What next for Brexit?

This was the title of a discussion which I attended last night hosted by the “Guardian” newspaper at Kings Place in central London. The panel participants were Jessica Elgot, Martin Kettle, Aditya Chakrabortty, Lisa O’Carroll and Polly Toynbee.

All the speakers were Remainders who were close to despair at how the Brexit process was unfolding and at the unpleasantness of the debate. Nobody had a clear idea how it would all work out. However, there was deep concern that, unless Parliament approves something, the UK will crash out of the EU with no deal on 29 March.

The nearest that there was to a consensus on what is likely to happen is that we could be driven to a second referendum or people’s vote. It was suggested that the Leave campaign won the last referendum by making it about more than Europe and having the brilliant slogan “Take back control”.

Apparently the Leave team has already decided on a slogan for any second referendum: “Tell them again” – which would feed into the anger of Brexiters that a second vote had been called and evoke the sense that an elite was not listening to the people.

A suggestion was made for the slogan to be used by supporters of EU membership: “Remain and reform”. I think that this would be a terrible slogan: it would beg too many questions about what reforms are sought and how they could be achieved by one EU member state among 28. But it is certainly true that the EU needs reform and that UK continued membership would help that.

I would offer an alternative slogan for the Remain campaign: “Better together”. It is hard to oppose something which is ‘better’ and the slogan could have the double meaning of Britain and the EU being together and the people and nations of Britain being together.

Over a month ago now, I was rash enough to make 16 predictions on how the Brexit crisis might work out. One of the predictions has come true and some of the others could yet come to pass, although the precise sequencing that I envisaged is not happening, thanks to Theresa May postponing the meaningful vote.

As one panellist stated: “Brexit is not an event but a process”. This story will run and run …

One Comment

  • Max Bancroft

    ‘Better together’ is good. Short, pithy, positive. It stresses that we can achieve more when we work together.
    However, it was used in 2014 by the unionist side during the 2014 Scottish referendum campaign. So it will have a negative resonance amongst the nationalist part of the Scots voting population who lost that referendum.
    May not be crucial since the voters who need to be persuaded are the English and Welsh ones. But we shouldn’t assume that the Scots, willy-nilly, will vote to stay in the EU again if the wrong buttons are pushed.
    You are correct about ‘remain and reform’. It begs the question of what we want to reform.


XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>