Their approaches take many forms, the Sanguinistas.
“By resisting Brexit you lose the ability to influence its shape.” “Theresa May needs a bigger majority so she can face down her rebels.” “Brexit is a done deal. Make the best of it.”
And I ask: how will I influence its shape by accepting it? What evidence do you have to support that notion? How do I make the best of it?
And they remain silent.
The Conservatives had nine months between the referendum result and triggering Article 50. Did they use those nine months to engage the country in a discussion about the form our departure from the EU should take? They did not. Did they recognise that on the Leave side there were a dozen contradictory positions – to save the NHS, to cut immigration, to select immigrants, to kick the establishment in the teeth, for the principle of more autonomous law making, out of fear of a rush of Turkish immigrants, and many more? They did not. Did they seek national unity in advance of national strife? They did not. Did they want engagement? They did not.
Did they march public expectation to the top of the hill and leave it to others to march down again? Did they use the press to belittle our judiciary? To tar as unpatriotic, or worse, those who sounded notes of caution? Or who sought to establish that the control to be taken back should rest in the hands of Parliament not an unelected Prime Minister acting in the teeth of her Manifesto? Did they rattle their sabers at our European neighbours? Did they threaten to withhold security co-operation, whilst risking our own? Did they cosy up to Trump and Erdogan and Saudi Arabia and the Philippines as they threatened and belittled France and Germany and Italy and Spain? Did they offer to turn the United Kingdom into a tax haven on the doors of Europe? And hold an enormous carbon-emitting bonfire of the regulations that seek to salvage a home for our children?
And now? Now that the Government has turned the rhetoric dial up to eleven? Now that the Prime Minister has accused the EU of interfering in domestic politics and willing us to fail? Now that she makes the clear choice to put parochial interests before those of the nation? Now, as the gap yawns? Between the imagined reality of a clique of tax dodgers, climate change deniers, profiteers, and fascists and the politics and Government they fund? And the actual reality in the actual world. As that chasm gapes and widens? Now that a chaotic Brexit that stands to leave hundreds of thousands of Britons living in Europe without healthcare or residency rights? And the same for millions of Europeans here – our colleagues, our neighbours, our friends, our husbands, our lovers? And cause enormous chaos and unrest in relations with our closest and dominant trading partner? With huge consequential disruption for lives and livelihoods? Now that Brexit hoves into view?
Should we work with them now?
Answer for yourself.
But I ask you this, you Sanguinistas. Those who make a living from cutting their political cloth to suit the day’s prevailing fashion. Whatever the price. What would cause you to say, “I have changed my mind. Although I hope for success, the risks of Brexit outweigh the prospects of delivering it? These are not people who I can influence, or influence for the better? The interests of my country are not served by this cause?”
What would it take for you to recant? What evidence would persuade you? Is there any?