EU bullying and Blair’s ‘Project Patronise’ reaffirm why so many of us voted for Brexit in the first place

EU bullying and Blair’s ‘Project Patronise’ reaffirm why so many of us voted for Brexit in the first place

It is clear that Michel Barnier and his EU friends still haven’t learnt a key lesson from the UK’s decision to leave: we don’t like bullies, especially those trying to undermine our domestic affairs. This became apparent after the EU published its draft withdrawal agreement between the EU and the UK that included a proposal to keep Northern Ireland in a customs union.

The more that the EU tries to belittle the UK, the more we see the true face of this failing institution – and this only strengthens the case for the Government to stay strong and push for the clean Brexit which I and so many others campaigned and voted for. The Prime Minister, Theresa May, has been nothing but reasonable, respectful and pragmatic in her approach to the negotiations; now the EU needs to reciprocate.

After the failed intervention of the then US President, Barack Obama, during the referendum campaign and the backlash that followed, you would think that former Prime Ministers Sir John Major and Tony Blair would know better. But still they – and others from the Remain campaign – seem determined to patronise the so-called “Ultra Brexiteers” and seek to change the minds of 17.4 million Leave voters, explaining to us the supposed damage that Brexit would cause in “easy to understand ways”, as Blair put it in his Open Britain speech in February 2017. The referendum happened, we heard both sides of the debate and the decision was made. Project Fear was not successful, and neither will be Project Patronise.

As a Conservative activist, I have continued to speak to voters on the doorsteps since the referendum, and the overwhelming message from them is that the Government should get on with the job of leaving the EU and make the most of this opportunity. And to Blair, I say: no, “getting on with it” is not simply a “very powerful sentiment,” but a clear instruction to the Government to carry out the will of the people.

Just as Brexit means Brexit, sovereignty means sovereignty. During the referendum, this one central theme ran throughout the Leave campaign – taking back control of our laws, our borders and our money. Britons may not show it very often or shout it as loudly as some, but we are deeply patriotic and proud of our country and its achievements.

Criticising our country, down-playing our influence and being told we that we didn’t know what we voted for, has not only reaffirmed for many why they voted Leave, but also started to raise questions in the minds of some who voted Remain. Take, for example, former Remain supporter, Conservative MP Nick Boles, who recently tweeted:

“I will not be bullied by an arrogant Commission conspiring with opposition parties to undermine the elected UK government and the integrity of our union. Back in your box, Michel Barnier.”

Maybe, however, we owe these bullies our thanks, as they have helped to unite the Government, much of the opposition, and voters, against them. According to a recent survey carried out for the Telegraph, 67 per cent of individuals – regardless of their voting preference – agreed that “the EU is trying to bully the UK” in its approach to the talks. This does not come as a surprise and Michel Barnier would do well to take note, if he and the rest of the EU are genuine in their pursuit of a deal with the UK.

Leave supporters and the Government are clear that we want to continue to be strong friends and allies with EU member countries after the UK’s departure, but it has to work both ways. Posturing and bullying will, in the end, accomplish very little and it is that – not Brexit – that could damage relations between the UK and the EU.