The EU Referendum voted in favour of Brexit by 52%; with a 72% electoral turnout. This means 37% of the total electorate registered to vote in the UK voted for Brexit. Thus, 37% will carry forward a major change for the country, both with regard to the Constitution and the potential breakup of the UK if Scotland leaves the Union. Ordinarily I would expect a 2/3rd majority for a change to the Constitution – the UK has an unwritten one. Nonetheless whatever the parameters chosen at the beginning of the Referendum to decide whether to Leave or Remain – a simple majority of the turnout – we need now to respect those and follow the result through.
Brexit has shown how the country is divided, 2/3rd of those over 65 decide the fate of 2/3rd of the under 25, with diagrammatically opposed views on an issue that seems to me is more about the future of the young than the elders in society, the EU project – many elders cited their reason to vote leave because they wanted to go back to the good old times.
That the Democratic element of this Referendum is a farce is an understatement in my view, particularly as the 2 million UK citizens living in the EU would have found it difficult to vote in what seems like an antiquated way of casting a vote in what otherwise is an electronically fast moving world. Political campaigns are reduced to marketing ploys and spin rather than a truthful debate on the merits of the issues and stakes.
What is worrying is that Brexit has unleashed racial prejudices that we thought belonged only to a bygone era. The rise in race hate is unprecedented and requires a tough stand from the Home Office and a zero tolerance approach from the police. Over 50 years ago Paul Stephenson OBE helped to bring about the Race Relations Act 1965 – evidence of the same prejudice suffered then is appearing again.
The Brexit result rejects the free movement of people; it wants Britain to take control of its borders. Brexit rejects the over-ruling by the European Court of justice of our parliament’s sovereign decisions. But Brexit wants access to the single market, only not at any price. This is not about ‘cherry-picking’ but about reforming a system that will leave the people less divided in their own EU nations. Brexit has shown divisions in the UK which I dare say Germany and France would probably find the same.
The Maastricht treaty wanted the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) but the UK opted out and the result was that rather than 5 principles, including the currency union with the Euro, the EU was left with 4 principles of free movement of Goods, Services, Capital and People. Brexit has rejected the 4th principle of People’s free movement to the extent that it will sacrifice the single market. The driver behind the vote to leave is the free movement of people. Just as the 5th principle of ERM was negotiated for an opt out by the UK the 4th principle of free movement of people doesn’t seem necessary for the proper functioning of the single market of goods, services and capital.
Brexit now needs to work on a Business Plan before triggering Article 50 and setting in motion our departure from the EU. They should produce a negotiated business plan of facts and figures showing the pathway to access the single market, albeit under a new possible range of tariffs, any passporting rights & concessions for the City, increased administrative burdens of VAT and Tax, the EU Blue card for our Youth, dual citizenship for business people, academics, professions and entrepreneurs, amongst many other things.
Anil Bhanot OBE