I fear we’ll be stuck with an atmosphere of distrust until the day that Brexit finally happens

I fear we’ll be stuck with an atmosphere of distrust until the day that Brexit finally happens

Whatever view you take of the High Court decision on ratifying Article 50, it is hard not to accept that the sourness and anger that characterised our politics in the days after 23rd June has returned.

Fundamentally, many Brexit voters do not trust Remain politicians and do not believe them when the bulk of them insist they are not trying to derail the Brexit process but merely to make sure it works as well as it can.

None of us really knows exactly how this process is going to pan out, but I am afraid that until Brexit is completed there does not really seem to me to be a way out of this atmosphere of anger and distrust.

I do actually think some of the Remainers believe they are being sincere when they say they accept the overall referendum verdict and do not intend to try to completely subvert democracy by keeping us in the EU. But I also think they are fooling themselves.

At the moment, given all the factors that have been brought to bear – most notably the mighty referendum mandate for leaving the EU – there seems to be no way for Remainers to keep Britain inside it.

However, time and again, I return to the thought that the best metaphor for the United Kingdom’s generations-long struggle with the notion of joining or not joining in with European political integration is that of a tug-of-war. Every inch of terrain must be fought for and if one side slips the other tugs even harder to fully exploit any advantage that is at hand.

Just because most Remain MPs currently find it hard to conceive of circumstances where they would openly call for Britain to ignore the referendum and stay inside the EU, it does not follow that they would eschew making such calls should more fruitful circumstances come within their reach once they have secured more modest goals.

To use the old phrase: give ‘em an inch and they will take a mile. I do not make such an observation from a position of particular moral superiority, because I recognise that the same is to an extent true of my side too – a few years back it was membership of the single currency that we were fighting. We never said to the British people that staying out of the euro would mean that we would end up leaving the EU altogether because, frankly, we wanted to maximise support for the proposition at hand which was simply to save the pound sterling.

But once we succeeded, people like me were pretty swiftly onto the next step – making the case for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty while feeling inwardly confident that the British people would reject it so decisively as to ping us into the EU departure lounge.

Then came the battle for an In/Out referendum. When 81 Tory MPs voted for such a referendum in a parliamentary division in October 2011, many had not committed themselves as to the side on which they would campaign in any such contest. But once it was secured nearly all of them joined those of us who were already making a full-throated case for leaving. Step by step we got there.

So, suppose for a moment that Nick Clegg, Ed Miliband et al succeed in tagging a requirement for a second referendum on the precise terms of departure onto the Article 50 process. Do you think they would leave it at that? Of course they wouldn’t. They would argue that the terms agreed should be rejected and then say that a rejection amounted to a decision by the British people to reverse their earlier decision to leave the EU at all.

They are currently fixated on trying to keep us as members of the single market – meaning Britain would still be subject to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and still bound by freedom of movement. This “Norway option” was designed in the first place to create a quasi-membership for countries whose governments had wanted to join the EU but whose voters had not.

But if such an outcome could be defined as “Brexit” at all – and clearly there are lawyers at large who would be prepared to say that it could – then it certainly would not be a sustainable long-term solution. Clegg, Mandelson, Ken Clarke and the whole EU-phile crew would very soon be back making their criticisms of “fax democracy” and calling for a referendum on formally rejoining the EU.

So we Outers must keep tugging our end of the rope with all our strength. In UKIP’s case that should mean campaigning for an immediate repeal of the 1972 European Communities Act and seeking to harness a growing wave of anger among people who voted Leave.

And all Leave politicians should keep reminding people that Britain voted to take back control of its laws, its borders and its money. That must mean no longer being a member of the single market.

And when Remainers use their weight within establishment institutions to seek to complicate the Brexit outcome or make the process of leaving more difficult, we must cry foul. They will try to thwart us altogether if they sniff half a chance to do so. It is in their nature.

Their feet are the ones slipping at the moment and we must drag them across this, our muddy field of politics and all the way out of the EU. It is dirty work. It is going to make politics sour and angry for the next couple of years. But someone has got to do it or it won’t get done at all.