Written before May announced and Johnson renounced, and then Gove pronounced. More on that later…
I’ll argue to the end for the re-assertion of parliamentary democracy (over referenda) and continued membership of the EU. And millions with me, I know. But, if that doesn’t happen, what should we argue for – what should we demand?
If we can’t have the EU we need the EU without the EU. The same workplace, health and safety, and environmental legislation, the same Europe-wide agreements in science, the same cooperation in the arts.
What we still want to be a part of came about because of the EU. That fact will be more than apparent for many of us. Maybe the realisation will strike home for a few Leave voters.
The same vision: that’s more difficult – the open inclusive vision that many of us have is simply not shared. And that, as long as it doesn’t shade into bigotry and prejudice, I can just about accept – I must accept. (That it did so shade in the referendum is a challenge for all of us.)
The same trade deal: all save a few economists on the neo-liberal wing of the Tories (or beyond that wing) would like to be spared tariffs, would want to be part of a single market. EU regulations would have to be adopted by the UK – little option but to do otherwise – and any reining back would be a betrayal of civilised values.
Compromise is sometimes possible: in some areas we have to take a stand. And that means immigration, the devilish strand that is woven through history. Our forebears somewhere way back were immigrants, and their progeny a generation or two down the line took up against the next wave. Each generation has to manage the issue as best and as widely as it can.
Wisdom in a referendum too easily goes out the window, as it has done here. Fertile ground for wild statements appealing to the worst in people. I would have trusted Cameron to bring that wisdom to any negotiation. I think I might also trust Stephen Crabb. Start out with a degree of humility not arrogance. Boris Johnson has today disqualified himself, though there’s no more humility there than in his nemesis, Michael Gove.