It’s official. I have heard the word ‘Brexit’ so many times over the past few months, it has lost all meaning. Although I still don’t think anyone knew what it meant in the first place.
But here we are 7 months and a white paper later, no closer to “taking back control”, and people are still arguing over whether we should have a hard or soft Brexit.
Remain voters like myself, I do not believe, are welcome in the circles of this type of discussion. Maybe it is because, as a student and 20 year old, I could not possibly understand the complexities of the numerous papers and EU articles being bandied around. I personally do not believe that this is the reason, but I imagine many my age do. I do wonder though what place there is for the 48% who voted remain as negotiations with the EU begin. Theresa May herself supported the Remain camp and has now become the face of Brexit, rebranded as a Global Britain.
Where do the 48%, a voter group made up of many younger people, belong?
I found what could possibly be the answer in ex-deputy PM Nick Clegg. After failing to persuade the population on his voting reform ideas in 2011 and suffering a heavy defeat at the 2015 general election, Clegg of all people must know about the struggles associated with finding a role after a political defeat.
“Learning from defeat is crucial in life – most especially in politics” (Politics: Between the extremes. Nick Clegg. 2016)
At an event at University College London a few weeks back, a rather sullen looking Nick Clegg discussed the challenges of Brexit for the UK. Like him or not, the man could be one of the most qualified people to hold a conversation on the EU. Clegg used to work for the European Commission and was a member of European Parliament before he was elected as leader of the Liberal Democrats.
Clegg made an interesting point regarding those within the Leave camp, many of whom, he said, wanted more from being a member of the EU, as opposed to leaving it completely. As Nick pointed out however, the UK already had an almost unique deal as a member of the EU, having cherry picked some of the best parts of the Union which he described as an “unusual constellation of strategic advantages”.
The UK, however, voted to leave and retaining many of these advantages will be hard as negotiations begin, which Nick suggests the government has been incredibly optimistic in predicting would take just 2 years. He also questioned what mandate the government had for leading the UK into a hard Brexit, and asked, “was this the Brexit you voted for?”
As you can probably tell by now, Clegg was not particularly supportive of the way the government is going about leaving the EU. Far from being put off by calls to stop being a sore-loser (or “Remoaner”), he stressed that now more than ever is the time for people to become engaged in politics and not further disenfranchised from it.
Instead, as Nick explained, we must engage in it as much as possible to hold those “who led us down this road” to account. It sounds simple and almost counter intuitive, but after claims of false facts from both sides of the campaign, most notably the red Vote Leave bus boasting an extra £350 million for the NHS, we must all be extra vigilant when making decisions that will have a profound impact on our country.
Over 16 million people voted to Remain. They must be the ones to hold this government to account.
Remoaners, Remoan on.