Everyone's coming round to Brexit
It seems strange to recall that the House of Commons was once thought to be a major obstacle to Brexit. But as the Notification for Withdrawal Bill breezed through parliament yesterday we are reminded that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Rejoice. Brexit is on track, and it will be a great success
The House of Commons has spoken, and now the only obstacle along the road to Article 50 is the House of Lords, which is highly unlikely to attempt to thwart the will of the people.
With the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill – the Article 50 Bill – having slipped through the Commons with relative ease, it is strange to remember there was a time when Parliament was seriously considered a major threat to Brexit.
Take Gina Miller’s court case. When the case was launched last year, hard-line Remainers pinned their hopes on Article 50 being delayed or even voted down by a staunchly pro-EU Parliament, or at the very least, the Government being forced into advocating a ‘soft Brexit’.
But Miller’s downbeat victory speech after the Supreme Court ruled in her favour last month was a sign of how this expectation had disappeared.
Parliament, quite simply, has come round to Brexit. The cohort of genuine Remoaners, unreconciled to the result and intent on stopping it being realised, has dwindled to around 100 – mostly in the SNP and the LibDems.
Even Labour’s various amendments to the Article 50 Bill have failed to pass, as the Conservative Party, long hopelessly divided over the EU, has become almost uniformly committed to Brexit.
Only veteran MP Ken Clarke -- a man with a terminal case of Remoan -- now carries the pro-EU Tory banner. Philip Hammond, long considered a voice for ‘soft Brexit’ within the Government, is now openly talking about mitigating the effects of WTO rules, and telling German businesses how a free trade deal with Britain is in their interests.
Labour, meanwhile, have gone from being an almost uniformly pro-EU party to a much more divided one. Many Labour MPs who had pressed for Britain to remain in the Single Market or the Customs Union after Brexit, have fallen in line with Jeremy Corbyn and refrained from blocking Article 50, despite the Government not conceding to their demands.
And let us not forget Mark Carney and the Bank of England. Carney, one of the chief architects of Project Fear during the Referendum campaign, said last month the economic risk of Brexit had decreased so much that Brexit was now more of a threat to the EU’s economy than to Britain’s. He also claimed Brexit was no longer the main threat to the UK economy.
It is worth taking a step back and reflecting on the progress which has been made since the day after the Referendum. The numbers of Remoaners have dwindled significantly, and many of those who remain, like Anna Soubry and Chuka Umunna, have had to take a more moderate line. The odds of Brexit never happening have dropped to almost zero, and those who confidently predicted Article 50 would never be invoked are now preparing to eat their words.
So, where have all the Remoaners gone? And why have so many of them come round to Brexit? Perhaps it is because those in Parliament have been made more aware of their democratic duty to the British people – after all, it is the voters who put them in the Commons.
Much like after a General Election, we were not expecting MPs on the losing side to suddenly decide Brexit was right all along. But most MPs, it seems, have at least accepted the will of the voters.
But perhaps it is also because the months following the Brexit vote have gone so well. The economic chaos predicted by Remainers before the vote, and in the days immediately following it, have not come to fruition. With Brexit Britain succeeding and Project Fear being discredited even more every day, it should come as no surprise so many Remainers have reconciled themselves to Brexit.
Now, with only the Lords standing between us and the start of Brexit negotiations, it is time for the last few Remoaners to accept democracy and fall into line. It is the right thing to do, and it is justified by the economic success the United Kingdom has enjoyed since June 23rd.
We have made great strides towards uniting the country since the EU Referendum. As we enter talks with Brussels, we should work for greater unity still. The task is clear. Let's Get Britain Out.
Joseph Hackett is a Research Executive at Get Britain Out
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