I’ve been optimistic about our chances of getting a People’s Vote for over a year. I’ve always believed Brexit would lose its popularity once it hit reality.
However I have many friends who very much want to Remain, but don’t believe our campaign will work.
I’ve been thinking about why, for me and other Remainers, it’s worth supporting the People’s Vote campaign regardless of whether we succeed.
Repairing our reputation as a country
Assuming we do leave the EU, there will be new trading relationships to be organised with the EU and other countries.
Our country’s long reputation as a sensible & reliable trading partner is being severely damaged by how our government is behaving,
The current chaos in our Parliament, and the dishonesty of the Brexiter MPs is being covered by newspapers around the world.
However these same newspapers have also covered the huge, peaceful People’s Vote March. They are also covering the opinion polls showing a huge shift towards Remain, the fact that thousands of us are campaigning for the rights of E.U. migrants and who are challenging the lies and prejudice of Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson.
As our government has been showing the world our worst side, we have been showing the world our best.
This affects how the world will view the UK in the future. If our government to continue behaving terribly and we do nothing, the world will believe we agree with them. But by active, visible, vocal protest we show everyone that we are still the reliable, tolerant, generous people we have always been, and (much like in America) our current leadership is an unfortunate mistake, not who we are.
Holding MPs accountable
I’m confident the MPs who promoted Brexit (many of whom are now moving their assets abroad) will not be popular in the future.
But there are also many MPs who consider Brexit to be harmful to the country and their constituents yet they are unwilling to challenge it today either because it may hurt their re-electability or for party unity.
In years to come they will be running for re-election, or for a senior positions or even the leadership of their parties.
By then people will have lived with the effects of Brexit for years, and few voters will be happy it happened.
As they run for office a journalist or a competitor will ask them “Why didn’t you try to stop it?”. Many of them will reply, “I backed Remain in the referendum but Leave won.”
That could be the end of the subject.
But thanks to the PV campaign it won’t be.
“Didn’t you see hundreds of thousands of people march in favour of a PV?”
“Didn’t the polling showing voters had changed their minds and a majority now want to Remain?”
“Wasn’t the Leave campaign found guilty of breaking electoral law? And it’s primary donor was under criminal investigation?”
“Knowing all of this, how can you justify refusing to, at least, double check with people if they still really want it?”
The journalist Nick Cohen once said that a silver lining of Brexit is it’s showing us which MPs are willing to put the good of their constituents and their country ahead of their own careers or their party.
In particular I believe we will reward the courage of MPs from Leave voting constituencies like Wes Streeting who said “I would rather risk losing my job than stay silent on Brexit and risk my constituents losing theirs”.
EU citizens in the UK
Every time I’ve attended a march or campaigned for the People’s Vote movement I’ve come across people from Spain, Italy, France who’ve thanked me for fighting for their rights. They’ve told me how hurt they’ve been by how they are described by Brexit supporting newspapers and politicians. They include people who have lived here for decades, who have raised children and grandchildren here but now feel unwelcome.
I don’t believe the majority of people feel this way, however they voted in 2016. They are our doctors, nurses, plumbers, our partners and our friends.