The minority who keep telling us we voted the wrong way in June would do well now to help make Brexit work

The minority who keep telling us we voted the wrong way in June would do well now to help make Brexit work

Five months have passed since Britain voted to leave the European Union and I am starting to detect a significant shift in the public mood. Whilst, understandably, a minority will have some difficulty in accepting the result of the referendum – for the most part I believe that people just want to get on with their lives now.

‘Brexit fatigue’ now poses an existential threat to the campaign to overturn the referendum result: greater, even, than the return of Tony Blair to frontline politics. People are sick of the drip, drip of negative stories; of being told they got it wrong – and Tony Blair certainly isn’t the answer.

Despite Brexit: unemployment fell again this month to 4.8% – a far lower rate than the EU average; consumer spending rose by 4.2% in September; and we now know that Britain will have the fastest growing economy in the G7 this year (although you wouldn’t necessarily know it if you had a quick scan of the Twittersphere…).

But there’s a strong likelihood that these efforts will backfire. The British public voted to restore sovereignty from an institution perceived to be distant and elitist, and they don’t take kindly to being told what to think; at home or abroad.

When Parliament voted to place the decision in the hands of the public, they unleashed the single biggest democratic event in this country’s history. Yet, now we are told that they were too stupid, and too beguiled by lies to know their own minds.

Worse still, we are being told by former politicians that there must be a fresh vote, and that the ‘tyranny of the majority’ must not prevail.

The Welsh local government elections in May will be the first test of public opinion, and it will be interesting to see how well that line of thinking plays out at the ballot box. I’ve spoken to a number of people who have warned me that they’ll never vote again if the result isn’t respected.

They don’t want to hear about the intricacies of Article 50, they just want to see it triggered.

I happen to share that view. There are important parliamentary principles at stake here and in some ways I understand the calls for a parliamentary vote before triggering Article 50 – after all, we campaigned to bring democracy back to Westminster; but Parliament voted 6-to-1 in favour of a referendum, and it’s hard to see what has changed since 23rd June that requires another Commons vote.

Of course we must respect the rule of law, and the basic principle of our great democracy that anyone can have their day in court. But for the politicians making hay from the recent High Court judgement, my fear is that their motivation is merely to slow down, or stop Brexit altogether.

Theresa May is right. It’s time to stop obsessing about process, we need to get on with enacting the will of the people and forging a new path for Britain in the post-EU world. Surely Britain’s brightest minds would be better served working alongside the Prime Minister to make Brexit work?

At the moment there is an apparent vacuum, with too much energy wasted debating a referendum campaign which ended on 23rd June. That is why this week I have outlined proposals for post-Brexit schemes of support for agriculture and why my colleague Russell George has been promoting a fairer scheme of regeneration funding. My aim is to spark a debate about the type of schemes we want to develop here in the UK once we have left the EU.

In fact, we need to be totally focused on the complicated process of what comes next. Nobody said Brexit would be easy – the European Union was designed to be extremely difficult to pick apart. But that’s where we need the help of our brightest and best to devise locally-driven schemes, and establish new trade deals with long-neglected – but not forgotten – partners around the world.

Instead, our focus is being diverted from the job by a seemingly impenetrable smokescreen of negative headlines.