Brexit is simply about regaining the freedom to determine our own destiny

Brexit is simply about regaining the freedom to determine our own destiny

Do you remember that sharp intake of breath, the ‘aha’ moment in June 2016, when the BBC’s David Dimbleby, head-dropped, announced the result for the EU referendum, a win for Leave? He declared: “Everything now is up for change because of this decision: it is an earthquake that has happened.”

At the time the elite were jolted by the shock result and quickly vowed to look at the disconnect between their thinking and that of the country. So profound had that gap been, so sure had David Cameron been of a Remain victory, that he resigned at the result.

All very dramatic. But the fact is, the referendum was a simple matter of our constitutional arrangements. Who makes the laws that govern our country and which body adjudicates those laws? Are our laws made in the UK or are they made overseas? Are our laws adjudicated by the UK Supreme Court or a foreign court? The British population decided they wanted their laws made and adjudicated locally.

But what chaos and hysteria has resulted from such a simple decision. Why? Because it strikes at the heart of a stealth project that has been quietly engineered for forty years.

The Prime Minister’s Mansion House speech touched on just how extensive that enmeshment has become over forty years, with no area of British life untouched by the EU: migration, goods, the integrity of the union, the Northern Ireland peace process, case law, workers’ rights, trade, goods, supply chains, small, medium and micro enterprises, agriculture, food, drinks, fisheries, labour mobility, broadcasting, financial services, energy, transport, digital, uranium, company law, intellectual property, science and innovation, education and cultural programmes.

There is nothing simple about our membership of the EU, most importantly, because successive Prime Ministers have misled the people and signed the UK away to this relationship without a democratic mandate.

We were signed up to the Common Market without democratic consent by Edward Heath. Harold Wilson, in an attempt to give the idea some democratic legitimacy, held a referendum to affirm a commitment to the Common Market. The population, being told this was a Single Market, remained ignorant of all the founding apparatus of a federal government.

No recent Prime Minister can pretend they were not complicit in such deception. In the last week, Tony Blair and John Major once again called for the referendum result to be overturned in order that we stay in the European Union, a body that has now made it expressly clear that it wishes to be a United States of Europe.

It was the sorriest part of David Cameron’s premiership that he ordered Her Majesty’s Government to publish a leaflet to be sent to every household that promised the UK a special status in a reformed EU when neither was on offer.

It is this successive and continued deception that lies at the heart of the population’s concern that we will never actually leave the European Union.

It is why the outlook of the ardent Remainers seems so irrational to Leavers. They seem perfectly relaxed about the democratic deficit in the European Union: that laws are not generated by elected representatives, and that until 2016 the population had never had a democratic say over whether they wanted to be members of the European Union (since that previous referendum in 1975 was about remaining in the Common Market).

None of the arguments put forward by the continuity Remain campaign address the simple question of creating new constitutional arrangements on a democratic mandate. Obfuscation is put forward instead. Brexit is about a Tory civil war, hate, xenophobia, uneducated voters, the need for 16 year olds to have the vote, a return to the 1950s, killing the future of young people, bringing about economic Armageddon…

But Brexit is not about this. It is not even about whether we become Singapore or Venezuela. But it is about the freedom to become either: a paragon of the free market, or the epitome of socialism, or anywhere in between. The vote to leave the European Union is at heart the freedom for the people of the UK to decide through a process of ongoing electoral cycles the direction of the country, where no Prime Minister or government binds its successor.

On that front, the Mansion House speech did raise one concern for me when the Prime Minister talked about the need for “binding commitments” – essentially asking the EU for a divorce but to remain cohabitees.

While it is, of course, sensible to seek much compatibility in regulation to begin with, we must remember that it is the starting point and not the end game.

It would be a grave error if Theresa May negotiated an “enduring partnership” which voters could not alter in future elections at the ballot box. It would demonstrate that the wake up call of June 2016 had already been forgotten.