brexiteers could be the downfall of Theresa May, a fact of which she is fully aware. She must tread lightly if she wants to rescue her reputation. This is one U-turn Theresa May wouldn’t survive.
This government has been described as a disaster before it has even started; calls for May to resign are getting louder every day. However, Brexit’s future cannot be questioned. The media and the public have exaggerated the power of the DUP in this government’s agenda and must recognise that it is in the DUP’s interest to keep Corbyn out of Number 10. Corbyn’s Labour have also agreed to exit the Single Market and Customs Union. Ironically, “Remoaner” Chuka Umunna is crawling back to Corbyn for a shadow cabinet position despite the party’s Brexit stance.
The Conservatives’ vision of Brexit is soon to be a reality. The fact that 85% of the vote was won by “hard Brexit” parties illustrates that the mandate for Brexit has never been stronger. Brexiteers across the country have nothing to fear and with negotiations to begin in a matter of days, we must turn our attentions to getting the best deal for Britain.
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