Thinking about voting for the ‘Brexit Party’? Please read this first.
No matter what side of the argument we are on, I think we can all agree that Brexit is a mess. Politicians have utterly failed in delivering it. A lot of people feel betrayed, so wanting to vote for Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party in the upcoming European Elections is understandable.
But let me try to convince you that the Brexit Party isn’t the solution they paint themselves to be.
Something that I’ve learnt over the last three years is that there isn’t one kind of Brexit. There are many kinds of Brexit.
After the referendum, I was in favour of a ‘Norway’ style Brexit. Before the referendum, Nigel Farage was in favour of a ‘Norway’ style Brexit too. If you need reminding, watch this.
A ‘Norway’ style Brexit means leaving the political institutions and the rulings of the European Court of Justice. It means halving budget contributions, because — just like Norway and Switzerland — we’d only be paying for access to our largest and nearest market. It also means operating by the rules of the single market and — combined with a customs union — would remove the risk of a ‘hard border’ in Northern Ireland as well as facilitate frictionless trade between the U.K and E.U.
This is a far cry from the Norway option which would at least help protect the jobs and livelihoods we have. A ‘no deal’ WTO Brexit wouldn’t even do that — it’d make things worse. Whereas a ‘Norway’ style Brexit would help protect Britain’s manufacturing industries, Vote Leave economist: Patrick Minford openly admitted a ‘no deal’ WTO Brexit would destroy them.
In arguing for a no-deal WTO Brexit, the Brexit Party and other’s in favour of ‘no deal’ like to think of themselves as patriots.
But, you see, here’s where I see red.
Tell me. How is supporting a no-deal Brexit ‘patriotic’ when it might interrupt life-saving medication for this fellow citizen’s young daughter?
Oh hang on, this scared Dad is scaremongering right?
How is supporting a no-deal Brexit ‘patriotic’ when considering the fear and anxiety the return of a hard border in Northern Ireland would cause our fellow British and Irish citizens (not to mention the massive inconvenience)?
If warnings about a hard border are ‘project fear’, then why has Jacob Rees-Mogg himself accepted it would mean a return to border posts? I’m old enough to remember the Troubles. I think, as patriots, we owe it to the more than 3500 people who died — whether British, Irish or neither — that we avoid anything that risks the return of a hard border.
Maybe all the other risks of a ‘no deal’ Brexit are scare-mongering too: like food shortages, Donald Trump buying up the NHS, the conversion of the UK into a zero-tariff offshore tax haven and the slashing of worker’s rights, consumer protections and environmental standards.
Maybe it’s fine that even Nigel Farage admits that there isn’t a single other country on the entire planet that trades on purely WTO rules.
But what if just one — just one — of the dangers of a no-deal WTO Brexit I’ve described actually happens? Are you fine with that?
If you are, then I ask you to do just one thing before you put your cross in the ‘Brexit Party’ box on May 23rd.
Choose the one thing out of all of the above that you think would be an acceptable price to pay for a ‘no deal’ Brexit. Then decide what you would say to your fellow countryman or woman who’d be directly affected by it too.
What do you say to the small business owner who goes bust, and all their employees who are out of a job, because they can’t compete with zero-tariff imports? What do you say to the person who’s hungry enough already? What do you say to the person who lost a loved one to the Troubles? What do you say to the family whose entire adult members work in car manufacturing? What do you say to James when his daughter’s insulin supply runs out?
When you come to vote in the election, you may not think that any other political party represents your views. I’d agree with that.
But whatever the problems may be with the ongoing failures of the ‘political class’, there is one thing I couldn’t be more sure about: the Brexit Party is not, and never will be, the solution.