We must put post-referendum retribution aside and all channel our passion into delivering Brexit

We must put post-referendum retribution aside and all channel our passion into delivering Brexit

I had expected shock, sadness, and initially anger. I even reckoned that in the days following a Brexit vote, the shock might turn into a realisation that this was a wake-up call for the EU. After all, the result showed that despite the best efforts of our Government, the British people believed their better future lay outside the EU rather than in.

But what I had not anticipated was the sustained level of sheer unwillingness by EU leaders to accept that the EU has faults. That and the reluctance of some in British politics to accept the result itself.

As I write Britain is digesting the implications of the High Court’s ruling that only Parliament’s consent can trigger Article 50. I have no problem with involving Parliament in the process. However, I fear the case was brought not to uphold Parliament, but to undermine the democratic will of the British people.

The EU should move on from its instinct to treat all criticism as spiteful sacrilege. The UK should look forward to its new future, not back to the referendum campaign.

Yet even with referendums cropping up across Europe, the Canada trade deal having been such a challenge and the twin migrant/refugee and economic crises proving intractable, a disbelief persists that the people of Britain might want to go in a new direction and see what possibilities await.

As leader of the European Parliament’s European Conservatives and Reformists Group, with members representing eighteen member states, I know that the desire for a reformed and streamlined EU does not end when you board the 07.56 from St Pancras to Brussels.

I want nothing more than to see a prosperous, reformed and successful EU, and so long as I am in Brussels I will continue this fight on behalf of those who will remain once we are gone. But gaining this reform will be a slow journey so long as EU leaders continue to bury their heads in the sand, and so long as some British politicians and commentators refuse to accept the reality of the Brexit vote.

While many of those who campaigned to Remain have accepted the result, sadly there are still some who have chosen to either ignore the result, to seek a way to revoke it, or to paint a distorted picture of its consequences.

Nobody said that Brexit would be easy, but the tone of Brexit will define us as a nation for the coming years. So what happened to British pragmatism? To “Keep calm and carry on”? To relishing a new challenge?

Now is the time to show the rest of the world what has always made Britain great. Courage, self-belief, and a sense of adventure.

There were great passions and great people on both sides of the referendum debate. We must put the retribution and the blame aside and channel the same passion into delivering the best possible Brexit.

That is exactly what the Prime Minister is doing, by putting in place the detailed preparations needed to make Brexit a success.

Over the next few months I shall continue to meet with key ministers and leaders in Brussels and around Europe, to help create a climate of good communication and understanding, as well as to bridge misunderstandings and differences. Time and preparation should mean that when negotiations start they are guided by cool heads and steady hands. I look forward to updating you here on BrexitCentral.

Ultimately, we all want the same thing: a prosperous, thriving, successful post-Brexit Britain next to a prospering EU. So let the tone be tenacity, not tension. Let us put our energy into getting the deals we need, not only with the EU, but across the globe – because I believe that success is a consequence of self-belief and confidence. What sends out a stronger signal to the rest of the world, and shows that we mean business, more than two different sides coming together to fight for a stronger Britain?

If aspiration is the key to success, why would we choose to limit ourselves and talk ourselves down at this early stage? Of course we need to be realistic, but this is meant to be the start. It is meant to be the part where you reach for the stars, where you believe there are no limits to what we can achieve, where those who tell us something can’t be done are showing their limitations not ours.

So that is what I will be doing: helping to demonstrate our commitment to an outward-looking global Britain, playing its role on the world stage, and that when it comes to the European Union, we will seek to become good neighbours instead of reluctant tenants.