A clean Brexit will give us the chance to bridge the divide between voters and politicians

A clean Brexit will give us the chance to bridge the divide between voters and politicians

When the Supreme Court hearing on Article 50 began in December we encouraged Change Britain’s supporters to email their local MP and ask them – whatever the result of the appeal hearing – to respect the referendum result and not use their vote in Parliament to block Brexit.

In the ten days that followed an astonishing 40,000 emails landed in MP’s inboxes and 10,000 more were sent over the Christmas period. Each MP had received an average of 77 emails from their constituents by the end of December – one received over 650!

On Tuesday, when the Supreme Court ruled that Parliament must vote on whether the Government can start the Brexit process, we went back to our supporters and asked them to send their MP a follow-up email. Over 21,000 have already done so.

Even we’ve been surprised by the response, but in retrospect we shouldn’t have been.

Since the autumn we’ve been running private focus groups of Leavers and Remainers in working class constituencies in the Midlands, Yorkshire, the North East and North West and on the outskirts of London. These groups have been an invaluable – and encouraging – guide to the state of public opinion since the referendum.

Alongside the confidence and pride with which Leave voters talked about their Brexit vote, we have heard a growing anxiety that somehow politicians could stop Brexit from happening. This concern is shared by Leave and Remain voters – both groups regard the result as decisive and believe that the Government must now implement it. Leave and Remain voters also agree that staying in the Single Market and Customs Union would be a fake Brexit: Britain would not have control over our borders and laws, we would have to continue to pay membership fees to Brussels and inside the Customs Union we can’t do our own trade deals. We would still be in the EU but without a voice at the top table.

Our focus groups have also reminded us how cynical voters are about a political system they regard as remote and self-interested. Working class communities feel ignored and mistrust their MPs. Brexit gives us a once-in-a-generation opportunity to start fixing our politics, but first we must achieve a clean break with the EU. If voters see the political establishment deliver this then they may begin to trust their politicians again, and we have an opportunity to start bridging the divide between voters and decision-makers.

Over the coming weeks and months Change Britain will be campaigning in support of the Government’s plan to trigger Article 50 by the end of March and then negotiate a deal with the EU27 that takes us out of the Single Market and Customs Union. Re-engaging working class communities in Westminster politics is just one of the benefits of a clean Brexit but the stakes are high – if we end up with a fake Brexit parliament risks cutting itself off from millions of voters across the UK.